Located in Tupper Lake in northern New York, The Wild Center is part natural history museum, part aquarium, part series of nature trails, part massive outdoor playground, and 100% FUN! We first read about The Wild Center when Wild Walk opened in 2015 and it has been on our bucket list until last week! During our visit to the Lake Placid area (The Wild Center is about 30 miles west), we enjoyed a busy morning on campus and wished we could have stayed all day!
The Wild Center is open seven days a week from Memorial Day through mid October 7 days a weekend, and Friday through Sunday during mid October through Memorial Day weekend, except for the month of April when The Wild Center closes to maintenance and a spring cleaning. Updates on hours and admission fees here. Children ages four and under are free.
Plenty of free parking is available adjacent to the main museum exhibition hall.
Restrooms are located inside the main exhibition hall and composting bathrooms are located across the parking lot, near the Wild Walk entrance.
The main exhibition hall, Wild Walk, and walking trails around the pond are all handicap and stroller accessible. Wheelchairs, walkers, and strollers are all available for rent, free of charge.
The Wild Center offers daily programs, animal viewings, Creature Features and more- check the daily calendar here.
Make plans to visit during the holiday season for Wild Lights, a nighttime, outdoor celebration.
The Flammer Theater is typically open for daily films, featured on the panoramic screen, on topics related to the Adirondacks, but is currently closed due to pandemic restrictions. It is slated to reopen in 2022.
Use your smartphone to listen to the Audio Tour that accompanies the indoor exhibits on the Living River Trail.
The Wild Supply Co. sells a wide variety of housewares, apparel, gifts, and toys, and is located in the exhibition hall near the admission desk.
The Waterside Cafe is typically open for lunch and snacks. For summer and fall 2021, the cafe accepts preorders for bagged lunch- more information here. There is also a snack bar located near the entrance to Wild Walk. Outdoor picnic tables are available under a large tent near the main exhibit hall and near the entrance to Wild Walk.
Plan on 3-4 hours to explore both the indoor and outdoor exhibits.
10 Ways to Have Fun at The Wild Center:
1. Jump in the middle of the 20 foot wide giant Spider’s Web in Wild Walk. The entire Wild Walk, built in 2015, featured 40 foot tall steel spires, all the same height, but give the optical illusion as they grow shorter as explorers venture up the paths towards the Eagle’s Nest.
2. Climb inside the Bald Eagle’s Nest in Wild Walk and check out 360 degree views of the Adirondacks.
3. Walk between the trees on Snag in Wild Walk. Check out the preserved nests and collection of eggs.
4. Play hide and seek inside Hopscotch, a brand new Stick Work sculpture (as high as 18 feet) created from red maple and pussy willow saplings and branches. The installation was built to “shed” snow and is guaranteed to withstand outdoor elements for at least two years. Guests can climb in, around, and under the sculptures.
5. Recreate the sensation of floating in a cloud in the Island in the Sky cloud machine.
6. Follow the Living River Trail inside the main exhibit hall, which features several aquariums. Some of our favorite activities were simulating walking in a bog, playing a keyboard as part of the “Swamp Band”, investigating the various layers of underground soil, and watching the decomposition of owls, fish, and birds (well, some of us liked watching it!)
7. Gaze at Planet Adirondack, a large sphere that changes frequently with datasets showcasing cool trivia such as the formation of planet Earth, the amount of airplanes currently in flight, and the path of a hurricane.
8. Watch the otters play in the outdoor play yard and inside the exhibit hall. There are five North American river otters who live at The Wild Center.
9. Listen carefully while walking along the half mile trail, Forest Music. Keep an eye out for the Barney Bellinger exhibit WELDED STEEL; Shape, Form & Light, which includes 17 pieces of art, on display throughout the trail and around Greenleaf Pond.
10. Climb on a tipped up tree, beat on log drums, and play with nature in the Pines Play area. There’s the opportunity to recreate personal Stickwork Sculptures, and a spot for adults to rest their feet.
Disclosure: My family received a media pass to visit The Wild Center. All opinions expressed are my own.