Lake Placid is a resort town in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York (2 hours, 15 minutes from Montreal; 2 hours 30 minutes from Albany; and 5 hours 15 minutes from New York City).
Best known as the site of the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980, Lake Placid is a lovely, upscale resort town 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.
The Olympic spirit is still very much alive in Lake Placid, and much of the fun of visiting in the winter is getting the chance to try out Olympic experiences. Even if you only do several of these experiences, you can likely save money by purchasing an Olympic Sites Passport.
For a family-friendly place to stay consider the luxurious Whiteface Lodge or the mid-priced Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort.
These winter activities will keep the whole family busy on a Lake Placid vacation.
Lake Placid Toboggan Chute
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 wooden toboggan. Depending on weather conditions, toboggans can travel more than 1,000 feet once they reach the frozen lake surface. Great for all ages. Cost: $10 per adult, $5 per child.
Lake Placid Bobsled Experience
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: $75-$85 per person, depending on age. (Discount available with the Olympic Sites Passport.)
The bobsledding experience includes:
- Bobsled lapel pin
- Commemorative team photo
- A team t-shirt
- 20 percent off the next bobsled ride the same season
Dog Sled Rides
Dog-sled rides can take you on a small loop around frozen Mirror Lake, leaving from and returning to the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort. This is very tame and perfect for young kids. And, not to worry about the ice. The drivers test the lake ice for safety before offering rides. $10 per person for a five-minute ride.
You can go ice skating during public sessions on the indoor or outdoor rinks at the Olympic Center, and also on frozen Mirror Lake. Rentals are available on-site.
Ski Whiteface Mountain
With the highest vertical drop in the East, Whiteface is New York's premier ski destination. The mountain was the site of the Winter Olympic downhill events. Ski lessons and rentals are available for both adults and kids.
Lake Placid Skeleton Experience
Love thrills? 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 with getting situated at the start and to give a few tips for the ride.
The single person sled is known as a skeleton sled. Cost: $65 per ride. Minimum age: 13 years.
Be A Biathlete
A combination of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting, biathlon is yet another Olympics sport you can try out in Lake Placid. Rifle range and a lesson cost $36 per person. Minimum age: 13 years.
You can go snow tubing during the day or night, down the 700-foot run at the Olympic Jumping Complex. Cost: $9 per person, per hour.
Cloudsplitter Gondola Ride
Whether or not you ski, it's worth taking this 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 Adirondacks. There are a lodge and observation deck up top. Cost: $14-$20; included with the purchase of Olympics Passport.
Snowshoeing is a fun activity the whole family can enjoy. At the Olympic Sports Complex, you can go on a guided snowshoe hike or explore the miles of trails on your own. Cost: $10-18 per person for a half-day; free for kids 6 and under.
Go cross-country skiing on the groomed trails at the Olympic Sports Complex at Mt. Van Hoevenberg. Cost:$10-$18 for a half-day; free for kids 6 and under. Lessons are also available.
Olympic Jumping Complex Tour
If you've ever wondered what it feels like to look down the ramp of the Olympic ski jump, you can take the glass-enclosed elevator to the observation deck of the 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 in the Olympic Sites Passport.
Olympic Center Tour
Located right on Lake Placid's Main Street, the Olympic Center was the site of some of the most memorable 1980 Winter Olympic moments, including the "Miracle on Ice" hockey game and Eric Heiden's five gold medal wins. You can have a guided tour of the complex/ Cost: $10 per person; discount with Olympic Sites Passport.
Lake Placid Olympic Museum
Located right on Main Street in Lake Placid, the Olympic Museum highlights the rich history of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. Admission: $5 - $7 per person; free for kids 6 and under.