Are you interested in traveling The Adirondacks? Do you even know what The Adirondacks are? I mean, other than those chairs? I had vague visions about lakes somewhere on the east coast … but that’s about all I knew. So I brought in a local to share all her best Adirondack travel tips with you! If you live in Boston, New York, or Montreal and you’re looking for a weekend getaway – this is for you!
The Adirondacks are a unique and gorgeous place in the northern New York. The Adirondacks are a giant park: 6.1M acres (that’s larger than the state of Vermont!) with more than 10,000 lakes and hundreds of mountains! But most interestingly, unlike most parks, which are much smaller and 100% wild, the Adirondacks are a living experiment in balancing wilderness and civilization in a way that no other park in the world is.
Hi! I’m Rebecca, I was born and raised in the Adirondacks and I love it so much, I made the Adirondack Park a flag! I think you’ll love the park too.
Things to do in The Adirondacks
Visit the Olympic Village
Lake Placid hosted two Olympic Games: in 1980 and 1932. There is so much to see: from the stadium where the Miracle on Ice took place to the giant ski jumps and Whiteface Mountain, arguably the best and most challenging ski resort on the east coast. Lake Placid has a picturesque downtown with offerings to suite every palate and budget.
Get Wet in our Pristine Waterways
With over 10,000 lakes & 30,000 miles of rivers to chose from, it’s practically impossible to go wrong. My favorite lakes are Lake George, Mirror Lake and Long Lake. Whitewater rafting the wild Hudson River is also a delight — but be careful: the current can be strong & dangerous. North River and Blue Mountain Lake are excellent jumping off points for rafting.
Hike a 46’er
If you like hiking, even a little bit, you need to bring your boots! The 46’ers are the high peaks of the park, coming in above 4,000 feet. Some of them are extremely challenging to climb or to access, but others can be done in a handful of hours by anyone reasonably fit. I suggest starting with Cascade & Porter Mountains. The views are amazing, the trail is only 5.7 miles and you get to summit TWO peaks! The downside is that it can get crowded: so get there early!
Take a Trip to the Wild Center
Visiting with kids or a kid at heart, like me? The Wild Center in Tupper Lake is so cool. It has a tree top walk, lots of exhibits and animals and 80+ acres designed to be explored: by foot and by boat.
Places to go in The Adirondacks
You’ll see a theme below: lakes. The Adirondacks are all about them and I highly suggest staying on a lake if at all possible. There’s nothing like an early morning swim.
Lake Placid is a fantastic jumping off point for all things Adirondack. Nestled in the high peaks, there are activities for all types: from extreme sports like ice climbing, to to many of the poshest restaurants in the park.
Now I’m totally biased, but I think that this is the best lake in the Adirondacks. I suggest you rent a boat and go camping on one of the hundreds of islands. The campsites are state run, clean and simply the best way to experience the stunning beauty of the lake. For a more upscale experience, check out the town of Bolton Landing. History buffs should be sure to check out Fort Ticonderoga.
Blue Mountain Lake
For a slower, quieter pace, try Blue Mountain Lake. It is home to the celebrated Adirondack Museum and has rustic ambiance galore. There is fantastic river rafting, fishing and canoeing in the area too.
Keene Valley is the heart of the Adirondack High Peaks and is perfect for exploring the vast wilderness. Eating at the Noon Mark Diner before / after a hard day’s climb is practically a right of passage.
Things to eat in The Adirondacks
I can’t say that the Adirondacks are known for any kind of food, but there are lots of great places to pull up a chair and stay a while.
Best Brewpub: Big Slide Brewery
This place is a local hotspot! There is great beer, good food and a raucous brunch every weekend. Located in Lake Placid.
Best spot to catch the sunset: The Cottage @ Mirror Lake
With stunning year round views, The Cottage is the perfect place to recharge & recover from your day adventuring in Lake Placid.
Best Date Night: Le Bistro du Lac
Surprisingly great French cuisine on the shore of Lake Champlain. Between the view & the food, you’ll be feeling the love.
Best s’mores: Campsites everywhere
The best s’mores always come for your very own campfire, of course. Pull up a log, grab a stick and roast away! Just don’t forget to bring the chocolate.
Cultural tips for The Adirondacks
Although in New York, Adirondackers are not “New Yorkers.”
We tend to be unpretentious and self sufficient. If you’re nice to us, we’ll generally be friendly and accommodating, especially when we believe that you respect the park, like we do. It’s simple, but a little kindness goes a long way to getting the great local recommendation or maybe even an invite to go fishing.
Cheap travel tips for The Adirondacks
You can do the Adirondacks on any budget, even a shoestring. They are a short-ish drive from most anywhere in the Northeast, making it an easy escape or side trip from New York, Boston or Montreal.
To save some cash, hop from campground to campground: they are plentiful, generally well maintained and with the right attitude, you are sure to make a new friend… or ten! This is by far the most affordable way to not only see the park, but to get lakeside lodging! You can rent canoes on the cheap for a boat-only camping experience you’ll never forget! (I recommend Indian Lake & Long Lake)
I also love packing picnics! There’s little better than eating a picnic: on a mountain peak, beside a river or in a park downtown. Check out the Lazy Moose Garden Market to stock up on delicious gourmet food, much of which is local.
Finally, you can try getting even more off the beaten path: Old Forge, Friend’s Lake,Tupper Lake and Indian Lake all have cute little B&Bs and rural, rustic charm.
The Adirondack Park is a truly special place where wilderness and civilization have coexisted for generations. I can’t recommend visiting highly enough.
Thanks so much for sharing your tips, Rebecca! Do you guys have any to share?