Most northern tourist towns close up shop when the snow begins to fall, but that is when Lake Placid really comes alive. Steeped in winter Olympic tradition (the little alpine village has hosted not one, but two winter Olympic games – one in 1932, the other in 1980), the best athletes in the US and Canada flock to the area for competitions for everything from Nordic skiing to hockey to dogsled racing. And with the PyeonChang Winter Games right around the corner, Lake Placid is a natural hotspot, pulling out all the stops with a monthlong celebration that started February 1 with the opening ceremony of the Empire State Winter Games. But that’s far from all you can expect during this exciting time of year.
Activities & Attractions
Enjoy the Main Street Olympic Bonanza
For the month of February (starting on the 9th, to coincide with the opening ceremony of the Games), Lake Placid’s one-mile Main Street is decorated in red, white, and blue; welcome flags; and cardboard cutouts of famous Adirondack Olympians. Adjacent to the iconic Olympic Center in downtown, there will also be a mini-Olympic Village, replete with a Jumbotron to watch all the action overseas, live music, and food trucks. Then, throughout downtown, expect local eateries to be tuned into the events as they sling Olympic-themed deals and drinks. One stop to definitely check out: The Cottage Restaurant and Café. Owned by the family of the now three-time Olympian Andrew Weibrecht, this Mirror Lake–front restaurant will be cheering on its beloved ski racer (who will be competing in Super G at PyeonChang) on one of several large projectors, as well as serving a specialty drink called “The War Horse,” Weibrecht’s nickname.
Race Across Mirror Lake
Once Mirror Lake, the tranquil body of water that the town of Lake Placid centers around, freezes over, thrill-seekers of all ages can take advantage of a unique sliding experience: The Lake Placid Toboggan Chute. After pulling an old-fashioned sled up a 30-foot-high converted ski jump trestle, you’ll tuck your feet for a front-row seat to whiz more than 1,000 feet, skittering across the frozen surface of Mirror Lake. Open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, the lines for this only $10 experience can often be long, so plan to go during the 4 to 7 p.m. window on Friday for the shortest wait.
Spot an Unexpected Visitor
When birders look back on the winter of 2018, it will be as the “winter of the snowy owl” in the Adirondacks. The giant predator, rarely seen in the lower 48, has flocked to area in historic and unprecedented numbers creating mayhem at airports and delighting Harry Potter fans. One such place they’ve been spotted locally: The Craig Wood Golf Course, reminiscent of their home in the arctic tundra. Take a causal cross-country ski climb (either at daybreak or dusk when they are more likely to be active) up River Road to Craig Wood Golf Course and keep your eyes peeled as you descend into Cascade Ski Center’s groomed Nordic trails.
Lake Placid favorite Big Slide Brewery has a constantly rotating selection of 10 taps. This time of year, however, expect to see some of their classic cold-weather staples, including Scully’s Smoked Porter (with applewood smoked barley and chocolate malts) and the unique Hot Pepper Pale Ale, brewed with 15 pounds of chopped poblano peppers and two pounds of fresh jalapeños.
Join a Local Pickup Game
Lake Placid Lodge has skates in all sizes for guests to borrow for pickup hockey games on Mirror Lake. Kid-friendly games are usually held midday or after school, while the adults take over later in the morning or wait until later to hit the ice. Just be conscious of dogsled mushers giving locals and visitors rides up and down the lake.
Stretches with Wolves
Wednesday nights from now until March 28, the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge Center in Wilmington, just over 15 miles from the Lodge, hosts Yoga With the Wolves. An instructor guides yogis of all skill levels through meditative movements, followed by a meet and greet of the center’s majestic wolves, Kiska, Cree, and Zeebie.
Festivals & Events
Lake Placid Freestyle Nor-Ams, 2/17–2/18
The best skiers in the US and Canada race down the slope at the Olympic Jumping Complex, then flip and spin across the distance of a football field. Get in early to watch the competitors – some who will go onto qualify for possible starts in US World Cups – practice and train in preparation.
The last stop of the traveling Team USA WinterFest tour will be in Lake Placid at the Olympic Skating Oval, where Olympians Jim Craig (hockey), Meryl Davis (figure skating), Vonetta Flowers (bobsled & skeleton), Eric Heiden (speedskating), and Charlie White (figure skating) will host a meet and greet with fans. Other interactive highlights include sport demos, curling challenges, and bobsledding, as well as a concert by Third Eye Blind at 7 p.m. at the Olympic Jumping Complex.
Snommegang Lake Placid, 3/3
Cooperstown, New York’s iconic Brewery Ommegang comes to town to host their annual beer festival. More than 30 of the nation’s best craft brewers, like Allagash, Jack’s Abbey, and Two Roads, come together for four hours of sampling, live music, and gourmet hors d’oeuvres against the breathtaking backdrop of Lake Placid.
35th Annual Loppet, 3/17
One of the only races of its kind in the US, this citizens cross-country ski race features athletes from the US and Canada who compete in two distance races – 25 or 50 kilometers – on the Olympic trails on Mt. Van Hoevenberg.
Taste of Maple Weekend, 3/25-3/26
During this sweet weekend event, Lake Placid’s Uihlein Forest conducts tours of its sugarhouse, while the downtown Conference Center hosts local maple producers showcasing their products and processes. Expect maple-based cuisine, beer, and spirits, as well as live music and a maple syrup–tasting competition.
Where to Stay Lake Placid Lodge