Lake Placid is a resort town in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York (see map). Best known as the host site of the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980, Lake Placid remains a tourist destination that epitomizes the rustic, outdoorsy appeal of the Adirondacks. It’s both a mountain town and a lake town, which affords myriad opportunities for active families to get outside and have fun all year round.
Located 2 hours and 15 minutes from Montreal, 2 hours and 30 minutes from Albany, and 5 hours and 15 minutes from New York City, Lake Placid is at its best in the winter. The Olympic spirit is still very much alive, and much of the fun of visiting with kids in the winter is getting to try out Olympic experiences together. Even if you only do several of these activities, you can likely save money by purchasing an Olympic Sites Passport.
These winter activities will keep the whole family happy on a Lake Placid vacation.
The whole family will love this classic winter fun activity. Lake Placid's 30-foot wooden trestle toboggan chute sends you zooming out across frozen Mirror Lake on an old-school toboggan. Depending on weather conditions, toboggans can travel more than 1,000 feet once they reach the frozen lake surface. A thrill for all ages. Toboggan rental: $15 per adult, $10 per student.
Feel what it's like to ride a bobsled (with a professional driver and brakeman) as it thunders down the actual Olympic track. Minimum height to ride is 48 inches. Cost: $65-$75 per person, depending on age. (Discount available with the Olympic Sites Passport.)
The bobsledding experience includes: a keepsake lapel pin, a souvenir photo, a team T-shirt, and 20 percent off a second bobsled ride in the same season.
Leaving from and returning to the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort, winter dog sled rides around frozen Mirror Lake are memorable and exhilarating. This is a very tame ride, perfect for young kids. And, not to worry about the ice. The drivers test the lake ice for safety before offering rides. $10 to $15 per person for a five-minute ride.
At the Lake Placid Olympic Center, you can go ice skating during public sessions at the indoor rink or the famous outdoor oval where Eric Heiden speed skated to five gold medals . Rentals are available on-site. Skating on Mirror Lake is also an option. Each winter, a two-mile track around the lake's entire perimeter is plowed, and you can access it for free.
With the highest vertical drop in the East, Whiteface is New York's premier ski destination. The mountain was the site of the Olympic downhill events. Ski ans snowboard lessons and rentals are available for both adults and kids.
Do your teens love an adrenaline rush? At the Olympic Sports Complex, you can also try the sport of skeleton and rocket 30 mph, head first, down an icy chute. Believe it or not, you need no prior experience to do this. An actual USA Skeleton Team coach/trainer will be present to help you get situated at the start and to offer a few tips for the ride. Cost: $75 per ride. Minimum age: 13 years.
A combination of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting, biathlon is yet another Olympic sport you can try out in Lake Placid. The Discover Biathlon package includes rental equipment, an hour-long ski lesson, a video intro to this demanding sport, and professional instruction at the rifle range. Cost: $55. Minimum age: 13 years.
Whether or not you ski, it's worth taking the scenic gondola ride from the base at Whiteface Mountain to the summit of Little Whiteface, where you'll be treated to far-reaching views across the snow-frosted Adirondacks. A lodge and an observation deck await up top. Cost: $16-$23 (free for kids 6 and under); included with the purchase of Olympic Sites Passport.
Snowshoeing is a blood-pumping activity the whole family can enjoy. If you can walk, you can snowshoe! At Mt. Van Hoevenberg, you can rent snowshoes and explore 50 kilometers of trails including 3 devoted solely to snowshoers. Cost: $10-18 per person for half-day trail access; free for kids 6 and under.
Go cross-country skiing on 50 kilometers of groomed trails at Mt. Van Hoevenberg. Cost:$10-$18 for half-day trail access; free for kids 6 and under. Lessons and equipment rentals are also available.
If you've ever wondered what it feels like to look down the ramp of an Olympic ski jump, you can take the glass-enclosed elevator to the observation deck of Lake Placid's K-120 meter jump.
At the top, you can enter the ski jumpers' preparation room and take in a panoramic view of the Adirondack High Peaks. Cost $8-11 per person; included free in the Olympic Sites Passport. Coming soon: a four-person zipline that will allow you to experience the wonder of flying from the top of the ski jump tower.
Located right on Lake Placid's Main Street, the Olympic Center was the site of some of the most memorable 1980 Winter Olympics moments including the "Miracle on Ice" hockey game and Eric Heiden's five gold medal wins. You can participate in a guided tour of the complex. Cost: $10 cash per person.
Located right on Main Street in Lake Placid at the Olympic Center, the Lake Placid Olympic Museum highlights the rich history of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Games. Admission: $6-$8 per person or free with the Olympic Sites Passport; free for kids 6 and under.