On my very first adventure that I shared with you, we talked about Green Lakes and what a great park it is. Today’s trip takes us just a bit ‘down the road’ to Chittenango, New York. This adventure will bring you up close and personal with some animals, down a steep staircase to a beautiful waterfall, and walking along a famous movie landmark. Be sure to pack your lunch!
The Wild Animal Park
This trip is best begun at The Wild Animal Park, which has quickly become one of my favorite summer hangouts. The Wild is a small (but quickly growing) family-owned zoo that is only a few years old. Each year, there have been noticeable improvements, expansions, and new animals. While slightly more expansive than the zoo in Syracuse, The Wild offers so much more in its experience. The layout of the park is well thought-out and lets the animals have large exhibits while letting visitors get as close as is safe. You can tell the animals are happy and well taken care of. If you visit, be sure to catch some of the demonstrations that the caretakers do – you can see the intimate relationship they have with the animals. The lions and tigers really act like big cats!
Spend the two or three dollars on carrots so you can feed Jase & Jasmine, the giraffes. It’s such a great experience and shouldn’t be missed. I also recommend following The Wild on Facebook because you get to see the new animals as they are acquired and watch the owner and his family raise them in their home as pets. If you’re a local, the season pass is available for about the same price as three visits – well worth it!
The village of Chittenango
Once you’re done at the park, travel a few miles south on Route 3 til you get to the quaint village of Chittenango. It’s a small place, but a fun one to visit, as it was the home of L. Frank Baum, the author of ever-famous The Wizard of Oz. Just as you’ve always dreamed of doing, you can walk along the yellow brick road with your own two feet.
Parts of the sidewalk in Chittenango are indeed made with yellow bricks. It makes for a fun photo opportunity, and you don’t need to worry about flying monkeys! Chittenango really embraces it’s connection to the Wizard of Oz, most notably through the annual Oz-Stravanganza Festival and most recently with the opening of the Yellow Brick Road Casino. The festival celebrates the movie and it’s history every June and served as a yearly reunion for the munchkins and other actors from the movie. It truly is a one-of-a-kind event!
Once you’re done visiting the village, get back on the road to go a little further to Chittenango Falls State Park. You’ll see the creek meandering along the road on your way there; don’t be afraid to pull over and take some photos! There are a couple of pull-off spots where it is safe to do so. Once you get to the park, there is a $3 or $5 (weekday/weekend rates) fee – cheaper than most state parks, or FREE with your Empire Pass! There are lots of spots at the park for you to enjoy a picnic lunch, so spread out a blanket and relax!
The park is dog-friendly, so bring your furry friends with you (on a leash of course). When you’re ready to walk down to see the falls, be careful – there are several steps made of stone, some uneven or steep. But the trip down is well worth it! There is a bridge crossing the creek at the bottom of the falls and it makes for some great views and photos. You can wade in the water there and relax until you’ve regained the energy you need to climb the stairs! If you’re looking for a longer hike, there are some trails on the other side of the parking lot. While there are no waterfalls to see along the trail, it does make for a pretty walk in the woods.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our trip to Chittenango; it has become a local favorite of mine year-round!