Lake Placid: The Perfect Upstate Retreat

One of the best-kept secrets in upstate New York is the city of Lake Placid. Nestled in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains, Lake Placid offers picturesque scenery, unique culture and plenty of outdoor adventures.

Historically, an American physician named Edward Livingston Trudeau put Saranac Lake on the map in the late 1800s as an escape for patients with tuberculosis.  Soon, the area became a popular summer retreat among the rich and famous. The Winter Olympics of 1932 and 1980 brought about additional attention to the city and Lake Placid Ironman is the longest running triathlon in the U.S. aside from Championship Kailua-Kona in Hawaii where thousands of athletes come to test their abilities every year.

Lake Placid is a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts; those who like to hike, bike, swim, hike, rock climb, kayak, camp or simply enjoy nature.

Getting to Lake Placid

Lake Placid is located close to the U.S./ Canadian border and attracts visitors from both countries. It is easy to rent a car and drive to Lake Placid from surrounding big cities of Burlington (3 hours), Montreal (2 hours), Toronto (5.5 hours), New York City (5 hours) or Boston (5 hours).

Lodging at the Lake

The Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort located directly on Mirror Lake offers some of the best views in the city. It is convenient for shopping, dining and relaxing on the beach. Complimentary equipment for paddling, kayaking and boating is available to the guests.

For a quieter atmosphere, you can book yourself a luxurious suite at Lake Placid Lodge. The upscale camp lodge is a majestic arts and crafts building on the scale of the Newport Cottage. The lodge offers private boat tours and direct access to the lake to its guests. The location is popular for intimate weddings, so make sure you book well in advance.

For a quirky German bed and breakfast-style setting, head to family-owned The Pines Inn, where you will find cozy rooms and a friendly staff. They also have a German Biergarten themed dinner on Friday nights where you can enjoy beer and pretzels on the outdoor patio.

Farm to Table Dining

Start your day with a hearty breakfast at Generations Restaurant adjacent to the Golden Arrow.  Locally sourced fresh ingredients are used for preparing omelets and pancakes. This is a good place to sample maple syrup and cheese made at New York farms.

Rekindle the romance with a lakeside dinner during sunset at Artisan’s restaurant located at the Lake Placid Lodge. Finest Champagnes, beluga caviar, Maine lobster, homemade pasta and white chocolate truffles are just a few aphrodisiacs on the menu. Chef Nathan Rich’s seasonally inspired multiple course menu is likely to create memories that would last a lifetime.

Pick up a box of the yummiest handmade goats’ milk (cajeta) and sea salt caramels you will ever have from Asgaard Farm and Dairy.  They also sell award-winning chèvre, feta and soft cheese made right at the farm.

Learn about maple production from sap to jar at the Uihlein Sugar Maple Research and Extension Field Station, located just a few minutes outside the city. Bring cash for the unmanned store where you can buy maple syrup in bottles of all shapes and sizes.

Activities for Mind and Body

Before you gear up and head out to play, stop by Eastern Mountain Sports, a one-stop shop for sporting equipment and guided tours. Here you can rent or buy everything you need for your day’s adventure. You can also enlist for one of their group explorations or hire a guide for a personal tour. Choose from hiking, biking, golf, fishing, paddling, birding, hunting and more.

In the winter, Alpine enthusiasts may spend their winter days ice climbing, skiing and riding on the east’s greatest vertical, Whiteface Mountain. With Over 283 acres of ski-able terrain, 86 trails and 11 lifts at Whiteface Mountain, there is plenty of room to enjoy the slopes. The ice skating rink at the Olympic Center and Lake Placid Olympics Museum are also open year round for visitors and competitors.

While Lake Placid is a great place to visit year-round, it is exceptionally magical in the fall when the leaves change colors. Drive, motorbike or cycle up the scenic Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway to its summit mountain top castle and catch some of the best views of the foliage.

After a day on the slopes, relax at the spa located at The Whiteface Lodge, the only resort hotel at Lake Placid. Enjoy a body wrap or massage followed by a dip in one of their indoor or outdoor pools. The spa’s café, KANU, also serves an organic menu with delicious Bento box lunches and detox drinks.

Not to Miss Fall Events in Lake Placid

Lake Placid Farmers’ Market and Keene Farmers’ Market – Held at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts every Wednesday through October 23 and at the Marcy Airfield in Keene every Sunday through October 13, respectively, both feature locally sourced produce, meat, poultry, baked goods, handmade crafts from Adirondack artisans and more.

Oktoberfest at Whiteface Mountain – Held at Whiteface Mountain annually, Oktoberfest is a weekend-long celebration of all things Bavarian, complete with authentic music, dancing, food, beer, Gondola rides to the top of Little Whiteface to view the fall foliage, lots of lederhosen and more.

Lake Placid Brewfest – The second annual Lake Placid Brewfest returns, complete with samplings of some of the best beers from around the country, alongside Q&A opportunities with the brewers behind them.

Flaming Leaves Festival – Featured on the “Today Show’s” top fall festivals roundup in 2012, the Flaming Leaves Festival features food, sport, music, and more. Watch as some of the nation’s best ski jumpers soar through the air, enjoy live music performances and chow down on delicious BBQ. Don’t forget to take a trip to the top of the tallest 120-meter ski jump to see the fall foliage at its best.

Photo credit: Sucheta Rawal and

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Sucheta is an award-winning food and travel writer who has traveled to 70+ countries and is on a mission to see the entire world. She is also the founder of the nonprofit organization, Go Eat Give and the author of a series of children's books on travel, "Beato Goes To" that teach kids about different countries and cultures. To learn more, visit