33 Special Things to Do in Lake Placid (by Season)

collage of things to do in lake placid, hiking, waterfalls and cabin stays

Lake Placid is a dreamy mountain town surrounded by majestic lakes in the Adirondacks. It is a popular destination for year-round travelers. The summers in Lake Placid offer endless outdoor fun and special events. And in the winter, the region becomes a winter wonderland full of winter activities. There are things to do in Lake Placid for travelers of all activity levels and interests. Here’s our full guide divided by sections for winter, summer, and year-round.

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Lake placid’s history

Abolitionist History: Lake Placid has a special and underrated history in the Abolitionist Movement. Efforts from historic figures like John Brown and Gerrit Smith helped push forward the abolitionist movement not just in the region but in the country. You can learn more about this in the John Brown Farm (listed below).

Olympic History: Home to the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, Lake Placid provides visitors with unique Olympic activities and venues scattered among natural wonders. However, if you are specifically looking for Olympic entertainment this or next year, beware that there is active construction as the city prepares to host the 2023 FISU World University Games in January. Plan ahead and prepare for some crowds. 

WINTER Things to do in Lake Placid (Winter Only)

Keep scrolling down for the summer-only activities in Lake Placid. Or the year-round things to do! For now, we’re starting with our favorite winter activities in Lake Placid!

1. Snowmobiling

Snowmobile lovers will feel the adrenaline rush pumping through them with the endless trails available across the Lake Placid area. One of the most popular snowmobile rental spots is Charlie’s Inn on Lake Clear. This is the perfect home base to start your trip, with 24/hour gasoline services and access to over 300 trail systems throughout the Adirondack Mountain area.

If you’re looking for a guided tour, Farmhouse Snowmobiling offers exciting routes through the wilderness of Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, perfect for beginners and experienced riders looking for new trails. Make your plans ahead of time to avoid overly crowded routes and watch for parking restrictions throughout the town. 

2. Snowshoeing + Cross Country Skiing

The millions of flat hiking trails spread out across the Adirondack Park keep snowshoers and cross-country skiers very busy in the winter. One of the best places for these leisure sports was Cascade X-C Ski, but they were recently acquired by the Adirondack Mountain Club.

Mt. Van Hoevenberg offers snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. If you plan on visiting often, you can also buy a season pass with them here.

For a quieter trail, the VIC Center in Paul Smiths (a 30-minute drive from downtown) is a hidden winter gem with 40K of groomed trails ranging in difficulty among a stunning winter backdrop. 

3. Downhill Skiing

Downhill skiing is a classic winter activity in Lake Placid, and some of the most fun summer hiking attractions double as ski spectaculars when the snow falls. Whiteface Mountain is a phenomenal ski attraction featuring the steepest vertical drop on East Coast at 3,430 ft. Only a short drive from Lake Placid, Whiteface Mountain has over 288 ski-able acres, 90 trails, high-speed lifts, gondola rides, as well as 35 acres of wilderness terrain named ‘The Slides.’

Mt. Pisgah Recreation Center, only 15 minutes away, is another favorite ski spot for families and skiers of all abilities. Considered a classic small-town ski retreat, this mountain offers gentle downhill slopes perfect for beginners. 

4. Take Winter Sports Classes

Don’t know how to ski or snowboard but still want to enjoy the sport? Why not take some lessons?! Whiteface Mountain offers a variety of lessons for beginner downhill skiers and snowboarders of all ages.

  • You can book a private or group lesson at the Bear Den Learning Center. They even offer adaptive lessons for athletes of all abilities who want to enjoy the slopes.
  • If you don’t want to commit to purchasing your own winter gear, check out equipment rentals such as Lake Placid Ski & Board to see what you’ll need to enjoy the winter sports season. 
  • Cascade X-C Ski also offers classes for cross country skiing which I couldn’t find anywhere else.

5. Walking/Ice Skating on Frozen Lakes

When the lakes freeze over in Lake Placid, the number of activities you can do on top of them is endless. Winter travelers love to snowshoe, cross-country ski, skate, and even toboggan across these frozen tundras during the cold months. Mirror Lake is a favorite frozen lake to explore, always bustling with on-ice activity amid a picturesque mountain backdrop. Ice skating visitors have access to a 2-mile groomed course open 24/hours a day once the ice is at a safe thickness. Wilmington Youth Center is another lake skating location backing up to Whiteface Mountain and is free to the public. 

6. Snow Tubing

Snow tubing is so much fun in an area with an infinite number of hills like Lake Placid.  If you’re looking to stay local, try Kiwanis Teddy Bear Park or Lake Placid Golf Course. For larger hills, Mount Pisgah has two inner tube hills that are perfect for snow tubers of all ages and encourage some friendly competition.

Snowtubers also get a great view of McKenzie Mountain while shooting down the hill. About an hour south is Tubby Tubes at Lake Luzerne, offering nine unique snow tube runs. One run is family-sized to accommodate a snow raft! They also offer nighttime tubing hours. 

7. Ice Fishing 

Ice fishing is a wonderful pastime to enjoy the serene beauty of winter in the Adirondack Park. One of the best places for ice fishing near Lake Placid is Connery Pond, just a 5-mile drive from downtown. Surrounded by Whiteface Mountain, this is a wonderful spot to wait for a nibble and soak in all the natural wonder of the area, away from the touristy strips. For fishermen looking for an even quieter spot, Copperas Pond, about 6.5 miles from downtown, requires a rocky half-mile climb to get to the shore. It’s famous for providing access to late-season yellow perch and northern pike. 

8. Winter Carnival 

A short drive from Lake Placid in Saranac Lake, the Winter Carnival is an annual celebration you can’t miss if you’re in the area during the winter season. Since 1987, this fantastic celebration has been an integral part of ringing in the Adirondack winter months and promoting the beauty of outdoor sports and recreation.

For 10-days visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor sports performances, parades, firework displays live performances, and a swell of local talent, food, and entertainment. The Ice Palace is one of the most mystifying attractions, constructed from ice harvested from Lake Flower and formed into a spectacular work of art. 

9. Snowboarding 

Looking for an area of Whiteface that will allow you to show off your tricks? Snowboarders and extreme skiers will appreciate Terrain Parks, set up for athletes looking to get a little air and excitement on their way down the mountain. Other favorite snowboarding attractions in the area include Titus Mountain, hosting 90 trails and a 3,166’ drop, and Gore Mountain, an alpine ski resort about an hour south resort with 100 trails, 14 lifts, and a Nordic Center to recoup between runs.

YEAR-ROUND Things to do in Lake Placid (Rain or Shine!)

For winter activities, scroll down to the Lake Placid winter activities section. We’re starting our list with the things to do in Lake Placid year-round, rain or shine! Hot or cold! Much further down below, are our favorite summer things to do in Lake Placid, too.

10. Visit the John Brown Farm

This National Historic Landmark was the home of the revolutionary and abolitionist John Brown. Come to the John Brown Farm to learn about the central figures and history of abolitionism in this region. The Timbuktu permanent exhibit was beautiful and informative. You can get a tour of his home every hour. Admission is free.

11. Head to the Breweries

There are endless amounts of breweries. So much so that we dedicated an entire blog post to the most interesting breweries in the Adirondacks. But if you can only visit a few, here’s what we recommend:

  • Ray Brook Brewhouse : Hands down, one of our favorite breweries in upstate New York. We loved almost every single beer we tried at Ray Brook Brewhouse! And the food? Delicious. Gerry is obsessed with the chicken wings here. Order them with the parmesan-garlic + buffalo sauce. Thank her later.
  • Ausable Brewing Company : This farm-based nano-brewery is about a 90-minute drive from downtown in the Champlain Valley. Owned by brothers Dan and Dylan, this brewery possesses a relaxed atmosphere and is dedicated to high-quality ales, lagers, and house sodas. It sits on 140 acres of scenic Adirondack farmland worth the drive to explore.
  • Paradox Brewery: About an hour south of Lake Placid, the Paradox Brewery is a craft brewery with 40 years of brewing experience in the region. Placed in the heart of the mountains, Paradox is known for using pure Adirondack water found 600 feet below the surface to brew with premium hops and malts. 

12. Go Wine Tasting

Wineries spread across the Adirondack Park make wine tasting a wonderful year-round activity in Lake Placid. Goose Watch Winery, is one of the most fantastic wine experiences in the region with a tasting bar right on Main Street. They serve a variety of sparkling, port, sherry, and iced wines, creating unique and exclusive flavors every year. The Swedish Hill Winery Tasting Room, located only one mile from downtown, is another wine gem offering all visitors a souvenir wine glass with every wine tasting. An hour northeast, visitors will also enjoy Highlands Vineyard, overlooking Lake Champlain and offering a side of yoga with wine on the balcony!

13. Relax at the Spas

NOTE: COVID-19 restrictions have affected how most spas are scheduling appointments to for providing ample time for sanitizing. Call ahead for specific restrictions prior to booking. 

  • Mirror Lake Inn: The award-winning Mirror Lake Inn Spa sits right on the banks of the majestic Mirror Lake and is considered one of the finest facilities in the region. It features a salon, day packages full of massages and body treatments, salt therapy, swimming, and exercise equipment. This spa is in high demand, and booking early is highly advised.
  • Lake Placid Lodge: The Adirondack Spa at the Lake Placid Lodge is a waterfront wonder on the southwest banks of Lake Placid. This spa offers a variety of 60 to 90-minute massage sessions including aromatherapy, Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, reflexology, maternal massage, and a mix of services to meet your needs. In-room massage treatments are currently unavailable at this time. 
  • Whiteface Lodge: Tucked into the Adirondack High Peaks region, the Whiteface Lodge Spa is ranked among the Top 100 Spas in North America by Condé Nast Traveler. This rustic yet serene 5,700-square-foot facility offers skincare treatments, massages, body treatments, salon services, health and wellness, day packages, and more. One of the best luxury resorts in Upstate New York, Whiteface Lodge is truly impressive!
  • Adirondack Foot Sanctuary: Set along the southern shore of Mirror Lake, the Adirondack Foot Sanctuary is dedicated to providing the best possible service to your hardworking feet. Offering individual and group appointments, this spa has created an impressive line of unique foot masks, ritual soaks, massages, and revitalizing treatments to detoxify and rejuvenate your toes. 
  • High Peaks Resort: The Spa and Salon at High Peaks Resort is a perfect way to start (or finish) a stressful day. Using botanicals and natural ingredients, this facility offers a zen atmosphere to recharge and relax. Located right in Lake Placid, High Peaks spa offers facial and skin treatments, manicures and pedicures, massages, salon treatments, and a host of other services. 

14. Day Trip to Saranac Lake

Looking for a quieter Adirondack experience? Head 15 west to the town of Saranac Lake. Here you can shop in the downtown area, eat at Fiddlehead Bistro, and check out the Saranac Laboratory Museum. But most popularly? Saranac Lake is known for its epic kayaking experiences! Check out our full guide to the 27 incredible things to do in Saranac Lake (year-round guide).

15. Adirondack Sky Center & Observatory

About 45 minutes west of Lake Placid, the Adirondack Sky Center and Observatory provides one of the best stargazing opportunities in the East. With low humidity and low-light pollution, astronomy and astrology fans can view the night sky like never before from the darkened hills.

The Roll-Off Roof Observatory is open to the public for a chance to catch a meteor shower, comet, and other majestic shows in space. Stargazing is extremely weather dependent so make sure to check the schedule and call the center with questions about visibility. You can also join lectures on their Facebook page and see a schedule of viewing events offered. 

16. Go Shopping in the Local Specialty Shops 

Stay local and explore some of the specialty shops on Main Street in Lake Placid you can’t find anywhere else.

  • Ruthie’s Run is a favorite specialty clothing shop for skiwear and accessories.
  • Mini Euromart carries a variety of goods from around Europe for those who are looking to score some sentimental and ancestral favorites.
  • Pure Placid features handcrafted soaps, lotions, candles, and other goods inspired by local wildlife and mountain bliss.
  • And you can’t leave without stopping in at High Peaks Cyclery to see if there are any sporting accessories to complete your Adirondack vacation. 
  • Adirondack Popcorn Co. – Stop by here for some deliciously flavored popcorn. Whether you love sweet or salty, there’s a flavor here for everyone. I loved dill pickle popcorn. It was delicious!

17. Bobsled Experience 

Get the ultimate Winter Olympic experience by trying your hand at bobsledding over at Mt. Van Hoevenberg. Less than 15 minutes from downtown, this one-of-a-kind activity will have you racing down the Olympic tracks at speeds up to 50 miles per hour all decked out in official bobsled apparel. The Bobsled Experience stretches about a half-mile long and is one of a few locations in the world where you can test out this Adrenaline seeking sport.

18. Cloudsplitter Gondola Ride (Whiteface Mountain)

Yes, this is a winter or summer activity in Lake Placid! On the Cloudsplitter Gondola Ride, visitors can scale the peaks at any time of the season to catch spectacular views from this suspended ride. The gondola starts at the base of Whiteface Mountain and takes about 15-minutes to climb to the peak of Little Whiteface. Riders will get a crystal-clear view of Lake Placid, Lake Placid Village, Lake Champlain, and other surrounding mountain peaks. Before or after your ride, visitors can stop in at the Cloudspin Bar and Grill.

The winter schedules and summer schedules differ, so be sure to purchase the correct pass. And check ahead of time to make sure they’re open. They were closed when we went.

19. Olympic Center & Museum (for Sports-Lovers)

CURRENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION – Due to preparing for the upcoming 2023 FISU World University Games, the Lake Placid Olympic Museum & Olympic Center is currently under construction. Typically decorated with banners and plaques celebrating past Olympians, the Museum reopens closer to Winter 2022-2023. The grounds of the Olympic Center include skating rinks where multiple Olympic golds were won, including the famous ‘Miracle on Ice.’

It’s located right in the heart of Lake Placid and an easy stop before or after exploring local restaurants and lodging accommodations in the area.

Stay updated on construction and progress here

SUMMER – Things to do in Lake Placid (SUMMER ONLY)

Scroll back up, if you’re looking for other seasonal things to do in Lake Placid. In this section, we’re featuring our favorite things to do in this USA summer vacation destination!

20. Whiteface Mountain Memorial Highway + Summit

This is one of the most stunning things to do in Lake Placid! It was a highlight experience for us. You can drive, hike, and/or take an elevator here. We drove through the Whiteface Memorial Highway in Wilmington. The entrance was $20 per person and the drive up offers several opportunities for stops to admire the views. Once you reach the end of the road, you can park your car to either hike up 30-ish minutes or take an elevator to the top.

  • The hike from the parking lot is full of steps and scrambles but it’s an amazing adventure offering breathtaking views. Bring your hiking boots because the trail up can get steep.
  • The elevator was closed when we went. So call ahead of time if you need this option.
  • There are other 10+ mile hikes up Whiteface Mountain. So if you want a full-day challenge up the mountain, consider one of these trails.

The summit reaches 4867 ft and allows visitors to see Vermont, New Hampshire, and Montreal on a clear day. Make sure you schedule this in accordance with the weather so you can have full visibility like we did to enjoy 360 mountain views.

21. High Falls Gorge

Open since 1980, High Falls Gorge is a lovely walking attraction along the AuSable River in Wilmington. This 22-acre nature park features breathtaking views of roaring falls on the granite cliffs.

The trail takes about 30-minutes to complete and is built along groomed paths, steel bridges, and wooden footbridges close enough to feel the mist. Seating areas are scattered throughout the park. Wheelchair-accessible paths may be provided for those who require them.

22. Adirondack Wildlife Refuge Center

Wildlife enthusiasts will love visiting animals at the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge Center. Open for public visits starting in May, this organization is dedicated to rescuing, rehabbing, and releasing indigenous animals back into their natural habitat.

Throughout the grounds, visitors can different creatures that call the Adirondack mountains home. If you see Steven Hall, he is the owner and loves to share his wealth of knowledge about the local wildlife such as owls and bears.

The center provides several opportunities for public education, including nature walks, and presentations focused on spreading ecological awareness.

23. Go Hiking

There are so many hiking trails in the Lake Placid region! Here are just a few to choose from:

  • Indian Head, Rainbow Falls, and Fish Hawk Cliffs: The Indian Head + Rainbow Falls and Fish Hawk Cliffs are open to the public but will require permit access through the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR). This hike is a 10.4-mile loop, reaching an elevation of 2,700 ft!
  • Balanced Rocks: This popular hiking destination sits along the Pitchoff traverse to the right of Whiteface Mountain. This is a short and sweet 1.6-mile, one-way hike at a peak elevation of 2,900 ft at the canopy of the Balanced Rocks– gorgeous debris left from the last glaciers to pass through the area.
  • Cobble Lookout: This is one of the easiest hikes with a huge payoff at the top. It takes about 45 minutes each way. Parking is limited so plan your visit during the low season or on weekdays.
  • Heaven Hills Trail: An easy 3.2 loop trail that takes about an hour to complete. Perfect for a morning stroll.
  • Mt. Van Hoevenberg: This is a 4.3-mile hike (out and back) and is considered moderately challenging but offers a beautiful view as a reward.

24. Water Activities on Mirror Lake (in the Downtown)

The Lake Placid town and region is home to more than 6 million acres of ponds, lakes, rivers, and streams for water enthusiasts to explore! But you don’t have to go far! Just on the downtown’s Main Street is the gorgeous Mirror Lake. Here’s what you can do from here:

  • Kayaking
  • Canoeing
  • Paddleboarding
  • Sailing
  • Rent a boat
  • Water biking

We LOVED Downstairs Boat Rental. It’s right in the downtown area and offers kayaks, canoes, paddle boards, boats, and hydro bikes for rent. We paid $35 to go water biking and loved it.

25. Visit the Six Nations Iroquois Cultural Center

The Adirondack Park would be nothing without the rich ancestral history of the indigenous nations who first settled in the area. For travelers who love cultural heritage and immersing themselves in history, the Six Nations Iroquois Cultural Center is a stop you must add to your list.

Open from July to August to the public and by group appointments in other months, this center provides over 3,000 artifacts, storytelling lectures, and a fantastic gift shop reflecting the beauty, values, and philosophies of the indigenous communities of the region. The center focuses heavily on educating the public on the Haudenosaunee culture, “people of the long house,” and the environmental sensitives this nation possessed for their Adirondack home. 

This was a highlight experience for us. We strongly recommend a visit here!

26. Go (White) Water Rafting

Just 30-minutes from Lake Placid, the Ausable Chasm is a sought-after rafting location featuring rafting and tubing overlooking stunning canyons and rapids. This is an easy rafting experience of just 10-30 minutes (depending on the rapids).

Indian Lake, about an hour from Lake Placid, is named the whitewater rafting capital of the state. There are several companies available to book tours starting on the Indian River and dropping 150 feet down a rushing 3.5-mile slope of water heading to the Hudson River. 

27. Ausable Chasm Hikes + Tubing (Day Trip)

The Ausable Chasm is a privately-owned attraction in the cute Adirondack town of Keeseville. They offer up to five miles of hiking trails overlooking some of the oldest natural structures in the country. Trails pass Hydes Cave, Column Rock, Elephant Head, and the Rainbow Falls.

Their trail packages include edge walks and cargo net climbs. After a hike, visitors can join a tubing or rafting tour to gain a new perspective of the chasm from the water.

They don’t give out maps, so be sure to take a picture of the map at the front so you don’t get lost since we didn’t see any guides along the trails. Remember to follow the color posts along the different trails as they diverge. And if the weather allows, try the River Walk option (we couldn’t do it because the river was too high but it looked epic from above!)

28. Go on a Lake Placid Boat Tour for $20

This $20 boat trip takes you through the Lake Placid (not to be confused with the Mirror Lake in downtown). Lake Placid is actually one of the most exclusive lakes in the world. That’s because almost all of the Lake Placid’s shores are privately owned by some of the world’s richest people. Therefore, it’s really hard to get a look at this stunning and majestic lake.

But for just $20 Lake Placid Marina Boat Tour takes you through the most beautiful views of the lake while providing cool insights about the massive houses, the history of the area, and the natural wonders of Lake Placid. This is a highlight experience in the Adirondacks and one of the best things to do in Lake Placid. Hands down!

29. Go Biking 

Lake Placid is home to a number of bike loops and tours that could have cyclists riding all day if they wanted!

  • Adirondack Loj Road is considered one of the most scenic bike routes in the region, located in the valley of the High Peaks. It’s a paved 9.6-mile round trip that is lightly traveled with additional services located at Heart Lake.
  • For bikes looking to test their endurance, the Ironman Loop is a 56-mile route passing the Cascade Lakes and following the Ausable River.
  • Cyclists who prefer bike tours can try Wild Flow Tours for guided rides and off-roading opportunities. We really wanted to do this one but there were no spots available for our dates! Inquire ahead of time.

Please note: DO NOT bike on the road like these guys in the picture above. That’s super dangerous, especially on curves. You should bike one in front of the other and behind the white line for your safety.

30. Sky Flyer Zipline

Adrenaline junkies! Ever wonder how it would feel to be a world-class ski jumper? Try your hand at the sport on the Sky Flyer Zipline! Housed at Mt. Van Hoevenberg, this experience allows adventure seekers to soar through the air in a similar manner to how Olympians jump from the slopes. Riding in a seating position, flyers will start at the top of the 70-foot tower and zipline approximately 30 miles per hour down a 700 feet line to the deck. This attraction is open in the summer only, starting at the end of May. Riders must be over the age of 7 and online reservations are highly recommended as tickets sell out fast. 

We are not adrenaline seekers, so if you get to try this let us know in the comments! How was it?

31. Get Ice Cream at the WhiteBrook Dairy Bar

We LOVED the ice cream in this hidden gem dairy bar. You must try the soft-served options. They are only opened on the weekends but it’s a super easy stop if you’re going to Whiteface Mountain, High Falls Gorge, or Cobble Hill Lookout. It’s a good thing it’s a long drive from me, or I’d be here every weekend.

32. Go Swimming at the Public Beach

This little park offers picnic tables and a lovely beach surrounded by a backdrop of the mighty Adirondack mountains. On a sunny day, the shoreline is crystal clear, shallow, and very inviting; so bring a swimsuit to jump in. It is located right in the downtown area and thus ,is a popular launch site for kayaks. During certain times of the year/day, there is a lifeguard present.

33. Get a Drink at Top of the Park

This was hands down, one of our favorite restaurants in Lake Placid. Top of the Park offers breathtaking views, some of the world’s best cocktails, and a delicious menu of food. This is a must-visit for foodies and cocktail lovers.

34. Visit Asgaard Farm & Dairy

Aasgard Farm & Dairy is the former home of artist, writer, adventurer, and political activist Rockwell Kent. The farm is now on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. So if you’re traveling through the Adirondacks, make sure to stop at Aasgard Farm & Dairy in Au Sable Forks. It’s just outside of Lake Placid and on the way to Keeseville (two of our favorite towns in Upstate New York).

Check the website for days and times the farm is open. Sometimes they have events or workshops for the public, too. And if you want to shop, they sell goat-based products, including cheese and caramel, as well as other products from the farm like forest-raised pork and locally crafted artisanal products.

Where to Stay in Lake Placid, NY

  • The Stagecoach Inn ($$$) – A historic hidden gem located in the oldest building in Lake Placid! Staying in this inn was a LakePlacid highlight experience for us. The rustic and cozy decor, the delicious breakfasts, and the kind hospitality had us glowing throughout our trip. If you can’t stay here, then you MUST book a dinner reservation. The food by chef Billy is out of this world! Every single plate was incredible.
  • Whiteface Lodge ($$$$)- A luxury rustic lake resort among the picturesque High Peaks of the Adirondacks. Walking distance from Olympic Center with a range of year-round activities both on and offsite. Private mahogany and cedar balcony suites and bountiful indoor and outdoor amenities. Access to skiing, hiking, swimming, snowmobiling, and one of the best spas in the country. 
  • Lake Placid Lodge ($$$$$) – A waterfront lake resort living up to its nickname: the Jewel of the Adirondacks. The lodge features cute lakefront cabins iconic to Upstate New York, furnished with luxury rustic features. Visitors have access to warm and cold weather activities for every season and of all ages. Close to Lake Placid attractions with expansive deck views over the water. 

Read our full list of the top 19 best hotels in Lake Placid to stay!

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