The Wild Center—Exploring a Natural Playground

Indoor Pond Nature Study at The Wild Center, Tupper Lake, New York

The Wild Center is one more reason to explore the Adirondacks and a terrific adventure for families. We could not wait to plan our trip and experience this natural playground set in the mountains and forest. This educational center hosts interactive and hands-on learning experiences to encourage Visual Thinking Strategies, a new concept in modern science.


5B6886CE-A316-43D2-8AE6-2EEE48F022DEThe main building hosts an array of areas to enjoy the many facets of The Wild Center. Visitors are encouraged to observe, think, listen and communicate as they explore each area. Unlike many other types of museums, children are encouraged to inquire, examine and discover. Science is fun!

Hall of the Adirondacks

The Hall of the Adirondacks lets you explore and understand the unique nature that is found in the region. Live dioramas let you view fish, turtles and plant species as they can be found in nature.

River Otter

The river otters have their own special area at Otter Falls. These adorably curious and energetic cuties make their home at the The Wild Center. There are about five different otters, but they only come out into the enclosure one or two at a time to swim, eat and play in this exhibit. There is a daily Naturalist talk at Otter Falls and you can also check out their special behind-the-scenes tour that lets you see their backstage play area. This backstage tour gives you views of their enrichment programs, but you must register in advance and pay a small fee per person.

Check their calendar for daily viewings.

Daily Animal Encounters

7F59BF2E-CFB2-4E4C-9976-71DFED666436You can find daily animal encounters in the Big Wolf Great Hall (Main Entrance, Main Building) bringing you up close and personal with snakes, turtles, blue jays, owls and porcupines. The Naturalist on hand is happy to discuss the animal’s behaviors and activities. Check the calendar when planning your visit so you can plan the encounter along with your activities. We were fortunate to time our visit with Stickley, the adorable porcupine!

Daily Schedule Calendar Link

Planet Adirondack

A061BD92-37AF-46BB-AF85-675ED3CF1FC4Planet Adirondack is a fun exhibit that gives you a “space-eye view of the Earth.” Directed by the staff, the high tech system of cameras shows you views from space looking down on our planet. We especially enjoyed watching storms in real time!

Flammer Theater

The Flammer Theater offers daily viewings of short feature films that explore the history and wonder of the Adirondacks.  Multiple viewings are available throughout the day in this special wide-screen theater.

Naturalist’s Cabinet


The Naturalist’s Cabinet is a large sunlit room filled with shelves and drawers that are designed for your curiosity. We found this to be one of the most interesting places to explore. Plan some time to enjoy discovering what’s inside these cabinets during your visit.


The Wild Center sits on 115 acres that include forests, a winding river, a trout-filled pond, and walking trails. It is the outside that most definitely gives The Wild Center its name. You can explore on your own or chose a guided Naturalist Walk.


Pines Wild Play Area

This terrific play area for kids was designed to encourage children reconnecting with nature. There are no plastic slides or swings at this playground: only nature’s bounty. Kids are encourages to explore and use their creativity in this forest clearing. Whether you climb on the roots of the large upturned tree, build a fort with the large sticks, make some music on log drums, or create your own masterpiece, you will love this natural play area. (There’s a nearby are for adults to sit and relax.)

Canoe Trips & Stand Up Paddleboard

Canoe Trips are led by a Wild Center Naturalist who is also a NYS Licensed Guide. Your journey takes you on a two hour trip exploring the marsh habitats and native wildlife on the Raquettes River’s Oxbow. Registration is required in advance and fills up quickly so plan ahead. Each canoe will hold the equivalent of two adults and two children. Life vests supplied.

Stand Up Paddleboard Trips are led by a Wild Center Naturalist who is also a NYS Licensed Guide. Your journey takes you on a two hour trip exploring the marsh habitats and native wildlife on the Raquettes River’s Oxbow. Registration is required. You can choose the sit, stand or kneel position. Children must be 10 and older. Life vests supplied.


1848C264-36CB-4A7F-AA0C-0FE58FD400BCThis trail walk is a really interesting perspective of nature. There are 24 speakers arranged around a 1,000 foot loop along the trail. Each speaker plays a segment of Pete Wyer’s music composition “I Walk Towards Myself.” As you journey along the trail the speakers create a unique auditory experience for you to enjoy.

The Wild Walk

The Wild Walk is what lured us to The Wild Center. We couldn’t resist a trail among the treetops of the Adirondacks. A bird’s eye view is just what we hoped for.

You can explore each aspect of this three-story high suspended playground with every member of the family. It is “accessible to people of all generations and abilities.”

You will enjoy exploring all of the different wildlife inspired areas from the spider’s web to the bird’s nest and then over to the Snag. You won’t feel that you are thirty feet in the air, but you’ll enjoy the terrific aerial view of the forest looking towards the mountains.


  • Website
  • 45 Museum Drive, Tupper Lake, NY 12986, 518 359-7800
  • Current Hours—The Wild Center is open Friday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm.
  • BF66F7F5-5C23-408A-BDBE-0CEA2D9D7901Ticket Pricing (Tickets are good for two consecutive days.)
    • MembersFree
    • Age 4 and UnderFree
    • Youth Ticket (5 – 17)$10
    • Adult Ticket (18 – 64)$17
    • Senior/Military Ticket (65+)$15
  • Other Pricing
    • Canoe (cost per boat)— $30 member/$45 non-member
    • Paddleboard— $30 member/$45 non-member
    • Behind the Scenes Tours— Members are $5 per person, age 5 and older. For non-members with paid admission, Adults are $10 and Youth are $7 (ages 5-17).
  • Pet Policy—“While we all love our pets, dogs, except for service dogs, are not allowed in the Center, on Wild Walk, or on our trail system during open hours.”


Family Adventure Rating ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Cost– This adventure can be costly for a quick visit, but your ticket is good for two days which can spread out the cost. Admission for a family of five is about $64. Add the extra amenities and you can have a full two day adventure starting at $135. They have a cafe, but you are welcome to bring your own food. The gift shop is a bit high-end so steer clear if you’re on a tight budget; otherwise, enjoy the goods.

C84A1223-EA77-4F3E-B2F2-51B2385C4C3FParking & Transportation– You will not find mass transportation in this area. (The nearest Amtrak station is 30 miles away.) You definitely need a vehicle to explore this area. There is plenty of parking in The Wild Center’s lot and there’s no charge.

Location– The Wild Center is located quite a distance for most people, but the area itself is worthy of the drive and an overnight stay. The Adirondack region is a paradise for nature and outdoor lovers. Tupper Lake is in Adirondack Park and part of the Tri-Lakes Region giving it awesome neighbors, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid.



Day Trip or Overnight– This area makes a wonderful overnight trip. We spent two nights there and it wasn’t enough once we started to expand our adventure into Lake Placid. We can’t wait to plan another trip.

Experience– We planned our trip to this area based on visiting The Wild Center at the beginning of Fall. We stayed nearby to maximize our adventure. If we had to do it again, we would have stayed closer to Lake Placid and made The Wild Center a partial day activity. This is due to the fact that Tupper Lake is predominantly a summer town and the items we were most interested in exploring at The Wild Center were geared more towards children. We were disappointed that there was less adventure and more playground for our more mature family. If our family had younger children this would have been an epic day. There are activities an adult can enjoy, they just weren’t what we had planned in advance.

Combination– There is so much to do in Adirondack Park and the Tri-Lake Region. During our visit we explored the Whiteface Mountain Summit, the village of Lake Placid, and High Falls Gorge. If we had more time we would have loved to explore some of the amazing and popular hiking trails, the Cloudsplitter Gondola Ride and the Olympic Jumping Complex. Here are some great links to get you started:

701AE2D0-0BB8-4FBA-8D3C-938924CC3659Whiteface Mountain

Lake Placid

Fort Ticonderoga


Explore the Natural Playground of the Wild Center, New York

Published by newyorkfamilyadventures

Momager, New Yorker, Travel Blogger, Actress, Martial Artist, Amateur Photographer, Writer, Conservationist

10 thoughts on “The Wild Center—Exploring a Natural Playground

  1. That is such a great region and I haven’t been there in a long time. It was good to read about The Wild Center, as it is new to me. Thank you for the thorough description and the excellent tips at the end. Great post!

  2. Nice read Emily! Makes the reader feel like they’re there! Why not write a book about your adventures? 🙂

  3. Don’t say it don’t say it don’t say it – those otters like otter-able. Okay, you’ve planted the idea of visiting a zoo in my head now. These pictures are beautiful!

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