It wasn’t until my move to Utica two years ago that I discovered I was getting away to it all and I couldn’t be happier! There are so many things to do in Utica NY it’s no wonder this area is called the “Getaway” Region.
Located in New York’s Oneida County, the Utica-Rome area is home to some fantastic platforms for activities and events and the entire area is family-friendly too. When I first moved here, I figured it would be a summer of fairs and farmers markets, swimming on the lake, apple picking in the fall and some winter sports like skiing and snowmobiling. Now I find that I am starting to have trouble fitting those things in with all the other things to do in Utica NY.
We moved here in August and our first stop was Peterpaul Amusement Park in nearby Rome. Bumper Boats, an arcade room, go-karts (for toddlers too!), and batting cages offered fun for all of my family. My husband (the pool shark) spent an ungodly amount of time challenging everyone who walked through the door of the arcade room to a game of pool. I couldn’t tear my three year old away from the gas powered kiddie karts (he wants one for his birthday). My daughter and I had a blast bashing each other with our bumper boats while we stayed cool in the hot August sun. We left just before closing at 9 pm. and plan to make a couple of visits next year when it opens in April.
We didn’t want to leave The Children’s Museum on Main Street in Utica, which is open year round and has hundreds of hands-on activities for kids of all ages. My kids went crazy over the life sized wooden train and the LED Play Dance Floor. Hubby and I were in awe of the roofs viewable wind turbine and all of the NASA Science exhibits. There are four floors of awesome things to do and you could spend an entire weekend here to see and experience it all. What’s best is that this place is chartered by the Board of Regents so you know your kid is learning something even if they don’t realize it. Who knew there would be so many fun things to do in Utica NY?
My husband and I are both runners so it was exciting to discover The Boilermaker, a 15K race which blasts through Utica every July. It’s the largest 15K race in the country and attracts runners from all over the world, even Olympians! Hubby and I did it in 2012 and we didn’t just watch scenery go by. There were live bands and porch-perched DJ’s along the route as well as lots of cheering crowds inspiring us to keep going. It’s a huge tourist draw for the area and it’s great to know that this race re-invests money back into the community. The race also supports our troops by sending supplies overseas and the soldiers themselves have a Shadow Run in honor of the Boilermaker. There’s even a National Distance Running Hall of Fame here too-we are thrilled! All of this gave us a sense of really belonging and being connected to our new lives in Utica.
Once fall came we headed to The Utica Zoo for its October Spooktacular, an weekend event boasting a Haunted Hall, a Haunted Hayride, trick or treat stations and food-all for a $3 admission. My little ones love the Zoo Adventures and we all loved watching the sea lion feedings. It’s a sweet zoo and we are involved now as Docents or volunteers who teach the public about wildlife and the environment. My daughter can’t wait until her birthday next year so she can become a Junior Docent-I’m so proud of her for wanting to get involved! While there are many things to do in Utica NY but it’s not only all about the kids.
One of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever visited is Utica’s Stanley Theater which boasts nearly 3000 seats and spectacular tiled mosaics. They’ve got a grand staircase where you an make an entrance and you can rent different areas of the Stanley for reception, photo sessions or corporate events. We’ll be going there soon enough for West Side Story, Shaolin Warriors, A Chorus Line, Celtic Women and Elvis Lives. If we can fit it in, we’ll also go see The Addams Family in February too.
We’re looking forward to the winter and Val Bialas Sports Center in Utica, which is one of only two cites in the country whose ski area is contained within its borders. Besides tubing, sledding, skating and skiing they also have a driving range, food and party packages, Who knew there would be so many things to do in Utica NY?