Quirky Vacation Spots in the Hudson Valley and Capital District

Say goodbye to ho-hum vacations!

Tired of carting your kids off from one amusement park to the other? If you’re looking for a new and unique place to take the family this summer, check out these quirky spots in the Hudson Valley and Capital District. They are sure to be a hit with you and your family!

1. Seed Library, Gardiner

Just like a regular library, this Seed Library loans out seeds for planting, which must then be returned once you are finished. You’re probably wondering how you return seeds. Well, at the end of the season, you collect seeds from your own crop and return them to the library to replace the ones you borrowed. If you’re new to seed swapping, the library offers classes on how to dry out seeds and save the seeds from your crops. 845-255-1255

Visit a Ranch this summer!

2. Gnome Chomsky, Accord

Who could resist a giant gnome? Gnome Chomsky welcomes all visitors to Kelder Farm’s Homegrown mini-golf course, the world’s only edible mini-golf course. They use real fruits, vegetables, herbs and livestock to set up their course. Gnome Chomsky stands at a whopping 13 feet, 6 inches tall and is the world’s second largest garden gnome. 845-626-7137

3. World’s Largest Kaleidoscope, Mt. Tremper

The Guinness-stamped World’s Largest Kaleidoscope is housed in an old animal-feed silo. The Kaleidoscope is 60 feet tall with brightly colored patterns and pop-culture images reflecting on to the ceiling. 10 minute shows run throughout the day. Attached to the Kaleidoscope is a barn-turned-mall called Emerson Place, home to the world’s smallest kaleidoscope that measures in at 1 inch. 845-688-5800

Check out these unique spots in Dutchess County!

4. Woodstock, Ulster County

Your kids do not have to be Jimi Hendrix aficionados to enjoy the various 1960s themed shops, displays, and art that line the streets of Woodstock. Join the community drum circle at the Village Green on Sundays. Just don’t embarrass your kids by saying things like “far out” or “groovy man.” 845-679-2113

5. Bannerman’s Castle, Hudson River

Just north of Cold Spring on an island lives the ruins of an old castle built in 1901. It was the first army-navy surplus store. The castle was used to store Bannerman’s large supply of black powder after the Spanish-American War. Tours are conducted regularly that cover the history of the island, and its role in US history. 845-831-6346

6. Wooden Park, Albany

Located at the southeastern corner of the Empire State Plaza, Wooden Park is a combination of architectural genius, jungle gyms, and giant sculptures. Wooden Park looks like a wooden version of Stonehenge, situated in the middle of town. There are several climbable sculptures at Wooden Park for children and adults to climb on.  518-434-2489

Be sure to stop at these unconventional pit stops!

7. Bottle-Museum, Ballston Spa

Preserve the history of our nation’s first major industry: Bottle making. One entire wall of the museum’s first floor showcases approximately 2,000 bottles of many colors, shapes and forms. The National Bottle Museum sponsors its own Bottle Show and Sale, which draws dealers and collectors from across the United States, Canada, and Great Britain. Glass blowing classes are offered on a regular basis. 518-885-7589

8. Saratoga Battlefield, near Saratoga Springs

In the autumn of 1777, American forces met at the Saratoga Battlefield where they defeated and forced a major British army to surrender. This crucial American victory in the Battle of Saratoga renewed patriots’ hopes for independence.

Among the sites to visit are Victory Woods, newly opened in June 2010. This 22-acre parcel of land, located in the Village of Victory (about 8 1/2 miles north of the Battlefield), marks the final encampment site for the British Army under General John Burgoyne prior to their October 17, 1777 surrender to American forces under General Horatio Gates.

Two "world's largests" call Ulster county home!

A must-see spot is the plaque and marble boot that pays tribute to General Benedict Arnold’s leg, a statement on his famous switch to the other side. 518-664-9821

9. Secret Caverns, Cobleskill

These secret caverns were not discovered by a famed explorer, rather these caves were discovered by two cows looking for some relief from the hot summer sun. Legend has it, the two cows found a shady spot in the woods with a strong, cool breeze ensuing from a mysterious abyss. Soaring domes and winding passages unfolded throughout the cavern leading to the main attraction, the 100 foot underground waterfall. 518-296-8558

10. Old Stone Fort, Schoharie

A detailed scale model of the Blenheim Covered Bridge is on display at the Old Stone Fort. The six-foot-long model, built by Avery Wilson in the 1940s, is a National Historic Landmark. 518-295-7192


Brittany L. Morgan is the digital editor and executive assistant to the publisher at Hudson Valley Parent. She lives in Fishkill and enjoys exploring the Hudson Valley with her boyfriend, Bill.