How to Spend a Weekend in Lake Placid

by  Anne Roderique-Jones | May 13, 2022
Frank DeBonis/iStock

There seem to be a lot of themes when it comes to Lake Placid, New York. The first that comes to mind is the Olympics. Lake Placid has played host to two Winter Olympics (1932 and 1980), and you’ll find fun reminders and activities around every bend. There’s the jaw-dropping nature that makes it hard to believe that this charming town is the same state that’s home to New York City. And then the views: Whether you’re perched on an Adirondack chair peering out at the lake or having dinner fireside with views of the Great Range, it’s about as scenic as it gets. In fact, you’ll enter Lake Placid via Route 73, known as the High Peaks Scenic Byway – a gateway to the largest publicly protected land in the U.S. – making it a grand preview of the beauty ahead.  

What to Do in Lake Placid

Looking to spend a weekend in Lake Placid, New York? The first question will inevitably be, “What season are you there?” What you do depends on what time of year you’re visiting. The foliage in the fall is spectacular, and spring ushers in warmer weather activities (though, be prepared for what the locals call mud season; it’s exactly like what it sounds). Here, hiking is a year-round activity (Henry's Woods and Heaven Hill are favorites). Come winter, you’ll find that every local seems to have a pair of skis or snowboards on their roof or in the backseat. During the cold weather, visitors can go ice fishing, ice skating, skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, snowboarding – and really just about any activity that begins with “ice” or “snow.”

Even if you’re not an Olympic athlete, one of the coolest parts of visiting Lake Placid is that you can feel like one. Mt. Van Hoevenberg is home to the Lake Placid Bobsled and Skeleton Experiences, where the world’s best bobsled, luge, and skeleton racers–and open to the public to experience. The Lake Placid Toboggan Chute sends you down a 30-foot high, ice-covered chute onto frozen Mirror Lake. Additionally, at the Olympic Jumping Complex, you'll find the SkyRide gondola, which sends you up to the base of the ski jumping towers. Looking for something a bit less heart-racing? Visit the Olympic Center for a comprehensive history of the games. Once the warm weather is (finally) ushered in, the lakes are the place to be: swimming, paddleboarding, kayaking, and boating on the clear – placid, of course – waters. No matter what time of year, the town’s downtown area feels like a Hallmark movie setting with charming gift shops, a dogs-welcome bookstore, and cute restaurants. 

Where to Eat in Lake Placid

From fine dining to cozy pubs, Lake Placid offers a well-rounded culinary experience. Start the day at the breakfast club, etc, at a table overlooking the lake. Here, the breakfast sandwiches (like the veggie and egg) are fantastic, as are the mega-burritos and bacon waffles. For something sweet, opt for the French toast fondue or cinnamon and nutmeg French toast. The Bloody Mary and mimosa varieties are also impressive.

The Cottage Restaurant and Cafe hugs the shores of Mirror Lake and offers up the chance to mingle with regulars over a craft beer and a burger or flatbread pizza. The views of the Adirondack High Peaks and the Great Range are just added bonuses. Meanwhile, the perfect post-hike spot is Big Slide Brewery, which offers ten craft beers on tap at all times. The menu also boasts small plates and pizzas, and,  come Sunday morning, you can indulge in a decadent brunch, which offers creative dishes like "The Hangover Helper" — AKA eggs, cheese, peppers, bacon, and mayo on a round roll (or, for $2 extra, you can get your sammie on a cinnamon roll). 

Finally, known as DBL, Dancing Bears Restaurant has been a Lake Placid staple since its inception during the 1890 Olympics. If you’re lucky enough to snag a seat in front of the fireplace to sample the moule frites, a steak, or the signature pizza. And if you miss out on a fireside table, there’s always a place at the large picture window with views of Mirror Lake. 

Where to Stay in Lake Placid

There are loads of options for incredible lodging in Lake Placid, but in order to be right in the action, we’d recommend staying at High Peaks Resort. Located in downtown Lake Placid, right along Main Street, the property offers the perfect marriage of convenience and nature. Guests are surrounded by plenty of bars, shops, and restaurants along Main Street but could be perfectly content and occupied at the property.

Upon walking into the cozy lobby, you'll be greeted with a welcome glass of champagne, and, in the afternoon, you'll find complimentary coffee and cookies. Rooms, most of which have views of Mirror Lake, have comfy bedding, stone rainfall showers, and quite a few have balconies. There are four swimming pools – two indoor and two outdoor. In the winter, guests can use the resort’s snowshoes. Come summer, there’s a lakefront area where guests have access to complimentary paddling equipment, including kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and pedal boats. Lake House is the sister property that's conveniently located right next door, and you'll have full access to their amenities, as well. 

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