Lake Placid, NY, nestled in the Adirondack Mountains, makes the perfect place to visit for a weekend getaway. From some of the best hiking in the Northeastern United States to an adorable downtown full of shops and restaurants, Lake Placid has an impeccable balance between adventure and relaxation. This 3 day day itinerary will give you plenty of things to do in Lake Placid, and will make you want to come back for more.
Where to Stay: The Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort
The Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort was our adventure hub for the weekend. Located amidst the hustle and bustle of downtown Lake Placid The Golden Arrow is in a perfect spot right on Mirror Lake. They say that the only thing they overlook is the lake, and it couldn’t be truer. The resort, opened by two German immigrants seeking the American dream, is designed in the Swiss chalet style of architecture. From the moment you walk into the lobby, you feel like you’re at home. The staff was impeccable. Every single staff member was kind, friendly, and willing to help with anything we needed. Keep reading to find out more about my stay at the Golden Arrow.
Day 1 – Outdoor Adventures in Lake Placid
Lake Placid, NY is about a 3-hour drive from my home in Southwestern Vermont, so we, my boyfriend Will and I, woke up early and set off on our mini road trip. Our drive North took us from the Green Mountains to the Adirondack Mountains, both beautiful and breathtaking.
Our only scheduled activity for the weekend was zip lining at Experience Outdoors at 12 pm. (Pro traveler tip: When scheduling activities, book them for when other travelers will be busy. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner times are usually less busy and you’ll be more liking to be with fewer people.) Since I scheduled it around lunchtime we stopped at Cedar Run Bakery in Keene, NY for a snack before zip lining. This little bakery is full of delicious snacks, sandwiches and local delicacies for purchase. We filled up with chicken salad on a croissant and a bag of chips.
Not far down the street and right on the main road into Lake Placid is Experience Outdoors. They have zip lining and team building activities on premises and they also offer guide services for cross-country skiing, fishing, canoeing, camping, hiking, and whitewater rafting in the area. If we had more time in the area we would have done even more activities with them!
Upon arrival, we found out that it would be just the two of us on the tour! Our guides, Scooter and Scout (nicknames) got us all outfitted in our harnesses and helmets and informed us that we needed to use nicknames too. I used my old summer camp name, Rufio, and Will used Big Willy. Soon after, we hopped on an ATV to head up the mountain.
After a safety briefing and a zip on the practice line we took a short walk up to the first line, and we were off. We went through 6 zip lines, a suspension bridge and 2 rappels, each more exciting than the last. At the mid-way point in the tour, we got a spectacular view of the mountains! Scooter and Scout were very focused on safety and kept us laughing the whole time. I’ve been on several zip line tours and this is one of the best tours I’ve ever been on.
With all the work we did while zip lining we need a filling, but quick lunch. Because Will and I can’t turn down a local outdoor gear store we headed into High Peaks Cyclery and Mountain Adventure Center. I picked up an Adirondack Mountains patch for my backpack and we got a recommendation to grab a pizza at Johnny’s Pizza Restaurante. During lunch, I called the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort to see if we could get an early check-in. We were thrilled to find out that our room was ready!
We obviously checked it directly after lunch as we wanted to explore the resort. Our room had a balcony facing the lake and we were so surprised to find that there were kayaks and canoes available for hotel guests to take out on the lake free of charge. after taking a quick power nap, we did just that.
Even the threat of rain couldn’t keep us off the water. The wind, however, did help us make the decision to take out the kayaks over a canoe. Circumnavigating Mirror Lake in my little yellow kayak provided peaceful and gorgeous views of the surrounding area. If I was to rent a kayak from a business in the area it would run up quite a bill. The boats are an amazing perk of staying at the Golden Arrow while in Lake Placid, NY.
As the sun started to set, we brought back the kayaks and hit the town. The shops lining Main Street in Lake Placid, NY range from cute gift shops to stores celebrating the Olympic history of the town. I’d recommend strolling downtown as the sun sets, followed by dinner at Smoke Signals. Located right downtown, Smoke Signals has the best ribs I’ve had in the Northeast! We order the Signals Sampler for Two so we could try a little bit of everything. As my side, I picked the cheddar bacon mac and cheese, and I only have one word: heaven!
Day 2 – Lake Placid’s Big Views and Beer
The day began with unicorn pajamas and hot tea on the balcony; it was perfect. And while I could have sat there all morning, Will wouldn’t let me, so we got dressed and headed out. Before leaving town we went to Soul Shine Bagel to grab breakfast and hiking snacks. They have pretty good rainbow bagels!
Hiking has become one of my favorite things to do in Lake Placid. There are gorgeous mountains scattered throughout the Adirondacks, but the most coveted are the 46 High Peaks. Hiking the 46 High Peaks is a challenge hikers come from all over to complete. I will admit that I had never summited any of the High Peaks before this day. We chose to hike Wright Mountain, but by the time we arrived at the trailhead the parking lot at 8 am it was already full.
As an alternative, we headed to the Cascade Mountain trailhead on the outskirts of Lake Placid, NY. Parking can get a bit crazy there, as it’s all along the side of the road, but if you arrive early you should have no problems. With that said, the earlier you get there the better.
At the trailhead we found several volunteers from the 46ers – people who have summited all 46 of the High Peaks in the Adirondacks – greeting hikers. They made sure we signed the register, which you should always do at the trailhead of any trail in case you get lost, and informed us we could reach the summit of a second high peak, Porter Mountain with a short hike off the main trail. In addition, they wanted to make sure we had a few essentials in our packs for the hike.
A few things they recommended bringing:
- At least 32 oz. water bottle
- A warm layer
- Rain jacket
- First aid kit
We began hiking around 8:45 and it was one rocky uphill battle. Even though Cascade Mountain is rated a 2 out of 7 do not underestimate it. The trail was muddy and steep, with many places having large rocky steps. There are also several places where you need to scramble over rocks with a decent amount of speed to reach a flat surface.
The summit of Cascade is completely exposed and above the tree line. On a 65 degree day down in Lake Placid, NY it was only 40 degrees on the summit. The 360-degree view of the surrounding area was totally worth the 2-hour climb to the top!
We decided to go to the summit of Porter Mountain as well, and we’re glad we did. I will say that because of how muddy the trail was it was a little scary getting to the summit. It is only an additional .7 miles to reach, but in order to get there, you need to descend many large rocky steps. I would not recommend this hike for smaller children.
In total, we hiked for around 5 hours. We loved every second of it!
Before hiking please make sure you are prepared. Weather on the High Peaks changes rapidly and it can be extremely windy on the summits. During our hike. we saw people on the trail with no water, no layers, and no backpacks, which means so food. Just because a hike seems easy doesn’t mean it isn’t going to be a challenge. Do your research before hiking and bring gear to case you get lost or have an emergency.
Feet sore, but my adventure spirit satisfied we headed back to the Gold Arrow Lakeside Resort in Lake Placid, NY to rest. Will took an afternoon nap on our super soft bed and I took a nice long soak in the Jacuzzi tub. Followed by putting my feet up on the balcony with a warm cup of tea.
After resting up, it was time for dinner at Generations, the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort’s family friendly restaurant. It was a beautiful Fall day, so we opted to sit outside and take in the Lake Placid ambiance.
Upon opening the menu a little thing called the Das Boot caught my eye. And when I say little I mean a 64oz. boot filled with beer and a giant pretzel to match. Ordering this might have been the best decision we made all weekend.
When our amazing waitress brought the boot out she gave us two glasses, but we couldn’t figure out how to get the beer into them without making a huge mess. Yes, we found this out the hard way. Then we tried straws, which was just weird. In the end, we drank straight from the boot making us look like we were training for Beer Fest. I was totally fine with that.
We were determined to drink all the beer, so we kept dinner on the lighter side by splitting a burger and a salad. It was just the right amount of food.
Yes, we finished Das Boot.
Day 3 – Lake Placid Olympic Sites and Oktoberfest
After a day of hiking and a night of beer drinking, we felt like a quiet morning in. Thankfully, Generations Restaurant does room service! We had breakfast in our room in front of a toasty warm fireplace. I ordered blueberry pancakes and bacon and Will got french toast and sausage. It was the perfect start to our last day in Lake Placid, NY.
You know how you get a hotel pool all to yourself? You get up early and go before everyone else gets there! It might sound a little crazy, but a pool is so much more relaxing when you don’t need to compete with everyone else to enjoy it. The Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort has a big pool, a kiddie whirlpool, and two hot tubs.
No trip to Lake Placid, NY would be complete without visiting the Olympic sites. The Olympic Sites Passport gives you access to all things Olympics. Here is a full list of what the passport gives you access to: *Some activities and sights are only available seasonally.
- Gondola ride to the top of Little Whiteface
- Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway
- One round of Disc Golf
- The Olympic Center
- Lake Placid Olympic Museum
- Skating on the Olympic Speed Skating Oval
- Olympic Sports Complex
- Tour the combined bobsled/luge/skeleton track
- Olympic Jumping Complex
- Tour the facility and go to the top of the 120 meter Ski Jump
- Event and Festival Admission
- Saturday Night Ice Show – Olympic Center
- World Cup Events* – various venues (Luge, Bobsled & Skeleton)
- Flaming Leaves Festival – Olympic Jumping Complex
- Oktoberfest – Whiteface Mountain
We started off at the Olympic Jumping Complex. When we were taking the chairlift up to the ski jump we saw a group of kids preparing to do the smallest jump. I was hoping they’d still be doing it when we came back down. Reaching the top gave us a gorgeous view of the surrounding area. There is an observation deck and you can board an elevator to go to the top of the 120-meter ski jump. Once you get out of the elevator you have still have some stairs to climb as you’re not at the top yet. The stairs are grated and you can see through them; scary to say the least. When we reached the platform and walked to the edge all I could think was, “NOPE!” I have a new found respect for anyone that attempts a ski jump that high. However, the view was spectacular. If you’re in the area you’d be missing out if you didn’t go to the top.
On our way back down the chairlift, we were lucky enough to catch a few of the kids doing jumps before they stopped. There was one girl who looked to be around 10 years old doing some jumps. She was such a brave little soul. I wish we could all be like her.
As we were headed to the car to go back towards downtown Lake Placid, NY, we noticed there were people doing ski jumps into a pool. We were over to watch and I could have sat there all day. It looked like so much fun and I wanted to put on a pair of skis myself. Will had to peel me away so we could head over to the Olympic Sliding Center.
With only a few cars in the parking lot, I thought we were in the wrong place, except for the fact that there was a huge bobsled track in front of me. When planning activities I wanted to do a run down the track in a bobsled, but unfortunately it was closed as they were working on the track for an upcoming competition. I wish I was able to visit when the bobsleds could run or there was a competition. The whole place was so empty and quiet, but even among the silence, I could feel an energy that I can’t explain. I’m a huge fan of the Olympics because it celebrates the best in all of us. Maybe that’s what I felt. I’ll tell you one thing, I’m going back there to speed through those turns someday!
With our time in Lake Placid, NY coming to an end we made our last stop a good one, Whiteface Mountain’s annual Oktoberfest! Since I was going to lead my first trip for WHOA Travel to Bavaria and Oktoberfest soon I thought I’d start getting prepared early. Our first stop was to get some beer and lunch. With brats and steins in hand, we headed towards the music to watch some German dancing.
The highlight of the event was heading up to the summit of Little Whiteface on the gondola to hear the Alp Horns. There was a trio of players who performed several songs for the small crowd that made their way up the mountain to hear them. They moved to several different locations to show how the sound of the horns plays off the surrounding mountains. The last location they chose made the sound of the horns echo 3 times! When they were finished, we were lucky enough to be allowed to try and play the horns. It took a couple of tries, but I was able to get the horn to make a decent noise and echo. The perfect end to a perfect long weekend in Lake Placid, NY.
About the Author
Retha Charette, also known as the Roaming Nanny, has been traveling the world for over 8 years. In addition to being a Travel Writer, she is also a freelance Adventure Travel guide, and a Travel Nanny. Some of her favorite destinations include The Galapagos Islands, the Bavarian countryside, Abu Simbel in Egypt, and the entire country of Japan. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook for more travel inspiration.