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Sunday, August 29, 2021

Weekender's Guide to: Adirondacks (Lake Placid area - summer!)

Lake Placid
Lake Placid, New York

We had big plans for our anniversary weekend. A familiar theme for 2021?

When the delta variant made travel insanely complicated and questionable, we decided to find some adventure and relaxation here in the Northeast. I had always loved the quiet and the beauty of the Adirondacks and past trips took me snowmobiling and snowshoeing in the winter and hiking and rafting in the summer. 

I recommend the Adirondacks to just about anyone because there is something for everyone. Want to camp deep in the woods and climb some of the region's tallest peaks? This is the perfect place. Want to stay at a 5-star hotel, golf in the mornings and visit the spa in the afternoon? Yep, that's here too. For me, it's the solitude and all the different ways to play outside and evenings spent in quaint lake towns.  I wanted a mix of relaxation and adventure, I wanted my weekend warrior outdoorsy adventures and to see a bit of the wildness. 

The High Peaks area of the Adirondacks is considered to be the most consistently high, wild, and remote mountain area in the eastern United States. Adirondack Park also contains 3,000 lakes and ponds, and 30,000 miles of rivers and streams.  New York has expanded both the Adirondack and Catskill parks and they now cover an area of more than six million acres, larger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier, Grand Canyon and Great Smoky Mountain national parks combined. 

I visited Lake Placid on our last visit to the Adirondacks. It was a quick afternoon while we spent the long weekend exploring the Ausable Chasm area. I wanted to go back for a few days and see what the area was all about over a long weekend. And so, this Weekender's Guide to Lake Placid, New York was born. 

Indian Head Hike
Indian Head Hike - Keene, NY 

h i g h l i g h t   r e e l

Beautiful place to stay with so much to do in the area. Somewhere you could easily spend the entire week.  Very dog-friendly and family-friendly. Even on a beautiful August weekend, it was never too busy or crowded. Perfect for the outdoor enthusiast or someone who wants to get away to a quaint mountain town. Hike, Bike, Run, Walk, Swim, Paddle, Relax, Golf, Spa, Explore. 

Crowne Plaza Lake Placid
Crowne Plaza Lake Placid

s t a y 

We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Lake Placid. We loved its location downtown next to shops and restaurants, the gorgeous views, and the awesome outdoor space. It is wonderful to be able to walk to everything right from your hotel. The rooms were clean and spacious and we had a beautiful view of the lake. There is a large indoor pool and hot tub if you are traveling with kids. We loved spending evenings out in the Adirondack chairs. You can also get private beach access a half-mile from the hotel and the 46 hole golf club. We would absolutely stay here again and would recommend this spot to anyone visiting Lake Placid. 

Crowne Plaza Lake Placid
Crowne Plaza Lake Placid

Crowne Plaza Lake Placid
Crowne Plaza Lake Placid

Lake Placid
Crowne Plaza Lake Placid

w a l k  /  b i k e  /  r u n 

It's a little confusing but the town of Lake Placid actually sits on a small scenic lake called Mirror Lake. It's picture-perfect and always calm as the lake is only open to self-propelled watercraft and swimmers. All day, you could see walkers and runners heading out for a loop around the lake. You can walk/bike/run the 2.6-mile sidewalk around Mirror Lake. The path takes you along the lake, past shops, restaurants, and residential areas around the lake. There are plenty of benches along the way for a break and a ton of doggie bag and garbage stations. It's the perfect place to start the morning on a run or with a cup of coffee. 

Mirror Lake, Lake Placid
Mirror Lake, NY

Ausable River
Ausable River 

f i s h  /  p a d d l e / s w i m 

You can't visit the Adirondacks in the summer without getting in one of the lakes. You have so many options up in Lake Placid. We already talked about Mirror Lake and how it's a great option to paddle and swim. The actual Lake Placid is just north of the town and Mirror Lake and allows powerboats and is a great place to water ski. 

Bring your own kayak or canoe and head out for a paddle in one of the quieter lakes in the area. I loved driving around Lake Placid to see everyone's kayaks and canoes tied down to the roof, off on an adventure. It's the perfect place to pack a picnic and paddle out to relax. You also have the Ausable River which is the perfect place to take a dip in the water or fish in a quiet spot. 

Mirror Lake: 124-acre lake closed to motorized boats, perfect for swimming or kayaking. 
Lake Placid: 2,100-acre lake - you can rent a boat and head out onto the lake for the day. 
Long Lake: 14-miles long - paddle/swim/boat 
Tupper Lake: 9-miles long - paddle/swim/boat 
Square Eddy Expeditions: If you prefer to head onto some white water 

The Wild Center
The Wild Center - Tupper Lake

The Wild Center
The Wild Center - Tupper Lake

The Wild Center - Tupper Lake

t h e  w i l d  c e n t e r 

The Wild Center (formerly the Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks) offers the perfect mix of education and excitement. It's the perfect way to spend a few hours, ideal for the young and the young at heart.  There are amazing indoor and outdoor exhibits including the famous Wild Walk, suspended walkways, treehouses, and exhibits set among the trees. There are live animal demonstrations, an otter exhibit, trails through the woods, and interactive indoor exhibits. It is open 7 days a week from 10am to 5pm ($20 per person) and is the perfect place to spend a few hours. 

mt van hoevenebrg
Mt Van Hoevenberg

m t.  v a n  h o e v e n b e r g (mountain coaster)

Mt. Van Hoevenerg is a great place to get outside and see some of the former Olympic sites. Here at Mt. Van Hoevenberg (the sliding sports center), you can see where the bobsled and skeleton course took place during 1932 and 1980 olympic games. The top attraction is the mountain coaster (the longest in North America). For a little more adventure, you can sign up for the bobsled run. For something a little more relaxing, rent a mountain bike or head out for a hike. **The coaster Friday through Sunday from 11:00 am –4:00 pm.

Lake Placid
Lake Placid

w h i t e f a c e  mo u n t a i n (gondola, auto road)

Whiteface Mountain is a must-ski destination in the winter, but there is still a lot to offer in the warmer months. You can take the scenic 15-minute gondola ride to the summit from the base of the mountain to the summit of Little Whiteface Mountain ($25 person). If you prefer to have control of the ride, you can travel up the Veterans Memorial Highway (vehicle and driver, $20) to drive the toll road up to New York's fifth highest mountain. At the summit, there is a castle built from native stone, a restaurant and gift shop, an elevator (currently closed) and of course a 360-degree panoramic view. You can also play disc golf on the mountain or head out onto the hiking trails. 

o l y m p i c   m u s e u m   /  r i n k 

If you find a rainy day while visiting Lake Placid, a trip to the Ice Rink and the Olympic Museum is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. The Olympic Museum is perfect for the history buffs and anyone interested in the 1932 and 1980 Olympics. **As of August 2021, the ice rink and museum were closed due to construction, and a free smaller temporary exhibit can be found in the visitor's center.  

h i g h  f a l l s  g o r g e

If you are looking for a short family-friendly scenic hike, High Falls Gorge is a great option.  The gorge is a 22-acre privately owned nature park with trails passing four waterfalls (1/2 mile walk). Admissions: $13 adults, $10 kids. 

Lake Placid
Lake Placid

s c e n i c   d r i v e s  /  l a k e   t o w n s 

Lake Placid itself is a small town and to really get a feel for how special the area is, I highly recommend getting out for a drive to visit the neighboring lakes and towns. What makes the Adirondacks so special is the expanse of secluded lakes and mountains. Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, and Long Lake are a few nearby examples of quaint Adirondack lakes that offer a quiet escape from busier Lake Placid. Pack a picnic or pick a new spot for lunch, throw the canoe on top of the car, and head out to explore the neighboring lakes and towns. 

Jay Mountain Adirondacks
Jay Peak and Ridge

h i k e 

I wasn't leaving the Adirondacks without a hike and if you like to head into the mountains, you should make this a priority as well. There are so many great options ranging from short scenic family-friendly hikes to a chance to conquer some of the famous 46ers. My first time to the Adirondacks, I headed out to hike to Indian Head, a 10-mile hike that ended at one of the most scenic vistas in the Northeast. This time, we headed out to hike Jay Mountain and enjoy the views of the Adirondacks from the ridgeline (above the treeline with gorgeous views of the area). The list below features some of the best scenic options from quick hikes to double-digit day trips. 

Mount Arab - 2 miles and includes a fires tower
Whiteface - 10 miles up the mountain at the ski resort
Indian Head - 10 miles, one of the best vistas in the Northeast 
Cascade - 4.5 miles
Ampersand - 5.5 miles
Jay Mountain and Ridge - 7 to 10 mile hike with amazing views and wild blueberries along a ridge
Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain - 3 miles fire tower
top scenic hikes

So now that you know some of the best things to do in the Adirondacks here is my Weekender's Guide, our 2.5 day itinerary. 

Day 1: Head up in the morning to the Adirondacks. Stop at Forty Six for lunch (amazing food, indoor and outdoor dining). After lunch, stop at Mt. Hoevenberg for the Mountain Coaster (advanced reservations online recommended). After lunch, check into your hotel and relax. Around dinner time, head down into town and walk around. Find somewhere for dinner (reservations are highly recommended as the restaurants to fill up fast). After dinner, grab icecream at the very popular Emma's Lake Placid Creamery. 

Day 2: Head out early for a walk or a run around Mirror Lake (2.6 miles). Grab breakfast and head over to Tupper Lake to spend a few hours at The Wild Center.  2 hours was perfect and we got there at 10am when it opened and left by noon. After The Wild Center, explore the area west of Lake Placid. You can head out for a hike at Mt. Arab Fire Tower. Long Lake is about 25-minutes south. Saranac Lake is on your way back to Lake Placid. We drove some quiet roads through the area and ended up stopping at Blue Line Brewery in Saranac Lake for beer and lunch. If you rather just head back to Lake Placid, stop at the museum or the ice rink. Grab dinner in Lake Placid (again, reservations recommended). 

Day 3: I know this is a weekender's guide, but I am throwing in a day 3 itinerary in case you have time to make this a long weekend (and you should).  Day 3 we headed out early for a hike. We climbed Jay Peak and Ridgeline and after our hike, stopped for a swim in the Ausable River. We had a nice dinner in Lake Placid at Purple Saige Bistro and ended the night with mini-golf and ice cream. 

You don't have time for everything on my list, and next visit back, I have a few things that I want to do. I want to head to White Face, I want to hike a 46er, paddle in the lakes, and visit a few more lake towns in the area. I love the Adirondacks and it's the perfect place to sneak away in any season. 

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