20 Things To Do In Lake Placid

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Lake Placid needs no introduction if you’re a sports fan, as it was where the famous “Miracle on Ice” happened, which saw the United States ice hockey team upset the Soviet Union to win the gold medal at the 1980 Winter Olympic Games. The only place in North America to have hosted two Winter Olympic Games, Lake Placid is a world-class town if you’re an avid outdoor explorer, with dozens of mountain peaks, lakes, ski slopes, hiking trails and gorges to discover and enjoy.

Known for its scenic lakefront views, surrounding Adirondack Peaks and ski slopes, Lake Placid is fairly compact and low-key, enthralling visitors with one-of-a-kind attractions to experience that include the Lake Placid Olympic Museum, the John Brown Farm State Historic Site and the Wild Center. These are the best things to do in Lake Placid.

Lake Placid, New York

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20 Things To Do In Lake Placid

1- Tour The Lake Placid Olympic Museum

welcome to lake placid sign, site of the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Winter Games
As the site of two Olympic winter games, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Lake Placid.

With one of the largest collections of Winter Olympic memorabilia in North America, the Lake Placid Olympic Museum is one of upstate New York’s most popular museums and draws over 35,000 visitors every year.

The museum was established in 1994 by the State of New York in honour and celebration of Lake Placid’s two successful attempts at hosting the Winter Olympic Games, the first being in 1932 and the second being the famous 1980 games.

The Lake Placid Olympic Museum is filled with all sorts of interesting exhibits and displays which sports fans can soak up, with some of the centre’s most popular being the goal of the famous “Miracle on Ice” hockey game and the “Fram III” bobsled from the 1932 games.

The Lake Placid Olympic Museum is at 2634 Main St, Lake Placid, NY 12946.

2- Stop By The Lake Placid Olympic Ski Jumping Complex

olympic stamp 15c 1980
Many things to do in Lake Placid revolve around the Olympics and winter sports.

One of Lake Placid’s most recognisable landmarks is the Lake Placid Olympic Ski Jumping Complex, the setting of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games’ ski jumping events.

The complex opened in 1931 and features two ski jumps, one 100 meters tall and the other a whopping 128 meters, with the tallest of the two now operating as a sky deck where visitors can enjoy uninterrupted panoramic views across Lake Placid.

The ski jumping complex also played host to the 1950 World Championships as well as multiple FISU Winter World University Games and World Cups, making it one of the most prestigious wintertime sporting venues in North America.

The Lake Placid Olympic Ski Jumping Complex is at 5486 Cascade Rd, Lake Placid, NY 12946.

3- Visit The John Brown Farm State Historic Site

In the foothills of the mighty Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York is the John Brown Farm State Historic Site, the former home and final resting place of abolitionist John Brown.

Brown arrived on this 270-acre (109 ha) farmstead in 1849 to teach farming techniques to a group of local African Americans, establishing in the process one of the highest elevated farms in the State of New York.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1998, the farm is a tour-able museum where visitors can learn more about Brown’s Civil War anti-slavery movements.

The John Brown Farm State Historic Site is at 115 John Brown Rd, Lake Placid, NY 12946.

4- Go Kayaking Or Ice Skating Atop Mirror Lake

Covering an area of roughly 124 acres (50 ha), Mirror Lake is a large freshwater body of water that’s as much a popular canoeing and kayaking spot during summertime as it is an ice skating and skiing spot through winter.

The lake is named for its shiny surface, which almost perfectly reflects the peaks of the surrounding Adirondack Mountains, giving the lake the appearance of a mirror.

Free for all to enjoy, the lake serves as a backdrop to the wintertime sporting epicentre that is Lake Placid and is among the top outdoor attractions in upstate New York.

5- Stop By The Speed Skating Oval

Officially known as the “James B. Sheffield Olympic Skating Rink”, the former Olympic Speed Skating Oval in downtown Lake Placid is an outdoor sports complex which hosted all speed skating events of both the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games.

The arena was completed in 1931 and opened in time for the 1932 games with an official seating capacity of 7,500, with the oval even hosting the occasional hockey match in addition to exhilarating ice skating action.

Now open to the public as a regular ice skating rink, the oval’s most notable moment came during the 1980 Winter Olympic Games when American speed skating sensation Eric Heiden won a total of five gold medals at the oval.

The Speed Skating Oval is at 2634 Main St, Lake Placid, NY 12946.

6- Explore The Wild Center

Opened in 2006 as the “Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks”, the Wild Center is a popular outdoor attraction near Lake Placid where visitors can discover a wide selection of topics related to natural history.

The venue is spread out across an area of over 115 acres (47 ha) and makes use of a series of indoor and outdoor galleries and exhibition areas to better educate visitors about the Adirondacks’ native animal species and unique ecosystem.

A finalist in the 2015 edition of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the Wild Center boasts a network of hiking trails to explore as well as live animal exhibits.

The Wild Center is at 45 Museum Dr, Tupper Lake, NY 12986.

7- Plan A Trip To Ausable Chasm

waterfalls in ausable chasm
Exploring Ausable Chasm is one of the things to do near Lake Placid.

Ausable Chasm is a large sandstone gorge about 36 miles (58 km) outside central Lake Placid that’s well worth the short drive. 

Carved by the Ausable River as it makes its way to Lake Champlain, the chasm is near the small New York town of Keeseville and is among the oldest natural attractions in the United States.

You can explore the chasm by boat or along a network of pathways, or if you’re feeling adventurous, attempt to scale the gorge’s near-vertical cliffs for a one-of-a-kind upstate New York outdoor adventure.

8- Get Your Adrenaline Fix At The Bobsled and Luge Complex

Sprawled out across the slopes of Mount Van Hoevenberg is the Bobsled and Luge Complex, the hosting place of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games’ bobsledding and luge events.

The complex was completed in 1930 and designed by renowned German bobsled track designer Stanislaus Sentzytsky, who in the process created one of the fastest and most challenging bobsledding courses in the world.

Covering an area of about 24 acres (9 ha), the complex is today a tourist attraction which thrill-seeking visitors can fly down in an enclosed bobsled accompanied by an experienced brakeman and driver for the ultimate Lake Placid Olympic experience.

The Bobsled and Luge Complex is at 31 Van Hoevenberg Way, Lake Placid, NY 12946.

9- Trek To The Top Of Mount Jo

Nestled in the proverbial heart of the Adirondack Mountains is Mount Jo, an eye-catching mountain peak that rises to an elevation of about 2,832 feet (863 m).

Mount Jo is situated on land managed by the Adirondack Mountain Club near North Elba, about 7 miles (11 km) south of Lake Placid, and was named by Henry Van Hovenberg in honour of his fiancée Josephine Schofield in 1877.

Renowned for its short but steep ascent and scenic freshwater lakes at its foothills, Mount Jo is a popular outdoor landmark that dazzles nature lovers with spectacular vantage points of upstate New York stretching as far as the eye can see.

10- Relive The Events Of That Fateful Night At The Herb Brooks Arena

The 7,700-seat Herb Brooks Arena in downtown Lake Placid played host one of the Winter Olympic Games’ most memorable moment, the famous “Miracle on Ice” hockey game that saw the United States defeat the Soviet Union with a score of 4-3.

The event thrust Lake Placid and the arena into fame and stardom overnight, which led to the arena being renamed in honour of Herb Brooks, who coached the US to victory that night, in 2005 during the game’s 25th anniversary.

Still used regularly for professional and amateur hockey games, the arena is a great place to catch a hockey game in Lake Placid and certainly one of the most storied venues in all of American sports.

The Herb Brooks Arena is at 2634 Main St, Lake Placid, NY 12946.

11- Go Hiking Along High Falls Gorge

things to do lake placid high gorge
Hiking High Gorge is one of the top things to do around Lake Placid.

Named “The Ancient Valley of Foaming Water” by Native Americans, the outdoor attraction that’s today better known as High Falls Gorge is a series of stunning waterfalls cascading down a craggy crevice about 7 miles (11 km) outside downtown Lake Placid.

The falls are within a 22-acre (9 ha) park along the foothills of Whiteface Mountain and have garnered quite the reputation as a tourist attraction in the region thanks to its thick surrounding forest and dramatic appearance.

Easy to explore and enjoy thanks to an accessible and beginner-friendly trail which passes right by the falls, High Falls Gorge is always worth checking out when travelling around upstate New York.

High Falls Gorge is at 4761 NY-86, Wilmington, NY 12997.

12- Spend An Afternoon At Country Dreams Farm

misty scene in the countryside around lake placid
Visiting the surrounding countryside is one of the popular things to do near Lake Placid.

In the New York town of Plattsburgh about 48 miles (77 km) outside Lake Placid, Country Dreams Farm is a unique working farm experience and tourist attraction rolled into one.

The farm got its start back in 1993 as an entertainment space with a corn maze, a petting zoo, pumpkin patches, wagon rides and many more fun farm activities.

Well worth checking out when travelling northeast from Lake Placid, the farm is open summer through winter and can easily be combined with a visit to the nearby Ausable Chasm for an adventurous afternoon day trip from downtown Lake Placid.

Country Dreams Farm is at 260 Pellerin Rd, Plattsburgh, NY 12901.

13- Hop Aboard The Adirondack Railroad

Formerly known as the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, the newly renamed Adirondack Railroad is a popular sightseeing adventure which runs through some of upstate New York’s most breathtaking landscapes.

The railroad follows the tracks of the former New York Central Railroad, stopping by several other New York towns along the way including Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake.

The entire journey takes about two hours to complete and makes use of vintage New York carriages to treat passengers to a once-in-a-lifetime train journey through the Empire State’s majestic Adirondack Mountains.

14- Go Skiing At Whiteface Mountain

Widely regarded as one of the East Coast’s best skiing and snowboarding destinations, Whiteface Mountain is a hub for a variety of wintertime activities and is situated just 13 miles (21 km) outside downtown Lake Placid near the town of Wilmington.

Recognised as the fifth tallest peak in the Empire State and a member of the Adirondacks’ High Peaks, Whiteface Mountain’s 4,867-foot-tall (1,483 m) summit treats outdoor enthusiasts to majestic views across upstate New York, Vermont and even Canada.

The mountain’s adjacent ski resort allows visitors to hitch a gondola ride to the mountain’s summit as well as ski and snowboard down some 91 ski runs, some of which were even used during the Winter Olympics of 1932 and 1980.

15- Swing By The Lake Placid Center for the Arts

The Lake Placid Center for the Arts is among the finest venues in the region for enjoying visual and performing arts, hosting art exhibitions, concerts and productions since opening back in 1972.

The centre organises workshops and art classes where visitors can learn the basics of theatre, painting, sculpting, drawing, dancing and filmmaking, as well as tour the venue’s two permanent art galleries.

The Lake Placid Center for the Arts is at 17 Algonquin Dr, Lake Placid, NY 12946.

16- Explore The Brewster Peninsula Nature Trails

The Brewster Peninsula Nature Trails is a series of four hiking pathways situated on a scenic peninsula along Lake Placid where outdoor lovers can enjoy the picturesque surroundings of this idyllic Olympic town without breaking too much of a sweat.

The trails are mostly flat and fairly easy to navigate, passing by several species of native plant and animal life as the trails loop around the peninsula.

What initially started as little more than a satellite of the Lake Placid Center for the Arts has developed into a prestigious downtown Lake Placid art institution known as Gallery 46, an exhibition space for art and artists related to New York’s Adirondacks.

The gallery displays a vast and ever-expanding collection of visual arts mediums such as jewellery, paintings, metalwork and many more one-of-a-kind art pieces in a fairly intimate venue that’s mere steps away from downtown’s biggest attractions.

Gallery 46 is at 2525 Main St, Lake Placid, NY 12946.

18- Enjoy A Challenging Climb At Algonquin Peak

Boasting a summit that rises to an elevation of about 5,114 feet (1,559 m), Algonquin Peak is the second tallest mountain peak in New York State and a world-class outdoor attraction to boot.

The peak is situated just 8 miles (13 km) south of downtown Lake Placid and forms part of the Adirondack Mountains’ MacIntyre Range.

Known as a fairly challenging hike to the summit, Algonquin Peak’s network of trailheads certainly aren’t for the fainthearted, however, those who successfully reach the top will be amazed by the incredible uninterrupted views of upstate New York and Lake Placid.

19- Drive Along NY 431

fall colours in wilmington notch
Leaf peeping in the fall around Wilmington Notch is one of the things to do from Lake Placid.

New York State Route 431, better known simply as NY 431, is a scenic 8-mile-long (13 km) stretch of road that’s a renowned tourist attraction due to its stunning views of Whiteface Mountain and the surrounding Adirondacks.

The route stretches from Wilmington to the foothills of Whiteface Mountain and the mountain’s ski resort and was the brainchild of local businessman Marcellus Leonard during the late 1800s.

NY 431 was officially completed in 1935 and has since garnered fame throughout the Northeast as a scenic roadway, even earning a spot in the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.

20- Explore Charming Downtown Lake Placid

Despite hosting 2 Winter Olympic Games, Lake Placid remains a small town with great character and history, making it a fun place to stroll through while uncovering all the secret spots and local hangouts in its compact downtown district.

Downtown Lake Placid is a destination that’s known throughout upstate New York thanks to its buzzing restaurant scene and retail options, which combined with the city’s magical aura and stunning natural views make downtown Lake Placid among the region’s top places to discover.

Among the many great attractions worth visiting in downtown Lake Placid are the Lake Placid Olympic Museum, the Herb Brooks Arena, the Speed Skating Oval and Gallery 46, all adding to the appeal of this legendary wintertime sporting town.

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Mark Westwood is a Seattle-based writer who writes for various online blogs and travel websites. In 2017, he went on a 12-month road trip across the USA visiting many iconic landmarks and small towns along the way. Having explored over 20 countries, his favourite places to date are along the west coast of the USA but he is happiest anywhere where there are mountains and ocean.