Lake Placid, located in the High Peaks area of the Adirondack Mountains is a breathtakingly beautiful part of the Northeast. It was the site of both the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic games (one of only 4 host cities in the world to have held the events twice), and today it is a vibrant community that invites athletes to swim, ski, cycle, run, skate, bobsled, skeleton, luge, and even compete on horseback on its roads, lakes, mountains, and arenas. Not feeling so athletically inclined? Then think of Lake Placid as the place to soak up the scenery of the mountains, waterfalls, and AuSable river while relaxing with a pint of local Saranac brew (beer or soft drinks- they’re both delish!)
My family and I had the chance to spend the weekend in Lake Placid earlier this summer. We fell in love with the area, and can’t wait to go back and spend more time exploring all that there is to see and do. But based on our experiences in just in that one weekend-we can already share with you 5 Things to Do in Lake Placid with Kids!
1. Marvel at the Mountain Views!
If you have ever had the chance to see the Rocky Mountains, you know how mesmerizing a mountain vista can be. But don’t assume that a mountain must reach 14,000 feet to be impressive- the Adirondacks absolutely inspire that same feeling of awe. There are 46 peaks that make up the “High Peaks” area- all reaching a height of approx 4000 feet, and if you decide to climb to the top of all 46, you can join the ranks of the 46’ers! Of course you can drink in views of the peaks from throughout the High Peaks region, but I suggest taking the Cloudsplitter gondola ride to the top of Little Whiteface Mountain for a great view of the surrounding peaks, or even better- take the auto ride and drive to the top of Whiteface Mountain along the Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway. At the top you’ll find a castle that contains both a restaurant and a gift shop- a fitting reward for such a beautiful drive!
2. Adventure Like An Olympian
I highly recommend that you purchase an Olympic sites passport which will give you a one-time admission to several historic Olympic attractions. The Cloudsplitter gondola ride took us to the top of Little Whiteface Mountain where we could overlook the Olympic ski runs that are still used today. Next we visited the Olympic Center in downtown Lake Placid- where the 1932 figure skating events, and the 1980 hockey events (including the famed “Miracle on Ice” game) were held.
We then traveled to the top of the 120-meter Olympic ski jump– to see what that looks like for an Olympian as they stand at the top of the tower before making the jump. And holy WOW- it is high!
Our final stop on our Olympic tour was at the Bobsled run (for an additional fee). We were divided into two groups and fitted with helmets for the absolutely thrilling run down the bottom half of the 1980 Olympic bobsled track. Truly this will be one of the highlights of our entire summer!
3. Enjoy a River Adventure
The Ausable Chasm is about a 45-minute drive away from the Lake Placid area- but it is well worth the trip! We started out our visit to the chasm with a trip through their adventure trail- which is a series of cargo nets, rope traverses across canyon walls, and zip lines and suspension bridges back and forth over the churning Ausable River. It was a spectacular adventure that we will not soon forget!
Next we proceeded down the Inner Scantum Trail over to the raft launch area where we boarded a river raft to continue the next few miles down into the chasm by water. It was mostly a gently float trip led by a river guide who shared some old stories about the area- but there was also a small section of bumpy rapids that made it a lot of fun for my older kids (who paddled along with the guide).
4. Hike to a Waterfall
The High Falls Gorge is a great place to hike past the waterfalls and check out the “potholes” that are created by the force of boulders spinning in water over thousands of years. We also took a side hike into the woods where we came upon a tall wispy waterfall that we had all to ourselves to explore- it was so cool!
5. Indulge in Old Fashioned Family Fun
What better way to enjoy the great outdoors than to stay at a campground? During my family’s first trip to the Olympic region, we decided to stay in a deluxe cabin at the Lake Placid/ Whiteface Mtn. KOA campground. Having camped in a tent many times in the past with the kids, this time we decided to try out a cabin… so there would be less set up involved, we could cook our dinner over the included gas grill (leaving our camp stove at home), and have our own bathroom that we could access without finding our shoes and flashlight in the middle of the night!
We spent Saturday evening having a good old-fashioned family evening at the campground- we swam in the pool, played on the giant chess board, on the playground, at the mini-golf course, in the game room, at the ping pong table. The kids had a blast. We then made kalbi kebabs on the grill followed by s’mores in the fire pit. A great way to end a perfect day!
Disclosure: The kids and I received a complimentary stay at the Lake Placid/Whiteface Mtn. KOA via Kampgrounds of America. We also received complimentary Olympic sites passports, tour tickets for the Ausable Chasm, and admission to High Falls Gorge. The opinions stated here are my own, and the links I provide above are to the reviews I wrote of these sites for Trekaroo (in case you want to check out even more details!)
Has your family traveled to the Lake Placid area? What activities and adventures do you recommend?