Spots close to home that can stretch a child’s imagination, build vocabulary, and maybe bolster the body are listed below. Most are usual suspects, “but sometimes we forget that these places are there and they have such a wealth of resources,” said Lynn Shanahan, associate professor of learning and instruction at the University at Buffalo.
Albright-Knox Art Gallery (albrightknox.org): Offerings include summer art camps for kids.
Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens (buffalogardens.com): The complex in South Park includes youth camp for as little as $19 a day; a Garden Railway Exhibit runs through Sunday.
Buffalo Museum of Science (sciencebuff.org): Fun learning opportunities include theaters, special programs and interactive exhibits that include the new “Make Your Summer” lab that encourages crafting, designing, building and inventing.
Buffalo Zoo (buffalozoo.org): This 23.5-acre site in Delaware Park is the third-oldest zoo in America. Along with exhibits, it has summer programs and special events for kids of all ages.
Canalside (canalsidebuffalo.com): Water sports, play areas and special events for families are part of the daily fun in the new hub of downtown.
Darwin Martin House (darwinmartinhouse.org): Tours provide a wealth of information on Frank Lloyd Wright and the history of Buffalo architecture; kids and family programs are also offered.
Explore & More Children’s Museum (exploreandmore.org): Along with exhibits and programs in its East Aurora home, the museum also hosts Family Fun Fridays at Canalside and Super Saturdays on Old Falls Street in Niagara Falls.
Forest Lawn (forest-lawn.com): “Our kids kind of looked at us when we told them we were going to a cemetery, but the history there is just phenomenal,” said Buffalo & Erie County Public Library System Director Mary Jean Jakubowski. Trolley and walking tours are available.
Niagara Falls State Park (niagarafallsstatepark.com): The Niagara Gorge Discovery and Visitors centers provide film and exhibits about the geography and history of the famous cataracts; meet a seal, see a magic show and glimpse more than 1,500 sea creatures at the nearby Aquarium of Niagara (aquariumofniagara.org)
Old Fort Niagara (oldfortniagara.org): This historic site at the mouth of the Niagara River outside Youngstown features re-enactors, and frequent special events and programs geared toward families.
Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve (reinsteinwoods.org): Trails include panels that share information about the history and terrain of this Cheektowaga park; youth programs offered.
Tifft Nature Preserve (tifft.org): 264-acre nature refuge includes trails, a visitor center and youth and family programs; free family yoga classes run from 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays; you must register first at buddingtreeyoga.com.
Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Museum (trsite.org): “Offers a window of Western New York of yesterday and many presidents who had a Buffalo connection,” Jakubowski said.
• Kids yoga: Little Pretzels meet at 9 a.m. Saturday and next Saturday, Power Yoga Buffalo, 758 Elmwood Ave.; cost is $10. To sign up and for more info, visit poweryogabuffalo.com.
• Explore and more bike tours: For kids 14 and over, 2 p.m. Sundays in various parts of the city. Cost is $15; for more info and to reserve a spot, visit explorebuffalo.org or call 245-3032.
• Kidding Around family yoga: 3 p.m. Tuesday, Canalside. Families can learn easy yoga poses along with breathing techniques used in yoga. Storytelling will be incorporated to make it more kid-friendly. Bring your own yoga mat.
• Exercise Like the Animals: Fitness classes for kids at 11:30 a.m. and noon Monday to Friday through August, Canalside. Also 9:30 to 11 a.m. Monday to Thursday through July at River Fest Park, Ohio and Moore streets. Space is limited in River Fest Park; call 310-4234 to reserve a spot. For more info, visit exerciselike-theanimals.com.
• Zumba Kids: 6 p.m. Thursday, Day Road Park near the gazebo, East High Street and Ernest Road, Town of Lockport.
• [BN] Chess: Chess coach Michael A. McDuffie of the Archangel 8 Chess Academy will offer free chess from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, The Buffalo NewsRoom at Canalside, Scott and Washington streets.
– Scott Scanlon