With the holidays right around the corner, are you still searching for the perfect gift for a friend or family member? You’ll find something for all ages – and interests – in our annual gift guide.

MOST Updates Science Shop

It has been a busy year for the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology.

In the spring, the museum opened The National Grid ExploraDome, a state-of-the-art theatre and planetarium, then in mid-August, it unveiled updates to its popular Dino Zone exhibit.

Now its Science Shop has been updated – just in time for the holiday season.

“In a post COVID era, we’re reinventing the museum in how we introduce hands-on education that’s fun, exciting, and engaging,” said Stephanie Herbert, director of marketing at the MOST. “The Science Shop is an important feature because it is a grab and go spot, where the community can take what they learned in the museum, find something similar, and keep practicing at home. So, it was important to us to introduce to the public more hands-on, kid-friendly items that don’t really exist in this area. We’re the only children’s retailer in downtown Syracuse.”

The shop features educational products for all ages, including: science kits, plush toys, books, telescopes and hands-on sensory items (memberships and gift cards are also available for purchase). But the most popular item is the Fill-a-Pouch, a MOST branded pouch that children can fill with gems or minerals.

“Pretty much any science, tech, math thing you can think of, we have it – or we will order it and try to get it,” said Herbert. “For a broad range of prices, you can come in here and find something that is cool and fun, and that you couldn’t really find at a normal store…It’s a fun learning opportunity for both guardians and kids.”

Where: 500 S. Franklin St., Syracuse.
Hours: Thursdays – Sundays from 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (no admission is necessary to visit the shop).
More information: most.org/visit/science-shop.

1. Fill-a-Pouch (geodes, super stones and colored rocks, pictured), $5.99-$7.99
2. Backyard Science & Discovery Workbook: Northeast, $14.95
3. Dig kits, $18.99
4. Lab set, $32.99


Give the Gift of Experiences

Do your children and teens have enough toys and gadgets? Do you struggle every year to come up with ideas for a spouse, friend or family member? This year, gift local experiences to everyone on your list.

For Children and Teens

Art classes
Children and teens will get in touch with their inner artist (and learn about new mediums) during an art class. You can also purchase art kits or sign them up for a private lesson.

  • Kitty Rex Studio (Manlius)
  • Liverpool Art Center (Liverpool)
  • Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute (Utica)
  • Right Mind Syracuse (locations around Central New York)
  • Shades of Orange Art Studio for Kids (Cicero)
  • The Painting Café (Baldwinsville)

Day trips

This year, why not treat your child to a road trip? Rochester, Corning and Cooperstown all offer family-friendly activities. Or plan a staycation, and explore the museums and attractions in your town.

  • The Strong National Museum of Play (Rochester)
  • Corning Museum of Glass (Corning)
  • Baseball Hall of Fame (Cooperstown)
  • Howe Caverns (Howes Cave)

Ithaca Sciencenter
Families can learn about astronomy, weather, sustainability and more through hands-on exhibits. Seven membership options are available – and include free admission to museums around the world.
Location: 601 1st St., Ithaca.
More informationsciencenter.org.

Event tickets

Several popular children’s characters will stop in Central New York this winter, including Bluey and the PAW Patrol (visit each venue’s website to purchase tickets). Make a day of it, and stop by a local restaurant before or after the show.

  • Disney On Ice presents Let’s Celebrate (Jan. 1-2), Upstate Medical University Arena (Syracuse)
  • Disney’s The Little Mermaid (through Jan. 8), Syracuse Stage (Syracuse)
  • PAW Patrol Live! “Heroes Unite” (Feb. 25-26), Landmark Theatre (Syracuse)
  • The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson The Musical (March 10-11), The Oncenter Carrier Theater (Syracuse)
  • Bluey’s Big Play (March 17-18), Landmark Theatre (Syracuse)

Skiing or snowboarding lessons

Does your child or teen want to learn how to ski or snowboard? These mountains and ski hills are the perfect place to start – and they’re all an hour or less from Syracuse.

  • Four Seasons Golf & Ski Center (Fayetteville)
  • Greek Peak Mountain Resort (Cortland)
  • Labrador Mountain and Song Mountain (Truxton and Tully)
  • Woods Valley Ski Area (Westernville)
  • Skaneateles Ski Club (Marietta)

Other ideas: Music classes; theatre classes; passes to an amusement park or water park; summer camp; movie tickets; concert tickets.

For Mom and Dad

A day of pampering and relaxation Moms (and dads!) have a lot on their plate. Purchase a gift certificate from a local spa or float center – and they’ll be stress-free in no time.

  • Bodymind Float Center (Syracuse)
  • CNY Healing Arts (Syracuse)
  • Mirbeau Inn & Spa Skaneateles (Skaneateles)
  • Skana Spa, Turning Stone Resort Casino (Verona)

La Fleur de Beauté
Skin Care is our ONLY Business! LaFleur de Beauté offers a variety of services, including facials, massages, and manicures and pedicures. Purchase a gift card online or take advantage of our monthly specials.
Location: 6900 Highbridge Road, Fayetteville.
More information: lafleurdayspa.com.

Gift certificate or season pass for a local golf course
Did you know Central New York is home to more than 60 golf courses (according to visitcentralnewyork.com)? Whether your friend or family member is new to the sport – or has been playing for years – you can treat them to a day on the course with a gift certificate or membership.

  • City of Syracuse Golf Courses (Burnet and Sunnycrest)
  • CNY PGA Player’s Card
  • Drumlins Country Club (Syracuse)
  • Lyndon Golf Course (Fayetteville)
  • Radisson Greens (Baldwinsville)
  • Sunset Ridge Golf Club (Marcellus)
  • The Links at Erie Village (East Syracuse)
  • Turning Stone Resort Casino (Verona)

Performing arts tickets
There is no shortage of places to catch a show or concert in Central New York – and tickets are the perfect gift for the theatre or music enthusiast in your life. Visit each venue’s website for a list of future events.

  • Auburn Public Theater (Auburn)
  • Cortland Repertory Theatre (Cortland)
  • Symphoria (Syracuse)
  • Syracuse City Ballet (Syracuse)
  • Syracuse Opera (Syracuse)
  • The Stanley Theatre (Utica)

Broadway in Syracuse
Give the gift of theatre this season with tickets to a show! Upcoming shows include Tootsie, Mannheim Steamroller Christmas, Anastasia, Come From Away, Dear Evan Hansen and STOMP. Gift certificates also available.
More information: BroadwayInSyracuse.com.

Sports tickets

Is dad (or mom) a huge sports fan? Purchase tickets for an upcoming game – or gift merchandise or memorabilia from their favorite local team. (This would also be a great present for children and teens.)

  • Local colleges and universities
  • Syracuse Crunch (Syracuse)
  • Syracuse Mets (Syracuse)
  • Utica City FC (Utica)
  • Utica Comets (Utica)

Other ideas: Gift certificate for a local restaurant; cooking classes; donation to a local non-profit organization; yoga classes; pass for state parks.

Make sure to also check out these local businesses

Art Mart
Come shop for unique gifts created by local artists. Featuring paintings, photography, pottery, jewelry, fabric and glass. Nov. 4 through Dec. 24, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday.
Where: 433 S. Warren St., Syracuse.
More information: facebook.com/artmartsyracuse.

Baltimore Woods Nature Center
Give the gift of nature year-round! Stop by the Interpretive Center gift shop to browse locally crafted and nature-themed items or pick up a gift certificate or membership. Our trails are open every day from dawn to dusk – free of charge!
Where: 4007 Bishop Hill Road, Marcellus.
More information: baltimorewoods.org.

Canterbury Stables
Is your child interested in horses? Located in Cazenovia, Canterbury Stables offers lessons all age groups and experience levels. Gift certificates are available.
Location: 4786 Roberts Road, Cazenovia.
More information: canterburystables.com.

Everson Museum of Art
The Everson Museum houses more than 10,000 pieces of art, including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, photography and videos. Memberships are available for purchase on its website, and include admission to all exhibits, member pricing for events and programs and more.
Location: 401 Harrison St., Syracuse.
More information: everson.org.

H. Lee White Maritime Museum at Oswego
The H. Lee White Maritime Museum at Oswego will host its Christmas at Sea Annual Open House on Sunday, Dec. 11 from 1-4:30 p.m. Make sure to also stop by the city’s Holiday History Shoppe, which will include maritime gifts from the museum (it will be open Thursday-Saturday during the month of December).
Location: 1 W. First St., Oswego.
More information: hlwmm.org.

Inlet, New York
This holiday season, treat a family member (or yourself) to a weekend away. Located along the Fulton Chain of Lakes in the Adirondacks, the town of Inlet is home to shopping, boating, fishing, snowboarding and more.
More information: inletny.com.

Smith Housewares & Restaurant Supply
Home of Hyman Smith Coffee, Smith Housewares & Restaurant Supply has a variety of gifts for the coffee lover in your life. Choose from a variety of blends, including Hazelnut and French Vanilla, as well as coffee accessories, roasting supplies and gift cards.
Location: 3140 Erie Blvd E., Dewitt.
More information: smithrestaurantsupply.com.

Weiss, Savedoff & Ciccone
With two locations, Weiss, Savedoff & Ciccone offers a variety of fashion frames, including Calvin Klein, Banana Republic, and Kate Spade. Customers can try them on virtually and add their favorites to a wish list.
Location: 60 Presidential Plaza, Madison Tower, Syracuse (downtown location); 8116 Cazenovia Road, Seven Pines, Building #7, Manlius (Manlius location).
More information: eye-care1.com.


Courtney Kless is the Editor in Chief of Family Times. Courtney is originally from Maryland. She earned her Master’s degree in Magazine, Newspaper and Online Journalism from Syracuse University. Courtney began her career as a sports journalist, then spent several years working in higher education, before joining the company in August 2019. She enjoys traveling, reading and hiking, and recently adopted a Labrador Retriever, Bailey.

Exit mobile version