Lake Placid, in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, offers the perfect combination of tourism energy and small-town atmosphere. With its quaint lakefront downtown, nearby Whiteface Mountain, and nostalgic Olympic venues, there are plenty of things to do in Lake Placid in the fall season.
Where to View Fall Foliage in Lake Placid
The Northeast is renowned for the vibrant colors of its fall foliage. At Whiteface Mountain, you can take a gondola ride to the summit of Little Whiteface Mountain for incredible views.
Whiteface offers tons of fun fall activities such as mountain biking, horseback riding, air bag jumping, and festivals. And when the snow falls, they offer skiing, tubing, skating, bobsled and luge rides, zamboni rides, and more.
High Falls Gorge is another place to enjoy Lake Placid. Stunning fall foliage makes for the perfect backdrop for the Gorge’s four beautiful waterfalls and quiet forest trails.
A half-mile round-trip hike provides waterfall views and a glass-floor walkway suspends you over the rushing waters of the Ausable River. The one-mile, wooded nature trail is simply stunning in the fall and exhilarating in snowshoes!
After High Falls Gorge outdoor adventure, enjoy lunch at the unexpectedly cozy River View Cafe. Tucked in the back of the visitors center/gift shop, this little cafe offers excellent soups, sandwiches, baked goods, coffees, and a beer and wine bar to help you refuel after your hike. There’s an outdoor picnic area during the warmer months, but we loved relaxing by the fireplace in their rustic, authentic, Adirondack décor.
Visiting the Lake Placid Olympic Venues
Lake Placid was the site of the 1980 Winter Olympic Games and there are several cool spots you can visit to learn about its Olympic history.
The Olympic Sites Passport gets you access to several activities at the Lake Placid Olympic sites for a bundled price of $40 (kids six and under are free). You’ll be able to visit the Olympic Jumping Complex, the Olympic Center and Museum, and the gondola ride to the top of Little Whiteface Mountain. It also provides discounts on special experiences like the bobsled, skeleton, or biathlon.
The Olympic Jumping Complex has a new Skyride, an eight-passenger gondola to transport you up to the base of the ski jumping towers. From there you hop in a glass elevator to the sky deck. At the top, you’ll be treated to a stunning bird’s-eye view of the Adirondack High Peaks.
If you’re lucky, you’ll catch some training exercises or competitions and get to see athletes ski off the practice jump into the pool. In the winter, they offer tubing – but don’t worry, you don’t tube down the ski jump! I can’t even imagine skiing down that ramp. They’ll also be adding ziplines soon!
Next, head to the Olympic Center where you can tour the Lake Placid Olympic Museum, skate on the Olympic Speed Skating Oval (conditions permitting) and see the ice rink where the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team won the gold medal in the tournament that came to be known as the “Miracle on Ice.”
The museum has a lot of cool exhibits including bobsleds, clothing, medals, and Olympic posters and memorabilia. After we toured the museum, we enjoyed watching an intense local high school hockey practice at the ice rink.
From the Olympic Center you can walk along Mirror Lake in downtown Lake Placid and browse the unique shops and eateries.
Where to Eat in Lake Placid
My family loved the Dancing Bears restaurant at High Peaks Resort, which offers classic American pub fare in a warm, cozy atmosphere. We enjoyed a hearty breakfast before our day of sightseeing.
Then we went back for dinner! My husband savored a melt-in-your-mouth rack of ribs while I enjoyed a flaky, puff-pastry, chicken pot pie.
We also ate at Smoke Signals BBQ. Their perfectly-smoked brisket was amazing, as were the pulled pork tacos! You can choose from pulled pork, chicken or brisket for your tacos and mix-n-match is allowed!
Where to Stay in Lake Placid
High Peaks Resort offers three options for accommodations on Mirror Lake and within walking distance to shopping, dining, and Olympic attractions.
The recently renovated Lake House features modern rustic rooms with beautiful views of Mirror Lake. Read about my family’s stay at the Lake House – we loved the cozy Great Room!
The Waterfront Collection makes a perfect summer choice – you can walk out of your room and right into the lake. Kayaks, paddleboats and other equipment are right there for your pleasure. Enjoy your morning coffee, or evening wine, on your lakefront patio.
The Adirondack-Inspired rooms and suites have more of a “hotel” feel than the Lake House or Waterfront. These rooms are luxurious, bright, and have the same tranquil view.
No matter what option you choose, you can take advantage of all the amenities the resort offers. Swim in the pools, relax at the spa, or try the complimentary kayaks, SUPs, or kicksleds.
Whether you’re seeking relaxation, thrills, or a beautiful leaf-peeping opportunity, Lake Placid is a perfect choice for a fall getaway.