Lake George is one of the easiest weekend getaways from NYC. It is just 200 miles away and there are several ways to travel from NYC to Lake George: train, car, bus, plane, or even helicopter! You pick.
Despite being relatively close, Upstate New York can still feel a bit removed and tough to get to from NYC. So here is the definitive guide on how to reach one of the best lakes in New York State: Lake George.
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Visiting Lake George
Lake George is located in the Adirondack Mountains, which are a stunning range of mountains in New York State. One of the most beautiful lakes in the Adirondacks, Lake George offers tons of things to do, including hiking, kayaking, swimming, visiting a restored British fort, or hitting up one of the many festivals. One of my favorite events is the Adirondack Balloon Festival, I definitely recommend it!
Please note: Since Lake George is also one of the most popular towns in the Adirondacks to visit, it’s important you book your travel plans ahead of time if you’re traveling during high peak season (summer, fall, and school holidays).
Is Lake George a Walkable Town?
Lake George is small! If you don’t rent a car and you use public transportation to travel to/from Lake George and NYC, you can walk everywhere within the downtown area. There are tons of events in Lake George every year, many right in the downtown area which borders the actual lake. You can also book tours like this to get out on the water. Check out Airbnb Experiences and Viator also.
How to Get to Lake George from NYC: 5 Easy Ways
1) Amtrak Train + Bus/Taxi
Your journey will begin in Moynihan Train Hall (AKA the newly expanded wing of Penn Station). Use the Amtrak website or App to book tickets to Saratoga Springs or Fort Edwards. Keep in mind there are only 1-2 trains a day on this route and it’s about 3 hours to Saratoga Springs.
From Fort Edwards: There is no direct Lake George railroad station. Fort Edwards is closer than Saratoga Springs to Lake George, but it’s a small town and the public transportation options to Lake George are pretty nonexistent. So from You would have to take a taxi or an Uber. Both are available in the town, but you can’t always be sure that one will be available upon arriving at Fort Edwards.
Saratoga Springs: I recommend taking the train to Saratoga Springs (one of our favorite cities in New York State). In Saratoga Springs, you have a few options to get to Lake George. There are 2-3 buses via Trailways a day. The bus is less than $10 and it’s a little over 1 hour. The Amtrak station and the bus station are the same things in Saratoga Springs so keep an eye out for the signs and wait for the bus just outside the station.
You can also take a taxi or an Uber and both are much more likely to be available in Saratoga Springs. A few taxis are often waiting as soon as the Amtrak pulls in. Check with your hotel and see if they have a shuttle service that can pick you up or if they can arrange a car.
Note: Please do NOT confuse Penn Station (34th street) with Port Authority (42nd street). And remember to allocate enough time from the MTA train station to the newly expanded Moynihan Train Hall (where you catch the Amtrak train).
2) Buses to Lake George
Technically you can buy bus tickets via either Trailways or Greyhound. It’s the same bus and the same price. Sometimes the operator is Greyhound, sometimes it’s Trailways. You take the bus from Port Authority, a place that I’ve been to dozens of times in my life, and yet I still get lost in. Usually, the ride is a little less than 6 hours and the ticket is approximately $50-60 one-way.
You always transfer in Albany. So you will have to get off the bus, wait for about 20 minutes, then get on a different bus. Typically there’s only 1 stop between NYC and Albany and 2 to 4 stops between Albany and Lake George.
Lake George is a very small town and the bus stop is in the center of town. This is also where you’ll wait to take the bus back to NYC.
3) Flying to Lake George + Bus/Taxi Combo
Albany Internatinal Airport: The closest airport to Lake George is Albany International Airport. There are several direct flights via United Airlines and Delta from La Guardia and Newark. There are no direct flights from JFK. All have a layover. The flight is about 1 hour and the price drastically ranges depending on when you book, how far away your trip is, etc.
- Taxi Combo: Both Lyft and Uber are at the Albany International Airport but it will be a LONG expensive ride because Lake George is about 1 hour away. You can also order a taxi or car from the airport off this list the Albany International Airport has.
- Bus combo: There are 1-2 Trailways buses a day that are non-stop from the Albany airport to Lake George. The ride is about 2 hours, costs less than $15, and can be booked on the Trailways website.
- Hotel shuttle: If you’re staying at a hotel in Lake George, you can also check with your hotel to see if they have a shuttle service that can pick you up or if they can arrange a car.
Adirondack Regional Airport: This is about 1.2 hours from Lake George and is located in the lovely Saranac Lake. This is a great option if you want to explore the surrounding charming towns. You can fly into Albany’s Airport and out of Saranac Lake’s Adirondack Regional Airport.
4) Car Rental/Driving to Lake George
Technically, the most straightforward option is to rent a car from NYC to visit Lake George. If you’re on a budget, I don’t recommend that. It always costs so much money to rent a car in NYC! And usually, you have to go to one of the airports which are totally out of the way. On top of that, you have to deal with NYC traffic, narrow bridges, and pedestrians. So many things that will create a stressful environment at the beginning of your trip.
NYC Car Rental Pro Tip: Instead, take the Metro-North to a city/town in upstate New York… like North White Plains. (NORTH White Plains. Not White Plains. Two different stations.) It’s about 40-60 minutes depending on the time of day. Then walk outside the station and right across the road is a Hertz. Renting a car from this Hertz is usually 25-50% cheaper than renting a car from NYC.
There are other car rental agencies in other cities and towns in Upstate New York with Amtrak/Metro-North stations, but I don’t know of any others that are directly across the street. That is why I recommend this station.
Rental car prices have been very volatile since the COVID-19 pandemic began. In general, car rental prices are higher, and it’s tough to predict how much it will cost. A 3-4 day car rental might be $100-200 on a good week or $300-400 on a bad week.
Gas prices: Also, keep gas prices in mind. Gas prices are increasing and are going to continue increasing with the war in Ukraine. One of the best ways to drive up to Lake George is to take the NY Thruway, which does have tolls. There are other ways but they usually take a little longer so check Google Maps.
Pros of car rental: By picking this option, you’re often significantly cutting down on travel time (depending on how far Grand Central Station is from your apartment in New York City). Normally, it’s a 4-ish-hour drive from NYC to Lake George, but from North White Plains, it’s about 3 hours (and without the risk of NYC traffic).
5) Helicopter to Lake George
For a minimum of a couple of thousand dollars, you can take a helicopter to Lake George. You should request a quote on the Wings Air Helicopter website. Typically, you would get picked up at your heliport of choice in Manhattan. There are several heliports throughout Manhattan with the most widely used being the one at East River Piers near Battery Park. You’ll figure out the best option with Wings Air Helicopter.
The trip from NYC to Lake George is only 90 minutes. Yes, only 90 minutes! You can also take the helicopter back from Lake George to NYC if you want. The helicopter lands at Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport, which only accepts private planes and charters. Fancy! The airport is only 20 minutes to the Lake George area and you should be able to arrange car transportation with your hotel.
Unique Places to Stay in Lake George
There are dozens of boutique and chain hotels in Lake George. There are also campgrounds and motels. There are options on Airbnb and Vrbo, but the most popular ones are actually hotels and motels. Here are a few unique boutique hotels to stay in that will make you never want to leave Lake George for New York City.
- The Inn at Erlowest is a posh Queen Anne revival mansion located just a little to the north outside of Lake George. A night will typically cost anywhere from $200-$400 depending on the season and week day. It’s on a gorgeous piece of property on the edge of Lake George. The food is fantastic and it has all the amenities from a fitness center to a pool. You’ll be well-rested after a stay here.
- Are you in a chalet in the Swiss Alps? No, you’re at the Lodges at Cresthaven in the Adirondacks, only a few hours’s travel time from New York City. These chic lodges are also a couple miles north of Lake George. Renting a lodge can cost $300-700 a night depending on how large your group is. There’s a private beach, a restaurant on premises, and you can rent jet skis. Who needs Switzerland?
- The Sagamore is a resort on a private island on Lake George. If you are traveling to Lake George via helicopter, you can even arrange for your helicopter to fly directly to The Sagamore. This luxurious Upstate New York resort is stunning and very fancy. It’s a splurge with rooms costing around $400 a night at minimum. It’s also got everything you could ever want including tennis courts, a golf course, a spa, several pools, and a bunch of restaurants. This place can cater to your every whim.
- For more budget options, check Airbnb and Vrbo and make sure to book those stays way ahead of time!