Ah, the family retreat. After years of talking about it, the three generations of relatives scattered from California to South Carolina are finally going to get together. But a hotel in, say, Chicago, may lack the intimacy of a rented house in Colorado – which doesn’t appeal to the altitude averse 90-year-old paterfamilias. The family reunion conundrum is solved in the village of Lake Placid, which knows how to host any personality after staging the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Games. The cream of the crop when it comes to family reunion locations, it’s the jumping off point for adventures small and large and an intimate gathering spot that lets conversations flow as easily as the local waterfalls.
Where to Stay
Originally built by a German family in 1882, Lake Placid Lodge was once a private, rustic camp with twig-framed porches that opened to the public in grand style in 1946. After a massive fire in 2005, a team of architects and scores of local artisans rebuilt the lodge that stands today. Envision an arts-and-crafts Main Lodge surrounded by 17 cabins, all with wood-burning fireplaces and all overlooking Lake Placid – your ultimate family reunion rental as the entire property is available for reservation. In addition to having run of the property, a 35-foot mahogany Hacker-Craft offers tours of Lake Placid, and in-room massages and challenging Stave puzzles guarantee rainy-day good times.
Hiking Adirondack Park
Families looking to reunite with each other while reuniting with nature need look no farther than Adirondack Park just outside their door, where 6.1 million acres of protected land have 46 mountains more than 4,000 feet high, 10,000 lakes, 30,000 rivers and streams – and a total population of just 132,000 people. Baby Bjorn–wearing parents and octogenarians alike can get some of the best views by climbing up Cobble Hill, a 0.8-mile hike right in the village of Lake Placid. Or, tackle a section of the 125-mile Jackrabbit Trail and bring a picnic packed by the lodge.
Paddling Mirror Lake
This 122-acre lake, which serves as the centerpiece of Lake Placid, offers opportunities for every level of paddler: Sisters can try yoga on stand-up paddleboards, while the aunts and uncles take the little ones on a canoe ride. Mom and Dad, meanwhile, get to try out the kayaks, and everyone meets in the middle for a splash session.
Golfing the Lake Placid Club
Designed by renowned Scottish architect Seymour Dunn in 1909, the Lake Placid Club’s Links Course is one of three that brings families back into the swing of things. You’ll also find the tree-line, hilly Mountain Course, and the 1,519 Pristine Nine that has seven par-3s and two par-4s – perfect for the greenhorn on the greens.
Lunch & Games
Strike up a family-style tournament of billiards or over board games and puzzles offered in Maggie’s, Lake Placid Lodge’s classic wood-paneled pub. Traditional pub fare promises something for everyone, like grilled cheese or fish ‘n’ chips for the youngins and smoked trout rillettes for those with more mature palates.
Bobsledding the Olympic Track
Just imagine the smiles plastered across everyone’s face as they experience the g-forces of a real bobsled ride, complete with a professional driver and brakeman in the Lake Placid Bobsled Experience. Part of the Olympic Sports Complex, the experience allows adults and kids over 7 to ride walls of perpendicular ice and zigzag through some 20 turns at speeds up to 55 miles an hour with nothing more than centrifugal force keeping them on this track. A commemorative team photo, pins, and T-shirts are included, too.
Discovering a Swimming Hole
In this part of the US, few things spell summer like a dip in a hidden swimming hole, where blue-green water tumbles over rocks, and sunny banks provide ideal spots kicking back and catching up. The wide, flat, and safe waters of Marcy Field, between Keene Valley and Keene (roughly half-an-hour east of Lake Placid), create a refreshing place for toddlers and great-grandparents alike.
Visiting John Brown’s Body
It may sound morbid, but a family time-travel trip to 1859, when abolitionist John Brown was captured and hanged, is an off-the-beaten-path activity near Lake Placid and will open up the lyrics of the song “John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave.” The John Brown Farm State Historic Site offers guided tours and reenactments on a 244-acre farm in North Elba (just five miles south of the resort), peppered with historically preserved buildings.
Dinner Beside the Lake
There’s no better place to enjoy a family dinner than in one of the most celebrated restaurants in Lake Placid, the fire-lit Artisans restaurant that offers spectacular vistas of the lake and Whiteface Mountain. Inspired cuisine reflects the natural diversity and rich ingredients of the Adirondacks and features a daily changing four-course menu.