For waterfalls that gush through weathered rock, lobelias that stretch toward lake shores, mountain air and pine trees, find the Adirondacks. One of the most scenic areas in the northeastern United States, the Adirondack region stretches across upstate New York. Here are some of the best places to visit in the Adirondacks for the avid hiker or relaxation enthusiast.
About a five hour drive from New York City, Lake Placid sits on the northern region of the Adirondacks. The village’s Mirror Lake finds its name from its reflective quality, projecting the bordering mountains across its surface. Whether you’re waddling through the lake in June, observing bursts of amber foliage in autumn or lodging at a ski resort in January, Lake Placid offers something for everyone.
1. Home of the 1980 games
The 1980 Winter Olympics and what has been dubbed the “Miracle on Ice” took place in Lake Placid forty years ago. Now, the village allows visitors to experience Olympic landmarks such as the Olympic Center and Olympic Jumping Complex. Take the “Skyride” gondola to be lifted through the canopies of Lake Placid to the ski jumping towers’ base.
2. Whiteface Mountain
One of the High Peaks of the Adirondacks, Whiteface Mountain can easily be accessed from Lake Placid. While the full Whiteface Mountain hike is considered difficult by most, visitors can drive to the summit of the mountain through the Veterans’ Memorial Highway. From the peak, the vastness of the view can overwhelm travelers, as lakes sitting between steep slopes and rolling clouds come from all directions.
3. High Falls Gorge
For a 30-minute adventure, explore High Falls Gorge. Visitors can come close to the waterfall by crossing a bridge that snakes past the roaring water and sheets of rock.
4. Many maples
After a day of hiking, return to the Lake Placid town to try its famous maple treats. Emma’s Lake Placid Creamery is known for its Maple Crème soft serve, and the ice cream shop also serves a “Murphy’s Maple Walnut” sundae. Many vendors in the village also offer maple taffy or mason jars of fresh maple syrup.
Find Lake Champlain at the very eastern border of the Adirondacks, with parts of the lake reaching Vermont. The region can be a trip in itself or a stop on the way to Maine or Canada.
1. Ausable Chasm
Nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks,” visitors can explore the river through a raft tour or see the chasm at night through a guided lantern expedition.
2. Burlington Bike Path
Searching for a bike path with a scenic view? Explore the Burlington Bike Path, a trail that runs alongside Lake Champlain. While the path is mostly flat, its views surround bikers with water from both sides. To fully make use of the trail, travel with a group of friends at sunset to see the sky warm over the lake.
About 80 miles from Lake Placid, the village of Lake George holds small boutiques and antique shops, waterfront dining and opportunities for adventuring. People of all ages can find wonder in this spot.
1. Catch a sunrise
Early birds rejoice. Perhaps the most serene time at Lake George occurs just as the sun begins to rise. Head to any of the docks near Shepard’s Park Beach and prepare for the sun to climb past Adirondack slopes. Apart from sounds of ducks gliding across the water and fishermen reeling in lines, all is silent.
Afterwards, walk over to Caffé Vero for one of its Adirondack-themed lattes to prepare for a day of activity.
2. Try a new water sport
Around the shores of Lake George, several companies allow visitors to rent kayaks or canoes at an hourly rate (usually around $30 USD per hour). The adventurous traveler can also parasail along the lake, depending on the weather conditions.
3. Wine tasting
As New York produces some of the country’s most acclaimed wine, it is no surprise that Lake George boasts its own winery. For visitors over 21, stop by the Adirondack Winery to purchase one of their award-winning wines, such as the “Prospect Mountain White.” The establishment also offers a wine tasting that includes seven wine samples and snacks like cheese and wine-infused truffles.
4. Shepard Park concerts
Lake George hosts an outdoor concert series throughout the summer at Shepard Park, the center of the village. You can take a seat in the amphitheater and listen to bands play while admiring the lake.
Located in the center of the Adirondacks, Tupper Lake providers a rest from at-home strain and offers outdoor pursuits like snowshoeing and sailing.
1. The Wild Center
One of the most acclaimed destinations in the Adirondacks, this natural history museum plunges visitors through nature. Otters zoom through the Outdoor Otter Play Yard and a porcupine named Stickley munches on an ear of corn. American toads, turtles and an eastern screech owl also saunter about the Wild Center.
Visitors can journey across the Wild Walk, an elevated trail in line with the treetops. The structure allows visitors to walk through a “snag”–akin to the dying white pines that animals take shelter in after the trees have incurred storm damage.
Before visiting the Wild Center, check out some of the live animal cams here, displayed on the museum’s website.
2. Adirondack Sky Center & Observatory
Celestial celebrators will find home at this stargazing site. The Adirondack’s respite from city light pollution produces spectacular views of the night sky that visitors will find in few other places in the US.
According to the center’s website, the observatory is open every Friday of the summer and every other Friday during the rest of the year. Guest professors and astronomers also frequent the center to provide details on their work or insight into what guests are viewing.