The Wild Center: Best Family Adventure in the Adirondacks

Is the Wild Center Worth it?

The Wild Center is beautiful, entertaining, and well worth your time. It’s combines art, nature, play, and education into a calculated, thoughtful masterpiece.

The campus includes hiking trails, creative play spaces, river access, innovative sustainable buildings, opportunities for educational, and so much more. It’s an awesome destination for families with children and those of us who are kids at heart. 

How Long Do I Need At the Wild Center?

I think this is dependent on a few things. In four hours my fiance and I experienced Forest Music, the Indoor Living River Trail, Two Animal Encounters, the Wild Walk, the Stickworks exhibit, and took a quick trip to the playground. We’re fairly efficient individuals, but took our time to enjoy the playful otters after their nap, to read every ounce of information on the River Walk, and to take too many photos!

The good new is that your ticket to The Wild Center it good for two days of admission! If you find yourself wanting more time, you can always come back the following day at no extra cost.

The Wild Center Swing

What Outside Activities are there at The Wild Center?

With 115 acres, there’s nearly endless opportunities to enjoy the outdoors at The Wild Center.

  • Canoeing
    You can hit the water while you’re visiting the Wild Center. Graduate from a river walk to a river paddle by booking a canoe trip. New York State licensed canoe trips run every Saturday and Sunday through mid-October starting at 1 PM. This is a great way to explore the Adirondacks further.

  • Forest Music
    The Forest Music trail is my personal favorite. Forest Music is an immersive sound trail featuring local artwork and a soundtrack that was created specifically for this art exhibit. It’s a treat for the senses and left me feeling incredibly relaxed; I wanted to walk another lap.

  • Pines Wild Play Area
    Check out the Pines Wild Play Area. It’s an amazing space designed for kids to explore and be creative. I love that everything is natural and allows visitors to really use their imagination to create their fun! When we checked it out we were the only kids there, so we made sure to have some fun.

  • Stickwork Exhibit
    Explore a lifesize stick sculpture made from a sustainable sourced, local sapling. This whimsical, immersive art piece serves fairytale vibes and I’m here for it.

  • Walking Trails
    Aside from the Wild Walk, there are plenty of trails for you to meander through the forest on.

  • Wild Walk
    The iconic Wild Walk is what The Wild Center is known for! Take a walk among the tree tops at this famous Adirondack attraction.
Enjoying The Wild Center’s Forest Music

What is the Wild Walk?

Elevate your walk in the woods by taking it to the next level, literally. Ever wonder what the Adirondacks look like from the treetops? Well, the Wild Walk will provide you with the perfect experience. Travel along a trail of bridges and walkways, through tree houses, and into the nest. Take your time taking in the 360 degree views of the Tupper Lake Region.

The Wild Walk Bridges and Treehouses
A Jungle Gym in the Trees

Be sure to stop by the spider web before you leave the trees and return to ground-level. Experience what it feels like to hang high above the forest floor before you continue to explore the 115-acre campus. Visitors of all ages and abilities will thoroughly enjoy this unique view of the Adirondack Park. 

The Nest, Tupper Lake Wild Center
The Nest, Tupper Lake

What Kind of Animals Live Here?

You may not believe it, but the Wild Center is home to over 900 living Adirondack native species. Species include otters, porcupines, owls, snakes, fish, and more! 

You can experience these animals in a variety of ways. Check out the animal viewing window, the outdoor otter play yard, the indoor river trail, or get up close and personal with these Adirondack animal ambassadors during a Creature Feature.

Naturalists will answer any and all questions you might have about the Animals at the Wild  Center. They’re incredibly informative, kind, and knowledgeable! You can see which animals are being featured for the day on the Wild Center Website

Indoor Activities at The Wild Center?

The indoor portion of The Wild Center has some really beautiful opportunities to learn about the Adirondacks, enjoy a meal, and purchase some neat ADK gear.

Indoor Living River Walk

The Indoor Live River Walk is truly one of the neatest indoor exhibits I have ever experienced. This dynamic walking tour begins in the alpine zone of the Adirondacks beloved 4,000 footers and descends, making 12 different stops, into the less visited bogs and marshlands.

As you travel the one-way loop through forests and alongside rivers, you’ll observe and learn about different habitats and wildlife. Be sure to download The Wild Center mobile app for access to the audio content that aligns with each stop along the way.

The River Walk is also home to a water playground, where visitors can watch The Wild Center’s resident fish, turtles, and otters. The large glass tank makes up close viewing of fish and turtles absolutely amazing for the little ones! It’s as if they’re under water with them. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch the otters after a nap so you can see how curious and playful they are. It’s a very beautiful and relaxing place to be.

Flammer Theater

Additionally, The Wild Center is home to Flammer Theater. The theater is currently closed due to the inability to properly social distance, however, it normally features two films. A Matter of Degrees was produced exclusively for The Wild Center and shows the true history of the Adirondacks. The Wild Adirondacks provides stunning images of the most wild parts of the park that most of us are simply not lucky enough to see. When the theater reopens, it’s definitely worth a watch! 

Waterside Café

Break up your exploration with a waterside meal! Order a sandwiches or a salad, made fresh each day. The Wild Center grows their own herbs, and features locally produced meats, cheeses, breads and vegetables at the outdoor grill (when in season and weather permitting).

Waterside café is open daily during the summer season from 10-5, with full lunch service from 10-3:30. In the winter months the café is open from 10-4 whenever the museum is open. The café features both indoor and outdoor seating overlooking Greenleaf Pond.

Wild Supply Co

The one-way loop will bring you to the Main Hall, where you’ll have access to the recently expanded Wild Supply store. From toys and apparel to local maple products, there are a lot of really quality items in here to commemorate your experience with.

What Will My Children Learn From The Wild Center?

Seriously – The Wild Center has outdone themselves. As an educator, I am floored by how many amazing opportunities The Wild Center has for our youth to learn about the Adirondacks.

There are science based activities, virtual field trips, junior naturalists programs, cultural education, and more to be had both in-person and virtually. If you have a curious little explorer, you should really plan a trip to The Wild Center. Check out all of their online resources leading up to your trip to get excited. Visit The Wild Center’s educational tab on their website to learn more specifics! 

Sustainability at The Wild Center
I LOVED this artwork on the Composter… I thought it was so cool how sustainable the Wild Center was!

Should I Visit the Wild Center?

Take a walk on the wild side and see the Adirondacks from a brand new perspective. There aren’t very many places where you walk among the treetops one minute and experience an indoor river walk the next. The Wild Center should be on everyone’s list when they visit the Adirondacks! 

The Wild Center, Stickwork Exhibit

Tips for Visiting the Wild Center in Tupper Lake

  1. Call ahead and schedule your visit time!
  2. Plan you visit for a time when you have two days available to explore since your admission is good for two days.
  3. Check the schedule to see when and what animal encounters are occurring.
  4. Wear proper footwear! Active sandals, sneakers, or boots are definitely best.
  5. Bring layers if you plan to be there all day, especially if you’re going to be inside and out.
  6. Have your SMART phone fully charged so you can listen to the audio tour of the indoor exhibits.
  7. Bundle up and visit during the holiday season to experience Wild Lights!
  8. Many of the walkways, indoor and out, are wheelchair and stroller compatible.

What is there to do Near The Wild Center?

If you’re looking for another beautiful family experience in the Tupper Lake Area, try the local hiking challenge. The following mountains are considered local favorites:

  • Coney Mountain
    Enjoy a steady incline to a vast, rocky summit with near 360-degree views. 2.2 mile hike
  • Goodman Mountain
    Take a 3.5 mile round trip hike up a gentle incline to an open summit with views of the Round Lake Wilderness Area to the southeast and the Horseshoe Wilderness Area to the west. 
  • Mt. Arab
    A 1-mile hike (2 miles round trip) to a gorgeous, well-kept observers cabin and fire tower!

To learn more about this family friendly, local challenge, read the full article. If you hike all three mountains, you earn a patch! It’s a great challenge for families looking to get outdoors together and into hiking.

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