I spent many a summer in Lake Placid during my childhood when I was a competitive figure skater and it has always had a magical place in my heart as The Olympic City. There are plenty of things to do in Lake Placid NY be it summer or winter making for a wonderful weekend getaway.
Located in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains of New York State, Lake Placid is the perfect year-round mountain getaway – and these are the best things to do in Lake Placid to make the most of your stay.
Top Things to Do in Lake Placid NY
Recently Dave and I watched the documentary The Making of a Miracle on Ice about the American hockey team that faced off with Russia in the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid to win gold. This was such an amazing moment in American history and a trip to Lake Placid is a must for anyone road-tripping through Up State New York.
Lake was America’s first winter vacation destination and is known for hosting two Winter Olympic Games in 1932 and 1980. Besides being known as a winter resort, there are many things to do in Lake Placid in the summer too. Let’s check out all the reasons you should add Lake Placid to your places to visit in America’s bucket list.
Lake Placid Attractions
Lake Placid is a village in New York State located in the Adirondack Mountains. It is located in what is called the Tri-Lake Region which includes Lake Placid and two other lakes – Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake.
Funny enough, the town of Lake Placid isn’t located on Lake Placid proper, its main street is actually on Mirror Lake. Lake Placid is 5 hours from New York City and Boston and it is 2 1/2 hours from Montreal and five hours from Toronto, Canada. So, are you ready to explore Lake Placid NY with us? Let’s go!
1. Live Out Your Olympic Dreams
Lake Placid was home to not one, but two Winter Olympics, the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, and it has preserved that history with the excellent Lake Placid Olympic Museum and tours of the Olympic facilities. When you visit Lake Placid, you must not miss spending some time immersed in Olympic history.
Dave and I have gone back to Lake Placid in recent years for both summer and winter activities and I was reminded of that Olympic magic while walking through town and exploring the Olympic Sites.
We love the Winter Olympics and one of our favorite things to do in Lake Placid is live out our Olympic dreams by exploring the sites. There are plenty of Olympic sites to explore in Lake Placid, so let’s check them out.
2. Lake Placid Olympic Jumping Complex
Until you’ve been to the top of an Olympic ski jump, you’ll never truly appreciate how terrifying it is. I cannot fathom standing on two tiny pieces of wood only to slide down a near-vertical ramp that flings me off the end into the air.
Lake Placid’s Ski jumps are still used for training, but even non-jumpers can get a little taste of what it’s like to experience the need for speed at the Lake Placid Olympic Jumping Complex.
Try your hand at zip-lining right beside the 90-meter jump that emulates the feeling of ski jumping at speeds up to 30 miles per hour. Check out the Olympic Sky Flyer Jumper Zipline for details.
3. Olympic Skyride
If you are not quite up for the heart-racing adventure, you can still explore the Lake Placid Olympic Ski Jumps by taking the gondola up to the glass elevator 120-meter high ski jumping tower where you’ll ride a glass elevator up to the viewing platform for panoramic views of the mountains.
It is a gorgeous scene. (if you aren’t a skier or snowboarder chances are you don’t ride gondolas a lot, so this is a fun thing to do.) See the Olympic Jumping website for details.
4. Stroll the Alpine Village
Lake Placid feels like a little Swiss Village with ski chalets, shops, and picturesque scenery. Located on Mirror Lake, Lake Placid lives up to its name with its placid waters reflecting the surrounding Adirondack Mountains, trees, and swiss-style chalets.
Make sure you have a drink at the Big Slide Brewery (Home of the Giant IPA) to enjoy a local brew on the terrace with views of the Olympic Ski Jump. There are many local craft beers to taste, and another recommendation is a visit Lake Placid Pub & Brewery for a tasting flight or a pint of their locally brewed beer
Many Olympic sites are located in downtown Lake Placid including the Olympic Center, and the speed skating oval. The Lake Placid Historical Society is a great place to pop in to learn about the rich history of the area, from its Olympic heritage to its Adirondack roots.
At night, head over to The Palace Theatre and catch a movie at this vintage cinema right on Main Street. I don’t know why, but Dave and I love going to the movies when we travel. There’s something about it that makes you feel like a local.
5. Lake Placid Olympic Center
The Lake Placid Olympic Center and Museum is one of the best things to do in Lake Placid for sports lovers. When you visit Lake Placid, make sure to go inside the Lake Placid Olympic Center and witness the arenas where history was made.
The rinks and museum are located right in the center of downtown Lake Placid and are easily one of the top Lake Placid attractions. The museum showcases memorabilia from the past Olympics including highlights from Miracle on Ice. Canadians love arenas, so we felt right at home here.
6. Herb Brooks Arena
I have had the privilege of ice skating in all of the historic arenas at the historic Olympic Center in Lake Placid. Herb Brooks Arena is the most famous and was built for the 1980 Olympics.
It’s historic because it was on this ice that The US Team took gold in the 1980 Olympics. They became known as Miracle on Ice. The Lake Placid Olympic Center is located at 2634 Main Street, Lake Placid and visitors can skate on the ice to experience the historic destinations.
In the winter, you can even experience skating at the Lake Placid Olympic Oval. Lake Placid is one of the few places on earth that lets you feel what it’s like to skate on an outdoor oval.
7. Paddle On Mirror Lake
I’ll never forget seeing Mirror Lake for the first time, its still waters reflect the surrounding scenery. Mirror Lake is located in the heart of Lake Placid Village but feels a world away.
This is a beautiful lake to explore by paddle boats, kayaks, or canoes or simply taking a leisurely hike around its shore. (no motorized vehicles are allowed on the water). It was our favorite thing to do in Lake Placid. To sit on the still waters taking in the views is a serene experience where you’ll feel at one with nature.
In the winter it comes alive with skaters and you can even take dogsled rides. Plus, one of the coolest things to do in Lake Placid in winter is to slide down the Toboggan Chute that empties onto the frozen lake.
Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa
When you visit Lake Placid, we highly suggest staying on the lake. The Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa is located directly on the lake. Spend an afternoon at the spa followed by a stroll on the Brewster Peninsula Nature Trails, and fine dining at night at The View Restaurant. All rooms have a private balcony with mountain and lake views.
8. Hike The Brewster Peninsula Nature Trails
One of the most popular things to do in Lake Placid is to head out to the Brewster Peninsula Nature Trails. It’s a set of four trails that are popular for hiking and mountain biking in the summer and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.
The Brewster Peninsula Nature Trails are just a short drive from downtown, this beautiful spot offers easy walking trails perfect for bird watching and appreciating nature. Located on the Brewster Peninsula on the eastern shore of Mirror Lake, this is a great place to explore the natural beauty of the area while enjoying outdoor activities such as hiking, walking, and birdwatching.
The trail system on the Peninsula features a network of paths that wind through the wooded area, providing visitors with a peaceful and immersive experience in nature. The trails are generally well-maintained and offer various loops of different lengths and difficulty levels, accommodating both casual walkers and more avid hikers.
The Brewster Peninsula Nature Trails
The Lake Shore Trail is a lovely scenic walk around the lake while The Ridge Trail takes you up to a scenic ridge.
The Boundary Trail is the longest and The Corridor Trail is a downhill walk that takes you to the Lakeshore.
As you explore the Peninsula Nature Trails, you can expect to encounter picturesque views of the lake, its surrounding mountains, and the lush forests of the Adirondacks. The trails take you through a mix of evergreen and deciduous trees, providing opportunities to appreciate the region’s natural diversity.
9. Ski Whiteface Mountain
We have been snowboarding on Whiteface Mountain and let me tell you it is always a thrill to follow the footsteps of Olympians. This mountain was used in the 1934 and 1980 downhill skiing events and is one of the top Lake Placid attractions in winter drawing snow lovers from around the world.
At 1.483m (4,865ft) high, it has the greatest vertical drop east of the Rockies, this is the premier place to hit the slopes in the U.S. East Coast. Whiteface Mountain has 90 trails for all levels of skiing spanning 22 miles of terrain.
If you are planning on hitting the slopes, you may want to stay closer to Whiteface Mountain. Check out this Apartment Stay just two minutes from the mountain. Sleeps 8 and has a 6-person hot tub!
Stay in Whiteface
Whiteface Mountain is located 30 minutes from Lake Placid. If you are planning on doing a lot of outdoor adventures here, you may want to stay closer to Whiteface Mountain for a night or two. Check out the Whiteface Mountain Ski Resort Website for Details.
Not visiting in winter? No problem. Whiteface Mountain doesn’t shut down once the snow melts. Take the Gondola up to Little Whiteface Mountain and take part in the Adventure Zone. In the summer months, it opens up offering disco golf, downhill mountain biking, and plenty of hiking. There is even a zip line here and like most ski hills around the world.
10. Little Whiteface Mountain – Cloudsplitter Gondola
Not to be confused with Whiteface Mountain, Little Whiteface Mountain is its own attraction in the summertime. In the winter, the Cloudsplitter Gondola is the way to get up to the ski hills of Whiteface Mountain.
If you are not skiing, you can simply enjoy the ride on the Cloudsplitter Gondola, which takes you from the base lodge to the summit of Little Whiteface. From there, you can take in the stunning views of the surrounding Adirondack Mountains and Lake Placid and on a clear day you can see as far as Vermont and Canada!
In the summertime, there are hiking trails and downhill mountain biking. The Cloudsplitter Gondola up Little Whiteface Mountain for panoramic views of its big sister, Whiteface Mountain, and the Adirondacks in the summertime and to enjoy some hiking.
11. Take a Drive up Veterans’ Memorial Parkway
Chances are you’ll be on a road trip when visiting Lake Placid, so make sure to take a scenic drive up the Veteran’s Memorial Parkway starting in Wilmington at Adirondacks Spruce Lodge.
This paved road winds its way all the way along Highway 431 up to the summit.
The scenic 7.96 mi (12.81 km) long drive is a must when visiting Lake Placid. It’s a steep 8% grade which is impressive considering it was built in 1932. This isn’t a free drive-through, on your way up, you’ll have to pay a toll at an alpine-style gatehouse built in 1934. But the drive is worth it will pull-offs and scenic views. Cost: $20 per vehicle plus $20 per passenger. (Kids 6 and under are free)
Once you reach the parking lot, you have a few choices of things to do like have a bite at the Castle Cafe, you can ride the elevator up 27 stories, or hike the beautiful beautiful trail to the summit. It’s just a short 15-minute hike (.2 miles) to the summit but it is worth it for the view. Plus, you get to see gorgeous views of Lake Placid.
12. Visit High Falls Gorge
One of the most beautiful places to visit in Lake Placid is High Falls Gorge. Take a walk along the hiking trails, glass floor walkways, and bridges through this 22-acre nature park to see its beautiful waterfalls along the Ausable River.
High Falls Gorge has it’s name for good reason. There are four falls cascading down the mountain, the Main Falls, Mini Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Climax Falls which you can hike out to. It’s just a half-mile round-trip walk (that is accessible) and it takes about 45 minutes to an hour. (it can be done shorter, but Dave and I love to take photos.
Spend an afternoon here hiking to its spectacular waterfalls like Main Falls with a cascade of 60 feet. There is Climax Falls and Mini Falls as well. To ensure the best views, there are steel bridges with glass floors positioned at key points. This allows visitors to get a fantastic view of the waterfalls and the gorge below.
You can visit in the winter as well as High Falls Gorge transforms into a winter wonderland. Marvel at frozen waterfalls that freeze into beautiful ice formations. Snowshoeing is also available on the nature trail. There’s a gift shop that sells local arts and crafts, a café serving snacks and warm beverages, and picnic areas for those who’d like to enjoy a meal in the great outdoors.
Since it is privately run, there is an admission fee to access High Falls Gorge
13. Adirondack Experience
Lake Placid is in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains and has capitalized on that location. ADKX is an activity center dedicated to the outdoors. With 120 acres sprawling along Blue Mountain Lake, there are plenty of things to do for outdoor lovers.
Take a hike out to the Whiteface Mountain fire tower, rent a canoe to explore the shore, or go on a guided nature walk. There are artists in residence and lots of activities. This is a great weekend escape for the whole family.
14. Olympic Bobsleigh Experience
If there is one way to really feel like an olympian it is to get on the Olympic Bobsleigh track. The Lake Placid Olympic Bobsleigh experience at Mt. Van Hoevenberg lets you cruise down the Olympic track with a professional driver.
The sliding center track was updated in 1999 from the original but I see that it is undergoing reconstruction again, so I would check to see if tours are open. You can visit the Website here.
15. Cliffside Coaster
If the bobsled feels like a little too much (or if it is closed), a great option is to hop on the Cliffside Coaster instead. You have control over your own speed on this slide ride down the mountain alongside the 1980 bobsled track. We’ve done a few of these slide rides and they are a blast for the whole family. Cool fact, it’s the longest mountain coaster in the United States. Check for details and availability at the Cliffside Coaster at Mt. Voevenberg.
16. Go Cross Country Skiing
If cross-country skiing is more of your thing, make your way to the Cascade Cross Country Center. With 14 miles of groomed trails, it has something for everyone.
Cascade Cross Country Center also offers cross-country ski rentals and what’s really cool is that you can try your hand on the Lake Placid Olympic cross-country ski trails at Mt. Van Hoevenberg. If you visit Lake Placid in winter this is a really fun thing to do. Get more details at the Cascade Ski Center.
17. John Brown Farm State Historic Site
For history buffs, a visit to the John Brown Farm State Historic Site is a must. He was a part of the underground railroad and moved to the Adirondacks to establish a community where slaves could live freely.
Unfortunately, he was captured and hanged in 1859. He was buried at his home and it has now been turned into a museum that has been preserved in time displaying the personal belongings of the Brown family. See more at the New York State Park website.
18. Mount Jo
Being situated in the Adirondacks, one of the top things to do in Lake Placid is to get outdoors to enjoy its many hiking trails. Mount Jo is located just outside of Lake Placid and has some easy hikes to the 2,876-foot-high summit.
The trails are only 1.1 miles and 1.3 miles long but offer beautiful views of the high peaks of the Adirondacks and they overlook Heart Lake.
19. Saranac Lake
Though Lake Placid offers plenty to do within its borders, a short drive away lies another gem in the heart of the Adirondacks – Saranac Lake.
By venturing out a bit further to Saranac Lake during your stay in Lake Placid, you’ll be able to experience even more of the stunning beauty, rich history, and cultural charm that the Adirondacks have to offer.”
Located Just 20 minutes from Lake Placid, Saranac Lake is a vibrant community known for its cultural and artistic scene. Pop into the Adirondack Artists Guild which is a Co-op art gallery representing the artists residing and working in the area. It’s a perfect place to find a locally made souvenir.
In the winter, it hosts the annual Saranac Lake Winter Carnival famed for its Ice Palace, a massive structure built from blocks of ice harvested from Lake Flower.
Saranac Laboratory Museum was the first lab built for the research of tuberculosis. Today, it serves as a museum educating visitors about the history of the disease and the village’s role in its treatment.
Wild Center: Although it’s a bit further away, located in Tupper Lake, the Wild Center is a must-visit for nature enthusiasts. This natural history center includes a museum, a planetarium, and the Wild Walk—an elevated trail among the treetops.
Where to Stay in Lake Placid
Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa – Located directly on the lake with a full-service spa, dining, and balconies with lake and mountain views.
Hampton Inn & Suites Lake Placid – We stayed at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Lake Placid located on Mirror Lake. It is just a short walk to the main street and the Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum. We stayed here during our first visit to Lake Placid and loved it.
Lake Placid Inn Boutique Hotel – located just outside of Lake Placid, this boutique hotel is located directly on Lake Placid. It offers free private parking.
Whiteface Lodge – One of the grandest properties in the Adirondacks evokes a feeling of the decadence of the 19th century. Boasting a movie theater, bowling, canoeing, and ice skating in the winter. There is a spa, several dining options, and an indoor-outdoor pool.
Where to Eat in Lake Placid
Lake Placid Pub & Brewery: A go-to for craft beer lovers, offering a wide range of beers brewed on-site and a delicious food menu to accompany them.
Artisans at the Lake Placid Lodge: Upscale dining with stunning lake views, offering a menu inspired by local and seasonal ingredients.
The View Restaurant at the Mirror Lake Inn: As the name suggests, this place is known for both its high-quality food and its fantastic views of the lake.
Lisa G’s: A local favorite for wings, burgers, and other classic American comfort foods.
Top of the Park: This tapas and wine bar is known for its great selection of small plates and its stunning rooftop views.
Smoke Signals: If you’re in the mood for hearty BBQ and comfort food, this restaurant should be on your list.
How to Get to Lake Placid
Lake Placid is located in the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York. However, your exact route will depend on where you’re coming from. Here are a few general directions:
From New York City: Lake Placid is about a 5-hour drive north from New York City. You can take the I-87 N (Northway) towards Albany and continue on I-87 N to Exit 30. From there, take Route 73 toward Lake Placid.
From Toronto: If you are driving from Toronto it is 500 kilometers (or 310 miles) and usually takes between 6 to 7 hours. you’ll take the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW), heading to Niagara and the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge border crossing. After crossing the border, take Interstate 190 South and then merge onto Interstate 290 East to Tonawanda and merge onto Interstate 90 East then north on Interstate 81. Follow NY-342 East, and turn right onto US-11 North. In Malone, turn right onto NY-30 South. At Paul Smiths, take NY-86 East to Lake Placid.
From Boston: If you’re driving from Boston, you can take I-90 W. Continue on I-90 W to Schroon. Take exit 30 from I-87 N. Follow U.S. 9 N and NY-73 W to Lake Placid.
From Montreal: If you’re driving from Montreal, you can take Autoroute 15 S. Continue onto I-87 S (signs for Albany) entering the United States (New York). Take exit 34 for U.S. 9 toward Keeseville/Au Sable Chasm/Port Kent. Follow U.S. 9 S and NY-73 W to Lake Placid.
By Plane: The closest airports to Lake Placid are Adirondack Regional Airport (SLK) in Saranac Lake, Plattsburgh International Airport (PBG), Burlington International Airport (BTV) in Vermont, and Albany International Airport (ALB). From there, you can rent a car or take a shuttle to Lake Placid.
By Train: Amtrak offers service from NYC’s Penn Station to Westport, NY, on the Adirondack Line. Upon arrival in Westport, a shuttle service can be arranged to Lake Placid.
About Lake Placid
Lake Placid is a charming village located in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. Known for its beautiful landscapes and rich history, let’s take a look at some key facts about Lake Placid: You may also like 15 Fun Facts about New York City
- Winter Olympics: Lake Placid is notably one of only three places in the world that have hosted the Winter Olympics twice, first in 1932 and then again in 1980.
- Miracle on Ice: The 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid is most famous for the “Miracle on Ice” where the U.S. hockey team defeated the heavily favored Soviet Union team during the Cold War era.
- Ironman Triathlon: Lake Placid is home to an annual Ironman Triathlon, which is a major event drawing competitors and spectators from around the world.
- High Peaks Region: Lake Placid is situated in the High Peaks region of the Adirondack Mountains, with 46 peaks over 4,000 feet, making it a popular destination for hiking, climbing, and camping.
- Whiteface Mountain: Nearby Whiteface Mountain is the fifth-highest mountain in New York, and its ski area has the greatest vertical drop in the eastern United States.
- Water Bodies: The village of Lake Placid is located near two major bodies of water, Mirror Lake and Lake Placid, providing plenty of opportunities for water sports, fishing, and scenic enjoyment.
- Population: As of the last census data before my training cut-off in 2021, the population of Lake Placid was around 2,500 residents, but it can swell with visitors during peak tourist seasons.
- Wildlife: The region around Lake Placid is rich in wildlife, with possibilities to spot animals like black bears, deer, bobcats, and a wide variety of birds.
- John Brown Farm State Historic Site: This is the home and gravesite of abolitionist John Brown. The site is now a New York State Historic Site.
- Seasonal Activities: Lake Placid offers a wide range of outdoor activities year-round, from skiing and snowboarding in the winter, to hiking, biking, and water activities in the summer.
Photo credit: John Brown Mwanner at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
And now you have the information you need to take a road trip to Lake Placid, NY Have you been to Olympic City? What are your favorite things to do in Lake Placid?