Imagine a getaway with your favorite people to a tiny village set on the shores of a sparkling lake, reflecting the peaks and valleys of a surrounding mountain range. It’s a place to ski in the winter and hike in the summer. To taste local wine by day and go on a shopping spree by night. In this town, you can even channel your inner Van Gogh at a painting class or feed wolves at a local wildlife refuge.
That’s just a few of the many things to do in Lake Placid, New York. Easily accessible from New York, Boston, Providence, or Philadelphia, a scenic road trip to Lake Placid is best enjoyed from the comfort of a 15-passenger rental van. Get your New York van rental today for your Lake Placid skiing, camping, or shopping adventure and enjoy any, or all, of the following 16 recommended activities, hand-selected by the expert team at Greenvans.
1. Ski down Whiteface Mountain
Lake Placid skiing is some of New York’s best, with Whiteface Mountain being one of the top ski resorts in the state. Whether you prefer carving through the groomed trails or conquering the steep terrains, you’ll find something appropriate for every skill level. Lift tickets range from $40 to $95 depending on the day of the week and age of the skier, with options available for rentals and lessons.
Pack your skis, rent a van, and head to the cutest village in the Adirondack Mountains. Check out these other great skiing destinations while planning your trip.
Best for: Small families with young children will appreciate the resort’s ski school and family-friendly slopes.
Remember to bring: Ski equipment, gloves and hats, sun protection, snacks, and a water bottle.
Pro tip: The Cloudsplitter Gondola ride takes you to the top of the Whiteface Mountain Parkway, where the views are spectacular.
2. Hike the High Falls Gorge
The perfect spring getaway exists! Located in Wilmington, New York, High Falls Gorge is a 22-acre privately owned park filled with winding trails and lush vegetation. Hike over wooden bridges and under shady evergreens until you reach the Ausable River and its series of cascading waterfalls.
Admission to High Falls Gorge costs $13.50 for adults and $12.50 for seniors and college students. Children aged four to 12 can enter for $6.50, while children under four are free. The park also offers guided tours showcasing its geology, history, and local wildlife. High Falls Park is a great option for anyone looking for Lake Placid camping ideas!
Best for: Large families and friend groups may have the chance to take advantage of special rates for senior groups, school groups, and camps.
Remember to bring: Hiking boots, a light jacket, a water bottle, and a waterproof camera.
Pro tip: Don’t miss a stroll over the park’s glass floor walkways during the summer season, situated above the churning rapids and rushing water of the falls.
3. Shop ‘til you drop on Main Street
Local, unique, and affordable — what more could you ask for on a shopping spree in a small mountain town in Upstate New York? Lake Placid’s Main Street is known for budget-friendly boutiques flush with one-of-a-kind jewelry, antiques, clothing, and outdoor gear.
Best for: Friend groups and small families in the mood for some Lake Placid shopping will love the unique products available on Main Street.
Remember to bring: Comfortable walking shoes, reusable cloth bags, and a full wallet.
Pro tip: Fuel up with a local snack at The Adirondack Popcorn Co., which carries unique popcorn flavors like maple bourbon bacon, birthday cake, dill pickle, and blue raspberry.
4. Watch professionals soar at the Olympic Ski Jump Complex
Where else can you watch professional skiers perform the daredevil act of ski jumping in the same facility used during the 1980 Olympic games? Witness the incredible athleticism of the jumpers up close before emulating the experience with a zip line adventure along the ski jump. One unforgettable ride costs $45 for anyone aged seven and up.
Don’t miss the ride up a glass-enclosed elevator to the Sky Deck for panoramic views of Lake Placid and the surrounding Adirondack Mountains. This experience ranges from $15 — $20 per person over six years of age.
Best for: Large families, small families, friend groups, and couples who enjoy watching the Winter Olympics will have a blast exploring this unique facility.
Remember to bring: Warm clothing, binoculars, comfortable walking shoes, and a good camera.
Pro tip: Arrive early to secure a good spot with an unobstructed view.
5. Take in the views at Mirror Lake
Surrounded by mountains and greenery, the crown jewel of Lake Placid is Mirror Lake. There are so many activities for families to enjoy here, like paddle boarding, fishing, and a simple 2.7-mile walk around the shoreline. Summer is a great time to visit because, aside from swimming, tourists can enjoy free outdoor concerts at Mid’s Park Bandshell every Tuesday.
Best for: Large and small families who like the outdoors will find plenty to do at Mirror Lake.
Remember to bring: A swimsuit, beach towels and chairs, comfortable sneakers for walking, and fishing poles.
Pro tip: Catch a sunrise or sunset to see the sky reflect its vibrant colors on the lake’s calm waters.
6. Dig in at Soulshine Bagel
Wake up and head over to Soulshine Bagel, a must-visit breakfast spot for bagel lovers and one of the most popular things to do around Lake Placid. They offer hand-rolled bagels made with just five ingredients and an assortment of house-made spreads. Go for something classic, like a plain bagel with cream cheese, or try something more adventurous, like the Black Russian bagel with jalepeño cream cheese.
Prices range from $4 for a plain bagel to $5.75 for a breakfast sandwich. The shop also offers a variety of beverages, such as freshly brewed coffee and specialty espresso drinks, to accompany your meal.
Best for: Small families and couples, as the shop itself is small and intimate.
Remember to bring: A wallet and your appetite (Soulshine caters to vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free diners, FYI).
Pro tip: Arrive early in the morning to avoid long queues, as Soulshine Bagel is a popular spot for both locals and tourists.
7. Sip and paint at The Peaks Paintbar
Let the power of wine turn you from mediocre to Monet at The Peaks Paintbar’s sip and paint event. With each session comes a new theme, like Golden Hour, Sunflowers, or Northern Lights, to inspire a masterpiece that you can paint and take home to hang on your wall.
Listen to music, sip on a beverage, and munch on some snacks while you create. Sessions include aprons, a canvas, paint, brushes, and any other materials necessary to activate your inner artist. Prices start at $50 per person. Families with children are encouraged to attend daytime sessions, with evening events reserved for adults.
Best for: Friend groups and couples wanting to channel their creativity while enjoying adult beverages.
Remember to bring: A camera, clothing you don’t mind getting stained, and your imagination.
Pro tip: Have no expectations of the final result. The more you relax and let go, the more fun you’ll have!
8. Take a “Wild Walk” at The Wild Center
Families large and small can dive into the region’s wildlife and magnificent landscapes at The Wild Walk. This unique and immersive experience allows visitors to explore the treetops of the Adirondack Mountains through an elevated walkway that winds through the forest. Along the way are many exhibits and signs to learn more about the surrounding ecosystem.
Admission to The Wild Center, which includes access to the Wild Walk, costs $20 for adults and $13 for children.
Best for: Large and small families looking for a memorable outdoor activity.
Remember to bring: Comfortable walking shoes, a good camera, and sun protection.
Pro tip: To beat the crowds and see more wildlife, try visiting during the weekdays or early in the morning.
9. Ride a bobsled at the Olympic Sports Complex
If becoming a bobsled champion is your life’s dream, you’ll be thrilled to hear that Lake Placid is one of the few places on earth in which you can fulfill it. With your small team of three, fly around a real track at 50 mph with the help of a professional brakeman and driver, reaching heights of adrenaline that far exceed most winter sport activities.
Oops, did we say winter? Believe it or not, bobsledding can be enjoyed year-round, so bring your two closest bobsled fanatics and hit the track for an unforgettable experience at the Olympic Sports Complex. Each ticket costs $125.
If bobsledding isn’t your thing, don’t worry! We know plenty more great winter getaway ideas just a short drive away.
Best for: Small families or friends in groups of three to fit together in the bobsled.
Remember to bring: Warm clothing and thermal layers for the winter, light clothing for the summer, and two sports-loving friends.
Pro tip: Reserve your spot in advance, as this is a very popular activity and can be almost impossible to book the day of.
10. Take a brewery or winery tour
Local breweries and wineries abound in upstate New York, making wine or beer tasting one of the best things to do around Lake Placid! Apart from the spirits themselves, the views are spectacular, so driving through the mountains and alongside the vineyards becomes part of the fun.
If you’re looking for the top breweries in Lake Placid, try the following:
- Big Slide Brewery & Public House
- Choose from any of the ten delicious beers on tap while indulging in their super-popular Sunday brunch.
- Lake Placid Pub & Brewery
- Also known as “the Pub”, strong and loyal beer fans have been dedicated to the beloved watering hole, situated within walking distance of the Olympic Sports Complex.
- Hex & Hop
- This brewery offers a unique selection of craft beers, including experimental and barrel-aged brews. It’s known for its creative flavors and cozy taproom.
If you’re looking for the top wineries around Lake Placid, try the following:
- Hid-in Pines Vineyard
- Experience “A Taste of the Champlain Valley” with a tour of their 3-acre vineyard featuring 14 varieties of semi-cold hardy grapes.
- Vesco Ridge Vineyards
- Wines are created in a “New World expression using traditional Old World methods”. Sip on the group’s handmade wines known for their bold flavors and aromas.
- Adirondack Winery
- Taste-test over 35 award-winning, hand-crafted Adirondack wines that are locally made utilizing specialty grapes.
Best for: Large families with drinking-aged children, friend groups, and couples who like a good pint after a day on the slopes or a tour through a pretty vineyard in the sun.
Remember to bring: Comfortable walking shoes, reliable transportation, and a designated driver if you plan to visit multiple wineries in a day. (Ask us about hiring a local driver to chauffeur you and your crew in your Greenvans rental van.)
Pro tip: Try the Ubu English Ale at Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, a favorite of former President Bill Clinton!
11. Expand your mind at Lake Placid Center for the Arts
The Lake Placid Center for the Arts is a cultural hub boasting a diverse range of performances and exhibitions, including theater, music, dance, and visual arts. Watch a documentary, try your hand at pottery, and get inspired at an art show, all in one day!
Best for: Small families or couples looking for a unique way to spark creativity.
Remember to bring: A light jacket for cool indoor temperatures, comfortable clothing for sitting and standing, a free schedule, and an open mind to jump into an art class you might not otherwise consider!
Pro tip: Plan ahead by checking the center’s website or contacting them directly for the most updated schedule of events, as well as any special offers or promotions.
12. See exotic animals at the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge Center
Lions, tigers, and bears, oh my! While there might not be tigers, there are other exotic animals like wolves, coyotes, bobcats, and bald eagles present at the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge Center.
Located just 12 miles outside Lake Placid in Wilmington, New York, the center offers guided tours to learn about conservation efforts, wildlife rehabilitation, and the importance of preserving natural habitats. Kids will especially enjoy up-close animal encounters and opportunities to feed the wildlife.
Best for: Large families and small families with younger children interested in animals.
Remember to bring: Warm clothing for winter, light clothing for summer, sun protection, binoculars, and a camera.
Pro tip: Plan to visit during the feeding time of the animals you are interested in seeing. This will give you the chance to witness unique behaviors and is often a highlight of the experience. Check the center’s website or contact them for feeding schedules.
13. Take a historical tour at John Brown Farm
Take a step back in time with a historical tour at John Brown Farm, the original home of abolitionist John Brown, who played a pivotal role in the U.S. fight against slavery.
The $10 guided tour provides a unique opportunity to explore the farm and learn about John Brown’s life and legacy. Walk through the very farmhouse where he once lived, the barn, outbuildings, and his gravesite.
Best for: Large families and small families with an interest in American history.
Remember to bring: Comfortable walking shoes, sun protection, and insect repellent during the summer season.
Pro tip: Watch “The Good Lord Bird” series starring Ethan Hawke as John Brown. “Better yet, combine your visit to Lake Placid with Harpers Ferry (one of our recommendations of where to road trip from D.C.) for an American history-themed road trip and watch the show along the way!”
14. Mini golf at Boots & Birdies
For families, one of the best things to do in Lake Placid is face off with a round of mini golf at Boots & Birdies. Located in the heart of the city, it’s a fun and entertaining way to spend an afternoon together. It’s affordable, too — adults over 12 pay $9.50 to play, and children aged 11 and under cost $8.50.
The Western-themed mini golf course features 18 holes with creative obstacles and challenges, as well as a baseball batting cage and a mining sluice when you tire of putting. The venue is vibrant and colorful, known for a lively atmosphere that leaves even the most competitive of participants smiling.
Best for: Large families, small families, friend groups, and couples who want to spend an afternoon moving and laughing.
Remember to bring: Comfortable shoes, a water bottle, and a camera so you can take a photo that immortalizes the winner!
Pro tip: There are many delightful Lake Placid restaurants, so why not let the winner choose where to go for a celebratory meal?
15. Listen to music at Lake Placid Sinfonietta Orchestra
There’s nothing quite like watching a professional orchestra perform outdoors on the shores of Mirror Lake, surrounded by the stately Adirondack Mountains. Enjoy a variety of classical and contemporary music under the stars with a picnic basket of your favorite foods and a bottle of your preferred beverage. This is one of our team’s absolute favorite things to do around Lake Placid!
Best for: Large families, small families, and couples who want to enjoy live music in the fresh air.
Remember to bring: A picnic blanket, a small cooler with snacks and beverages, foldable lawn chairs, and insect repellent.
Pro tip: Arrive before the crowds to secure a front-row seat to the show.
16. Indulge at a spa
Few activities are as relaxing as a day at the spa and the scenery of Lake Placid is all the inspiration you need to book one. Narrowing down the best option is the only effort required, so we’ve compiled a list to help you decide with ease.
Of course, you could simply try all three of the suggestions below, ensuring that you won’t leave a stone unturned. If you want to make a road trip out of it, and who wouldn’t, check out these other New England spas.
- The Spa at Whiteface Lodge: Known for its serene ambiance and Adirondack Mountain-inspired setting. Visitors can enjoy a range of modern treatments and natural products, as well as an indoor and outdoor pool and luxurious amenities.
- The Spa at Mirror Lake Inn: Celebrated for its exceptional services and beautiful location near Mirror Lake. Enjoy access to a gorgeous indoor pool, sauna, and tranquil relaxation room.
- Adirondack Foot Sanctuary: Sip on a homemade tea while you soak your feet in flowers and Himalayan salt, preparing for a delightful foot and lower leg massage. Don’t leave without the finishing touch — a pristine pedicure.
Best for: Small friend groups and couples will appreciate this time to bond while receiving a rejuvenating spa treatment with unparalleled vistas.
Remember to bring: A change of clothes, a swimsuit, a book, and time dedicated to decompression.
Pro tip: If you decide to indulge at the spas at Mirror Lake Inn or Whiteface Lodge, be sure to book a dinner reservation. The resorts are home to two of the best Lake Placid restaurants, so take full advantage of your time at these stunning, award-winning properties.
Common questions about Lake Placid
As Northeasterners with a knack for road trips, our team knows the ins and outs of visiting the best destinations in the region! Trust us to help you plan the perfect trip to Lake Placid by reading through the most common questions we know you’re itching to ask.
What is the best time to visit Lake Placid?
Anytime is the best time to visit Lake Placid, depending on the activities that light you up.
Summer is great for pleasant weather and outdoor activities like hiking, boating, fishing, and festivals. Fall is known for stunning foliage, cooler weather, and smaller crowds. Lake Placid is also a popular winter destination, especially for skiers and snowboarders, while the Spring offers milder temperatures, fewer crowds, and blooming wildflowers.
What is better Lake Placid or Lake George?
Lake Placid is better than Lake George if you’re looking for outdoor activities in a serene mountain environment. Lake George is better for small and large families interested in a bustling lakeside town.
Pass the time at Lake Placid with Greenvans
Now that you have 16 reasons to visit Lake Placid, it’s time to hit the road. Before you go, contact the team at Greenvans to find out if renting a van is right for you.
A van rental doesn’t just give you the freedom to explore the Adirondack region, it also offers the space you need to bring along items that will enhance your trip — picnic blankets, lawn chairs, ski gear, and camping essentials. Take advantage of all the things to do around Lake Placid by renting a vehicle with enough room to pack everything you need to make your trip unforgettable.