Catch an Olympic buzz with a Lake Placid winter adventure. It’s located in the heart of the Adirondack Park, the largest public protected land in the continental U.S. It offers a smorgasbord of snow-capped activities and a fabulous recreational foundation, thanks to twice hosting the Winter Olympics.
Whiteface Mountain is applauded for its panoramic vistas, greatest vertical drop east of the Rockies and blend of highly technical terrain mixed with gentle slopes for skiing and snowboarding (adult lift tickets from $38-$85). Ever dream of skating on Olympic ice? Public sessions are available at the Olympic Oval ($8 admission/adults, $5/juniors and seniors, skate rentals/$3). Defy speed by taking a run on the Olympic Bobsled Track ($85/adult).
Ice climbing is popular in this arctic land. High Peaks Mountain Guides will outfit you with all the gear you need for your frosty Adirondack escapade ($300/single or couple). They rent cross-country skis and will direct you to a wilderness trail that matches your ability. Perhaps the town’s greatest natural resource is Mirror Lake. Its glistening finish tempts skaters to go for a spin. Consider bundling up underneath a blanket for a dog sledding ride ($10) across the lake.
The Must-Do Experience
A walk over High Falls Gorge is spectacular in winter. As you cross sturdy steel bridges and groomed paths, you will gasp at abstract ice formations on seven hundred feet of stunning frozen waterfalls. You won’t lose your grip on the icy trails as all visitors are fitted with cleats that will keep you upright. When you complete the trail, a warm campfire, with marshmallows to toast, awaits you. A one-mile snowshoe trail is equally breathtaking, and they provide all the gear you need. Ride the Mountain Valley Shuttle to the Gorge and tell the driver where you are going, as this is a request stop.
The Rainy Day Experience
Lake Placid is synonymous with the great outdoors, but Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate. A visit to the Lake Placid Olympic Museum is a weatherproof way to explore the town’s rich Olympic legacy. It played host to the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980, and you can stroll down Memory Lane at this memorabilia-heavy museum. If you hear a crowd roaring, don’t fret. Visitors gather to watch the replay of the 1980 hockey game dubbed the “Miracle on Ice.” Excerpts from the celebrated game, when the youthful American team dramatically upset the heavily favored, seasoned Soviet team, draws screams of unbridled patriotic joy.
Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort enjoys the town’s pole position along Mirror Lake’s shores. It’s one of only six hotels in the country to have received Platinum Certification in the Audubon International’s rigorous eco rating program. Its commitment to environmentally savvy practices include a 3,000-foot Green Roof, an in-room recycling program with 85% guest participation, solar thermal panels and an energy management system that automatically turns down the heat or A/C when a room is unoccupied.
The Golden Arrow’s diligent sustainable practices don’t sacrifice an ounce of guest comfort. A free-form indoor pool, in-room fireplaces and bathtubs roomy enough for you and your sweetie are just a few of the countless amenities. (Deluxe villageside rooms from $109, deluxe lakefront rooms from $129.)
The Good Bite Kitchen is a pocket-sized vegetarian eatery on Main Street. Daily offerings include creamy quiche and individual hand pies, flaky dough wrapped around savory ingredients. Open from 11-5 p.m., closed Sunday and Monday.
Liquids and Solids pair gastro-pub eats with an encyclopedic beer menu that includes some hard-to-find Trappist bottles. The hearty edibles and the wood-burning stove make this a popular spot on a cold winter’s night.
Generations Restaurant at the Golden Arrow has long standing partnerships with local farmers to maintain a consistent year-round supply of fresh, local food. They make their own maple syrup and feature a special maple-inspired menu in early spring.
Lake Placid will leave those with a sweet tooth defenseless, as it is home to an extraordinary number of candy shops. Don’t miss Adirondack Chocolates. Owners Joe and Cortland make the chocolate in a small factory just outside of town and sell them at the Main Street retail shop. Old-time favorites, such as hand-dipped chocolate covered pretzels and buttery caramel turtles, are straight out of your sugarplum dreams.
If you are searching for a drink in front of a roaring fire, the Interlaken Inn is the optimal choice. It’s an intimate Victorian inn and its cozy, copper-topped Monkey Bar is a jewel. The hands-on owners provide a soothing atmosphere and relaxed mood. No one here is in a rush, so unwind with a potent cocktail or a glass of wine from the well-stocked cellar and plan to stay a while.
The Local Tip
Born and raised in the North Country, Jennifer is a ski instructor at Whiteface by day, waitress by night. She heads to Lake Placid Pub & Brewery on Tuesday evenings, when locals double up with the “Two-for-Tuesday” special. Choose from a rotating selection of six brews. You will be spotted for the out-of-towner that you are if you order anything but local favorite UBU Ale. This English-style ale features dark fruit, roasted malt flavors and a buzz-inducing 7% alcohol content. Take the free behind-the-scenes tour with the brewer each Saturday at 4:30 p.m. The fortifying pub grub includes gluten-free pizzas and killer burgers garnished with UBU Ale-laced BBQ sauce.
Take the Train from NYC
Take Amtrak’s Adirondack from Penn Station to Lake Placid. You will ride the train to Westport, where a bus will shuttle you the remaining 45 minutes, straight to the heart of Lake Placid. The entire trip takes under six hours. Once you are in town, dining, shopping and sporty activities are all within walking distance or hop on the free, year-round Placid XPRESS trolley. If you want to ski Whiteface or hike High Falls Gorge, hop on the free Mountain Valley Shuttle that runs all winter.
For more information on planning your gold medal getaway, go to Lake Placid.com.
Image courtesy of Lake Placid.
Check out other oM Adirondack car-free getaway guides to places like Saranac Lake.
Allison is a native New Yorker, who has lived in Rome, Tuscany, Melbourne, Toronto and Los Angeles. She frequently contributes travel pieces to Family Travel Forum, using her own children as guinea pigs as they travel the globe. She is fluent in Italian and Spanish and laughably adequate in French. Her background as an Early Childhood Educator gives her an added understanding of what it takes to travel with kids in tow. She firmly believes that the most important part of education takes place outside of the classroom, on the road, around the world. She never misses a chance to sample local delicacies, as her love for travel goes hand-in-hand with her love for food and wine. Follow Allison at @gourmetrav.