The weather in Syracuse, New York, can dictate when indoor activities are good options for entertaining kids. Winters with sub-zero temperatures and heavy snow are often just too cold for extended outdoor activities, while summer's humidity can send families searching for ways to escape the heat. This mid-size city offers a variety of indoor activities and sports catering to children of all ages.
When the kids have energy to burn, take them someplace dark to burn it off -- like a laser tag arena. The Syracuse area offers two state-of-the-art laser tag centers owned by The Fun Junction (www.thefunjunction.com). One is in DeWitt -- a fast 10-minute drive east of downtown Syracuse. The other is in Cicero -- a 15-minute drive. Both locations feature ultraviolet lighting to give kids just enough visual acuity to aim their laser guns at the targets each player wears. Fun Junction recommends laser tag for kids ages 7 and older. Wonder Works (www.wonderworksonline.com) located at the Destiny USA mall has a laser tag maze. Wonder Works has no age recommendation but does require that kids fit properly in the vest.
Syracuse boasts several museums where kids get hands-on experience with the subject material. At the Museum of International Masks and Puppets (www.openhandtheater.org), theatrical camps and workshops offer kids ages 8 to 16 the opportunity to hone their acting and puppetry skills. At the Erie Canal Museum (www.eriecanalmuseum.org), kids can immerse themselves in the history of the region's famous water transportation system. They can learn what life was like between 1825 and 1903 for those walking the "15 miles" along the Erie Canal, leading the mules that pulled boats before there was a larger canal able to handle motorized traffic. The Art Zone at the Everson Museum of Art (www.everson.org) features clay and ceramic stations at which kids of all ages can create their own artwork, which then is displayed at the museum. At the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology (www.most.org), kids can experience the thrill of flying an F-16 fighter jet in the flight simulator, walk through an enormous replica of a heart, take a tour of the stars and the universe in the planetarium and learn more about early communication methods such as the Morse code by creating their own message and amateur radio by tracking positions of satellites.
Membership is required, but with all the offerings available at the Jewish Community Center of Syracuse (www.jccsyr.org), you might find it an efficient option to provide your kids in kindergarten through high school with plenty of indoor fun and activity regardless of your religious affiliation. The center features a rock-climbing wall, karate, soccer and tennis lesson and leagues, a dance school featuring ballet, jazz and tap instruction, and a gymnastics school. The Kidz Club (kidzclubfun.com) is a 6,000-square foot indoor playground for children ages 8 and younger only -- and is located a 25-minute drive north of Syracuse in Phoenix, New York. It has tumble mats, balls, slides and toys and offers kids birthday parties and a cafe featuring kid-friendly foods such as hot dogs, nachos, pizza and pretzels.
Activities for the Younger Set
Satisfy your little one's need to jump up and down a Live 2 Bounce (www.live2bounce.com) in Cicero -- just a 15-minute drive from downtown Syracuse. Children ages 1 to 10 can explore age- and height-appropriate inflatable apparatus located in designated zones designed to limit interaction between younger and older children. The Onondaga County Public Library system (www.onlib.org) with several neighborhood libraries in the greater Syracuse area offers several toddler and preschool story time activity sessions where kids can enjoy themed arts and crafts, puppet finger play and songs to complement the selected stories.
Amy M. Armstrong is a former community news journalist with more than 15 years of experience writing features and covering school districts. She has received more than 40 awards for excellence in journalism and photography. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Washington State University. Armstrong grew up on a dairy farm in western Washington and wrote agricultural news while in college.