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Albany area Albany - Schenectady - Troy - Saratoga Springs metro area
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Old 03-10-2013, 10:54 AM
13 posts, read 29,617 times
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Aloha- anyone else from Hawaii who has moved to upstate NY? We are contemplating a big move this summer to the area because my husband will have a great job opportunity. He is from the area, and I, myself, have never been to the east coast. It would be a total leap of faith! We have 2 little ones (one is 18 months, and our baby is 4 months old). My main concern that alters my decision to move or not is the kids... we spend our days on the beach now, and it is so hard to imagine a complete 180... a 100% different lifestyle for myself and the babies. What types of fun things are there to do with kids this age?? I am in need of any advice and thoughts from people who know the area.

Thank you so much, in advance!
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Old 03-10-2013, 01:27 PM
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Well obviously there are many differences between the areas.

Fun things for kids:

Depending on where you plan to live, winter is always great for kids. When I was younger I used to spend hours and hours playing in the snow: sledding, skiing, ice skating and snow ball fights! There's a lot of outdoor places to see, like Washington Park in downtown Albany, and the Pine Bush Preserve. There's also a bunch of close mountains nearby. Further away, there's the Adirondacks, and the Catskills for great hiking.

One of the best things for kids around is the history of Albany. It has probably the best museum in Upstate New York: The New York State Museum. It's a free museum that you can spend days wandering around. There's also the State Capital, the Empire State Plaza and the Albany Institute of History and Art.

The Albany Area is home to a local American Hockey League team (Albany Devils) , as well as a single A baseball team (Tri-City Valleycats).

North of Albany in Saratoga Springs is the Saratoga Race Course (which is great fun for kids as they don't have to worry about losing any money).

North of Saratoga is Lake George (which has a nice beach and swimming opportunities) and Great Escape (a large Six Flags-affiliated water and amusement park).

Albany is also relatively close to a bunch of large, fun, touristy cities: New York City, Boston, and Montreal.

That's a few things at least. But its hard to compare to Hawaii which is just so much more naturally beautiful.
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Old 03-10-2013, 01:44 PM
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I appreciate your response and all the details! The NY State Museum sounds awesome! Everything does.... thank you again!
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Old 03-12-2013, 08:10 AM
Location: Capitol Hill - Washington, DC
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I moved to the Syracuse area from Oahu 3.5 years ago. While I don't have kids so can't really answer any kid-related questions, I'd be glad to help you with anything else. My sister lives in Troy, which is just outside of Albany, so I frequent that area as well.
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Old 03-12-2013, 09:46 PM
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Stay in Maui for God's sake... Albany not an awful place but coming from a place without weather you're not going to like it.

As a rule, if you're coming from west of the Mississippi and you want to move east of the Mississippi... don't.
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Old 03-13-2013, 09:06 AM
Location: Albany, NY
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Well, there is lots and lots of outdoor activities, but, of course, the completely different climate will be hard to get used to. Your kids are young enough that they won't notice, but YOU will definitely feel it. hock41 named lots of great activities. 5 Rivers Environmental Education Center in Bethlehem is also a nice outdoors place that has tons of family events. It also has a tiny nature center that young kids like, as well as trails you can explore. In the winter, you can rent snow shoes for only $5 (free for members). And, as hock41 mentioned, the Pine Bush Discovery Center has lots of programs, including weekday preschool programs. Most only cost $5 per family. The Pine Bush Preserve has lots of easy trails that I took my kids on when they were little/in a backpack. Prepare for ticks, though! (Something you will definitely learn about if you are an outdoors person in the Northeast, but the Pine Bush is especially bad.)

Although hours are getting slashed with budget cuts, NYS State Parks are quite decent. Grafton Lakes State Park has a winter festival/ice fishing derby - when there is actually ice. If you go to Grafton Lake, be sure to sidetrack a little and visit the Grafton Peace Pagoda. Thacher State Park is near the Emma Treadwell Nature Center, another place with good programming.

My kids always like Indian Ladder Farm, although I find it a bit commercialized for my taste. There are also lots of farms that have corn mazes in the fall. Keep your kids close to you - it's easy to get lost! Our family is partial to Liberty Ridge Farm.

The Capital District is only an hour's drive from the Berkshire "Mountains" in Western Massachusetts. These are very gentle mountains/hills, which provide great hiking for small kids and kids in backpacks. Ioka Valley Farm is a fun place for kids to visit, especially during Maple Sugar season, usually March.

I don't know anything about libraries in Hawaii, but NY's public libraries are rated higher than most other states and provide lots of free programming for families, including babies. Your kids may be a bit young, but kids like the Children's Museum of Science and Technology, which is quite small, but that may be a plus for young ones.

I have never lived in Hawaii, but I have a friend who grew up there and never visited the mainland until college. I also work with someone whose son lived there for a few years and now lives in California. Both said that the physical beauty is unmatchable there, and there is a real focus on outdoors life that you won't find here. However, they also both said that since outdoors life is the focus, there is much less cultural life than would be expected given the population. My native Hawaiian friend, especially, was amazed at the museums, arts, concerts, lectures, etc. available even in smaller cities in the Northeast. This probably doesn't matter to you now as a parent with kids so young, but it may be more meaningful as they grow older.

You will likely also find the cost of living here refreshing after Hawaii, so it will be easier to save for your kids' futures. If you do choose to come though, it will be a huge adjustment, not just in weather, but in attitude. My Hawaiian friend misses casually walking at a slow pace in what she basically calls pajamas. English. She has mixed feelings about missing the laid back attitudes. She says the stress on the mainland can get to her, but, in her words, because so many people come to Hawaii to "drop out" sometimes their lack of ambition or responsibility drove her crazy.

Best of luck with your decision. It's a big one!

Last edited by sarchivist98; 03-13-2013 at 09:16 AM..
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Old 03-13-2013, 03:49 PM
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Thank you Becca! This means so much to me... we have decided we ARE moving in early June, so gives me a few months to mentally prepare, ha ha. Regarding winter clothes: Obviously, coming from Maui, I have none! Where and when is the best place to do shopping for warmer clothes? I am looking forward to good shopping there! We don't have Kohls or Marshalls or Target here. What would you consider winter "basics/essentials"?
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Old 03-13-2013, 03:52 PM
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You have been SO beyond helpful! I am getting excited thinking about these new things and places to explore. The thought of actually being able to drive to another state and experience a whole new place sounds so amazing to me. The most we can really drive here is about 2 hours I am looking forward to getting my oldest interested in cultural events and museums. I am sure I'll be in contact with you in about 3 months or so once we move. Thank you, again, for all your time! I truly appreciate it.
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Old 03-13-2013, 06:35 PM
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Here's what I can think of at the moment. Feel free to ask me specific questions. I'm a sahm to 4 kids, raised them all in this area.

The outdoorsy things are my favorites, but indoor spots are needed at times!

Children's Museum at Saratoga The Children's Museum at Saratoga
Tiny Tots Tea Room Home | Tiny Tots Tea Room
My Place to Play - MyPlaceToPlay
Town of Colonie Youth Bureau: Toddler Tales
Tot Spot at the JCC Tot Spot (16-24 months) - Schenectady Jewish Community Center

A friend of mine blogs about things to do w/kids Capital District Fun
Resources for New Mothers in the Capital District | Capital District Fun

Winter gear, you can't beat LLbean's warranty, but they are expensive.
I'd suggest 3 in 1 jackets, a fleece zips into a waterproof shell - works for 3 seasons, shell in the spring, fleece in the fall and both in the winter. Jacket, warm gloves & hat for starters. I love winter so I also have waterproof (gortex) pants, gloves, a neck gator (like a fleece tube instead of a scarf) fleece hat.

For sporting goods: Play It Again Sports Latham, NY. New and Used Sporting Goods. This is where I get my kids ice skates, hockey equipment, soccer equipment, etc. I buy pretty much yearly, trade it in yearly for a credit towards the next set of stuff.

For kids winter gear, clothing, toys, etc (look for 2nd 2013 date) Pass It On Children's Consignment Sale, a twice-yearly children's consignment event in Albany, NY.

Other suggestions would be to find a moms' group near where you move to. There are so many in this area, and they are sometimes specific to where you live Albany vs. Troy, etc. Or they are specific to religion or lifestyle.

Consider joining a museum, which also get you into other museums for free. Like if you join MiSci (Schenectady Science Museum) you also get into other local museums like Albany Museum of Art & History and the Children's Science Museum in Troy, but also museums all over the country like the Boston Children's Museum & the Science Museum in Boston for an awesome weekend trip.
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Old 03-13-2013, 06:39 PM
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Good luck with the move! I've enjoyed reading through it as my family will be moving to the area in June as well and I have similar aged kid(s). I have a 2 year old daughter (26 months) and having a boy in May (which is why we are waiting to move). I only live a few hours away from albany now and agree that it's a great area to raise kids. We've visited a bunch of times over the last two months and I'm excited for what the area has to offer. I agree with the others, the weather will be the biggest adjustment for you.
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