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Unique Things To Do In The Adirondacks

John Brown Farm State Historic Site

Things to do in Adirondack, NY

For those who don’t recognize the name John Brown, allow us to give a brief history lesson. John Brown was a famous abolitionist who helped lead an assault on the U.S. Arsenal at Harper’s Ferry in 1859. The purpose for the assault was to use the captured weapons to help liberate the slaves in the south. Brown was imprisoned after the assault in Charlestown, Virginia, and hanged. His body was returned to North Elba, near Lake Placid, and buried at his home.

Today his home serves as a museum and memorial to the man who sacrificed his own life to help save others and right tremendous injustices. In addition to the museum, the historic site features hiking, a picnic area, trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, and period reenactments to help set the scene and tell the history of the time.

Address: 115 John Brown Road, Lake Placid, New York

Hadley Mountain Fire Tower

My love of hiking came from trekking to the old fire towers that dot the Adirondacks as a kid. Now that aerial and satellite imagery has replaced the need for humans to safeguard the areas once-precious lumber economy, many of the towers, complete with mapping tables and observers cabins, have become a target for hikersthe Adirondack Mountain Club has even compiled them into another checklist. Hadley Mountain, in the southern foothills of the Adirondacks, was where I got my start, thanks in part to the short-but-steep 3-mile round-trip. The summit and the tower both reward with views of nearby Great Sacandaga Lake to the south, and on a clear day, you can even spot the High Peaks roughly 50 miles to the north.

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As its name suggests, Old Forge was once a forge. With its land unsuitable for farming, Charles Frederick Herreshoff opened an iron mine in 1811. It was incorporated as a village in 1903 but only lasted 30 years before residents voted to dissolve it in 1933, due to the high costs of government operations.

It, however, remains the principal community of Herkimer County today, serving as an extensive business district and targeting mostly summer tourism, with attractions like the Enchanted Forest Water Safari. Heading there soon? Book your stay at the top Airbnb and other vacation rentals in town, and check out the Enchanted Forest Water Safari, along with the rest of the best things to do in Old Forge, New York!

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Moderate: Golden Arrow Resort

For this visit, we spent four nights at the family-friendly Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort. You could immediately tell that this is a favorite destination hotel for families, many of which return every year. The Golden Arrow occupies a prime location at the end of Mirror Lake and in the heart of the downtown shopping and restaurant district.

The small private beach at the Golden Arrow is another huge draw for families, especially since they offer free use of kayaks, canoes, paddle boards, and row boats. Of course, that small beach can get quite crowded and finding a spot is a challenge. I would recommend bringing your own beach chairs and staking out a space on the lawn. Also, the equipment is a bit hit or miss with a âfirst come, first serveâ policy and a mismatch of paddles and heavily used equipment.

Another nice thing about the Golden Arrow is the availability of two room suites for families, some of which have kitchenettes. The rooms themselves could use some updating but the size is nice and the view and location make those trade offs worthwhile.

Check rates and availability here: Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort on TripAdvisor

Go Camping On An Island

5 fun ideas for a fall getaway in the Adirondacks ...

Kraig Becker

Thanks to its sprawling size, the Adirondack Park offers literally hundreds of places for backpackers and campers to pitch their tent in a wilderness setting. But if you’re looking for a unique place to go camping, turn to Lake George once again. The lake itself is dotted with dozens of small islands, many of which have permanent campsitescomplete with picnic tables, restrooms, and tent platformsthat can be reserved and rented for the night. You’ll need to paddle or catch a boat out to your island of choice, but once there you’ll have a lakeside retreat all to yourself.

Also Check: Things To Do In Healdsburg This Weekend

Hit The Hundreds Of Miles Of Trails

Of course, active travelers can opt to scale Prospect Mountain on foot. The hike is only about three miles round trip, but it’s steep, so definitely expect a workout.

But Lake George and the surrounding mountains are veined with hundreds of miles of trails, which scale many of the lush, verdant Adirondack peaks that surround the lake.

Buck Mountain is another popular, challenging hike. It’s three miles one-way and affords more spectacular views. For something less difficult, Sleeping Beauty Mountain is far more moderate, though the length can be up to seven miles round trip. The really motivated hikers can attempt The Lake George 12ster, a series of hiking challenges that involve summiting 12 peaks.

Cyclists have plenty of trails to call their own in Lake George, as well. Start with the Warren County Bikeway, which links Lake George to Glen Falls. From Glen Falls there are several other bike routes that branch out.

The winter season blankets upstate New York in fresh powder, which makes Lake George a prime area for skiers. Gore Mountain is the closest peak to Lake George, with 110 trails across four peaks.

Get Sporty In Lake Placid

The town of Lake Placid, New York is the center for adventure activities in the Adirondacks of New York. This small mountain town was home to not just one, but TWO Olympic Games. The region is still a major training facility for US national teams. And for visitors with a love of sports, the Lake Placid Olympic Park is a great way to test out your athletics.

During summer in Lake Placid visit the Olympic Park and take a ride on the epic bobsled run. If youre visiting Lake Placid in winter, you can also try your hand at ski-jumping. But if youre exploring the Adirondacks in summer you can always just admire the views from the top of the Olympic ski jumping towers. Keep reading here, or you can find more things to do in Lake Placid here.

Where To Stay in Lake Placid

There are some great hotels and resorts in Lake Placid. One of the most popular is the Golden Arrow Resort on scenic Mirror Lake. It gets bonus points for being home to Generations. With one of the best views in the region, Generations is one of the most popular restaurants in Lake Placid. You can check out some more great places to stay in Lake Placid here.

Tour Emmas Lake Placid Creamery

Let the children see how ice cream is made at Emmas Lake Placid Creamery. The place is typically packed with people waiting in line to sample the homemade flavors. Choose from milkshakes, homemade ice cream sandwiches, ice cream cones, or pies and cakes with ice cream as the base. Be sure to purchase extras for a snack later at your vacation rental.

Why We Recommend This Activity

Have you seen Strange and Unusual Things in the Adirondack Mountains?

Get to know the regions natural history and friendly critters, as well as humankinds relationship with nature, at the Wild Center.

Walk across treetops, meet animals, and literally enter a huge tree with a stairwell inside! The Wild Center offers the best things to do in Adirondacks with kids if you want them to truly appreciate nature.

St Regis Mountain & Canoe Area

An excellent hiking option just 20-30 minutes from downtown Saranac Lake is St. Regis Mountain. This is also part of the St. Regis Canoe area, popular for overnight or day canoe trips

The hike is about 6.6 miles and earns its moderate rating. The first couple of miles uphill arenât too bad but the last mile you have to work for. Donât worry, it is worth it! Before you get to the summit you will reach a nice rock overlook, but keep going. The wide-open summit offers amazing views and you can climb the fire tower if you dare to see even further.

Go Camping Around Old Forge

If youâd like to truly be removed from society and be one with nature for a few days, then visiting a campground is one of the best places to do so. Being one of the busiest camping areas in the US because of beautiful scenery, theres easy access to a variety of activities as well as opportunities for bear sightings . There are multiple campgrounds in the vicinity of Old Forge including Nickâs Lake, Singing Waters, and Old Forge Campin Resort. Every campground offers different amenities, so be sure to check out each one and find the location that makes for your ideal camping experience. There are also cabin rentals in the area, some are even pet-friendly ones, to complete that ultimate adventure with nature.

Nick’s Lake

The Enchanted Forest Water Safari is New Yorkâs largest water theme park and itâs a perennial favorite every summer vacation. Admission gives visitors unlimited access to over 50 attractions, including 32 water rides and all shows. There are thrilling ones like Raging Rapids, Killermanjaro, and The Curse of the Silverback. This Old Forge attraction isnât all about the water though. The park has other amusement rides on land that guarantee just as much fun.

Enchanted Forest Water Safari

Payneâs Seaplane Rides & Air Service

Address: 431 NY-28, 13360 Inlet, NY

Experience The Best Of The Adirondack Coast

Point Au Roche Lodge You will need a base camp, and there is none better than this wonderful lodge. All points along the Adirondack Coast are easily accessible from here. Read our review Point Au Roche Lodge review A perfect Adirondack Coast basecamp to learn more.

Point au Roche State Park The entrance is located directly across the road from the Point Au Roche Lodge. Inside the park you will find 12 miles of trails, many with views of Lake Champlain. The lake shore and a lovely beach can be reached in less than a mile walk from the lodge.

Ausable Chasm Open to the public since 1870, it is considered one of the oldest natural attractions in North America. Often referred to as the Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks, you will be awestruck by the sheer walls of the chasm and the thundering water below as you wander along trails that hug the rock. The more adventurous can partake in tubing, rafting or even a mild via ferrata climbing route. And it is also open in the winter when frozen waterfalls and huge icicles become the star attractions ice cleat tours are offered for that. Be sure to also plan an hour or so to visit the Underground Railroad Museum nearby. The small museum details the history of the Champlain Line of the Underground Railroad as fugitives escaped slavery on their way to Quebec and Ontario, Canada.

HITT Tip: page on the official Adirondack Coast tourism website. Getting here is worth the effort.

Boating On Lake Placid

Find Things To Do &  Fun Adirondack Attractions For Kids On ...

The actual Lake Placid is much larger, and more exclusive. Some of the houses on the lake and its islands are only accessible by boat. I would recommend renting a motor boat or signing up for one of the boat tours to get out on the lake just to gawk and the gorgeous private family âcampsâ along the shore.

We had an amazing time tubing with ADK Aquatics. You can sign up for a 1.5 hour session to try water tubing, water skiing, wake boarding, or simply tour the lake. We visited Echo Bay, saw Whiteface Mountain from the lake, and had an absolute blast tubing. The safety precautions and service of the team was top-notch.

Take In The Local Craft Breweries

There is one local craft brewpub in Tupper Lake NY that you shouldnt miss. Raquette River Brewing is a popular spot on the Adirondack winter snowmobiling brew tour. It sits right next to the snowmobiling trail so there is a constant flow of backwoods travelers swinging by for some fun.

Raquette River Brewing

Raquette River Brewing is the spot for social fun in Tupper Lake. This local hotspot recently went through a major renovation with a large social area added on to deal with the crowds of locals and tourists that make their way to Raquette River Brewing. Raquette River doesnt have its own kitchen. Instead, there are two food trucks permanently located in the RRB parking lot to serve visitors.

This Adirondack Brewery offers a great atmosphere to unwind. There are comfortable chairs located near a roaring fireplace, lots of tables and chairs to socialize at, and a fire pit outside for those who just cant get enough of the fresh air. Owner Mark Jessie and his partner continue to run the more intimate brewery section of the Raquette River Brewing for those looking to escape the crowds.

Historic And Iconic Adirondacks

Even though a couple Rocky Mountain visitors were underwhelmed at the notion of 4,000 foot peaks, the fact of the matter is that these old mountain tops are approachable, lovely, and not as easy to ascend as they look. Climbers in the knowand theres ample recognition for climbers of all 46 peaks and subsets thereofwill tell you that the difference here in the East is that trails ascend straight up, without the switchbacks used in the West. It is wonderful that the High Peaks require no technical rock climbing skills, just solid preparation and precautions to hike safely.

We were lucky to spend a day with the education director Seth Jones of the Adirondack Mountain Club, an historic mountain club thats a hub for High Peaks treks.

Our guided hike up Mt. Jo gave us a feel for the High Peaks trailsoften rocky and interrupted by roots. But we also learned some folklore around the early aficionados of these forests and peaks. Quick, while I was still warm from the hike, I swam in Heart Lake next to the lodge, and enjoyed imagining the lodges founders breaking trails through the woods.

The best known part of the Adirondacks is Lake Placid and Whiteface Mountain, home to the 1932 and 1980 Olympics. This is naturally a place one visits and never wants to leave. The Olympic Museum and facilities are fun to visit. The town is energetic and prepared to host elite athletes and average visitors year round, plus world championships whenever possible.

Lapland Lake Nordic Vacation Center

This center is an Adirondack institution. It was founded by former U.S. Olympic cross-country skier Olavi Hirvonen in 1978. He and his wife recently sold it to another couple, but Hirvonen still maintains the tracks he designed. Cabins are available to rent and season passes are quite reasonable. * Website

Natural Stone Bridge & Caves


Natural Stone Bridge & Caves is a geological wonder situated in the southern part of the Adirondack Mountains. This location has self-guided trails that pass along a river but the main attraction here is the Natural Bridge Cave.

Natural Bridge Cave is 180 feet wide and 62 feet high making it the largest marble cave entrance on the East Coast.

This cave is so large that it even has an underground lake that used to trap trees sent down the Trout Brook river during the loggings days in the 1900s. Now, this privately owned location is solely used as a tourist attraction.

In the spring Trout Brook river overfloods but in the fall, the water level at Natural Stone Bridge & Caves is very low. We were able to walk on top of the dry river bed and peek inside caves with underground waterfalls during our visit in October.

Natural Stone Bridge & Caves is a great spot to visit if you love geology and unique rock formations.

Cost: $16 for adults, $8.50 for kids


Budget: Lake Placid Inn Residences

On our first visit we stayed in the Lake Placid Inn Residences It is located just outside of town, making it a little cheaper. But these boutique suites have been renovated and updated in a chic style that provide extra space for families or those that want to cook their own meals. The river view and outdoor community fire pit add a nice ambience to the motel-like exterior.

Check rates and availability here: Lake Placid Inn Residences on TripAdvisor

Take A Walk In The Wild Center

Located on Tupper Lake, which is in the center of the Adirondack Park, the Wild Center is a natural history museum that offers something for all ages. Walk across the elevated trail that sits high in the treetops. You can also connect with the animals in their natural habitat, and explore the 54,000 square-foot museum, which has a variety of hands-on activities that keep kids interested. The area also has a theater that shows films on the history of the Adirondacks.

We Suggest The Top 10 Experiences Of Summer

Make this summer in the Adirondacks an adventure extraordinaire! The Fern Lodge is an Adirondack resort that offers exquisite lakefront hotel accommodations, a private getaway, and access to all of the best things to do! Summer in the Adirondacks offers attractions, stunning natural beauty, golfing, and more.

  • The Adirondack Experience in Blue Mountain Lake is an absolute must-see. Its a museum about this area and the Adirondacks primarily the history of tourism, mining and logging industries and much much more. A lot of it is outside so I recommend it on a nice day as well as a rainy day. And it all overlooks the most amazing vista of Blue Mountain Lake. Advance reservations necessary. Open June-mid-October. While you are in the neighborhood take a tour of the Great Camp Sagamore, a vintage Great Camp and National Historic Landmark built by Alfred Vanderbilt. Gloria Vanderbilt spent childhood summers here as Carole Lombard and other Hollywood stars of the era played tennis and strolled along the lakeshore. Tour scenic Raquette Lake while having lunch on the WW Durant Captain Pohl, offers a fascinating commentary on the history of the lake, its Great Camps and other points of interest. advance reservations and proof of Covid vaccination required. Stop on the way home at barVino a wine bar in North Creek. NOTE: If you are going to do all 3- you need to get an early start!
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