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Calm & Relaxing or Adventurous & Educational – The Adirondacks has it all!

When we visited the Adirondacks a few years ago, our family was made up of two busy teenagers, one 8-year-old boy who wanted to try it all, and two working parents, so finding time to get away sometimes got pushed to the back burner. So, for my husband’s birthday that year, I decided that a family getaway to New York was much needed, not just for him, but for all of us, so we could unwind, reconnect with each other, and not have to worry about the normal business of day-to-day life.

Lake Placid, New York, is a place that I had heard of but didn’t know much about until we visited. I imagined the sun shining off a big lake surrounded by colorful Adirondack chairs; a place to go, relax, and let nature ease away all our everyday stresses. If that is what you are looking for, you can certainly find it there. The day we arrived, the sky was clear blue, and the temperature was perfect for a stroll down Main Street, with views of what we would come to learn was not Lake Placid, but rather Mirror Lake. (Sidenote: The actual Lake Placid lake was just a short drive down the highway, less than 10 minutes away.) While we stayed in the town of Lake Placid at the High Peaks Resort, the lake we were closest to was Mirror Lake, which offers a red-brick walking trail that takes you the full 2.7 miles around the lake.

We quickly came to learn that the Adirondacks offer much more than just a place to relax and unwind. The area is the perfect combination of peacefulness and sites to see. Our first night was spent exploring Main Street, with a variety of shops and places to grab a bite to eat. We enjoyed dinner at Lake Placid Pub and Brewery, where not only is it people-friendly, it’s dog-friendly, too, welcoming four-legged friends with bowls of fresh water. Offering a hearty menu of burgers, salads, pizza, wings, sandwiches and traditional dinners, I opted to try something a little different, a create-your-own bowl, in which I was able to select a base, topping, and style from the choices on the menu. I selected Udon Noodles topped with Salmon in the Spicy Pineapple and Snow Pea style. It was delicious, and a very hearty portion! The rest of my family was equally impressed with their meals of Shepherd’s Pie, kid’s pasta, Josh’s Fire Fish (haddock tossed in buffalo wing sauce), and chicken fingers with fries.

With full bellies, we explored Main Street a bit more before heading back to our hotel to enjoy the indoor pool and then settling in for the night. The décor of High Peaks Resort has a “woodsy” feel which made me feel warm and cozy, with the wood accents and natural river rock shower. From the balcony in our room, we had views of Mirror Lake and the outdoor pool. We all slept comfortably, and the room was spacious enough to accommodate the extra cot provided for our family of five with plenty of space to still move around. You can find complimentary champagne at the front desk and chess tables with comfy chairs by stone fireplaces in the lobby; a great way to warm up and unwind after a day spent exploring. We also enjoyed dinner the following night at the hotel’s Dancing Bears Restaurant. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, DBL (as known by the locals), offers classic American pub food in hearty portion sizes and a full bar. Looking for comfort food, I was very happy with my selection of white pizza, with house-made dough and a thin crust.

During the rest of our visit to the Adirondacks, we enjoyed learning more about the area, specifically the two Olympics that were held there in 1932 and 1980, and visiting The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. Before the rain started, we were able to enjoy the Wild Walk, an elevated set of suspension bridges that take visitors up, up, up to see the surrounding natural world from the views of animals like squirrels, eagles, and spiders. Speaking of spiders, there are interactive experiences along the walk, so you get to use more of your senses to experience what nature is like from the perspective of other species, such as on the giant spiderweb suspended off the ground. After that, we explored the natural trails before heading inside the nature center, where we could have spent hours exploring the various exhibits that included fish, otters, watching a film in the Flammer Theater, and interactive drawers and boxes in the Naturalist’s Cabinet (which is not a cabinet but a large room filled with many, many learning opportunities). Display cabinets with information about local wildlife and plants, plus interactive drawers for learning at all ages, books on a variety of topics, and computers to explore even more, I think the Naturalist’s Cabinet was my favorite indoor area of The Wild Center.

No trip to Lake Placid is complete without a visit to the Olympic Museum. I recommend getting the Olympic Passport, which not only gives you access to the museum, but to all the Olympic sites. The museum, located in the Olympic Center, is full of displays and interactive exhibits. There you can try your hand at moving as fast as Olympic speed skaters or sit in a bobsled. Just upstairs, you can enter through painted doors depicting the “Miracle on Ice” to see Herb Brooks Arena, where the U.S. beat the Soviets in the 1980 Olympic games, in what is widely considered to be one of the greatest sports upsets in history.

From there we drove a short distance to see the 120m ski jump at the Olympic Jumping Complex, drove up the Veterans Memorial Highway to the top of Whiteface Mountain, 4610 feet above sea level, and toured the world class bobsled, luge and skeleton track at the Olympic Sports Complex, where we had the opportunity to stand at the starting line of the Bobsled, Skeleton & Men’s Luge for the 1980 Olympics. The tour guide was interesting and informative, and while the skeleton is performed face first and only 2.5 inches off the track, we learned that was the easiest of the three to drive.

Whether you are looking for an educational trip for your family, want to explore nature, or just want to relax and unwind, the Adirondacks has it all!

May 24, 2023

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