Mirror Lake is an ideal place for adventurers of all ages to try stand-up paddleboarding. // © 2015 Erin Gifford
Feature image (above): A view of Lake Placid from the top of Little Whiteface mountain // © 2015 Erin Gifford
For families who like to get outdoors, Lake Placid in the Adirondacks region of upstate New York is a must-visit destination. Host to the Winter Olympic Games in 1932 and 1980, Lake Placid has plenty to do in the winter, but summer is the time to visit for hiking, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, as well as exploring nearby Olympic sites.
A family road trip to Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort in Lake Placid revealed that a lakeside vacation should be on every family’s bucket list. As the only lakeside resort in Lake Placid, Golden Arrow enables kids to walk right out of their room onto the man-made beach for a morning kayak ride, all before setting off for Lake Placid Village and Lake Placid Olympic Center.
What follows are four must-do activities to add to any family’s Lake Placid checklist.
Become a Saranac Lake 6er
Those who like to hike mountains can really go for it and become an official “Saranac Lake 6er.” To earn this title, simply climb the six peaks that surround neighboring Saranac Lake. A good bet is to start with Mount Baker, which offers one of the most popular hikes for families.
Don’t want to go it alone? Try Broadwing Adventures, which offers the Saranac Lake 6er hiking program. Join expert guides on treks to the top of any or all six mountains, including Ampersand, Baker, Haystack, McKenzie, St. Regis and Scarface. The fee is $69 per person or $250 per group.
As you climb each of the six mountains, note the date of your climbs and the time you reach each summit. When you’ve climbed all six, send these details along with a check for $10 per person to the Village of Saranac Lake to receive an official “6er” patch and sticker.
Get on the Water at Mirror Lake
At Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort, all water activities on Mirror Lake — such as stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, canoeing and pedal boat rides — are included in the stay. If you see a boat or a board, just throw on a life jacket and get out on the water.
Alternatively, families can head to Mirror Lake Boat Rental, which is just a few steps away from the hotel. The company offers single and double kayaks, canoes, rowboats and stand-up paddleboards for $25 per hour. Mirror Lake Boat Rental also offers sailboats for $50 per hour.
Once you have had your fill of water activities, put on your sneakers and hit the 2.5-mile paved loop around Mirror Lake. Walk through Lake Placid Village and enjoy a relaxing, shaded walk along the loop trail. Guests will also discover a playground and tennis courts on one end of the lake.
Ride on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad
Young children will enjoy a ride onboard an old-time train along the Adirondack Scenic Railroad. Saranac Lake-bound trains depart twice daily on Saturdays and Sundays (10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.). There’s an almost two-hour layover in Saranac Lake, enabling families to stop for lunch and explore the town.
As a bonus, the train station at Saranac Lake is adjacent to the Adirondack Carousel. Rides are just $2 per person, and popcorn costs $1 per bag. Kids will love that every carousel animal has a name, like Spike the Porcupine and Ranger the Raccoon. Plus, there’s an on-site playground.
Roundtrip train rides are $19 for adults and $11 for children. Another option is the all-day Canoe & Rail Adventure offered through St. Regis Canoe Outfitters, which pairs a train ride with a paddle down the Saranac River. The cost is $54 per adult. For children, prices range from $29 to $45 depending on their seat in the canoe.
Unleash Your Inner Olympian
Start by picking up an Olympic Sites Passport, which allows access to a number of Olympic-related attractions, including the Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum and the Lake Placid Olympic Sports Complex. Watch the famed “Miracle on Ice” men’s hockey game from the 1980 Winter Games at the museum before heading upstairs to see the rink where the actual game was played.
The passport also includes a 15-minute gondola ride to the top of nearby Little Whiteface Mountain. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy panoramic views from the top before heading back into town for a bobsled ride with a professional driver and brakeman.
The Olympic Sites Passport is valid for one year and costs $35 per person. In addition to one-time admission to a variety of Olympic attractions, passport-holders receive a 20 percent discount on more than a dozen other activities, including a bobsled ride, mountain bike rentals and yoga on the mountain.