If you’re spending a weekend in Lake Placid you are in for a treat…and I should know since I grew up there!
I would be remiss if I didn’t do a blog post about the place in which I grew up. I honestly believe I am from one of the most beautiful places in the country: the Adirondack Mountains. Wild, majestic, and known for its frigid temperatures, the Adirondack region is a place I love to return to as often as possible.
The mountains are located in upstate New York, within the Adirondack Park, part of New York’s Forest Preserve. And within the mountains lies the little village of Lake Placid.
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Lake Placid is known for hosting the Winter Olympic Games in both 1932 and 1980. Contrary to popular belief, Lake Placid has nothing to do with the crocodile movie of the same name. Instead, it has everything to do with the movie Miracle, which depicts the momentous men’s hockey game when the United States beat the then-Soviet Union.
The Olympics are still a huge part of life in Lake Placid, as many of the buildings, rinks, and tracks are used as training facilities as well as tourist attractions.
But beyond the Olympics, Lake Placid is also known for its gorgeous scenery, no matter what time of year. Whether you’re an “outdoorsy” person or not, there are plenty of things to do in Lake Placid. If you have a chance to visit this beautiful, little mountain village, here’s my recommended itinerary for a weekend in Lake Placid!
This itinerary can be used year-round, but always check opening hours, as they differ in the winter. If you’re visiting in the colder months, check out my post about what to do in Lake Placid in winter!
- By car: Lake Placid is about a six-hour drive north of New York City and a two-and-a-half-hour drive south of Montreal, QC. The drive from I-87 into Lake Placid is one of my favorite scenic drives.
- By plane: The closest airport is the Adirondack Region Airport, but it is small and located about 20 minutes outside of the village. You can either rent a car from there or call a cab. Other larger airports include Burlington, VT and Albany, NY.
- By bus: Greyhound/NY Trailways does stop in Lake Placid, but the ride is long, no matter where you’re coming from. (Speaking from experience, as I took many a bus ride home during college.)
A car is really the best way to reach Lake Placid. It is tucked away so remotely that public transportation is limited. Plus, a car allows you to explore the trails and mountains in the area.
Where to Stay in Lake Placid
If you’re spending a weekend in Lake Placid, you should take advantage of the many hotels in the area! Many of them have great restaurants located within or nearby. Some favorites include:
- Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort: Located right on Mirror Lake, the sunrise views from Golden Arrow can’t be beaten!
- High Peaks Resort: Whether you want to get out on the lake or prefer to swim in one of two pools, you can do it all at High Peaks Resort.
- Crowne Plaza Lake Placid, an IHG Hotel: You’ll love the stunning views from the Crowne Plaza of the lake and surrounding mountains.
- Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa: One of the premier hotels in the area, Mirror Lake Inn is both swanky and charming.
How to Spend a Weekend in Lake Placid
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and you’ll want something to fuel your fun-filled plans. If you’re up and ready to go, grab a coffee from A New Leaf Coffee House. Or if you’d prefer a full sit-down meal be sure to go to the Breakfast Club Etc. for some delicious food and drinks.
Take a Hike
The best way to see the village of Lake Placid is to walk it! Just to be confusing, the village sits right on Mirror Lake (not Lake Placid), and there’s a sidewalk path all the way around it. For an easy morning walk, stroll the 2.5-mile loop and admire the lake from all angles.
If you’re up for a slightly more challenging hike, Cobble Hill is a short hike right in the village that offers a nice view of the surrounding area. It’s about 2 miles round trip, and there are two trail options: a steeper trail, and a more gradual trail. (I recommend taking the steep side up and the gradual side down.)
Please remember the Leave No Trace principles when spending time on Adirondack trails. In order for the land to be preserved and protected, remember to take your garbage with you, leave the wildlife alone, and stay on the trail.
Jump on the Skyride
Ever wonder what the view looks like from the top of a ski jump? You can find out for yourself in Lake Placid. (Not recommended for those with a fear of heights!)
The two towering ski jumps that rise above the mountains were built for the Olympic Games, but are still used for training and competitions. However, visitors can take the new Skyride, an 8-person gondola, up to the K-120 meter jump (the larger of the two). The gondola ride only takes a few minutes, and from there you can take an elevator up to the observation deck. Imagine sliding down that on skis and then launching yourself into the air from there!
Just down the road from the ski jumps is the excellent Big Slide Brewery, known for their locally sourced food and homebrews on tap. (I personally love their poutine! And if you don’t know what poutine is, be prepared, it will change your life.) Also down the road is Lisa G’s, serving up some of my favorite chicken wings ever.
Or, if you head back to Main Street, grab a sandwich from Big Mountain Deli & Crêperie. They offer 46 sandwiches, all named after the 46 High Peaks of the Adirondacks!
Go for a Paddle
Time to hit the water! You can’t spend a weekend in Lake Placid and not get out on Mirror Lake. Head over to Mirror Lake Boat Rental, where you can rent a canoe, kayak, rowboat, or stand-up paddleboard (SUP) by the hour. (Be sure to wear a swimsuit!)
If you’d rather just hang out near the water or go for a swim, check out the Lake Placid Public Beach at the southern tip of Mirror Lake.
The shops along Main Street include many independent businesses, and you never know what fun things you might find. My favorite local staples include The Bookstore Plus (the “plus” being music and art supplies), Saratoga Olive Oil (where you can sample some unique oil and vinegar combinations), and Lake Placid Christmas Co. (which is open year-round).
Enjoy happy hour drinks (and prices) and/or snacks while sitting outside with lake views, either at Top of the Park, where you’ll find really fun, unique cocktails, or The Deck at High Peaks Resort.
One of my favorite restaurants in Lake Placid is The Cottage at the Mirror Lake Inn. Nestled right on the water, it provides beautiful views and a cozy cabin ambiance. For a more lively atmosphere, Smoke Signals serves up some good BBQ and live music.
The Palace Movie Theater
Finish out your day with some popcorn and a film! The beautifully-restored Palace Movie Theater was built in 1926 and shows currently playing movies, and is the host of the Lake Placid Film Festival every autumn. (Note: The Palace keeps it old school and is cash only!)
It’s time to explore outside of town! You’ll be spending most of your second day in the neighboring area of Wilmington for some outdoor adventure. Wilmington has gorges, waterfalls, and Whiteface Mountain and makes a perfect addition to a visit to Lake Placid.
I recommend packing food for a picnic lunch, but on your way out of town, be sure to swing by Origin Coffee Co. on Main Street for some coffee and a pastry (or two).
Pro Tip: Don’t forget your bug spray!
Start your day with a walk in the woods! The Flume Trail System offers easy to moderate trail options with views of rushing water. Park in the lot off of State Route 86 and take the Flume Fall route for a good 2.4-mile loop.
Ready to see some hike-worthy views without having to put in the exercise? You can drive up Whiteface Mountain via the Veterans Memorial Highway! A weekend in Lake Placid isn’t complete without visiting this iconic Adirondack Mountain (the fifth-tallest in New York State).
While Whiteface offers intense ski slopes in the colder months, the views can be appreciated any time of year. After paying a fee at the gatehouse, the paved winding road climbs 2,300 feet in about five miles. You’ll want to get out of the car at various lookout points before finally reaching the top. The icing on the cake…I mean mountain? There’s a CASTLE. Take an elevator up to see the 360-degree views from a castle built from native stone.
And if you didn’t bring your lunch, you can visit the highest food truck in New York State!
High Falls Gorge
Explore this walkway through nature and marvel at how the Ausable River (pronounced AH-sable by us locals) has cut through rock and mountainside for thousands of years. This easy path includes bridges and glass floors for unique perspectives of the cascading water.
If you’ve got one more walk in you, park at the trailhead also located on State Route 86, and take the quick hike to Copperas Pond. It’s only half a mile to the pond, though it’s rated as moderate. Dip your toes in and bask in the peace and quiet.
Back to Town
Head back to town for a well-deserved meal! Lake Placid Pub and Brewery serves up local brews (including the famous Ubu Ale) and delicious pub fare like burgers and flatbread pizzas.
Absolutely nothing beats ice cream after a long day of hiking. For dessert, stop by Emma’s Lake Placid Creamery and try their “maple creme” soft serve, or if you prefer the tried-and-true, swing by Ben & Jerry’s.
If you have another day in the area, check out some of my other favorite things to do in Lake Placid.
- Hike Mount Jo: For a small mountain, Mount Jo provides a decent workout and even better views. There are two trail options, one steeper and one more gradual, but both are just a little over a mile to the summit. Be sure to get there early, as the parking lot fills up quickly. (Note: there is a parking fee)
- Walk the Heaven Hill Trails: Locals and tourists alike love this trail system for walking, biking, and bird-watching. The various loops are well-marked and well-maintained. (Be prepared to see lots of cute dogs, as it’s a popular dog-walking spot!)
I hope you get to spend a weekend in Lake Placid! It’s one of my favorite places, even if it wasn’t home. Have you visited Lake Placid? Let me know what your favorite places are!
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