If your gang of friends prefers cooler temps, fiery colors, and active adventures, look no further than a getaway together to Lake George in the fall.
Autumn always come early – and lasts longer – in the Adirondacks. Boasting one of the longest fall foliage seasons in the country, this region is home to one of the nation’s most striking displays of rolling landscapes ablaze in yellows, oranges, and reds. In fact, Lake George is like ground zero for this explosion of color, with an abundance of things to do – like hot-air balloon fests and foliage-themed photography tours – that make a trip during this unique season one your friends and family will never forget.
Where to Stay
Modeled after a Victorian Adirondack “camp,” the historic and magnificent Sagamore Resort features almost 400 rooms and suites surrounded by tennis courts, pools, fine dining, and some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the country. While every accommodation offers first-class luxury, for groups really looking to soak in those Lake George fall views, book the resort’s Wapanak Castle. This 2,000-square-foot, six-bedroom home located next to the historic hotel features five gas fireplaces – ideal for chilly fall evenings – and a deck that overlooks Lake George mirroring the colorful foliage.
Kick Start Your Morning
There’s nothing like a hot cup of coffee on a cool fall morning – and a pretty cup of coffee to boot. Ten miles south of the resort, Caffe Vero is manned exclusively by foam artisans – baristas who have mastered the standard latte designs of ferns, feathers, and hearts and elevated their repertoire to include teddy bears, puppies, and elephants. Even Attila the Hun has found himself recreated in one of their mugs. While their coffee is, quite literally, a work of art, it isn’t the only reason they have won a Tripadvisor “Award for Excellence” the last five years running. They are also a local favorite for breakfast and lunch with staples like French toast made from homemade bread and omelets and sandwiches like reubens, rachels, and turkey melts.
Hike through the Colors
The best time to hike Cat Mountain, a popular trail in Bolton Landing, is in the fall. Why? Because the 3.5-mile ascent is shrouded in a thick colorful forest of maples, oaks, and birches. Once you do reach the 1,956-foot summit, you’re treated to the best view of southern Lake George and its rolling sea of fiery reds and oranges, from the Tongue Mountain Range to the north to Buck Mountain in the south. Have The Sagamore pack your group one of its picnic baskets to lay out at the top.
Cruising in Vintage Style
Departing from the Sagamore’s dock at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., The Morgan is a 72-foot replica of a nineteenth-century touring vessel that takes guests on complimentary hour-and-a-half-long tours northward on the lake. After navigating the Narrows, the brown and green two-level ship heads to the less populated areas for unobstructed and all-natural views of the fiery Adirondacks. Take photos from the sun deck or sip on bloody Marys in the warmth of the enclosed lower deck. Larger parties can even rent out The Morgan for longer, catered tours.
Riding the Wind
On September 21–24, 2017, the Adirondack Balloon Festival celebrates its 45th anniversary, where more than 100 balloons take to the sky from the Floyd Bennett Memorial airport in Queensbury, just 15 minutes south of Lake George. After watching these colorful giants take off, wander around the Zonta Craft Fair located on the grounds and featuring one-of-a-kind art and sculptural items – a portion of proceeds go to supporting local scholarships and service projects. Or, for something a bit more heart-pounding, take off with the balloons by booking a private charter with one of the participating pilots and see the foliage from above.
Italian Al Fresco
Thanks to a smattering of heat lamps, guests can still dine on the outdoor slate patio of The Sagamore’s La Bella Vita – in view of the southern exposure of Lake George – even when the temps begin to drop. Might we suggest their halibut served over taglioni or the salmon florentine.
Fall Foliage Tour
When the leaves begin to turn, local Lake George photographer, Carl Heilman II, starts offering his Fall Nature Photography Tours. This day-long workshop begins with a brief introduction to shooting landscapes before taking students to a handful of Lake George locations, including scenic outlooks, village parks, and shoreline vistas to practice capturing light and location in a spectrum of settings. By the time night falls, everyone has professional-level shots of the lake, waterfalls, and all of the majesty of the Adirondacks in autumn.