We were hosted by Lake Placid Tourism while staying in the area. Accommodations and attractions were provided in exchange for media coverage. My opinion is my own and it is truthful.
With an extremely walkable Main Street area and majestic mountain views, there really are no bad places to stay in Lake Placid. This past winter we had the chance to visit Lake Placid for the first time ever. While we have been to Vermont many times, nearby Lake Placid was not on our radar as a ski destination until recently. Here’s why it should be top of mind next ski season if you are an outdoor loving family or couple.
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Where to Start in Lake Placid
If you are frugal travellers like we are then you will most definitely want to consider a stay at Placid Bay Hotel.
Newly renovated, Lake Placid Bay Hotel overlooking the majestic Whiteface Mountain has some of the most spectacular views you can find. From the hotel, it’s just a short drive to the Main Street, where the restaurants and museums along Mirror Lake beckon tourists. Check in to Placid Bay Hotel and drive to one of the restaurants on Main Street for dinner, but you might want to check ahead and make reservations. In fact, that’s one of my biggest takeaways after visiting during ski season. If you have a specific restaurant or dining experience in mind, plan to make reservations so that you won’t be disappointed. We visited in peak ski season in February near President’s Week and we encountered many long lineups at dinner time.
Placid Bay Hotel
Placid Bay Hotel has a roaring campfire pit with comfortable Adirondack chairs overlooking a smaller lake where at night you can tuck in and grab a s’mores kit to enjoy together as dessert. Skiing, after all, or hiking in the summer season, takes serious fuel. This was one of the first times we had separate rooms which were clear across the hotel parking lot and that was a change for our family. With younger kids we’d never have risked that distance but it works when you have independent teens or young adults accompanying you, plus ability to text or call made us all feel fine about staying in touch. Our kids both had spring break time so they came along for the skiing and also so we could tag a little Vermont and Boston onto the end of our adventure.
Day One in Lake Placid
Listen, if skiing was the sole goal of our trip to Lake Placid, we’d have had no issues at all spending all day every day at Whiteface Mountain. High in the Adirondacks, the skiing is exceptional. We will return as soon as the snow flies again.
A seven-to-eight-hour drive from southern Ontario, Lake Placid is perfect for skiers. Whiteface Mountain is paradise with the greatest vertical drop east of the Rockies and challenging lovely long runs. Take Cloudsplitter gondola to the summit and chase your favourite ski buddy down until your legs quit.
- Whiteface has 90 trails
- 11 Lifts
- 13 miles from Lake Placid
- 1,483 metres elevation
The trails are long and Whiteface felt challenging for us even as intermediate skiers with almost a decade of skiing under our belts. International events have carved Whiteface into a leading ski destination and recent innovations in sustainable snowmaking, lighting, trail grooming and more make this a trip you can also feel good about making.
While we often pack our own snacks to eat on the hill and to avoid expensive lunches in cafeterias at chalets, this time we decide to sample the chalet food. You can see below how much my kids enjoyed the local snacks.
There’s a wide assortment of food, from sandwiches to Asian cuisine and local pop shop kind of pops that will fuel a few more runs from top to bottom. Note: Whiteface doesn’t do night skiing so do not waste too much time eating or drinking or you might miss out.
The Newly Renovated Olympic Museum
After a gorgeous blue-sky day of skiing Whiteface Mountain, it was time to visit the Olympic Centre starting at the newly renovated Olympic Museum. With the largest exhibit of Olympic torches in the world and a story that begins in 1920 with the first Lake Placid Olympics, the Olympic Museum is inspiring and an impressive marriage of history and technology. Newly renovated and reimagined, the Olympic Museum reopened in December 2022. The Lake Placid Olympic Museum is an immersive learning experience featuring athlete stories, hands on exhibits and engaging displays. It is impossible to not be inspired when you visit.
Maybe, just like me, you remember relatives travelling to Lake Placid shortly after the 1980 winter Olympics or watching the Olympics on TV as a kid, cheering athletes on, celebrating Miracle on Ice, one of the biggest moments in US sport history. But did you know that Lake Placid also hosted the third ever winter Olympics in 1932? Back when the Olympics were barely even a concept, Lake Placid vied for the Winter Olympics and won. Olympic history runs deep in Lake Placid, baked into every corner, street sign and landmark.
James C. Sheffield Speedskating Oval
Once you’ve had your fill of the Museum, check out the Olympic arena and the 1980 Olympic ice rink. Pop by the James C. Sheffield Speedskating Oval where the 1932 Opening Ceremonies were held and keep your eyes peeled for athletes currently training there.
n the winter, on Mirror Lake, you can try out dog sledding before shopping for souvenirs or breaking for food in one of the restaurants on Main Street. It’s a first come first serve family friendly kind of activity that you should definitely try if you have yet to ride on a dog sled.
The Olympic Jumping Complex
At the Olympic Jumping Complex take a gondola ride to the base of the jumps followed by an elevator to the top for a unique perspective and some incredible views of the mountains. Ski jumping, competitions and athlete trainings still happen here.
Mt Van Hoevenberg
On the way out of town, Mt Van Hoevenberg is an adventure lover’s treat with bobsledding, indoor climbing, a web of picturesque cross country trails and snowshoeing. Book time to cross country ski, snowshoe, or bobsled. There’s a bobsled adventure here that is more than worth planning to try! While we missed out the day that we were there, we watched numerous couples and families enjoy the bobsled ride. Our entire family embraced snowshoeing and explored the trails.
Did you know that the Bobsled Skeleton World Championships are scheduled to take place in Lake Placid in February 2025?
Embracing the Future
With a well-known Olympic history, Lake Placid is now shifting the vision forward into a future which elevates the Olympic Region once again to a position on the world stage. ORDA, the Olympic Regional Development Authority, is ushering in a new era of excellence in winter sport, recreation, and tourism. Numerous recent construction projects are repositioning the region’s appeal and stature in the wide world of winter sport.
Over the last six years, New York State has made significant investments in ORDA’s state-of-the-art training and competition facilities, including over $500 million across all ORDA venues and operations in the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains. As a result of these investments, ORDA facilities are open year-round for events, athlete training, and recreation.
With each project the organization has implemented important venue improvements aimed at sustainability and mitigating climate change impacts to winter activities. These include reduced energy and water use through high efficiency snowmaking equipment, hybrid snow groomers and electric Zambonis, LED technology, new cooling systems and industrial refrigeration improvements, salt use reduction, solar arrays, and more.
It can be hard to live in the long shadow of the Olympics, but Lake Placid has managed to carve a path into the future based on the foundation of the past. Our recent visit to Lake Placid proved that the Olympic Spirit is still very much alive and well and the area thriving.
Don’t Miss Main Street
Looking for a souvenir sweatshirt or a hat, some candy, snacks or treats for the ride home? Then take an hour or more just to shop the cute stores on Main Street. Everything is walking distance and if you are really into the Olympics you can definitely find some sports gear and memorabilia of your own.
Lake Placid is Rich in Outdoor Experiences
Decades after the 1980 Winter Olympic Games, through investment by the State of New York, the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) has modernized its venue infrastructure with a priority placed on eco-friendly renovations and practices. The effort has been massive. The investment game changing. No matter the time of year, Lake Placid makes an impression that will inspire you to strive for greatness in life, in sports, or just in your overall outlook. That’s no small thing!