Updated: May 21, 2015

Lake Placid Vacation Guide

Most of us remember Lake Placid as home of the Winter Olympics in 1980. But Lake Placid has been a popular vacation destination in both summer and winter for decades. Set in the scenic Adirondack Mountains, the town of Lake Placid actually sits along Mirror Lake, not Lake Placid (you can check out our interactive Lake Placid map below). The city itself is only 1800 feet in elevation, while nearby Whiteface Mountain doesn't even reach the 5000 foot mark. But this far north, they get more than their fairshare of cold winter weather, even without the extreme altitudes. You can boat on the lakes (no motor boats) during the warm summer months, ski and ice skate in the winter, enjoy fall colors in Autumn - it's a great place to get away from it all. Below we will take a look at where to stay, where to eat, and what to do on your next visit to Lake Placid -- be sure to start with our Lake Placid area map below to get an idea where things are - (you can drag around the map, zoom in and out, or click the VIEW LARGER MAP at the bottom to open it in a new window and see all the locations listed).


Lake Placid Sight Seeing - Things to do in Lake Placid

lake placid mirror lake Here is a view of Lake Placid village from across Mirror Lake. Hopefully you'll be staying in and exploring the village, but with so much history of the Olympics here, you just have to visit some of the Olympic venues while in town. One fascinating spot to visit is the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex, just 2 miles south of Lake Placid on Hwy 73 (Sentinel Rd). This is where the giant 90M and 120M towers were built for ski jumping. You can ride a chairlift to the base and then an elevator to the top of the 120M tower for an aerial view of the surroundings, and a glimpse of what it feels like to stand on the steep jump ramp as you prepare to soar 300-400 feet through the air. It costs $7 per person for access to the complex, and $3 more ($10) if you want to ride the chairlift and elevator to the top of the tower. You can see jumpers practicing here pretty much year round. We were recently there in early October and were amazed to see skiers coming down these hills (both the jumps and the landing areas are wet down with water). There are also smaller hills where skiers do acrobatic flips and twists and land in water pools -- check the schedule (see below) to see what's going on when you are in town. If you are visiting in the Fall or Winter, don't miss out on the chance of a lifetime to ride in a bobsled, accompanied by a professional driver and brakeman of course. The cost is $75 per person and covers 1/2 mile of the course. It runs Oct. 20 thru Nov. 22nd (2008), Wednesday thru Sunday. This is held about 10 miles south of Lake Placid at the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Sports Complex. Right in downtown is the Olympic Center, home of the famous ice hockey victory for the USA in 1980. You can walk across that famous rink where the Americans beat the Russians, or watch hockey teams practice. The Olympic Museum here costs $5 per adult, but you can enter the building and walk around for free, so feel free to explore a little on your own. There is public ice skating here available throughout the year -- check the schedule listed below to see what is available for that week. You can see a weekly schedule of events and activities happening at the Jumping Complex, Olympic Center, Olympic Sports Complex (OSC), etc.

whiteface mountain view In town, you can follow the walking path the goes all the way around Mirror Lake, 2.7 miles. It's a beautiful walk any time of the year, rewarding you with great views of the village reflected in the lake when you get around to the east side. And no visit to Lake Placid is complete without enjoying a casual stroll along Main St., whether window shopping or snacking is your thing -- you'll find plenty of unique country shops and dining spots to keep you occupied for a few hours. In the winter, check out the Toboggan Chute at the southern edge of Mirror Lake, where you can ride a sled down the chute and onto the ice of the frozen lake. In winter you'll probably also want to go skiing. Whiteface Mountain (Whiteface.com) is just minutes away from the village - lift tickets cost $67 for adults, $56 for teens (13-19), $40 for juniors (7-12) - kids 6 and under are free. You can call their snow phone for conditions at 877-SKI-FACE. They usually open around the end of November depending on conditions, and lifts open at 8:30 in the morning. The Whiteface Mountain trailmap in PDF format is available here. In summer months, take a drive to the top of Whiteface Mountain on the 8 mile Veterans Memorial Highway - cost is $9 plus $5 for each additional passenger. The views from the top are memorable -- you can look out all over Lake Placid and the surrounding mountains. It's a little expensive, but worth it for the panoramic photo ops. It the weather is nice, take the elevator to the summit (26 floors up) and then walk down the semi-rugged path to the Castle and parking lot area. The road is normally open from late May to Columbus Day in October. The photo to the right is a view from the top of Whiteface Mountain.

Best Lake Placid Hotels and Lodging

It's worth spending at least 1 night in the village of Lake Placid. We recommend staying at a hotel right within walking distance of the Main St. village, allowing you easy walking access to explore and enjoy the town. Check out the Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa MirrorLakeInn.com, located at the north end of Mirror Lake and right at the top end of Main St. We found rates in October that ranged from $300-$450 per night, $222 to $420 in December, $350 to $430 in May, and $330-$450 in July. The Crowne Plaza Resort & Golf Club (LakePlacidCP.com) sits on a hill looking down over Mirror Lake, but is still just a 1 minute walk to the scenic village for strolling, shopping, and dining. They offer 245 rooms, 4 restaurants, and a private beach club (around the east side of the lake, about 1/2 mile from resort). In the fall, rates run from about $150 to $400; in the summer, we found rates ranging from $130 to $450. On our most recent visit, we stayed at the Golden Arrow (Golden-Arrow.com) Lakeside Resort. The resort is situated right at the southern edge of Main St., with a great location right on the water. The views from the lobby looking out over the lake are matched by all the views from the private balconies of the rooms that face the lake (go for a lakeview room if you have the option, the views all day long are gorgeous). It's not a super fancy property, and the maze of hallways and floors can be a little confusing, but the location is close to perfect and the rates are very reasonable (we paid $230 in October). The Mountain View Inn (LakePlacidLodging.com) is a less expensive option for lodging at Lake Placid. Located at the south end of Main Street, just across the street from Mirror Lake, its a simple property in a great location. Rooms run $80-$175 per night, depending on time of year. They offer private balconies, refrigerators and microwaves. Finally, consider the Northwoods Inn right along Main St. (NorthwoodsInn.com). It began as the Hotel Marcy in 1926 and has been a great place to stay ever since. Inexpensive room rates run from around $100 to $200 depending on season. Be sure to check out their "Cabin" fireplace bar with views of Main St -- great place to warm up and have a drink.

Best Lake Placid Restaurants - Where to eat in Lake Placid?

Finally, when it comes to food, there are plenty of options, all within walking distance in the village. The Great Adirondack Steak and Seafood Restaurant is a good choice if you are in the mood for good solid food. Milano North is just a few doors down, great for Italian fare. Player's Sports Bar and Grille at the north end of Main St. is good for casual food and drink. Charlie's at the south end of Main is another good choice. As noted above, pop into the Cabin fireplace bar inside the Northwoods Inn for a drink and enjoy the view.