The focus of a pre-Christmas trip to Lake Placid, New York shifted quickly from skiing at the famed Whiteface Mountain to enjoying a multitude of other things that the quaint town has to offer upon seeing the weather forecast. It called for decent enough temperatures, but unfortunately a rain and ice mix that was to last for the duration of the trip.
Lake Placid is keenly known for its copious winter activities – from dogsledding, skiing (of course), ice climbing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling – however, there is still so much to do in the town even without ideal weather conditions.
With half of my travelling group coming from Toronto and the other from Ottawa, it makes for a idyllic winter vacation spot.
Here are the top three things to do in Lake Placid (even if the weather is less than stellar):
No. 3 – Explore Lake Placid’s main street
If you’re not there to ski, then Lake Placid’s main street is where you’ll spend most of your time. Between quaint markets, local shops and brand name retailers’ outlet stores, you can easily spend an afternoon or two just wandering the strip. There is also a classic movie theatre showing a few (modern) movies a day. It is almost as if you’ve come back in time.
While walking, you can’t help but pause and take a few photos of Mirror Lake. It’s all part of the picturesque Lake Placid experience, and you have a nearly unobstructed view of the lake as you traverse Main St.
No. 2 – Take in Lake Placid’s Olympic history
Lake Placid hosted both the 1932 and 1980 games (including the ‘Miracle on Ice’ hockey match between the U.S. and the Soviet Union in the latter, a game that Sports Illustrated dubbed The Greatest Moment in Sports for the 20th Century). Remnants of both those Olympic games are prominent on the streets and in the shops of Lake Placid’s main drag. It gives the town some character and is a fun reason to explore. Most of the excitement can be found on Whiteface Mountain, but in downtown Lake Placid you can head to Herb Brooks Arena – where the Miracle on Ice occurred – and have a free skate (not actually ‘free’, it’s $8 for two hours) on the outdoor Olympic oval. You can also check out the Lake Placid Olympic museum or go down the bobsled track.
No. 1 – Fine dining and finer drinking
There are so many great places to eat and drink in Lake Placid with endless choices of cuisine and price ranges. There are suitable establishments for families, for couples, or for friends. A few of my “must-tries” include:
Wyatt’s Tex-Mex — You’re probably thinking there’s no way you could find decent Tex-Mex this far north, but Wyatt challenges that. The burrito was one of the best I’ve ever had, anywhere. The quesadillas are baked fresh and were met with no comments from my dining companions. Why? Because they were too busy enjoying the cheesy, meaty, fresh veggie concoction. It’s a hole-in-the-wall spot with only enough room inside for eight to 10 diners, but it’s worth it. And sometimes, aren’t spots like that the best?
Delta Blue — It’s a street-level restaurant in the Northwoods Inn, and it came with an interesting story. It’s a southern-style restaurant with items like alligator(!) if you’re brave enough to try. A very solid place for a snack like wings or nachos and a beer, with multiple local beers on tap (and even Molson Canadian, if you just can’t stand to try something new). It’s a comfortable setting with live music and a handful of televisions. The bartender – who I believe is also part owner – is filled with stories and good cheer.
Lisa G’s — It’s also down the main street past the outdoor Olympic oval and the owner, Lisa, is as fun and quirky as the menu. I really liked the saying that Lisa G’s had typed on their menu: “that place where locals hang out and out-of-towners flock to enjoy great food and drink in a relaxed atmosphere with a tab that won’t break the bank.” I don’t think I could have said it better myself.
Lake Placid Pub & Brewery — It’s designed in an old church, and this multi-tiered brewpub has been getting glowing reviews from publications like the New York Times and USA Today, along with visitors and residents of Lake Placid for almost 20 years. The food was amazing, and the local beers were fresh and top-notch. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention anything about the desserts. I had a slice of their delicate, rich and decadent chocolate cheesecake that is infused with their famous Ubu Ale. The highlight for many is the tableside s’mores. I can think of few things better après-ski (or shopping, or sightseeing) than that. You’ll just have to try them.