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From indoor water parks to fantastic zoos and parks, go wild to the west

SUMMER GUIDE '10: Day trips to the west 

From indoor water parks to fantastic zoos and parks, go wild to the west

BY KATE ANTONIADES

Splash Lagoon

Drive time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

This indoor water park spans nearly an acre and boasts a "tropical 84-degree Polynesian atmosphere." Aimed at water-lovers of all ages, Splash Lagoon offers a lazy river, several different slides and whirlpools, "Paradise Cove" for the over-21 crowd, and "MonkeyShinesIsland" for the park's youngest visitors. The water-free attractions include laser tag and an arcade.

The park is generally open 10 a.m.-9 p.m., opening an hour earlier on weekends. Day passes run from $12.95 (spectator pass) to $34.95 (all-day admission for those over 48 inches tall). For discounted fees, delay your park visit until 4 p.m. or check the website for coupons.

Splash Lagoon is located at 8091 Peach St. in Erie, Pennsylvania. For more information call 1-866-3-SPLASH or visit splashlagoon.com.

Frank Lloyd Wright Martin House Complex

Drive time: 70 minutes

Considered one of the best examples of Frank Lloyd Wright's work, the Martin House Complex in Buffalo includes five buildings designed and built during the first decade of the 20th century. Wright called the complex his "opus."

The complex demonstrates the PrairieSchool style, an architectural movement Wright developed. Features of homes built in this style, which was popularized in the Midwest, include overhanging eaves, horizontal lines, and open floor plans.

Visitors can choose from "in-depth" (two-hour, $25-$30) and "basic" (90-minute, $10-$15) tour options; call or visit the website for details and schedules.

The Martin House Complex is located at 125 Jewett Parkway, Buffalo. For more information call 716-856-3858 or visit darwinmartinhouse.org.

Old FortNiagara

Drive time:100 minutes

Each year, 100,000 visitors pay a visit to this 18th century fortress that stands about 20 minutes from Niagara Falls. During its three-century history, three countries have held the fort: France, Great Britain, and the United States, which has continuously controlled it since 1815.

Besides the many structures on site, the spot offers a collection of military artifacts and other archaeological objects, as well as an extensive library and archives. Check the fort's website for details on this summer's military reenactment events.

The fort is open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m., with extended hours until 7 p.m. July through August. Admission fees are $10 for adults and $6 for children age 6-12; children under 6 get in free.

Old FortNiagara is located on Robert Moses Parkway in Youngstown, N.Y. For more information call 716-745-7611, or visit https://oldfortniagara.org.

Stratford Shakespeare Theatre's Costume and Props Warehouse

Day trip: 3 hours 45 minutes

If you're considering catching a play this summer at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival (whose 12 current offerings include "As You Like It" and "The Tempest"), don't miss this little-known spot, one of the world's largest costume warehouses. The collection contains 50,000 props and costumes from past productions. Some items gain a second life when they're rented out to theater companies and movie studios across North America.

Behind-the scenes tours begin in May and run through October on most Tuesdays through Saturdays. Fees are $8 per person (discounted to $6 for students and seniors). Call for reservations and to confirm dates.

The warehouse is located 350 Douro St. in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. For more information call 519-271-0055 or visit stratfordfestival.ca.

ClevelandMetroparks Zoo

Drive time: 4 hours, 10 minutes

More than 3000 animals call the Cleveland Zoo home. The zoo, which was founded in 1882, is one of the oldest in the country. It houses 300 species, from agoutis to zebras, including the largest North American collection of primate species. Visitors can see giraffes, lions, ostriches, gray wolves, kangaroos, koalas, red pandas, and more. This summer's "DINOSAURS!" exhibit contains animatronic and sculptured dinos, including the brachiosaurus and Tyranosaurus Rex.

During the summer the zoo is open daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and until 7 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. Admission costs $10 for adults (12 and older) and $7 for children age 2-11. The dinosaur exhibit costs $1 extra.

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is located at 3900 Wildlife Way, Cleveland, Ohio. For more information call 216-661-6500 or visit clemetzoo.com.

BronteCreekProvincialPark

Drive time: 2 hours 20 minutes

If you want to hike, swim, bike, camp, or fish north of the border this summer, Bronte Creek is a good bet. Located between Burlington and Oakville in Canada, the 1,690-acre park boasts a 1.8-acre outdoor swimming pool (one of the largest in Canada), six miles of trails, and 11 picnic shelters. The children's farm gives kids the chance to play in a converted 150-year-old hayloft and learn about barnyard animals, while another farm on site, Spruce Lane, dates to 1899 and offers visitors a glimpse of the Victorian era.

Effective July 1, the vehicle fee is $15 Canadian ($12 for seniors). Nightly campground fees are $39.25 Canadian ($31.50, seniors).

The park is located at 1219 Burloak Drive in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. For more information call 905-827-6911 or visit ontarioparks.com/English/bron.html.

Artpark Free Concert Series

Drive time: 90 minutes

On Tuesdays and Wednesdays this summer, Buffalo will be the place for live music. Two popular concert series at Lewiston's Artpark -- the 36th season of the free shows -- will bring acts ranging from Foreigner and Little Feat to Sloan and the Sadies.

Tuesdays in the Park's lineup features 12 artists and bands scheduled to perform from June 15 through August 31. Seven more artists will perform on Coors Light Wednesdays, July 14 through August 25. Concerts will take place at 6:30 p.m. on the Amphitheater stage that overlooks the Niagara River Gorge. The shows take place rain or shine and the parking fee is $10.

Artpark is located at 450 S. Fourth St., Lewiston, N.Y. For more information call 716-754-4375 or visit artpark.net.

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