5 Ideas for Free Family Fun this Season

CP Holiday Train 2006

Canadian Pacific Holiday Train photograph by Flickr user Brian Ridgway

After Thanksgiving leftovers dwindle to a carcass and watching Elf for the nth time has paled, getting out and about without shopping is downright refreshing. Nearly every Adirondack town has special activities that don’t cost a bundle and put you in the holiday frame of mind: on November 30 you can hunt for candy canes in Inlet or hit the bounce house in Lake George until Santa cruises Canada Street in a fire truck. Here are a handful of destinations and events for all ages.

1. November 28: The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train travels northbound from Saratoga Springs to Plattsburgh. Thousands of lights festoon the locomotive and freight cars that streak up the Champlain Valley. This year it’s Thanksgiving Day for stops in Ticonderoga (3:15 p.m.), Port Henry (5:00 p.m.) and Plattsburgh (7:30 p.m.). The train—which also includes a lively boxcar full of musicians—raises money for local food pantries and has contributed more than two million pounds of nonperishables for these vital community centers.

2. November 29-30: Country Christmas Tour (CCT), Indian Lake. Highlights for kids include making gifts to give, listening to stories with Santa and Mrs. Claus at Byron Park, visiting the pygmy angora goats at Nancy Harding’s farm or watching the impressive model trains at electrician Bob Willemson’s house.

3. November 29-December 1 and December 6-8: Adirondack Christmas on Main Street, Old Forge. Reindeer, draft horses and the Utica Zoo Mobile converge in downtown Old Forge; meanwhile, the historic Thendara town hall transforms into the exuberant, fantastic (and free) Candyland display.

4. December 1: Hay Rides with Santa, Bolton Landing. Rogers Memorial Park lights the community tree and Santa’s sleigh cargo isn’t boring old boxes but happy, caroling kids.

5. December 6–8: Holiday Village Stroll, Lake Placid. Crafts for kids at the Olympic Museum, free holiday movies at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts, skating party at the Olympic Center, the Jingle Bell Fun Run, the traditional hunt for the yule log and more throughout downtown.

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