Lake Placid, New York, is a gorgeous vacation spot to eat, play, and stay any time of year. The best things to do in Lake Placid range from water sports to cross-country skiing to bobsledding. There are enough Lake Placid hotel choices and terrific Lake Placid restaurants to serve all tastes and budgets. Lake Placid NY, host of the 1980 Winter Olympics, offers reminders of that event, including the Olympic Sports Complex.
Best Places to Eat, Play and Stay in Lake Placid NY
We have vacationed in Lake Placid on multiple occasions over the past 15 years. Most often we have gone to participate in triathlon races. In fact, it was the venue for my husband’s first Ironman race! As you can imagine, it holds special memories.
While it is a year-round vacation choice, it offers a typical “summer vacation at the lake” type experience with its multiple lakes, mountain biking and hiking in the Adirondack mountains, and golfing. In the winter, you will be rewarded with skiing Whiteface Mountain, sitting by a roaring fire, and the unforgettable aroma of pine trees.
Since we live in the New York City area, visiting Lake Placid is an easy 5 hour drive and therefore a great 3 day weekend getaway from New York City. The same can be said from most locations on the east coast.
Here are some of our recommendations for the best things to do in Lake Placid and the best Lake Placid hotels. But we will start with our favorite topic: the best Lake Placid restaurants.
Not to be Missed Placid Restaurants
Located at Lake Placid Lodge, Artisans is one of my personal favorites. It is in a simply gorgeous location and venue and is the place to go to for a really nice dinner, featuring fresh, seasonal cuisine. You’ll get to dine with a view of the Whiteface Mountains and Lake Placid.
Local say that this is THE best place in town for breakfast, but it’s also open for lunch. It has great prices, delicious food, and is a local favorite.
If you want a real Lake Placid restaurant where the locals hang out, Lisa G’s is where to go. The motto is “casual dining with a twist.” Think comfort food stepped up a notch. There also is a great outdoor seating area.
Lake Placid Pub and Brewery
This restaurant has its own beer and a really affordable pub menu. Ubu Ale is the flagship beer — it has even been shipped to the White House for a party! It’s also another local favorite and has a family dining area with a kids play room.
Adirondack Steak and Seafood
If you’re in the mood for a steak, this is the place to go. This Lake Placid restaurant is also a brewery. It was voted one of the top 10 resort breweries by USA Today. So order a beer and take itoutside to dine. What more could you ask for?
Mirror Lake Inn
The hotel is hoem to three terrific Lake Placid restaurants: The View, Taste Bistro & Bar, and The Cottage. We have eaten at all 3 and would recommend any of them. The View is definitely more upscale and romantic, but not fussy, featuring a seasonal menu. The Cottage is a great place for lunch or a light dinner with lakeside dining. Try Taste Bistro for drinks and casual dining.
This Lake Placid restaurant has been around for more than 20 years and is the place to go for Mexican cuisine. It also has the largest selection of hot sauces in the region and serves more than 170 types of tequila. Just saying…
Liquids and Solids
This is another local favorite known for the eclectic menu and your non-standard pub fare. We’re talking crispy chick pea fritters and roasted sweetbreads. Gotta love the combinations they pick.
A few other notable Lake Placid Restaurants
- For bbq, Redneck Bistro, BBQ, & Grill Smoke Signals.
- Players Sports Bar & Grill is a sports bar and grill with lakeside dining right on Main Street.
- Dancing Bears is located at High Peaks Resort. Many Olympians came to party here in 1980.
- Kanu at the Whiteface Lodge features an open kitchen and a menu that uses regional ingredients from local farms. The Lodge itself is gorgeous, so may be worth the trip.
Even More Notable Lake Placid Restaurants
- Jimmy’s 21 offers homemade pasta and great service.
- If you’re vegetarian, try either the Good Bite Kitchen, known for fresh, tasty, sophisticated food, or the Scape Cafe. It offers a great selection of salads, sandwiches, fresh juices, and smoothies.
- A favorite for pastries of all kind, including scones and cinnamon buns, is Blueberry Bakery next to the movie theater.
- At The Breakfast Club, you can get anything you want for breakfast along with gorgeous views of Mirror Lake. It offers really good breakfast sandwiches.
- Chair 6 is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and promotes a handcrafted seasonal menu with locally sourced ingredients. It has a relaxed but classy atmosphere, with kid-friendly choices and large portions.
- Caffe Rustica offers seafood, pasta, and pizza, a bit more on the gourmet side and not traditional Italian.
So, this list should give you plenty of options for grabbing a bite to eat in Lake Placid.
Things to Do in Lake Placid
There are tons of things to do in Lake Placid and the surrounding area, most associated with outdoor activities. It was, after all, home to the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980. So we’re giving you some recommendations to keep you occupied and are very pleased to have the input of locals letting us in on their favorites.
The activities listed below can be found through Whiteface Lake Placid. If you intend to do many of them, you may want to purchase an Olympic Sites Passport, which gives you access to all of the Olympic venues.
Be An Olympian (Or Just Play Like One)
Did the recent Winter Olympics leave you wanting more? Check out these genuine Olympic courses when you’re looking for things to do in Lake Placid:
- Bobsled and Luge Complex – Woohoo! Okay, there aren’t many places where you get the opportunity to take a bobsled ride, so you better take advantage! Maybe this is one thing you can cross off your bucket list. Reservations are recommended. If bobsledding’s not your forte, perhaps the luge is. You can take a clinic on the ins and outs of luge and get a run in on a paved track.
- Olympic Sports Complex – Want to experience what it feels like to do a biathlon? This is one of the few places you can actually learn about it and then give it a shot – literally.
- Olympic Ski Jump Complex – Take the elevator up to the top of this complex and get a view of what it must be like to be a ski jumper. Then know you’ll never do this, EVER! U.S. ski jumpers practice their winter skills here in the summer.
- Lake Placid Winter Olympic Center & Museum – Here’s where you go to learn the history of how Lake Placid came to host the Olympics. Afterwards, take a spin on the ice rink and make your own Olympic memories. Well, in your mind, anyway!
- Cloudsplitter Gondola Ride – Want one of the best views in town? Then take the gondola up Whiteface Mountain for a magnificent view of Lake Placid. Such an easy way to relax and enjoy the scenery.
- Summer fun – In summer you’ll find all sorts of great ways to please the kids. There’s the Adventure Zone, Disc Golf, Airbag Free Fall just to name a few.
A Few Other Notable Things to Do in Lake Placid:
With all the lakes, it only stands to reason that there are tons of water activities. Check out Mirror Lake Boat Rentals to rent a kayak, stand up paddleboard, sail boat, paddle board, and more to enjoy a day on Mirror Lake. Then take a boat ride with Lake Placid Marina and Boat Tours. It is such a relaxing way to spend an hour and to enjoy the beauty and serenity of Lake Placid.
You have multiple options for hikes. You can do 1-2 hours, 2-4 hours, or take a hike up Mount Joand get a view of the High Peaks region. It’s steep, but not too difficult of climb and about 2.6 miles roundtrip. You can also just take a walk around the lake. It’s under 3 miles and then relax on the beach.
Be sure to check out the Adirondack Equine Center. It’s a great place for a horseback ride, if that’s your pleasure.
For those venturing to the area to ski or snowboard, you can enjoy Whiteface Mountain. Skiers at all proficiency levels will find the mountain to their liking. In fact, it offers the longest single intermediate run in the Northeast. And there’s a Just for Kids ski program or teens and adults lessons. The area also offers incredible cross-country skiing with its 50 km of Nordic trail.
You have several choices with Boots and Birdies Miniature Golf. If you just have to get in a round of miniature golf while you’re in town or need an activity for the kids, this might be your place. Besides, there’s also an ice cream parlor, bungy jumping, and a new Ropes Adventure Challenge Course. There’s also Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf. You can play an 18 hole round of mini golf inside an authentic, sleepy 18th century village with pirates to boot, matey.
Main Street offers many cute boutiques for browsing or spending some cash shopping. There’s also Palace Theater, if the weather’s bad or you just can’t wait to see the latest movie.
Perhaps you want to indulge in a spa treatment while you’re in town. Most of the big hotels, including Mirror Lake Inn, Whiteface Lodge, and High Peaks Resort have on,-site spas, while Lake Placid Lodge provides in-room massage treatments. There’s also Element Day Spa and Salon and Balanced Bodywork and Massage for just that, massages. Both are right on Main Street.
Boredom is something you will not experience on a Lake Placid NY vacation. Get out and enjoy some of these activities that you won’t find anyplace else. Most of all, just take in the beauty of the Adirondacks and the lakes.
Lake Placid Hotels
Lake Placid offers every conceivable type of lodging and for all budgets. While you will find many of the standard motels such as Quality Inn, Best Western, and Marriott, the area just begs staying in a more rustic, cabin-type luxury lodging and it won’t let you down. We have actually stayed at all but one of our recommendations.
Plus, I love that there are many pet-friendly lodging options, so we don’t also have to find a sitter if we want a spur-of-the-moment get away. Rooms at these Lake Placid hotels range from well under $200 a night to more than $800 at Lake Placid Lodge.
Whiteface Lodge is the epitome of what you think you’d find in a mountain resort. It’s a big, really pretty log cabin, filled with facilities and accommodations to go along with the exterior. The resort’s amenities are very good with a fitness center, large game room, spa with sauna and steam, nightly s’mores, heated pool, 2 hot tubs, fishing pond with gear, and movies and popcorn. The only downsides are you are a bit out of town so you have to drive everywhere and it doesn’t sit on the water. But, don’t let that deter you.
Mirror Lake Inn
This inn is close to town overlooking Mirror Lake. This is where we stayed most recently and had a beautiful view. While the rooms are clean and spacious, I have to say they are a bit tired. What it really has going for it is the location. You are right on the lake and just outside of town. So, you get the peace and quiet but can walk in for dinner, shopping, or a movie.
Lake Placid Lodge
Seriously, this has to be my favorite, with amazing views and breathtaking sunrises. You can stay in either the lodge or cabins; we have done both. The cabins are so cozy with a fireplace, amazingly comfortable bed, and a large soaking tub and the lodge sits right on the lake. While you do pay for all this beauty and luxury, there are tons of complementary water sports including kayaks, paddle boards, electric boats, and a twice-a-day special boat tour around the lake. The hotel staff also provide you with many extras, like free snacks, champagne on arrival, half bottle of wine in room, and cookies before bed. S’more fixings can even be delivered to your room.
Golden Arrow Lakeside
Located right downtown and on the water, Golden Arrow offers a private white sand beach and complimentary water sports including gondola rides. There is a variety of rooms including even several condos and rooms with kitchenettes. In winter, you can cross country ski in/ski out from the first floor rooms.
High Peaks Resort
This resort is actually 3 hotels in one: the Resort, the Lake House with its 60s vibe, and Waterfront. So, you have options, but all located in or close to town. It offers a full-service spa, fitness center, four pools, and both summer and winter equipment rentals.
And don’t forget you can always check out Cooperstown if you’re looking for a bit of baseball fun and want to extend the vacation!