I ended up back in my happiest place, the mountains. This time I visited the Adirondacks located in upstate New York. This area was never really on my radar. Of course, I knew about the Adirondacks, Lake Placid, the Olympics and all that jazz but I never considered visiting. Always seeking peaks out west above tree line. They always seemed greater in size and majesty, the Adirondacks surely changed that perception. Here is my guide to Lake Placid.
Why I Visited Lake Placid
I visited Lake Placid with ROOST– the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism. Roost is a destination marketing organization for eight regions in the Adirondack Mountains of New York and they invited me to unplug and spend some (much needed) time in nature.
You might be asking yourself, what is sustainable tourism? Well simply put: sustainable tourism is an industry which attempts to make a low impact on the environmental and local culture, while helping to generate income and employment without overtaxing any resources – whether human, environmental or man-made.
Something I go back and forth with the most with this life of travel is how to make it more sustainable and the balance of sharing information while not encouraging over tourism of destinations. Step one of that is visiting destinations in shoulder season which is exactly what I did when visiting Lake Placid.
When you visit in the shoulder season, there are already less tourists than peak season meaning, for places like the Adirondacks, less foot traffic on the trails, less environmental stress on the lakes, less cars on the road- you get it. Sure, eventually peak season strikes and tourists flock to the region (inevitably) but with you having already visited -that’s two less feet on the trails, one less boat on the lakes and one less car driving around. Just something to consider next time you’re planning a trip.
First things first, Lake Placid. Just 1.5 square miles. It is part of the tri-lakes region of upstate New York along with Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake. The town of Lake Placid is right between the southern edge of Lake Placid (the lake) and is home to Mirror Lake.
It’s home to a year-round population of 2,500. Yes, 2,500. Add an extra 0 and you’ve got the summer population. This place, so I’ve been told by many people, is poppin’ in the summer. Luckily, I visited just before peak season so it was still pretty quiet. A positive was that the trails were nearly empty but a negative was everything closed so early due to seasonality. I’ll gladly take empty trails over open cafes, restaurants and shops ANY DAY!
The lifestyle in Lake Placid is really active, reminiscent of my beloved Whistler. On any given day you’ll see people running, biking, SUPping, kayaking, canoeing- you name it the people are doing it. I think the active lifestyle also contributes to the laid-back vibe.
How to Get to Lake Placid
Depending on where you’re coming from, you’ll fly or drive to Lake Placid. If you think flying might be an option for you, check to see flights into Adirondack Regional Airport- located just 20 minutes outside of Lake Placid. For my east coast fam, there are four non-stop 90 minute flights departing from Boston a day. Once you land, you can either taxi, hire a driver or rent a car.
Other airports within the Lake Placid area – useful if you’re coming from a larger metro area not within driving distance to Logan- Burlington, Vermont, Albany, New York and Montreal, Quebec Canada. Each is about a two-hour drive from Lake Placid.
Where to Stay in Lake Placid
There are plenty accommodations to choose from when staying in the Lake Placid area. If you’re traveling for just a few days, I recommend the Lake House at High Peaks Resort. Super cozy and super casual, this was my perfect base when exploring the Adirondacks. With just 44 rooms and each with their own balcony and view of Mirror Lake- you can’t go wrong. Start your mornings with sunrise over the mountains and Mirror Lake.
Guests of the Lake House have access to the same lakefront pool and water sports equipment that the High Peaks Resort guests do! Also on site are fire pits, lawn games and The Bar at Lake House. Be sure to grab a drink and take in the views!
It’s located at the far end of Main St. making it the perfect place to base yourself for all adventures- near or far. There is on-site parking too! So, if you drive in, no need to worry about street parking. The Lake House is also pup friendly 🙂
What to do in Lake Placid
The activities are ENDLESS in Lake Placid and the surrounding Adirondacks area. Time to break down my guide to Lake Placid!
I can’t recommend this enough! Adirondack Paddler is in the neighboring town of Saranac- about 15 minutes from the Lake House. They not only offer guided kayak tours of the surrounding lakes but also stand up paddle boarding and canoeing. If you’re looking to just rent for the day you can do that too, as self-guided is an option! ALTO is super involved with the Lake Placid community and offers a bunch of different events and workshops so be sure to check their website! Pro tip: head to the newly renovated Hotel Saranac after for a drink on their rooftop terrace.
No guide to Lake Placid is complete without a hiking recommendation! I recommend using All Trails to find hikes within the area. But some I can recommend are Rainbow Falls, Cobble Hill, Mt. Van Hoevenberg and Mt. Jo. Read more on my Adirondack hiking recommendations here.
Visit the Olympic Sites
If you didn’t know, Lake Placid was home to the 1980 Winter Olympics, which as I’m sure you know is home of the story, Miracle. If not, look it up. Therefore, this guide to Lake Placid wouldn’t be complete without a call out to places like the Olympic Museum, Ski Jumping Complex, and the Sports Complex.
Sunset on Cobble Hill
A must and right down the street from the Lake House! There are two trails: one longer with a gradual incline and the second about half a mile shorter with a straight incline. On the way up, we opted for the shorter trail. The path was rocky and steep and there some scrambling with the assist of a rope. This route took no more than 30 minutes to reach the summit. Generally speaking, it was pretty easy. The summit is exposed and is on a slant so just be careful where you step.
On the way down we opted for the longer, less steep route. This took twice as long and we ended up walking most of it in the dark. If I were to do it again, I would opt for the shorter trail both ways. The base of the trail ran alongside a small pond for about two minutes, other than that the longer trail was completely wooded and not very scenic. Regardless of the trail you choose, both lead to beautiful sunset views. How could I not include this view in my guide to Lake Placid!?
Paddleboard on Mirror Lake
As I mentioned, paddle boards are included in your stay at the Lake House! Definitely take advantage of this in the early morning when the lake looks like glass.
Drive Whiteface Veterans’ Memorial Highway
About 20 minutes outside of Lake Placid is the Veterans’ Memorial Highway that leads all the way to the summit of Whiteface Mountain, New York’s fifth highest peak! It falls just under a mile above sea level so, as you can imagine, the drive up is perhaps the most scenic in the area. It truly reminded me of the drive in Mt. Rainier National Park.
When you’ve reached the top and parked the car note that there are two ways up to the very top: either take the elevator or hike up. The hike begins with a staircase and eventually switches to exposed rock with handles to hold on to. Both the hike and the elevator will lead you to 360 degree views of the Adirondack region. No guide to Lake Placid is complete without this view if you ask me!
High Falls Gorge is a 22 acre, privately owned nature park. Sturdy bridges, walkways, and walking trails provide beautiful views of the famous Ausable River as it cascades over ancient granite cliffs. The walk through (unless opting for the hike) is no more than 30 minutes and will cost adults $12.50 to access.
Where to Eat in Lake Placid
The food in Lake Placid is nothing short of delicious, fresh and did I say delicious? My favorite part was how readily available greens were at every location I ate at!
Coffee Bar: Great spot to grab a hot coffee and breakfast sandwich on the go in the earlier hours of the morning. If you have time, sit outside on the deck for views of Mirror Lake.
A New Leaf: Another coffee and pastry spot for the early riser. Their iced almond milk lattes were my go to, especially on mornings that began at 5am. The interior is quirky and there is a quote jar that’s on a take one leave one basis- take what you need, leave what you want to give. I will totally have this in my future home!
The Breakfast Club, etc. : If you have time for a sit-down breakfast, try this spot. There are gf/df options too! I personally loved their cold brew.
Green Goddess: I loved this spot for my green fix! Several salad, quinoa bowl and soup offerings. If you’re on the go their smoothies are divine and they also so plenty of gf/df packaged foods. Great spot to shop in town for a picnic.
Big Mountain Deli and Creperie: If you can’t guess by the name of this spot, this is where you’ll want to order a sandwich! They have over 46 options – your choice of bread and add ons! I loved the menu because it was sorted by type of meat and each was marked if it was grilled or served cold. They also took it one step further and labeled local favs! I recommend the Algonquin.
The Cottage: Great casual dinner spot in town and on Mirror Lake! Outdoor seating in the summer, swoon. My order included the bacon brussel sprouts and the Cottage House Salad!
Big Slide Brewery: Might be my favorite dinner spot! I’ve heard their brunch is incredible too. But what I loved was how Big Slide sources everything locally and seasonally. Meaning it’s not your typical pub grub- which I loved! But you still get that fun brewery atmosphere just with healthier eats. Plenty of gf/df options too! I recommend the rosemary marcona almonds (if they’re still on the menu), sweet potato fries and The New Brewhouse Salad. Also, best Moscow Mule in town might I add.
Top of the Park: The spot for good drinks and light bites! Delicious Moscow Mules and chicken wings! Not to mention the outdoor seating area!
Lisa G’s: Known for their yummy food and unique cocktail list! I enjoyed the pork lettuce wraps and curry cauliflower rice.
- Be sure to rent a car as it is the best way to see the area.
- If you’re planning on visiting Whiteface and some of the Olympic sites I recommend purchasing the Olympic Sites Passport. Which gives you access to several activities at the Lake Placid Olympic Sites for a bundled price of just $35.
- Pack LOADS of bug spray as they will swarm you otherwise. On that note- pack sunscreen too.
- Pack your hiking boots. This might be a given however, some like to hike in sneakers- which if that’s you power to ya! But, I have weak ankles and need as much support as possible, even on easier, flat trails.
- Early mornings and evenings tend to be the cooler parts of the day, pack a light jacket and a pair of pants for casual mornings and nights out.
- Bring your reusable water bottle and fill it up in the tap.
There you have it- my guide to Lake Placid Merely scratching the surface of this alpine village has left me wanting more; I can’t wait to go back and see what else I find hiding on the trails and in all the experiences to be had.
SAVE FOR LATER
I was invited to experience Lake Placid by Roost, as always, my opinions are my own.