By Molly Congdon
Summer at least unofficially ended Sept. 7, and the kids are back in school.
But you can keep summer alive a little longer with some close-to-home excursions. Here are five to excite and entertain the kids that are inexpensive or free. And don’t worry, adults, you’ll have some fun too.
Clifton Common Playground
Clifton Common Boulevard, Clifton Park
There are many parks full of slides, swings and colorful composite, but this one beats them handily in all its wooden glory. For tiny humans, this place is a dream. Here they are able to travel through a labyrinth of winding corridors, shaky bridges and castle towers.
The best part of all? Snowball fights can occur year round; thank Prestige — the ice rink next door. The mound of frozen water piled at its back door is never-ending and can even be found during those 90 degree days.
Empire State Plaza, Albany
Are you a fan of the Empire State Building? Love looking at the world from great heights? Or at least gazing out at the beautiful city of Albany and beyond?
The observation deck on this 42-story building — the tallest in the state outside of the skyscrapers of New York City — is the place to take children of any age.
There is something magical about looking at the area where you live from a whole different perspective, when you feel tall in comparison to a world so small.
It’s free, and open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The Crossings of Colonie
580 Albany-Shaker Road, Colonie
This public park, aside from being quite massive, is a sight to behold. The perfect place to go for a walk, have an afternoon picnic or play a rousing game of freeze tag. There is no shortage of open space to run and frolic and — most importantly — let the imagination run wild.
The nature trails are even more beautiful in the fall with the foliage in shades of red, orange and yellow.
Flight Trampoline Park
30 Post Road, Albany, NY 12205
Peter Pan didn’t have his logistics quite right with his happy thoughts and pixie dust theory; all it takes is one jump to soar high into the air. This isn’t as inexpensive as your other options, but sometimes it’s worth splurging on a special occasion. After only a few minutes you won’t regret it, especially once you see a toothy smile spread across your child’s face.
Visit albany.flighttrampolinepark.com for hours, which vary day to day. Prices start at $9 for a half hour of jumping ($8 for kids 2-6).
117 Mohawk Ave., Scotia
There is nothing better than catching a movie with your little one, especially when you don’t have to pay outrageous prices. At this single-screen theater, it’s only $5 for adults and $3.50 for kids under 12. Score!
The doors opened in 1929 and even though it’s had a few face-lifts, the old-fashioned essence has been preserved. Grab some popcorn and enjoy.
Just remember to have cash on hand; they don’t accept credit or debit cards.