Destination Lake Placid

DSC_0634Lake Placid is a great college town…without a college.  We happened to make our way to this great place to attend a lacrosse tournament with our oldest son David.  It is a breathtakingly beautiful destination, and part of its beauty stems from the fact that it is a four season sports and recreation mecca.  In addition to the more traditional recreational activities of kayaking, sailing, swimming, water skiing, snow skiing and fishing this place offers, the amount of high end athlete training that is going on simultaneously is unbelievable.  The lacrosse tournament followed on the heels of a rugby tournament, which followed on the heels of the Horse Show; the Ironman triathlon had just finished up the week before (Lake Placid is host to this grueling Ironman event annually, one of sixteen world-wide races); girls in their ice skating outfits could be seen walking down Main Street and disappearing into the Olympic Center (famous for the US Olympic 1980 “Miracle On Ice” Hockey win over Russia).  We slipped in to the center to watch some pairs performing.  Ice hockey games were going on daily, and skiers were  at the training center, practicing their aerial free form moves, landing in a 750,000 gallon pool, while others practiced ski jumping.

Even though we did not have one of those perfect crystal clear days, we could still see the majestic outline of the Adirondack mountains surrounding us.  Water and mountains – there’s not much that is better than that.  The town is full of  cute  shops and great restaurants sitting on Mirror Lake (not Lake Placid).   Turns out that Lake Placid is mostly a residential lake, with very little public access.   Mirror Lake is a recreational lake about a mile across, allowing no motor boats.  This makes it an extremely safe and pleasant place to swim across, and has a rope with bouys going across the middle of the entire lake to guide swimmers.   You can look out at anytime and see a handful of swimmers making their way across.  It almost serves as one gigantic pool for the town.

We stayed at the Crown Plaza, which sits up on a hill overlooking the town of Lake Placid and Mirror Lake.  Given it’s quick access to town, its indoor pool, and beach on Mirror Lake, including complementary use of peddle boats and row boats, this hotel was a very easy and kid friendly place to stay.  It has a beautiful lobby which overlooks the lake and surrounding mountains. Each room also has a fridge/freezer combo and microwave, making it easy to at least have breakfast in the room in the morning – if you’d rather skip the $12.95 breakfast buffet (which by the way is very good, but not in the daily plan of a family of six!).

Given a fairly intense lacrosse schedule over three days, we were not able to exhaust the top ten list of things to do in Lake Placid, but we made significant progress.  Here are the things that I was able to conquer on that list over the course of three days (all of which I recommend), navigating amongst nine lacrosse games:

1.  A walk around Mirror Lake: Just as you see so many folks swimming across Mirror Lake, there are many walking around the lake on its 2.7 mile loop.

2.  A swim in Mirror Lake:  I’m a salt water gal, but there’s not much that is more refreshing than jumping into a fresh water lake.  The temperature was just right, and there were a number of swim docks to swim out to and jump from.

3.  A Bobsled ride: The four kids went on a bobsled ride down the winter track on a bobsled outfitted with wheels.  The kids had to be at least 48 inches, and Sam just squeaked by.  The bobsled is driven by a professional driver and brakeman, then the four kids were between the two professionals.  Forty-two mph, 48 seconds, and $250 later, the kids had a lot to talk about.  It was quite a thrill.

4.  Wet and Wild Wednesdays:  Every Wednesday during the summer, the national aerial ski jumpers (who are in Lake Placid for the summer training) put on a show where they come down a ramp and fly 50 feet into the air doing amazing flips, twists and turns, landing in a pool, skis, ski boots and all.  It was an amazing show.

5.  Standing at the top of the Ski Jump: If you get vertigo, this is not an activity for you.   A chair lift ride up the mountain, and then an elevator ride up to the top of the ski jump, you stand gazing at an amazing view.  You are allowed to stand at the top of the ski jump itself, which is insanely high and steep.  How anyone can first attempt to even try to jump is beyond my comprehension.

6.  A tour of Lake Placid:  This is where I lucked out BIG TIME!  During my 7AM solo walk around Mirror Lake, I coincidently ran into an old school friend who summers at Lake Placid, resulting in an invitation over to her house for the afternoon on the lake. A beautiful house, with a large beautiful dock and boat house, my family was in high heaven.  My kids were treated to water tubing on Lake Placid and then we took a tour around the lake – only 50% which is accessible by road.  Many beautiful boat houses and wooden Chris Craft boats journeyed up the lake, setting a quintessential summer scene.

7.  A visit to the Olympic Center and “Miracle on Ice”:  It’s inspiring to see the huge ice arena where the US Men’s Hockey team was victorious in the Winter Olympics.  We are all anxious to watch this movie again when we return home.

So there you have it.  A quick three days in Lake Placid – but a very fun and activity filled three days which gave us all a real taste for this town.  Hopefully lacrosse will bring us here again next summer, so I can complete the top ten list!


  • Stacy Says:
    8-6-2010 08:53:54

    Nice article. Travel writing is definitely a strong point for you. It was informative and enjoyable. Now, I’ll check into going for a long weekend this fall. COOL!!

  • Charlotte Says:
    8-6-2010 09:26:20

    great article on what to do, but what did you eat?

    Is Lake Placid a french fries and iceberg lettuce kinda place or did you have good food!

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