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To the Woods We Go! A Quintessential Summer Vacation in the Adirondacks

The Point Boathouse Adirondack vacation

The Point

This mountainous and lake-filled region of New York invented the summer vacation. Read our Adirondacks vacation guide to find out why.

For a luxury ski experience, you head to Deer Valley Resort, and for a classic American summer vacation, you head to the Adirondacks. The Adirondack Region of northern New York State is six million acres of majestic mountains comprised of over 2,000 miles of hiking trails and roughly 3,000 glittering lakes and ponds. They are everything you loved about camp as a kid; with boundless entertainment in the great outdoors, from fireside chats, grilled foods and sunsets on the lake. The idea of summer vacation actually originated here in the late 1800s when elite travelers would vacate the intolerable heat of the surrounding cities and head for a sip of the refreshing 70-degree Adirondack air, thus the “vacation” was born.

The idea of summer vacation actually originated here in the late 1800s when elite travelers would vacate the intolerable heat of the surrounding cities and head for a sip of the refreshing 70-degree Adirondack air, thus the “vacation” was born.

canoeing in the Adirondacks vacation guide

Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism / Lake Placid CVB

Recreational activities in the Adirondacks for vacation range from waterskiing the tranquil Lake George, mountain-biking the curvaceous granite-formed mountains, or simply savoring the tonic of the wild with a glass of whiskey in hand. My own families roots can be traced to the piney forest of the Adirondacks where my father David, his two sisters and their parents would spend many a summer drinking in all the lakes had to offer during sun-filled days that seemed to stretch forever. As an avid outdoorsman and native to upstate NY, I have often heard him say that this land is not for the faint of heart…for wildness abounds in this backcountry.

moose in Lake Placid Adirondack vacation

Sue Kiesel

Come summertime, alpine trails weave through dense forest revealing local songbirds, white-tailed deer, moose and even black bears. Head to Bald Mountain for expansive views of the serene lakes seen from atop the rocky trailheads; a place that seemingly shrinks you against the grandness of the peaks. One of our family favorites during an Adirondacks vacation was a visit to Old Forge aka “Adirondack Base Camp.” Here, a bygone era unfolds before you along the main drag, donning brick buildings housing hardware stores, candy shops, hand-crafted furniture stores and art galleries that epitomize the charm, and style, of the east coast.

Mirror Lake Inn

The region is also home to Lake Placid, which is synonymous with the Adirondacks as it is the nation’s first winter destination and has even hosted two Olympic Winter Games. The sports-driven community gives active travelers the chance to play hard on this historical lake while letting 9-to-5’ers and execs take a load off in the famous Adirondack chairs—inspired by the surrounding mountains.

For a summer to remember, grab your favorite flannel and Birkenstocks, and read our Adirondacks vacation guide for where to stay, dine, play and unwind.

The property’s log mansions crafted from native timber were built by William Avery Rockefeller II a century ago, allowing guests to revel in this chic outpost from the Gilded Age.

Adirondacks vacation at The Point hotel

The Point Resort

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A WOODSY SLEEPOVER
Once the summer White House of President Calving Coolidge, White Pine Camp is a restored property that hosts its own indoor tennis court, bowling alley and even a Japanese Tea House on their private peninsula. A destination for those seeking solitude in the shade of the Adirondack Mountains, the camp is surrounded by state land and private alcoves along the lakes’ shoreline. The Point, a Forbes Five Star property, comes recommended for its luxurious accommodations with a side of woodland charm. The property’s log mansions crafted from native timber were built by William Avery Rockefeller II a century ago, allowing guests to revel in this chic outpost from the Gilded Age. Their signature boathouse is the quintessential lake experience, with beamed ceilings, wood-burning fireplaces and expansive windows allowing nature to come into full view.

Adirondacks vacation High Peaks Resort

High Peaks Resort

The perfect place to host a family vacation in the Adirondacks is Lake Placid’s High Peaks Resort with a selection of three different accommodation options. Whether you choose a lakeside suite or a room at their mid-century modern-styled inn, there is an amenity-laden overnight waiting for the whole crew. We love the resort’s on-site dining options, waterfront pool and sophisticated-meets-woodsy interior design that beams with the classic, yet cozy, décor the Adirondacks are known for.

Adirondacks vacation at Lake Placid Lodge

Lake Placid Lodge

Among the region’s lush wooded setting is the Lake Placid Lodge celebrated for its luxurious private cabins outfitted with standing tubs, fireplaces and ultra-comfy bedding for an elevated sleepaway. In-room massages are available to guests along with a dining service that offers to chef-prepare your catch-of-the-day. The property is near Emerald Springs Ranch and offers horseback riding for a day-trip to explore the verdant trails. We recommend rounding out the day with s’mores by the bonfire at the edge of the lake with new friends and familiar faces alike.

Adirondacks vacation at the Mirror Lake Inn

Mirror Lake Inn

The resort and spa of Mirror Lake Inn is a treasured place to vacation in the Adirondacks as it a prestigious member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Family-owned since 1924, the property also has a storied past where it was once home to a skating camp where many future skating champions would come to practice, as well as a lively place for locals to dance the night away—foxtrot anyone? The elegant resort now offers some of the most beautiful accommodations in the region and is both family- and couple-friendly. The spa, salon and fitness center is everything your childhood vacay was not, with indoor lap pools, saunas and private yoga classes for wellness-seekers.

Top of the Park in Adirondacks New York

Katie Kearney

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TASTE & SIP
Summer vacation in the Adirondacks for many means cold beer and afternoon BBQ’s, where plates are filled with culinary favorites like buffalo wings, salt potatoes, and always a side salad topped with Thousand Island dressing (a nod to New York’s famous islands in the St. Lawrence River). Locals love their Utica Greens as well, a dish of hot peppers with sautéed endives and seasoned bread crumbs.

Now that you know what to ask for at the local eateries during your vacation in the Adirondacks, you can try a few favorites while enjoying the range of dining options around the lakes. While strolling through the charming downtown of Lake Placid, make sure to stop for a craft cocktail or beer at Top of the Park Bar, which overlooks Mirror Lake and sits beneath the Adirondack Mountains. The bar serves charcuterie boards best enjoyed with a top-shelf spirit, like their Anhinga cocktail, featuring the blonde ale from New York state’s Good Nature Brewery, and fixed with Milagro Silver Tequila, ginger liqueur and a touch of lime.

If you’re looking for a laid-back local spot during your Adirondacks vacation, swing by Lisa G’s to savor a hearty meal of tomato cacciatore meatballs, Greek pizza and buffalo wings smothered in tasty sauces like maple bourbon or chili coffee.

Lisa G's restaurant in Adirondacks New York

Lisa G's

If you’re looking for a laid-back local spot during your Adirondacks vacation, swing by Lisa G’s to savor a hearty meal of tomato cacciatore meatballs, Greek pizza and buffalo wings smothered in tasty sauces like maple bourbon or chili coffee. The waterside restaurant is comfort food done right; where you can mingle with Lake Placid residents and enjoy a sunset view from the al fresco patio. Visit Salt of the Earth Bistro for eclectic dishes with traditional roots, like their Moroccan stew and the strawberry, balsamic and spinach salad. There is also a slew of breweries in the Lake Placid area, excellent restaurants for steak and seafood, and artsy cafes for a midday caffeine break.

rock climbing on your Adirondacks vacation

Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism / Lake Placid CVB

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LAKE LIFE IS THE GOOD LIFE
Nature doesn’t hold back here. Vacationing in the Adirondacks means sparkling swimming holes offering up infinite opportunities to be waterside, whether that’s beneath the swaying sails of a sailboat or cruising at high speeds with skis on your feet—if you’re that type of adrenaline-seeking traveler. Preparing for the mountain conditions is key. Head to the Lake Placid storefronts carrying outdoor gear and apparel, like Eastern Mountain Sports, where you can outfit your whole family in top notch activewear. Fair warning to fresh blood visiting the area: bring your bug spray, watch out for the blackflies, and always have your camera charged to capture the sunsets on the water that are seemingly made of summer magic.

seaplane over the lake on your Adirondacks vacation

Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism / Lake Placid CVB

Vacationers, the Adirondacks are home to nearly 46 peaks to summit along the mountain range and ideal for avid hikers. Aggressive downhill bikers will easily excite at the 2,400-foot runs down Whiteface Mountain while waterfalls rush from above. You can even take to the skies aboard a seaplane for unparalleled views of the mountains, including the range’s highest peak of Mount Marcy, sitting 5,344 feet above sea level. From this vantage point, you can marvel at the land that was once occupied by Native Americans, including the Mahacins and Mohawks thousands of years ago. They populated the rivers and lakes that stem from the base of these steep peaks that served as the hunting grounds for many tribes to come.

Nicknamed “the Grand Canyon of the East” is Ausable Chasm, a gash in the earth where river water pours from the carved canyon, while the surrounding cliffsides cater to athletes looking for some of the best rock-climbing and river-rafting around.

Ausable Chasm in the Adirondacks New York

Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism / Lake Placid CVB

Nicknamed “the Grand Canyon of the East” is Ausable Chasm, a gash in the earth where river water pours from the carved canyon, while the surrounding cliffsides cater to athletes looking for some of the best rock-climbing and river-rafting around. Water enthusiasts will have a field day in the Adirondacks on their action-packed vacation. The popular activity of stand-up paddle boarding is a more leisurely way to soak in the fresh air, so consider starting your morning on Lake Placid’s glassy surface before the hum of motors occupies the busy spot ideal for fishing and boating. Visitors can have their pick of where they want to camp-out for the day, whether its near their hotel accommodations, their RV campsite, or taking the scenic roads until you find a glistening hideaway that speaks to you.

With a plethora of boat, canoe and kayak rentals in the area, there is no shortage of recreational activities to fit your style. Come nighttime, Tupper Lake is a necessary stopover to take in the starry (and unpolluted skies) to conclude a memorable Adirondacks summer vacation in these pristine mountains of the east.

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