With some nice weather finally here, and vacation time is just around the corner, we know that you want to go somewhere to get away. Maybe you think gas prices are too high, and you’ll need to travel a long distance for a change of scenery, and escape to do a little relaxing. Here a list of places that are so close to you, you probably won’t even use much gas, even if you go to each place on five different days.

1) Five Rivers is just outside of Delmar

Five Rivers Environmental Center

Like their website says-Five Rivers Environmental Education Center is a living museum. There's a building that houses some living wildlife, like an owl and plenty of information about the Five Rivers environment. A lot of well marked hiking trails and places to just sit, observe and just relax. Bring a lunch and spend the day.

2) Thacher Park is in the Helderberg Mountains

Thacher Park In The Helderbergs

John Boyd Thacher Park was almost a casualty of state budget cuts last year, but fortunately survived. There are many places to go within the park area, like numerous picnic areas and like Five Rivers, well marked hiking trails. Keep in mind, some of the picnic areas charge a fee. Check out the Indian Ladder Trail and my favorite, the overlook.

3) Pine Bush Preserve is literally in the back yard of WGNA, in Albany, Colonie, SCHECNECTADY and Guilderland

The Pine Bush

This one is really close to home for us. The WGNA studios and offices are in the Pine Bush. Also known as The Pine Bush Preserve,this is another place to bring the family and explore nature, complete with many hiking trails. Bring some water with you and take one of the trails. You may want to get more information at the Discovery Center before you do any exploring. You might want to be aware of the rules before you head out. These are set to maintain the area.

4) The Crossings Of Colonie is on Albany-Shaker Road near Wolf Road.

The Crossings Of Colonie

I call this the "Central Park Of Colonie." The Crossings Of Colonie is a fairly new park, but what a great family place. It features a good sized playground, picnic and barbecue areas. There is also a pavilion and a couple of stylish buildings that can be rented. There are only a few hiking trails, but they are pretty lengthy. Don't forget to check out the pond, complete with ducks and fish. Just a personal side note, this is where I proposed to my wife Linda.

5) Rennselaer Lake, Also Known As Six Mile Water Works is on Fuller Road in Albany

Rennselaer Lake, Also Known As Six-Mile Water Works

Here's a place that is actually in the city of Albany and town of Colonie- Rensselaer Lake. Most of us just call it Six Mile Water Works. At one time, it served as Albany’s first municipally-owned drinking water supply. It's also a part of the Pine Bush. There are picnic and barbecue areas, a playground and of course, the lake. Great to walk around, take a boat on or do some fishing.

So pack up a lunch and bring your family and friends and getaway for some nearby day trips. You may want to bring some good hiking footwear because you may want to explore some of the beautiful trails each place has to offer. By the way, they’re all in Albany County and most are free. Where are some places close to you that you know of?

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