Albany and Herkimer, New York-  A Family Day of Touring, Mining and the Erie Canal

The portion of our New York road trip from Albany to Herkimer was one of the most educational part of our road trip- and my kids had so much fun.

Albany, New York

mining herkimer erie canal
The Egg in Empire State Plaza, NY

We first stopped in New York’s capital, Albany. Our favorite part was the Empire State Plaza, where there are many fountains and sculptures. There were many food trucks where we grabbed lunch and listened to live musicians. The Egg is a unique pedestal theater that you can tour.

family road trip through upstate New York.

I always love old churches, so we took a peek inside St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. The church has been around 300 years before the Episcopal Church was established.

Erie, New York

erie canal herkimer mining
Cruise down the Erie Canal.

But the coolest part of the boat ride was being transported up and down the locks- like a boat elevator. I thought it was really neat.

We then went on a cruise on Erie Canal Cruiseswhich was one of the most illuminating parts of our trip. The barge takes you down the Erie Canal on about a 1-hour tour. The boat ride is calm, and we loved our captain, who was very personable and knowledgeable. We learned about the importance of the canal in frontier America. I never realized you could get from inland USA to Mexico with only leaving our waterways for a short distance.

erie canal herkimer mining
Riding the locks


Herkimer, New York

Herkimer seemed like a depressed town, with many empty storefronts. The first restaurant we tried to visit was closed with no signage explaining why. We did some research and ended up at The Godfather’s Hideaway (315-866-5002). This old family home in a neighborhood has surprisingly good Italian food, and we were glad it is where we ended up. The Carbone family still runs it. We particularly enjoyed the Chicken Riggy and the Godfather’s Platter. The portions were plentiful, and the service excellent.

Digging for Diamonds in Herkimer

herkimer mining erie canal. Digging for diamonds.
It was hard work mining for Herkimer Diamonds.
We then went to the Ace of Diamond Mines. It has a store where you can rent all the equipment you need, but I can’t say they were particularly helpful in telling us what to do and we could have used chisels. There were many adults mining there for the Herkimer Diamonds. My kids had fun in our two hours there, but it was scorching and really hard work. You don’t go to a quarry, but there are huge piles of rocks that you have to try to break with hammers and chisels. Good dirty work for boys. We never accomplished getting decent-sized crystals out of the rocks but found a couple of nice ones in the dirt. If it hadn’t just rained, it would have been easier to see them in the dirt pile, and we would have gotten more. We have been to other mines where the kids were able to mine much more comfortable, but the Herkimer Diamonds are something you can only find in this town.
Herkimer Diamonds Erie Canal. Gem mining near me.
Herkimer Diamonds

Check out the next stop on our road trip, Niagara Falls, or explore all of my  New York posts.

Join us on a 9-Day family road trip through upstate New York featuring mining and canals. #NewYorkRoadTrip #famiytravel #familyroadtrip #TBIN

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