The Wild Center in Tupper Lake NY is a great mix of indoor and outdoor family fun in the Adirondacks. The Wild Center and Wild Walk are a must do for things to do in Tupper Lake and I highly recommend adding them to your Adirondack weekend.
We were very excited to visit The Wild Center! It has been on the top of my list of places to visit in New York state for years because it is the perfect mix of outdoor fun and is accessible to everyone, not just outdoor enthusiasts.
If you love the outdoors and camping you will love The Wild Center, but I appreciated that we could have some outdoor family fun in the Adirondacks without being a super wilderness family. The Wild Walk at the Wild Center is also wheelchair and stroller accessible which makes it a great place to visit in Tupper Lake for everyone in your family.
We worked with Explore Adirondack Frontier in partnership with The Wild Center. All opinions are honest and my own. Learn more on my disclosure page.
The Wild Center and Wild Walk Tupper Lake New York
The Wild Center is located in Tupper Lake. It is part of the Adirondacks Park region and is about 5 hours from Rochester, New York. The Adirondack Park region can hold Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park inside its borders.
It really can’t be seen in one weekend, but we focused our weekend visit to The Wild Center and stayed nearby in Lake Clear.
2022 Policy: Face coverings are not longer required.
2021 Covid Policy: I want to mention a word about traveling during 2021 with kids. Covid is still something we are working around as we navigate what we feel comfortable with.
Many of the places we visited didn’t have a mask policy. This included the resort we stayed in and many of the dining options.
We continue to wear face coverings indoors at this time, and created an itinerary that worked with what we are comfortable with.
The Wild Center DOES have a face covering rule at all indoor areas. They also recommend social distancing and you must reserve your time to visit. Hand Sanitizing stations are located throughout the grounds. Outside face coverings are optional.
We were very pleased with the safety measures at The Wild Center and felt comfortable at all times.
What to Do at The Wild Center
There are so many things to do at The Wild Center. The main areas to explore are:
- Indoor Area/Adirondack Museum
- Pines Play Area
- Wild Walk
- Forest Music
- Canoe Docks
- Animal Encounters
- Barney Bellinger’s Welded Steel
When we first made plans to visit The Wild Center I had seen pictures of the Wild Walk and I knew that was what brought people to visit. What I didn’t realize was that there is so much more to see and do at The Wild Center.
Indoor Exhibits at The Wild Center
We started our day at the Indoor Area of The Wild Center. Be sure to check out the Planet Adirondacks and Otter Falls. Planet Adirondacks features a larger than life size globe that follows weather patterns. We were able to see hurricanes forming over the Atlantic in real time.
Otter Falls is home to the resident Otters and was one of the highlights of our visit. The Otters swim and play for guests in this waterfall and splash pool.
There is also Flammer Panorama Theater that is currently closed. Hopefully this will reopen to guests soon.
After we explored indoors we started our way outside to Forest Music. This was probably my personal favorite place to visit. Guests can walk through an immersive forest trail with sculptures as well as instrumental music playing. It was a really unique experience and I found it very calming. We all enjoyed this area.
Pines Play Area
Our next stop was Pines Play Area. This is an outdoor play area for kids with a twist. The kids have to depend on their own creativity and imagination to create their own fun. There are climbing trees and stumps but everything is very interactive and allows the kids to make their own play.
After the Pines Play area we headed back to the indoor area to pick up our bagged to-go lunch. This was sandwiches, an apple, and a bag of chips. Guests can pre-order their lunches online from the Waterside Café.
Canoe Rides at The Wild Center
Our next stop was the 1/2 mile walk to the canoe docks for our first ever canoe experience. You need to make a reservation for the canoe time and it is not included with general admission.
Guests go out as a group with a guide and canoe along the Raquette River’s Oxbow. The entire experience took a little under 2 hours and it was the highlight of our day.
We took a good 15 minutes to get the hang of it but once we did we all really loved it. It was beautiful and such a fun family experience. If you have time in your day I highly recommend adding this to your visit.
Stickwork is the newest exhibit that recently opened at The Wild Center. It is a sculpture of different native plants and trees transformed into something the family can explore. We were awed by the talent and really impressed walking through this exhibit.
Barney Bellinger’s Welded Steel
Walk the trails and discover the steel sculptures among the trees and nature. Each piece tells a story of the piece and how it fits in the forest.
Animal Encounters are offered throughout the day and we were lucky enough to meet an Albino turtle during our visit. The staff at The Wild Center were so helpful and friendly. They answered all of our questions and it was really cool to learn more about the animals at the center.
The Wild Center and Wild Walk
As I said earlier the Wild Walk at the Wild Center is the big draw for visitors and I can see why. The treetop views of the Adirondacks are breathtaking. I would love to return during peak fall foliage season.
The Wild Walk was the busiest area of the Wild Center that we visited. If you would like to explore with less crowds I recommend visiting first during your visit, although I am sure it is busy at most points of the day.
There are hanging bridges, a spider web 25ft in the air, and the eagles nest. The Eagles nest gives a birds eye view of the mountains that you don’t want to miss.
It is one group at a time at the top and we waited about 5 minutes for our turn.
Tips for Visiting the Wild Center in Tupper Lake New York
If you are planning a visit to the Wild Center here are a few tips to keep in mind.
- Pack a backpack with water bottles and snacks.
- Be prepared for changes in the weather. Dress in layers.
- Pack sunscreen and bug spray.
- Don’t rush through. Give yourself time to experience the exhibits.
Is the Wild Center Worth It?
Yes! We thought the Wild Center was worth the visit. You can take as little or as long as you would like to visit and each exhibit has something for everyone.
How long does the Wild Walk take?
We arrived at 10:00am opening and stayed until around 3:30pm. This included visiting all the exhibits and the canoe experience. I would plan at least 2-3 hours to explore all the trails during a visit.
Is the Wild Center accessible by wheelchair or stroller?
Yes. Guests can visit the Wild Center with a wheelchair or stroller. The Wild Walk is paved for people to enjoy most of the views.
Things to Do Around Tupper Lake and The Wild Center
Where to Stay Near the Wild Center
If you are looking for accommodations near the Wild Center you want to start your search in Tupper Lake or Saranac Lake. There are hotels, motels, house rentals, as well as campgrounds to stay in.
We stayed at the Lake Clear Lodge and Resort. The cabins fit our family of five and was more of a campground than a resort. It also catered to an older couples crowd more so than families.
The grounds offer Lake views, trails, as well as special themed dining nights. If you are looking for cabins this may be a great choice for your family.
If you prefer hotels check accommodations in Lake Placid or Saranac Lake.
Where to Eat Near the Wild Center
There are many options for unique and delicious places to eat around The Wild Center. We ate lunch at their brown bag grab and go and were pleased with the choices. If you are staying the weekend I suggest dining at the Raquette River Brewing.
Raquette River Brewing has food trucks and outdoor dining which was great with a family of five. We each found something to eat that we liked and we appreciated the availability of outdoor dining.
Also check out The Washboard Donut Shop. It is inside a laundromat and accept cash only. The really cool part about this stop is you can customize your toppings on your doughnut picks. We loved the Maple Bacon and Cinnamon Sugar!
Attractions Near the Wild Center
If you are looking for attractions near The Wild Center consider visiting Lake Placid or Saranac Lake. Lake Placid was home to the 1980 Olympics and to this day is a training facility for future athletes.
Saranac Lake has a great village to explore. Goody Goodys is a toy store that is fun to explore. If you are looking for outdoor activities the Bug Crawl is located within the village. The Bug Crawl is a sculpture scavenger hunt that features sculptures made of recycled material.
Our Tupper Lake Weekend Itinerary
When returning home from a trip I always like to share our itinerary to help you plan your own weekend. A few of the dining stops didn’t work out because of our schedule but I’m hoping to include them next time.
Day 1: Rochester, NY to Tupper Lake, NY (4 hour and 8 minutes)
- Started the Drive to Lake Clear Lodge
- Checked into Cabin, explored the trails at resort.
- Picnic Dinner from Resort at our Cabin
Day 2: The Wild Center
- Breakfast at The Washboard Donut Shop To-Go
- Morning/Lunch/Afternoon at The Wild Center
- Dinner at Raquette River Brewing
- Evening sunset and canoe ride at Lake Clear Lodge
Day 3: Saranac Lake and Lake Placid
- Breakfast at Blue Moon Cafe (We had planned to eat at Blue Moon Cafe but it was unexpectedly closed for the weekend. We are keeping it on the list because the menu looked delicious and I would love to try it on our next visit.
- Drove to Lake Placid and explored the Olympic Museum (This is currently under construction but because we were 15 minutes away we decided to drive around and explore. If you have more time you can book the gondola or other attractions.)
- Lunch at Well Dressed Food (This was another place we didn’t get to try because of unforeseen issues but I am keeping on the list for our next visit.)
Our visit to The Wild Center and Tupper Lake was such a great place to reconnect and recharge as a family. We will definitely be planning a visit back to the Wild Center.
Read Next: Planning a Weekend in Lake George with Kids
Leah has been traveling with her family of 5 since 2012 and sharing her expertise on planning family vacations and visiting theme parks since 2016. Leah has been featured in Visit Rochester, Undercover Tourist, and Home Publications. She has worked with brands like Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, Hersheypark, Toyota, and various Tourism boards and destinations. Leah creates family travel itineraries based on real trip experiences with her family. Her guides and tips help others plan great family vacations. Learn more about Leah and Five for the Road.