Travel Guide: Kicking Back In The Adirondacks
As our lives blast by at an ever-increasing clip in this age of “instant,” the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York invite us to slow down.
Locals know there is more to New York than the city of the same name – 6 million acres of protected forests, 70,000 miles of rivers, and more than 7,500 lakes, ponds and reservoirs, to start. The Adirondacks (ADKs) offer endless outdoor activities, inspiring views, and a stellar balance of active, natural, historical and culinary adventures.
Looking to rest and reset? You may just find the serenity you seek in the Adirondack Mountains. There is so much to see, eat and do here that you’d be wise to choose a single spot to plant yourself. Here’s why Lake Placid is a convenient and enchanting home base – whether you’re returning to the ADKs for your 10th trip or exploring the area for the very first time.
Where To Stay
$: Lake Placid was the host of the 1980 Winter Olympics and is home to the Olympic Training Center. So, it’s fitting that Upstate folks love to stay at Art Devlin’s Olympic Motor Inn – birthplace and home of the champion ski jumper and sports commentator. With a rich history rooted in local lore, the quaint motel features mountain-view balconies, in-suite full kitchens and a lineup of pet-friendly rooms. Laze by the pool – the site on which young Art built his first ski jump – and take in the sights of New York’s three tallest peaks in the distance.
$$: Hotel North Woods offers a blend of old and new at a reasonable rate. What started as a general store in the late 19th century is now a nearly 100-room hotel with simple but modern finishings. If weather permits, take in the stunning ADKs surroundings from its rooftop deck or explore the town’s to-do’s by bike (available for rent). A little insider tip: When booking, ask for a room with a private balcony that overlooks Mirror Lake, Main Street or the High Peaks.
If it’s a bucket-list trip: Splurge on a luxurious lakeside stay at The Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa, family-owned since the 1930s.
What To Do
Definitely pack your hiking boots. The Adirondack Park encompasses more than 2,000 miles of marked trails that are ripe for exploration.
Planning a family-friendly hike? The easy 1.8-mile round-trip trail at Baker Mountain has stunning views of Saranac Lake. If it’s waterfalls you want, head to High Falls Gorge and admire the rushing river from its platforms and bridges. (Don’t forget your raincoat or cover-up – you may not be in the water, but you’ll for sure be sprayed by it.) If you’re keen on a more challenging trek, opt for Ampersand. Pack a picnic to enjoy alongside the 360-degree views from its summit. The Lake Placid region also has 40+ “High Peaks” to keep you on your toes and, in some cases, on your hands and knees. Popular paths include Haystack, Gothics, Saddleback/Basin, and Avalanche Pass to Lake Colden.
Gain a richer understanding of the ADKs natural wonders at Wild Center, an interactive space with walking trails, guided canoe trips, and an immersive musical experience. Don’t miss the elevated “trail across the treetops.”
Finally, leave your hiking boots behind for a more boozy voyage along the Craft Breweries Trail. Many of the stops are at least an hour from Lake Placid, so you’ll want to designate a sober driver or consider an overnight in the Lake George area.
Where To Eat
$: Start your day with breakfast at Big Mountain Deli or grab a sandwich to go. Big Mountain’s crepes score big points with explorers young and old.
$$: Find fresh farm-to-table fare at Big Slide Brewery. Don’t be fooled by the name…Big Slide is not your average brewpub. The menu is creative (Banh Mi with Mace Chasm Farm’s sausage, anyone?), meals are prepared fresh and Chef Sherman sources most of the ingredients from local purveyors.
$$$: Wash off that mountain mud and sit down to a refined lakeside meal at The View at Mirror Lake Inn. The experience combines ADKs’ scenery and bounty with an impressive collection of wines from around the world.
The ADKs are all about adventure and enjoying the richness of its environment. Don’t get so caught up in trying to see and do everything that you forget about what really makes the destination special: The slower pace, the peace and quiet, the local food…and especially the friendly people. Meander along a tranquil path or get lost on the streets of a small town. Grab a pint of beer at the pub and chat with a local. Gather ‘round a crackling campfire and engage in real-time, iPhone-free conversation. Plunge into a cold lake. Sink into an Adirondack chair. Close your eyes. Breathe in that clean mountain air. You get it.
Sunny Fitzgerald is a travel curator, non-fiction storyteller, and the founder of FROLIQ. She grew up in a small town in the Adirondack Mountains, but is currently based in a capital city in the Middle East. Follow her travels on Instagram @froliq