“Mountains are calling and I must go.” this saying by John Muir so aptly describes the yearning I get every time I think about the Adirondack Mountains.
Adirondack region is located in the northern New York (NY) and is part of the state’s forest preserve. It is home to more than 100 towns and villages- the most famous among them being Lake Placid, Lake George, Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake.
To say Adirondacks or ADK is one of my favorite places to visit would be such an understatement for its so much more than that. Its almost like nature’s paradise, so enchanting, so beautiful, so serene and peaceful.
ADK spans around 6.1 million acres and covers about one fifth of the NY State. In fact Adirondacks are so big that they could fit Glacier, Yosemite, Great Smoky mountains, Yellowstone and Grand Canyon National Parks in them.
While there is a myriad of activities you can do in the Adirondacks like fishing, skiing, kayaking, canoeing, boating and swimming in pristine ponds and lakes, the region is exceptionally famous for the hiking opportunities along its 46 Mountain Peaks.
Most of these peaks are located around Lake Placid and Keene Valley. The highest among these is Mount Marcy which is also the highest peak in all of NY state.
Here’s an interesting fact – If you climb all of these 46 peaks you become eligible to join the elite ADK 46er club.
Well by now, you know I love Adirondacks a lot, let me shift gears to the center and focus on the picturesque, charming & enchanted Lake Placid; which happens to be my favorite place in my favorite place ( I know it doesn’t make any sense, I am absolutely smitten by the beauty of this Postcard Perfect Place).
Lake Placid is ADK’s crowned jewel, some fact-o-logy about this charming town-
- Lake Placid rose to fame as the Winter capital of the world after hosting the 1932 and 1980 winter Olympic Games. In fact it’s the only place in the US to host the Olympics twice. Even today the Olympic sports complex, provides multiple training facilities for winter sports
- Lake Placid was also featured in a movie with the same name and no there’s no 30 foot crocodile in Lake Placid.
- According to Lake Placid.com this is the place where the word vacation was invented in 1800s – how cool is that 🙂 !
Visiting Lake Placid has been an annual tradition, ever since we moved to the Northeast.
In this post, I’m going to talk about my five all time favorite things to do in Lake Placid.
1. Whiteface Mountain
Located at a short drive from the center of Lake Placid, the Whiteface mountains have the only peak in Adirondacks that is accessible by the road. They also are the fifth highest mountain in New York.
Both options are great when traveling with kids and elderly. While I love the gondola ride and is perhaps one of the best ones in Northeast but I would absolutely recommend the Veterans Memorial Highway for it’s jaw-dropping panoramic views that extend across New York, Vermont and even Canada on a clear day.
The Veterans Memorial Highway is a toll road and is open daily from 8:45 AM to 5:30 PM until Columbus Day weekend, click here for details.
Right next to the toll house is a small lake called Lake Stevens it has clear water and is nice and quiet spot to take excellent pictures or enjoy a serene picnic. In the fall season, it paints an exceptionally beautiful scenery with the color changing leaves.
The summit of the Whiteface mountains is 5 miles from the toll house and there are multiple pull-outs. Highly recommend to stop at these locations and soak in the gorgeous views.
Once at the summit you can either hike to the top or take an elevator – yes thats correct an elevator to the summit – now that again scores for a family friendly outing.
I will be writing a detailed blog on the Whiteface Mountains, so stay tuned.
2. Lake Placid Main Street
Right on the banks of the Mirror Lake, is the heart of the town – Lake Placid Main Street. The place is always bustling with energy, excited tourists, adventure goers, shopping enthusiasts, java addicts or simply folks trying to sit by the Mirror Lake to admire the beauty and tranquility of the place.
Our usual stops on the main street include:
- Critters, for their cutesy animal themed merchandise. They also feature a variety of ADK clothing, soft toys, and their animal themed books are my son’s favorite. I also love their shopping bags with the animal footprint trivia quiz.
- Imagination Station, for an expansive collection of unique toys and gifts. It’s a great place to keep the lil ones entertained and so much joy to watch their eyes gleam with surprise finds.
- Sparkle Lake Placid, for the unique jewelry finds. This is a must stop for me on the Main Street. I buy a jewelry piece each time I visit Lake Placid and is quite a collection now.
- Emma’s Lake Placid creamery, a 50’s themed ice cream shop with so many delicious flavors to choose from.
- Eleanor’s Pasta Kitchen, talking about food, this make-your-own pasta place opened recently and has become a crowd favorite. The pasta is so fresh and tastes incredible.
- The historic Lake Placid Library, opened its doors in July 1886 and is a place that attracts visitors of all ages like. Right in the middle of the main street, its is a charming place to get lost in the world of books while enjoying the beautiful setting of the Mirror Lake.
- Adirondacks decorative art and craft, for a great collection of unique ADK themed gifts, houseware, decorative items, furniture, candles and other trinkets.
- Pure Lake Placid, for their unique bath and body luxury collection, inspired by the town. Their Soy Candle has been a favorite, all their products come with signature blue bows. The blue color symbolizing their ecological footprint and their all natural products.
- Mirror Lake, provides a relaxing way to enjoy your evening surrounded by the gorgeous views. Grab an Adirondack chair, with wide arms, good for holding a cocktail or coffee or even a novel, the chairs offer the perfect angle for those shopping stricken backs!
3. North Pole Post Office
Did you know there is actually a place named North Pole in NY? and what makes it even merrier is that it is home of Santa’s Workshop!
Who doesn’t love the spirit of Christmas, at Santa’s Workshop in North Pole, NY , its Christmas everyday. While Santa’s workshop is a great attraction for young kids, it’s the post office right outside the amusement park that is so worth visiting.
Here is the fun part, anything posted via this Post office gets the stamp of North Pole, imagine young ones getting postcards and Santa letters stamped from North Pole. The Post office sells a variety of Christmas letters and postcards, and you can choose them to be delivered on Christmas Eve. It has been so much joy watch our lil one thrilled with personalized letters addressed to him from the North Pole.
Very close to the North Pole is the Adirondack Chocolate outlet, with a mouth watering collection of milk and dark chocolates. While there’s one outlet in the Main Street as well, but this one is more fun, less busy and also has two unique instagramable photo-ops.
- The gigantic wooden chair
- A signpost with directions to all towns named Wilmington in US
4. Nature trails
Trails provide the perfect opportunity to enjoy the serene wilderness of the Adirondacks. While there are countless trails in and around Lake Placid, the ones below are our absolute favorite and are family friendly:
Peninsula trails: This trail winds around the shores of Lake Placid and provides some of the best views of the lake. The trail head is very close to the Lake Placid Lodge and offers jaw-dropping panoramic views of the pristine lake waters.
Owen Pond : A few minutes from Lake Placid the Owen pond trail is the perfect reason to stretch your legs. It is an easy trail and leads you to the Owen pond. The pond offers beautiful reflection of the hilly landscape and is very serene and peaceful. Depending on the time of the day you visit this please it can be secluded or full of picnic enthusiasts. Go in the morning to soak in the tranquility and revitalize go in the afternoon for a nice picnic by the pond.
5. The High Falls Gorge
This is a popular attraction in the area and is a privately owned park. From a nicely maintained gift shop, you can buy tickets to enter and get to this place to breathe and just unwind.
The High Falls Gorge provides an easy and well maintained way to enjoy the gorgeous waterfalls. One minute you’re on the road and in a modern gift shop in the other moment you are strolling through the forest area.
Depending upon your comfort level you can take stairs to check out the falls from up close or choose to stay on the easy path. The park is open for all seasons.
With over 6 million acres of wilderness in the ADK, what is special about this attraction? It is one of the quickest way to tune out and admire the beauty of the falls from various angles. It is family-friendly and kids & elderly alike enjoy the mother nature with ease. It also features the Riverview Café , a great way to get a quick snack after your adventure.
You can plan to spend anywhere between 1 to 2 hours here. For first timers this place is simple and easy way to experience what ADK has to offer.
That pretty much sums up my top five things to do in Lake Placid, in addition the Olympic Ski Complex is worth checking out too. In fact there is so much more I want to tell you and there’s so much more to do in Adirondacks so stay tuned for more.