Having grown up in Upstate New York (and by Upstate I mean literally as far up-state that you can go in NYS. No, I don’t mean Albany. Yes, there actually is life further north than Watertown.), I have a special place in my heart for Lake Placid.
Throughout most of my childhood and adolescent years my mom and I would take quick trip to Lake Placid to catch some figure skating, check out Santa’s Workshop, see some great fall foliage, and quite frankly, just to get out of the tiny town where we lived.
Now that I live in Spain, I don’t make it back to the States as often as I’d like, and I hadn’t been to Lake Placid in years. Luckily, my Spanish hubby and I had to make a trip to the US for some weddings this year. We happened to have a few days to kill and the Adirondacks were calling my name.
The following recommendations are a mix of a tried-and-true favorites of mine along with some new places we discovered on this trip. Keep in mind, we didn’t keep our visit strictly to Lake Placid as we wanted to experience some other spots in the Adirondacks. We highly recommend you do the same!
Where to stay in Lake Placid:
We like to wake up the first day in the destination we’re visiting, so we arrived in Lake Placid the evening before to check-in to our hotel and get a good night’s sleep.
Having visited Lake Placid so many times in my life, I’ll be brutally honest and tell you that you typically have to choose between small, slightly run-down motels or largely impersonal chain hotels. My husband and I are huge fans of well-designed boutique hotels, and to be totally honest, the only option in Lake Placid that fit our bill was the Lake House.
Lucky for us, the Lake House far exceeded our expectations! It has a gorgeous modern design without sacrificing the homey, rustic Adirondack style. The Lake House is literally one-of-a-kind in Lake Placid – there is no other hotel that pairs a boutique, super personal feel, with such stunning design and an extraordinarily friendly staff team.
Checking in was a delight (I don’t believe I’ve ever said that before). We were greeted with friendly smiles, loads of recommendations, free brownies and a small beer tasting. Did I mention how beautiful this hotel is?!
After checking out the hotel and dropping our bags off, we stopped by the hotel’s fire pit where Dan was able to make the first s’more of his life (yeah, that’s not a thing in Spain!).
The Lake House also offers free boat rentals, access to the gym and pool at the High Peaks Resort (next door), an awesome bar in the lobby that opens from Thurs – Sat, and fabulous views of mirror lake. What more could you want?!
What to do in Lake Placid and the Adirondacks
Day 1 in Lake Placid
Lake Placid has no shortage of great breakfast spots, but we recommend grabbing a hearty Adirondack breakfast at the Farmhouse Cafe. So good, we forgot to take pictures, oops!
Drive to Ausable Chasm for scenic canyon hiking and some white water rafting.
Drive back to Lake Placid and wander around the shops on Main Street!
You can pick up some souvenirs, check out local art, buy some fudge that you swear you won’t eat until you get home (yeah, right.) and snag some organic homemade jerky for tomorrow’s adventure.
Be sure to stop once in awhile to soak up the views!
It’s time for some authentic American BBQ, obviously.
Side story – The Spanish are notoriously proud of their cuisine. I can’t begin to count the number of times a Spaniard has told me that Spanish food is superior to all others within the first five minutes of meeting.
Typically I politely reply with “Yes, Spanish food is really good.” but they tend to pick up on the fact that I am not exactly agreeing with them by saying that Spanish food is the Holy Grail. This is when they proceed to ask me if I’ve yet to try tortilla, paella, or jamon serrano.
“Yes,” I reply with a polite smile, “I have tried all of these foods” and “yes, they are good.” (Me silently: “but no, they are not the best foods on the planet.”)
This is relevant because the meal we had at Smoke Signals actually prompted my husband to declare that “Any Spaniard who claims that Spanish food is the best probably hasn’t been to the U.S.”
So there you have it folks. This BBQ is so damn good that it will cause a Spaniard to commit blasphemy.
As an American who has eaten a ridiculous amount of BBQ in my life, I agree wholeheartedly with the hubs. This may have been some of the best BBQ I’ve had.
WARNING: Do go with your belly totally empty. The portions are HUGE and so delicious that you won’t want to leave anything on your plate.
Couple’s tip: Share the Signals Sampler. You’re welcome. 😉
Walk over to Lake Placid Brewery. Yes, I said walk. You will need a few minutes to digest after such a huge meal and the walk is short, but pretty. Plus, you don’t have to worry about a designated driver!
If it happens to be a Weds, you can catch some live music from 7-10pm. Otherwise, if you’re feeling some music you can swing by Delta Blue, where there’s live music most nights of the week, before heading back to the hotel.
Day 2 in Lake Placid
Get ready for another hearty Adirondack Breakfast at The Breakfast Club, etc! Great views, good food, and huge portions.
Options for Day 2 Activities:
DISCLAIMER: Okay, so I lied. You might not fit everything here into 48 hours (we didn’t,) but this way it’s more of a choose-your-own-adventure itinerary, rather than a step-by-step structured plan. Because the whole point of a getaway is to relax and do whatever you feel like, so don’t stress it!
If you’ve got kids: Head to The Wild Center to check out the new Wild Walk – an elevated trail across the Adirondack treetops with hands-on action for learning more about the animals living in the Adirondacks. Also, take a paddle boat tour of the Raquette River.
If you want to get your adrenaline pumping: Go ziplining at the ADK Eagle Flyer in Lake George. This place is great for kids and adults (be sure to contact them for more info if you’re bringing kids.)
If you want some light activity in nature: grab a boat (for free if you’re staying at the Lake House, otherwise ask your hotel where to rent one) and head out on Mirror Lake.
My favorite way to do this is picnic-style, by grabbing a seriously awesome sandwich from 46 Sandwiches, and taking a canoe out into the middle of Mirror Lake. I’m always surprised that more people don’t do this! Everyone loves lunch with a view – and what better view can you get than being right in the middle of the lake?
Check out the hiking recommendations here – there are trails for every taste, whether you’ve got 1 hour or 8 to spend! Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to squeeze any in on this trip, but we certainly will next time.
If you’re ready for a drink: Raquette River Brewing. This happens to be right near the Wild Center, so we stopped by for a quick flight on our way back to Lake Placid.
We recommend sharing a flight and grabbing some snacks from the BBQ truck!
Liquids and Solids. This place has quite a hipster vibe and could definitely feel at home in Brooklyn. They focus on using locally sourced ingredients and put a unique spin on all of their dishes. It’s tapas-style (small plates) so be ready to order a few dishes to share!
The dim lighting and nice cocktail list make this a great place for a date.
Assuming you’ll drive home today, be sure to wake up early, grab a quick breakfast (e.g., 46 Sandwiches, Simply Gourmet, Bluesberry Bakery), and drive up Whiteface Mountain for a stunning end to your trip!
You should plan for this to take between 1-2 hours, depending on how long you want to spend soaking up the views and taking photos, so be mindful if you have to be home at a certain time.
Seeing the views from the top of Whiteface is a MUST – so be sure to find a way to squeeze this in. We loved that it was our very last activity before departing, but if you know you won’t have time to see it before you drive home, be sure to fit it in on day 1 or 2. You won’t regret it!
The magic of the Adirondacks and Lake Placid is that there is something for everyone, so if none of these recommendations get you pumped up, design your own itinerary! A great site for some Adirondack inspiration is AdirondacksUSA.com, as well as their Facebook page for some jaw-dropping photos.
This trip was designed in collaboration with the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, but all opinions are my own.