Lake Placid, New York grew in popularity in the ‘80s when the winter Olympics were hosted in the Adirondacks, but a visit to this upstate New York locale in the summer or fall months? Take it from us: it’s worth the trip. There’s water, the Adirondack mountains, fresh air, and tons of outdoor adventures. Recently, we visited Lake Placid for a week in August, and it proved the fun that you can have in this sweet upstate town about 4.5 hours from the NYC + Hoboken/Jersey City area (yes, a drive for sure!) — it’s truly a relaxing and unique summer escape. Read on for a guide to a Lake Placid trip in the warmer months.
How to Get There
It’s a pretty straight shot from NYC and Hoboken + Jersey City once you hop on 87. Take Route 17 N and then drive North on 87 for about 3+ hours. You’ll pass Lake George, and then will hit the Adirondacks. There’s about a 30-min drive on a very scenic road that will really get you in the mood for a mountain escape on the way, and then voila, you’re there.
Where to Stay
There are a lot of different places to stay in the Lake Placid area including some spectacular lake houses or “camps,” as they’re called — most of them are on Mirror Lake. Mirror Lake is adjacent to Lake Placid — and where the main downtown area is.
We’ve stayed at these three hotels on different visits, so we can personally recommend them:
High Peaks Resort | 2384 Saranac Avenue
This lakeside resort (on Mirror Lake, not Lake Placid) is a perfect location and it’s also dog-friendly. Here, there are several different buildings to stay in: The Lake House, which is across the street from the lake, as well as suites right on the lake. There are also rooms at the main building as well. A big perk to this resort is its outdoor pool and free water activities, available daily till 7PM in the summer. It’s also within walking distance to Smoke Signals and The Cottage at Mirror Lake.
Whiteface Lodge | 7 Whiteface Inn Lane
This lodge is where you go to splurge on a trip with the most delicious dinner + drinks and upscale mountain feel. Once here, you’ll pretty much never want to leave — somewhere between the bathrobes, s’mores, pool, lounge areas, kids’ club, and more. Fun fact: Whiteface Lodge was also where Succession filmed its retreat episode in season 2 — if you needed further proof that this lodge has some serious upscale mountain vibes.
Crowne Plaza | 101 Olympic Drive
Located in the Olympic Village, this is another dog-friendly spot with a private beach by Mirror Lake. Crowne Plaza’s main restaurant has spectacular views of the mountains — so even if you don’t end up staying here, make sure you make the trek up the hill for a visit. What makes its views amazing is also its downfall, as the only drawback we can find is that you have to climb a pretty big hill straight up daily to get to your room.
Where to Eat
Crowne Plaza | 101 Olympic Drive
While it’s known as a hotel on the hill, Crowne Plaza has a stunning view of Mirror Lake and the mountains from its outdoor seating. The food is pretty traditional — think steak, salad, salmon, and the like, but the views cannot be beaten.
Kanu at Whiteface Lodge | 7 Whiteface Inn Lane
Kanu has some unbeatable lodge vibes. With stunning views of the mountain, wood- and stone-covered walls, and super tall chairs, it’s impossible not to feel regal + important here (once again, this spot is where they filmed Succession). HG tip: Order the cosmo at the bar while you wait for dinner, and at dinner, the scallops and the filet — you won’t be disappointed. Really anything on the menu is excellent, albeit a bit on the pricier side.
Lisa G’s | 6125 Sentinel Road
Lisa G’s is one of our all-time favorite local spots. The staff is incredibly nice, dogs are allowed on the gorgeous outdoor patio, there are views of a cute little waterfall, and the food is awesome. We highly recommend the cheese treat, which consists of broiled feta, a spicy brown sugar marinade, arugula, jalapeños, and grilled bread. This app is so good that one of our HG editors recreated it as an anniversary present for her boyfriend.
Mirror Lake Inn’s Cottage Restaurant | 77 Mirror Lake Drive
This spot doesn’t take reservations, but it has beautiful views. The restaurant and cafe is perched atop a hill at Mirror Lake, and views are spectacular of the Adirondack High Peaks. As for the menu, it’s mostly sandwiches, salads, pizzas, and other casual eats. It also has a full bar — and we definitely recommend trying out the espresso martini.
Dancing Bears Restaurant | 2404 Main Street
Since opening during the 1980 Olympics, Dancing Bears Restaurant has become one of the most beloved restaurants in Lake Placid. This is part of the High Peaks Resort and has a very hearty breakfast menu + dinner menu. Be warned, the portions can be giant for certain dishes — we recommend coming hungry or sharing with the table.
Lake Placid Pub & Brewery | 813 Mirror Lake Drive
This is a brewery on the lake that has a bit of outdoor space and some homemade brews. There are also wines in a can, and you can play cornhole outside. It’s right by Mirror Lake and has both indoor and outdoor seating.
Big Slide Brewery + Public House | 5686 Cascade Road
Near the Lake Placid ski jumps is a brewery called Big Slide, which opened in 2016. Brews, farm-to-table food, and a low-key atmosphere make this spot a must. It also has Sunday brunch.
Smoke Signals | 2489 Main Street
This is a newer BBQ spot that is all the rage — each time we’ve gone, the wait has been relatively long — but it’s worth it for the BBQ. The restaurant only takes reservations in person or on its website, so it’s a bit harder to get into.
Green Goddess Natural Market | 2051 Saranac Avenue
Right outside the Olympic Village, you’ll find Green Goddess Natural Market — a must if renting an Airbnb and want to get some healthier groceries. The cafe also has a fill-your-own kombucha and mead stand, as well as a cafe.
Things to Do
There are so many trails to hike in the Adirondacks, it’s potentially overwhelming. Start small — walk Mirror Lake (something that if you’re staying locally, you can do daily after you grab a local coffee) which is about 2 miles and flat with sidewalks. There’s also the Mount Jo Loop which is 1.8 miles, and then you can slowly (if desired!) work your way up to the Saranac 6 — which is a 6-mountain hiking challenge.
Main Street around Mirror Lake is filled with kitschy and cute mountain shops, stocked with trinkets and odes to Lake Placid and the Adirondacks. There are also a decent number of sporting goods stores that carry both Olympics paraphernalia and brands like North Face, Marmot, and Patagonia, as well as a few ice cream, coffee, and chocolate shops — and some antique shops.
If you’re looking for a more controlled but hands-on mountain experience, ziplining with Experience ADK Outdoors is an option. Located at the Old Scott’s Cobble Ski Mountain, the outdoor center has a ziplining tour and ATV ride up the mountain.
Whether you rent a kayak or paddleboard, there are plenty of spots to do so — and some of the local hotels even provide them on their private beaches.
Arguably the most necessary touristy activity you should do on your trip, the Lake Placid Boat tours are a fan favorite. The tour is about an hour and is potentially your only way to see Lake Placid if you’re staying at one of the Mirror Lake hotels. Here, you’ll learn a little history, and see and hear about the stately manors and great ‘camps’ — aka lake mansions — situated along the shore. There are also glimpses of Adirondack wildlife and Whiteface Mountain, which was the site of the alpine events during the 1980 Winter Olympic Games.
See More: A Weekend Guide to Catskill, New York
With the Olympics having been hosted not once, but twice in Lake Placid, the venues used for the Games are collectively known as the Lake Placid Legacy Sites and some are available for visiting, tours, and even training. These spots include the Olympic Center, Olympic Jumping Complex, Mt. Van Hoevenberg, and Whiteface Mountain. A standout one for summer is ironically the Sky Jumping Complex and the Sky Ride, with panoramic views of the Adirondacks and a fun gondola tour up the mountain.
There’s really no shortage of activities for Lake Placid in the summer, and, of course, better weather if you’re not a winter person. It’s definitely worth the trek north, and if winter’s more your thing, Lake Placid is heading into hosting the 2023 Winter World University Games, so regardless of the time of year — it’s guaranteed to be a unique experience that’s worth a visit.