After visiting Lake Placid for the first time last January and coming home completely smitten with its mountains, lakes and town, I couldn't wait to return to the Adirondacks this summer and see another, greener side of the High Peaks region.
Going up just one week after Hurricane Irene, I was a little worried that the area would be in recovery mode and wasn't sure what to expect. I had read that some towns had sustained flooding and some damage. It turned out Lake Placid was pretty much unscathed and the town's Main Street was bustling, business as usual for Labor Day weekend.
Back in January, most of the visit was spent snowboarding on Whiteface Mountain. So how does one spend weekend in Lake Placid this time of year?
Boating: The lakes -- frozen over last winter -- are now the perfect setting for a bracing swim or bucolic boat ride. We rented a rowboat at Mirror Lake Boat Rental but had the option of taking out a one or two-seater kayak, canoe, paddleboat or even a small sailboat. We got lucky and there was a band playing at the lakeside gazebo, so we spent a relaxing, tune-filled hour drifting and paddling on Mirror Lake.
Hiking: When in the Adirondacks, you have to take advantage of the hiking. We did the 6.7-mile hike up Haystack Mountain. It's great workout but not so hard as to make it a no-go for an out-of-practice hiker (such as myself).
Dining: Liquids & Solids, a year-old gastropub in town, features an all-star list of handcrafted cocktails and a comprehensive menu of small plates and larger ones. We shared the pulled pork (made extra rich with the addition of a fried egg), short ribs and lemon ricotta spring rolls. I highly recommend its pitch-perfect mix of a casual setting and thoughtful offerings.
Shopping: It's nearly impossible to not be charmed by the rustic-flavored décor that sets the region's signature look. We ended up coming home with two Adirondack chairs. Dartbrook Rustic Goods in Keene offers a high-end mix of antiques and handmade pieces that are definitely worth a look.
Sundowners: Since après-ski is out, start a new ritual with après-hike cocktails. There's no better way to end the day than at Lake Placid Lodge. Grab a drink at luxe-rustic Maggie's Pub and take it outside to watch the sunset over Lake Placid. The expansive grounds and grand lodge, which dates from 1882, transport you back in time to when the area was primarily known as the home of hunting lodges for gilded age tycoons.
Great hotels: We booked a lovely room at the Courtyard by Marriott Lake Placid hotel. Friendly staff, a fireplace downstairs and a just-off-of-Main Street location made it the perfect base from which to access the town, the trails and smaller towns like Keene and Keene Valley. Rooms start at $129 per night.
Festivals: With the mountains ablaze in a red, yellow and orange tapestry of autumnal color, fall is a fantastic time to visit the High Peaks region. Between the leaves changing and harvest season celebrations, the calender for the coming months is chock of full of activity. Here are a few events that should be on your radar should you venture to upstate New York:
- Oktoberfest, September 23-25, in Hague: Enjoy German food, beer, children's activities and games.
- Adirondack Harvest Festival, October 1-2, in Blue Mountain Lake: Don't miss wagon rides, cider pressing, love music, pumpkin painting and more.
- Lake George Region Restaurant Week, September 26-30, in Lake George: Find discounts on lunch and dinner at the region's many restaurants.
- Oktoberfest, October 1-2, in Wilmington: Enjoy fall foliage gondola rides to the top of Little Whiteface Mountain, try German food, enjoy live music and authentic Bavarian dancing.
- Flaming Leaves Festival, October 8-9, in Lake Placid: A family-fun event at the Olympic Jumping Complex with barbecue, lawn games, a horseshoe tournament, craft vendors, chairlift rides to the top of the 120-meter ski jump and more.
- Annual Harvest Days, October 15-16, in Peru: Babbie's Rural & Farm Learning Museum will offer demonstrations on threshing and corn production.