Exploring new cozy New England towns during the winter is quickly becoming one of my favorite activities. There are so many places that are an easy shot from NYC, particularly if you can take advantage of a three day weekend. But I must say, one of my absolute favorite towns to visit is Lake Placid, NY. Located about four hours from the city it is the perfect place to escape to year round. They truly have a little something for everyone, whether you are visiting with family, friends or a significant other.
The last time I was there was in the summer for a wedding and we had the best time boating, hanging out at the Canoe Club, and hiking. This past weekend trip, I had the opportunity to team up with the Whiteface Lake Placid and experience what there is to see, eat and do during the winter. I could not get over how charming the town is and how much there is to do this time of year, so I thought it would be fun to post my top 10 reasons to visit Lake Placid in the winter. If you have been and I’m missing anything from this list, let me know!
For this trip, I stayed at the gorgeous. Mirror Lake Inn. Nestled right on Mirror Lake and a less than 5 minute walk into town, there is so much to see and do on the property alone. While known for their spa (which includes an indoor pool and massive hot tub) I loved camping out on their cozy sofa by the fireplace in the lobby enjoying a glass of wine and watching the snow fall. The Christmas lights that fill the trees and property create an extra magical feel. My favorite feature in the room we stayed in was the sitting area by the sliding doors that overlooked the lake. It was the perfect spot to enjoy morning coffee and catch up on some work.
2. Ice Skating
While people choose to ice skate right on Mirror Lake (which looked amazing), we needed to rent skates and I didn’t trust myself on un-groomed ice, so we headed to the Olympic Oval right in town. It was a beautiful day to be outside and music filled the air as we skated around the rink. The Oval offers different skate times depending if you want to speed skate or leisure skate.
I have to admit that before committing to this activity for the first time, I asked the man who ran the dog sledding activity about 100 questions on how the dogs are treated, do they rotate them out, do they get cold, etc. You all know I am a crazy puppy-mama and wanted to make sure I felt comfortable supporting something before jumping in. The gentleman reassured me of all my questions, but what made me comfortable was how excited and playful the dogs were the entire time. They also explained to me that the ice makes is super easy for the dogs to pull us around and the gentleman on the back of the sled is there to give a few extra pushes if needed. It was a fun experience and a unique way to enjoy being out on the lake and taking in the view!
As you may know, the 1980 winter Olympics were held in Lake Placid. The arenas and other infrastructure that were used for the games are still there and in use, including the insanely large ski jumping complex. While we were in Lake Placid they had the Freestyle World Cup Aerial Competition and it was unreal. To watch the athletes basically float in mid air while twisting, turning and flipping, then proceeding to land on a steep mountain and ski down to the bottom was incredible. At the end of the competition they also finished with fireworks.
Last year it was embarrassing the amount of times Matt and I got out to ski…maybe once the entire season. We both agreed this winter would be different and we would take advantage of all the amazing mountains and places to ski outside the city. So far so good with sticking to this goal, and we had so much fun this past weekend at Whiteface Mountain. The last time I was at this mountain was during the summer and took advantage of jumping off “the blob”. It was great to be back in the cooler months and hit the slopes. Although we lucked out with such a beautiful day, I was a huge fan of the enclosed gondala to transport you to the top of the mountain. Whiteface also makes a ridiculous amount of snow to cover the mountains (in the event there is not enough natural snow) so the vast majority of the trails were up and running! We took a break halfway through the day and stopped at the midway lodge for some chili and time spent by the outdoor fire pit.
If you aren’t a big skier/snowboarder, the mountain also offers a variety of other activities as well. Next time I am back I want to try out bobsledding, tubing and cross country skiing!
Like I mentioned before, where we stayed was only a few minutes into town, making exploring the shops and grabbing a bite to eat simple and enjoyable. Matt and I forgot a few things we needed for skiing, so popped into the EMS right on Main Street to grab what we needed. The town is quaint and charming and a great way to spend your afternoon.
One of my favorite parts to traveling is trying new restaurants. I was pleasantly surprised with how many delicious places there were in Lake Placid to try (far too many for me to conquer them all this weekend). But below I’ve listed each place we did try, and highlighted some of my favorite items.
This meal was unreal! We stopped by (well, we actually walked across the lake which was so much fun) for a few cocktails and appetizers after ice skating and had some of the best bites I have had in a very long time. Chef Bill came by to chat with us for a bit and it was evident how much love went into cooking and perfecting each dish. The chicken wings alone were marinated for 24 hours and literally fell off the bone. I can absolutely say the ahi tuna was the best I have ever had. As if the food alone didn’t win us over, we curled up by the fire pit, sipped on beautifully crafted cocktails, and watched the sun set over the lake. Pretty magical if you ask me.
We came here for our last meal of the trip and we learned so much history about the Lake Placid Lodge (where the pub is located) while there. Maggie’s pub has a relaxed environment filled with a bar, pool table, TV screens, and the coziest fireplace. One of my favorite facts I learned was that this oversized wooden chair that is one of the focal points of the room took 700 hours to build! If you have a chance to stop by, I would recommend the rosemary gin fizz and the fried brussel sprouts.
Located right by the Oval ice skating rink, we popped in here for a small bite and a beer after skating. I am a big fan of getting a beer flight when at a brewery so you can try a few sips of each type of beer, so that is what we all did. We also had some of the best (and crispiest) fried pickles ever!
Recommended by you all (thank you!), my girlfriend and I grabbed lattes here one day and then Matt and I grabbed breakfast here on the last morning before heading out of town. Their almond milk latte is delicious. I also love how a lot of their dishes are made in a cast iron skillet which adds so much flavor. I opted for a custom omelet and side of a pancake (the cinnamon butter won me over) and Matt went with the with cornbeef hash rosoti. Our table overlooked the lake and it was the perfect ending to the weekend.
8. Two Lakes In One Town
As you may have noticed, I’ve referred to both Lake Placid and Mirror Lake throughout the post. This is not a mistake, but I’m sure a little confusing for anyone not familiar with the area! There are actually two lakes that constitute the area of Lake Placid. The larger lake, Lake Placid, is more removed from the actual town. In fact the Lake Placid Lodge is the only commercial property on that lake. It is an absolutely gorgeous lake and great for boating and other activities in the summer.
Mirror lake is a much smaller lake, and the main street of of Lake Placid is actually located on this lake. In the winter, this is truly a magical place. It is completely frozen and, as I mentioned, you can ice skate or just walk all along the frozen lake at anytime. We would walk from our hotel to restaurants and town on the lake just because we couldn’t get over what a cool experience it was!
While the town may seem small and walkable (which I prefer), it is still filled with some amazing nightlife. I am a huge live music fan, so we found ourselves at Smoke Signals on Saturday night listening to a really fun band. The place was packed and music contagious, overall a great post ski vibe. There are a bunch of other places right next store that you can pop in and out of to try.
If looking for a lower key night, do yourself a favor and head to the Cottage at the Mirror Lake Inn. Matt and I went for a drink the night we arrived and it was such a fun and cozy vibe. There was live music and a fireplace that overlooked Mirror Lake. Plus, if you wanted to enjoy a drink outdoors, they had a patio filled with lounge chairs, heat lamps and fire pits.
10. Toboggan Chute
I am so bummed to say that this was “getting a makeover” while we were there so we never had the chance to do it, but it was at the top of our list when we knew we were heading to Lake Placid. The chute is located on Mirror Lake and just $10/ride ($5 if you are a student). It is a 30 foot high converted ski trestle that sends toboggans down ice covered chutes across the lake.
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