The Original Winter Wonderland
Lake Placid offers honeymooners everything from exciting winter sports to warm fireplaces perfect for romance.
Placid is more than a place name. It’s the way you feel when you get your first glimpse of icy lakes glistening like glass and mountain peaks cloaked in fresh snow. At first, you might be tempted to snuggle up next to a blazing fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate or hot buttered rum and take in the postcard view. But resist the impulse or you might miss all the fun.
In the northeast corner of New York State, Lake Placid is part of the 6 million-acre Adirondack Park. Within its boundaries are 30,000 miles of streams, 1,000 miles of rivers, 3,000 ponds and lakes, 2,000 miles of trails and 46 high peaks that rise above 4,000 feet. Half the park has been designated by the government as public “forever wild” land.
Snow comes early to the area, and with it a wide variety of opportunities to make the most of the mountains. Lake Placid was the site of two Winter Olympic games, the first in 1932, the other in 1980, so the village and environs are set up for serious cold weather fun.
You don’t have to be a medal contender to take on Whiteface Mountain (518-523-2223, whitefacelakeplacid.com) in Wilmington, about seven miles northeast of Lake Placid. Scene of the alpine events of the 1980 Olympics, 2000 Winter Goodwill Games, the World Cup skiing and snowboarding competitions and, coming February, the World Championship in luge, bobsled and skeleton, Whiteface has the highest ski elevation and greatest vertical drop east of the Rockies. Even beginners can navigate the slopes. A one-day pass costs $67. Lessons are available.
Take a cross-country tour with a guide from Cascade Ski Center (518-523-9605, www.cascadeski.com) or opt for a nighttime trek on lighted trails complete with bonfire, hot dogs, hot chocolate, beer and a live band.
Tube down the slopes at Mount Pisgah (518-891-4150, $5 per hour) in Saranac Lake, which is less than a 10-minute drive west of Lake Placid. If you’ve ever wondered how it feels to pilot a luge, find out at the Olympic Sports Center ($30 per person). You can also take a one-hour drive through 12 miles of private Christmas tree farm and pine forest with Lake Placid Snowmobiling (518-523-3596, $95 for two).
Take a turn on the toboggan run on Main Street (518-523-2591), which will send you hurtling from a 50-foot tower at 40 miles per hour, 1,000 feet across Mirror Lake. Ride to your heart’s content for $5.
When Mirror Lake freezes over, it’s ice skating time. It’s free and there are lights for nighttime. Or you can follow in the tracks of five gold medal-winner Eric Heiden at the Olympic Speed Skating Oval on Main Street.
Snuggle up under a blanket for an after-dark horse-drawn sleigh ride for two along lantern-lit roads (518-561-8941, whinny.org, $150 per couple). Mush across Mirror Lake in the village of Lake Placid by day with Thunder Mountain Dog Sled Tours (518-891-6239, $6 to $12 per person).
Take to the sky with Adirondack Flying Service (518-523-2473, flyanywhere.com) to get an unparalleled view of the High Peaks ($35 per person). Get a close-up of the local flora and fauna at The Wild Center (45 Museum Drive, Tupper Lake, 518-359-7800, wildcenter.org, $15), as well as a glacial wall and indoor forest and river.
The wild beauty of Adirondack Park has attracted numerous artists, many of whom have established their studios at Saranac Lake. They display and sell their work at The Adirondack Artists’ Guild (52 Main St., Lake Saranac, 518-891-2615, adirondackartistsguild.com).
More than 300 artisans are represented at the Adirondack Craft Center (2114 Saranac Lake Ave., Lake Placid, 518-523-2062, adirondackcraftcenter.com). You’ll find 4,000 square feet filled with collections of handmade jewelry, baskets, quilts and furniture. Watch glassblowers at work and taste local wines from Goose Watch Winery at the Alpine Mall on Lake Placid’s Main Street. And check out big discounts on designer clothing along Main Street.
After a day of outdoor play, head for Mirror Lake Inn and Resort (77 Mirror Lake Drive, Lake Placid, 518-523-2344, mirrorlakeinn.com) for his and hers spa treatments followed by a candlelight dinner at The View, the inn’s upscale restaurant overlooking the water. Recent offerings on the seasonal menu have included osso bucco Milanese and escolar (white tuna) paired with shrimp, sweet corn pudding and pasilla pepper buerre blanc. (Entrées range from $22.50 to $42.) For a real culinary adventure, try the five-course tasting menu ($75 with three wines, $110 with five). The View is also the perfect place to start the day. It serves breakfast specialties such as raspberry-macadamia nut flapjacks with white chocolate sauce and toasted coconut ($5.75 to $12.95).
A less formal favorite of Lake Placid locals is cozy Caffee Rustica (211 Saranac Ave., 518-523-7511), which features wood-fired pizzas ($11 to $12) and entrées such as roasted pork loin bracciole stuffed with arugula and gorgonzola. Entrées range from $15 to $31.
The Brown Dog Café and Wine Bar (3 Main St., 518-523-3036) is a New York-style deli that specializes in designer sandwiches ($6.50 to $9.95) and a great wines by the glass. There’s also the Lake Placid Brewery (813 Mirror Lake Drive, 518-523-3813) with its brick and fireplace setting, Irish pub menu ($8.95 to $16.95), and signature beers including Ubu English Ale (named for a beloved chocolate lab), 46’ers pale ale (in honor of hikers who scale all of the area’s peaks) and seasonal selections.
Return to Mirror Lake Inn for a comfy night in one of its water-view rooms or suites ($305 to $1,200). All accommodations have an Old World ambiance. Some have fireplaces and Jacuzzis big enough to share. The Romance Package includes three nights in a whirlpool suite, breakfast, candlelight dinner, spa service, flowers and more for $2,875 to $3,195.
The Interlaken Inn (39 Interlaken Ave., Lake Placid, 800-428-4369, theinterlakeninn.com) is another romantic hideaway, a restored Victorian home built in 1912. The Cottage House features antique pine furnishings, living room with fireplace, dinette, and second floor with rattan king bed and private deck ($320). The Equestrian Suite has a double Jacuzzi. Suites range from $225 to $250.
The Saranac Club and Inn (371 Park Ave., Lake Saranac, 518-891-7212) combines the rustic feel of the Adirondacks with modern amenities ($109 to $189 for rooms, $139 to $229 for suites). Suites have fireplaces. Breakfast is included.
In early February, don’t miss the Saranac Winter Carnival (518-891-1990, saranaclake.com), 10 days of parades, sporting activities, dames, dances, musical and dance performances, and, of course, fireworks. The highlight feature is the Ice Palace, a giant castle made from blocks of ice cemented with slush and adorned with 100 colored bulbs. It’s a fantastic place to smooch your groom.