DISCOVER AND EXPLORE THE ADIRONDACKS
The Adirondacks are located in the north eastern region of upstate New York, and few places in the world can offer so much to see and do. From hiking and skiing (water and snow) to coffee and apple cider doughnuts, these mountains have something for everyone.
Located in upstate New York, the Adirondacks have their own state park and even a chair named after them. Don't worry; there are no entry fees and no gates that close at night. You're free to come and go as you please. So if you enjoy getting away, getting into nature, and enjoying life at a different pace, then Adirondack, New York is right up your alley.
One of the best qualities of the Adirondacks is the feel it has. There are a lot of things that contribute to it, and while this can be tough to explain, it’s easy to get.
Surrounded by the mountains and lakes, each town you pass through oozes charming character, and you’ll want to stop and check them out. From the historic architecture to the locals, you know this place is the real deal.
Travelers who really want to absorb the culture will want to spend time in some of the smaller towns. If you really want to take in all you can, check out some of the lake front vacation rentals available in the area. The Adirondacks are best enjoyed living as a local; you can’t beat waking up to crisp mountain air and astounding views.
The Adirondack park is about 9,400 square miles with 46 main mountain peaks and too many notable locations to name. However, here are a few popular destinations to help get you started:
- Lake George - Named after King George II, Lake George is one of the premier destinations in Adirondack, New York. Because of it's central location it draws all sorts of travelers and locals in the region. The town boasts one of the most charming and popular downtown areas with access to local boutique shopping and eateries. With a local beach and boat launch nearby, there's plenty to do.
- Bolton Landing - A short jaunt from Lake George, Bolton Landing offers a charming alternative to its more touristy neighbor up the road but with just as much history. This town offers more outdoor driven activities and less crowded beaches. Its close proximity to the many small islands in the lake make it a great destination for kayaking, boating, and swimming.
- Saranac - Nestled right on the Saranac river with a population of just over 4000, Saranac is the epitome of the small Adirondack town. This community is famous for their lake, hiking, and winter festival held in January or February. The dates for the winter festival can change each year, so double check before you make plans because you'll want to make sure you check out the giant ice castle and fireworks show.
- Lake Placid - Lake Placid is a remarkable place for a number of reasons. Located just an an hour or so south of the Canadian border, this is a special travel destination for those who remember the 1980 US Olympic hockey team that won gold against the former Soviet Union. Many top notch facilities were built in Lake Placid to host the Olympics, and visitors are welcome to tour them. Be sure to visit the Olympic museum, and if you're really looking for something out of the box to do, you can even go for a bobsled ride all year round. Touring the facilities has the added bonus of getting great views of the state park because the various facilities are spread out. You'll be able to see the area surrounding Lake Placid along with the smaller communities just outside it.
- Schroon Lake - This community is a excellent example of a small town just off the beaten path that offers the perfect combination of culture, local cuisine, and nature. This is the perfect place to grab a vacation rental because you'll really begin to feel like a local. Everything is within walking distance or, if you're like my family, bicycling distance such as local cuisine, beaches, and parks.
- Ticonderoga - In the 18th century it was nicknamed the "Key to the Continent", Ticonderoga was a military fort on Lake Champlain; it was particularly important during the French and Indian War, and Revolutionary War. Today the fort has been renovated and reopened to the public with daily tours.
Things to do:
- Adirondack Museum - Also known as the Adirondack Experience, this museum has a range of exhibits and activities that celebrate the history and pastimes of the Adirondacks. From learning the history of the region and feeding wildlife to interacting with craftsmen while they perform their trades, this experience is fun, informative, and memorable for everyone.
- Fort William Henry Museum - Located in Lake George, Fort William Henry was constructed in 1755 by the British to protect their colonies and stage military actions against the French. See historically accurate re-enactments and depictions of the colonial era of America, and what it would be like to live a day in the life of a colonial soldier.
- Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course - If you're looking to zip line, run an obstacle course, or swing on rope swings, you can do it all here. Your feet will seldom touch the ground, and no matter your age, you can be a part of the fun.
- Camping - In the Adirondacks, camping is one of the most ideal activities to do. Because of the temperate climate, you don't have to worry about sweating in your tent! In fact, most homes in the area don't have central A/C because the evenings are so cool. There are lots of camp grounds that are easy to get to and have handicap accessible lean-tos. Check out the John Dillon Park in Long Lake, NY. There's no reason every one shouldn't be able to enjoy the Adirondacks.
- Hiking - Of course when you think camping, hiking immediately follows. The Adirondacks are widely known for their hiking opportunities. There are 46 main mountain peaks within the park with countless trails.
- Gore and Whiteface mountains - These mountains are great for hikers and are by far and away the best mountains on the east coast to ski and snowboard. Whiteface also has the highest vertical drop east of the Rockies. Both Gore and Whiteface offer beginner to expert slopes and even have terrain parks. Both mountains offer gondola rides up and down the mountain in all seasons.
- Enchanted Forest Water Safari - This water park has everything: pools, 2 person water slides, a wave pool, a jungle gym in the water, amusement rides, a gift shop, and even an arcade for the video game lovers. It's a great option for summer vacations.
- White water rafting - Rafting has attracted folks to the Adirondacks for years. There's something about it that is addicting. It's a great way for a family to have out of the box bonding experiences. There are several great river guide companies in the area.
- Tour the mountains by car/motorcycle - The Adirondacks are full of winding mountain roads, and if you have a car or especially motorcycle, you'll definitely want to check out some of the more well known roads to ride. Route 74 from Schroon Lake to Ticonderoga is one of the most beautiful drives you'll ever take.
- Martha's Dandee Cream - If you go to the Adirondacks, you simply have to grab some ice cream from Martha's Dandee Cream. This is nationally renowned home made ice cream that's worth every penny and was featured on the Today Show. You can not afford to miss a cone of their wonderful ice cream. It's right on rte 9 just north of Glens Falls.
- Sleigh rides - Nothing quite says winter wonderland like a sleigh ride. There are a number of places that offer sleigh rides, but Lake Placid in particular has them in a great location near the lake with mountain views.
- Bobsledding - While you're in Lake Placid for the sleigh ride, be sure to check out the bobsledding as well. While you can do this all year round, it's way more authentic in the winter on the ice covered course. What's more out of the box than bobsledding on an Olympic grade course in Lake Placid?
- Ice Fishing/Cook out - If you're driving up rte 9 and you happen to see a bunch of shacks sitting in the middle of the frozen lake; don't worry. Ice fishing is a local pastime that gets you out into nature with absolutely beautiful views of the mountains.
- Six Flags Great Escape - If you thought water parks were only for the summer, guess again. Six flags offers an indoor water park that's perfect for families who want to take a break from the cold to enjoy some water sliding fun. Located in Queensbury, this a great way to come in from the cold after a day of skiing/snowboarding.
- Snowmobiling - This just might be one of the best ways to wander through the winter wonderland. Snowmobiling is one of the most popular past times and one of the most fun things you can do all winter. There are several places where you can rent snowmobiles and hire a tour guide to lead you on the best trails.
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The Adirondack park is very large and can be a little more tricky to navigate than a lot of travel destinations. It's best to come with a plan in hand.
Getting to the Adirondacks:
- Plane - The nearest airports are Albany International to the south and Airports of Montreal , Canada to the north. You'll need to take a train, bus, or rent a car from there.
- Train - Amtrak runs trains from New York City and Albany to Montreal with stops in Glens Falls, Ticonderoga, and Plattsburg. You'll want to rent a car once you've arrived, but those are only available in Plattsburg.
- Bus - Grey Hound buses will take you all the way to into the Adirondack park with stations in the larger cities and drop off points in the smaller communities.
- Car - The best way by to travel in the Adirondacks by far is by car. The closest cities to offer car rentals are Albany and Plattsburg.
Travel within the Adirondacks:
- Train - Once inside the Adirondack park, options for travel by train are limited. There are a couple companies that offer shorter rides from Saranac to Lake Placid and from Thendara to Otter Lake, but they are more for sight seeing than effective transportation.
- Bus - Grey Hound buses connect the larger cities and make stops in the smaller towns of the Adirondacks. If driving your own car or renting one isn't an option, this is the next best thing, but the hastle of schedules and pick up points can be very frustrating.
- Car - Renting or driving your own car is the best way to get around the region. This offers much more freedom of movement since public transportation, while available, has few options.
The Adirondacks are a popular destination year round. Spring is rather short and usually very wet from the melting snow, while the summers are warm during the days and cool at night which make it the most popular season. The main activities during the summer are hiking, camping, kayaking, and as the lakes and rivers warm up, rafting and water skiing. It lasts about 10 weeks from late May to early August, so you'll see the most people within the shortest amount of time then.
However, fall is almost as popular, and many say this is the most beautiful season as the tree covered mountains begin to turn orange and red from the changing leaves. The stunning views draw hikers from all over.
Winters can get very cold with temperatures below zero. This is when the snow skiing and snowboarding seasons pick up as people are drawn to Whiteface and Gore mountain from out of town and locally.
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