Picturesque Lake Placid, NY, is in the heart of the Adirondacks and has so many great things to offer.
Home of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, the bustling little town of Lake Placid is one of the crown jewels of this region.
There are a number of things to do in the town of Lake Placid and surrounding areas which is part of what makes it so attractive.
We've written about the Adirondacks area for years. Go explore even more posts here.
11 Best Things to Do in Lake Placid and the High Peaks Area
In the town of Lake Placid itself, enjoy the 3-mile walk around Mirror Lake which will take you straight through Main Street.
On Main Street, you’ll also pass the Lake Placid Olympic Center which is best known for housing the Herb Brooks Arena.
It's where the “Miracle on Ice” hockey game took place. The US Men’s Hockey team stunned the Soviet Union on their way to winning gold in the 1980 Winter Olympics.
1. Lake Placid Olympic Museum
Inside the Center is also the Lake Placid Olympic Museum which showcases and commemorates aspects of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics.
The Olympic Center is open daily from 10 am-5 pm. Tickets are $8 to enter.
2. Olympic Jumping Complex
Staying in the Olympic spirit, just outside of town you can check out the Olympic Jumping Complex.
You can get up close to the 90 and 120-meter ramps that ski jumpers launch out of.
You can take the ski lift up to the ramps year-round and then take an elevator up to the top of the 120 meter ramp. At the top, peer down the ramp and you’ll have a spectacular 360-degree view of the Adirondack High Peaks region.
This is the last home and burial site of John Brown, the famed abolitionist, and leader of the ill-fated raid on the Federal Arsenal at Harpers Ferry.
After his trial and execution in 1859 in Virginia, his body was laid to rest here back at the simple farmhouse where he lived. His grave and house are preserved as a memorial and New York State Historic Site.
There are also several hiking trails on the property and the site is open year-round, Wed-Sat, 10am-5pm; Sun 1-5 pm.
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A trip to Lake Placid would not be complete without enjoying the ever-present mountain in the distance, Whiteface.
With an elevation of 4,867 feet, Whiteface Mountain is the 5th highest mountain in the High Peaks Region. It has a world-renowned ski resort and is part of the “Adirondack 46ers” – a group of 46 mountains in the area all over 4,000 feet.
Ambitious hikers in the area attempt to hike all 46 of these mountains to become part of the exclusive “Adirondack 46ers Club”.
There are two ways to get some amazing scenic views from Whiteface (aside from completing the arduous 9-mile day hike!).
1. Cloudsplitter Gondola Ride
The first is taking the Cloudsplitter Gondola ride from the Main Lodge of the Whiteface Ski Resort to the top of Little Whiteface. It’s about a 15-minute trip up over mountain streams, ski trails, steep rock faces, and thick forests.
At the top of the observation deck and picnic area, you can see views of Lake Placid, numerous mountains, the ski jumps, and on a clear day Lake Champlain to the east.
The gondola costs $24 to ride up but it’s $21 to purchase tickets online and $18 for those of us 65+.
2. Whiteface Veterans' Memorial Highway
The second way to enjoy Whiteface is by driving up to the very top via the Whiteface Veterans’ Memorial Highway which is the option we chose.
The highway is an 8-mile route that slowly ascends toward the summit. There are nine scenic stations on your way to the top, where you can check out the view and read informational signs on the history of the region.
At the end of the road, you’ll have made it to the “Whiteface Castle”, which is actually a small restaurant and gift shop.
From here there are two ways to get to the summit, an elevator inside the mountain or the .2-mile Stairway Ridge Trail (be forewarned, this is steeper than it looks!).
At the summit, you'll find a 360-degree viewing platform and a large rocky area which makes for a great picnic spot. Be on the lookout for weary hikers emerging from the trees!
No matter what direction you look you’ll be greeted with beautiful majestic views!
The Memorial Highway is open from May 17 through October 14, weather permitting and costs $16 to drive up ($9 for each additional passenger). Here’s a good article I found with other tips for the drive and info on the highway.
If you’re planning on hitting all of the Olympic Sites, it is more cost-effective to grab the Olympic Sites Passport. It gets you free access to all the Olympic sites, driving up to the top of Whiteface, and doing the gondola ride.
Now that you’ve seen Lake Placid from above, a really cool experience is seeing it from the water.
1. Boat Tours
The Lake Placid Marina offers boat tours 2-4 times per day depending on the season. The hour-long narrated tour travels the 16-mile circumference of the lake. You’ll learn about all the great Adirondack camps situated on its shores.
Tickets are $17.50 for adults.
2. Brewster Peninsula Nature Trails
If you want to get up close to the lake without paying, the Brewster Peninsula Nature Trails are your answer.
Located just outside of Main Street, is this small trail that winds nearly a half-mile along the shore of Lake Placid. It ends at the Outlet Brook dam.
It’s fast and only a mile round-trip which makes for a pleasant hike.
3. Mount Jo Trail
As you can probably imagine, there are so many hiking trails in the Adirondacks that it could take a lifetime to do them all.
One short but highly recommended hike is the Mount Jo Trail. The trail begins from the Adirondack Loj and is 1.8 miles
There are two trails leading to the summit, a shorter but steeper trail or a slightly longer but less steep trail.
From the summit, you’ll overlook Heart Lake and have magnificent views of the high peaks.
To get there from Lake Placid, go east on Route 73 and turn right on Adirondack Loj Road, the first right after the ski
jumps. The parking lots are about 5 miles from Route 73.
4. Cascade Mountain Hike
Another great local hike if you want to gain some elevation is Cascade Mountain.
This will also help you knock out one of the 46ers as Cascade is the 36th highest mountain in the Adirondacks!
The trailhead is easily accessible, right off the side of the road on NY-73. From Lake Placid follow Route 73 east for 8.4 miles. The trailhead and parking area are on the right, just before Upper Cascade Lake.
Round-trip it’s about 4.8 miles with a modest 1,200-foot elevation gain.
From the summit, you’ll be greeted with incredible, 360-degree panoramic views of the high peaks.
Just outside of Lake Placid in the town of Wilmington is another must-see aspect of the Adirondacks, the High Falls
The High Falls Gorge is a 22-acre, privately owned nature park which is open year-round.
There’s also a mile-long nature trail, through the Climax Forest, a protected forest area of established American
hemlock trees that are hundreds of years old.
Tickets to enter for the day are $12.50.
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