When my husband planned a long weekend getaway to the Adirondacks in upstate New York, I could have never imagined just how fun our time there would be. I had only heard of this region but never thought much of it – I had never sought out a trip there in my travel planning and was terribly mistaken for not doing so sooner. Not only is it a gorgeous gem, but in my humble opinion is the best place in the Eastern U.S. for some mountainous adventures and eye-filling wonder. With that being said, I wanted to share with you my Getaway Guide to the Adirondacks so you, too, can have a similar experience in this incredible region.
- Airbag Free Fall
- Cloudsplitter Gondola ride
- Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway
- Lake Placid Bobsled Experience
- Lake Placid Village
- Lake Placid Olympic Museum & “Miracle on Ice”
- Olympic Jumping Complex
- Old NY Turnpike
- Saranac Lake and the Waterhole
- Ausable Chasm and Lake Champlain
- Mindy and Doug’s Adirondack Adventure (our 3 minute video of our amazing time spent in the Adirondacks – don’t forget to watch it to see this place and all its adventures for yourself)!
Step one, get yourself on over to Whiteface Mountain where the excitement is endless. There are so many options here for pure FUN – your day will be jam-packed with screams (of joy, duh), smiles and laughter. It’ll be one for the books!
In our day spent here, we began by taking the plunge off the Airbag Free Fall several times (you know, to get our heart racing and wide awake for the remainder of the day). For $16, you can take the plunge once OR pay $25 to jump 3 times. It is such a rush free falling 30 feet onto a giant, yellow air cushion used by skiers to perfect their tricks. You feel absolutely nothing when you hit the airbag, other than the butterflies settling in your stomach. Furthermore, you’re able to film the experience yourself by jumping with your own, personal GoPro (if you have one). If you’re stunted by fear of heights, you can request that the lift operator lower you to your height of choosing. However, I highly suggest you take the leap from 30 feet (otherwise, why are you paying all that money?).
Next, after this adrenaline rush, opt for a more scenic and explorative adventure by taking a 15 minute ride up to Little Whiteface Mountain summit via the Cloudsplitter Gondola – you will soar above the landscape as the beauty of the Adirondacks reveals itself. Like me, you are sure to be utterly shocked by the STEEPNESS of its slopes – wondering how amazing of a skier you must be to not tumble to your death upon your descent. I should also mention, this getaway is geared towards the Summer/Autumn season when such activities as the Airbag Free Fall are available. I recommend following this Getaway Guide in late September, early October when the fall foliage is in its prime! Continuing on… once the gondola drops you off at the summit, you are free to hike all around, soaking in the stunning views of the surrounding mountains, lakes, forests, streams and more – until you are ready to head back down to the Main Base Lodge.
After acclimating to the heights, hop back into your vehicle and drive up 2,300 feet of the winding Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway to the summit of Whiteface Mountain, New York’s fifth highest peak. The only downside: you are charged a fee of $15 for vehicle and driver and $8 for any additional adults (bummer!). You can hike and climb to the summit, of course, but due to our limited time – we chose to drive. Even though we thought it ridiculous that we had to pay $23 to drive up a mountain, we were glad we did when we reached the top. Once out of our car, I grew increasingly excited with the “short” upcoming hike up to where there is a tower / museum marking the summit at 4,867 feet (not bad for the Eastern US). To reach this, we had to hike along a pretty narrow boulder ridge with hand railings on the sides – the fact that it was a long ways down was the thrilling part to me :-). Oh, and did I mention the winds?! The entire time hiking to the summit from the parking area, we experienced some of the strongest winds I have ever felt to date. At times, I was legitimately concerned about being blown off the mountain ledge. However, again, this added to the thrill factor. Atop the summit, the views of Lake Placid are idyllic and grant the opportunity for many photo ops. After exploring the summit, you are able to head back down to the cafe and gift shop located at a 4,610 feet elevation before departing on your drive back down the mountain. On the drive down, we stopped at a few of the many pull-offs to enjoy some more panoramic views of the sightly Adirondacks.
Finally, to end your adventure packed first day in the Adirondacks, it is a MUST that you go … *Drumroll*… BOB-SLEDDING! That’s right! You can try your hand at bobsledding via the 1980 Winter Olympic track thanks to the Lake Placid Bobsled Experience. This was the coolest experience at Lake Placid and I urge you all to give it a try! You and your adventure buddy will be given a professional driver and brakeman so there’s no need to worry – you’re in good hands AND you get to sit back and enjoy the ride. I’m not going to lie, this experience was a tad scary because, prior to doing this, I had never imagined just how NARROW the bob-sledding tracks are and I felt, at times, we were going to bang right into the concrete sides (but we didn’t because we have professionals driving us, duh!). I also had no clue just how FAST we’d go – holy crikey…it’s so fast and so, SO FUN! The bobsled experience costs $75 and includes a pin, a t-shirt and a team photo. See our team photo below! (yeah, it’s a tad blurry but I took a photo of a photo, so that’s to be expected). It’s not very often you hear someone say “I’ve gone bob-sledding!” – it’s such a unique adventurous activity and made our first day in the Adirondacks that much more memorable.
Day two, it’s time to enjoy the picturesque, alpine village of Lake Placid. There are quaint shops and restaurants a plenty, all lining the pristine lake of the same name with the mountains as the backdrop. I really felt as if I had stepped onto a movie set while walking around this village – that’s how charming this place is. After grabbing some brunch, jaunt on over to the Lake Placid Olympic Museum where you can view countless artifacts, photos and videos of the Winter Olympics held there. Furthermore, you can even roam around the Herb Brooks Arena where the famous “Miracle on Ice” hockey game took place in the 1980 Winter Olympics. Learning about the history and heritage of the first winter resort in America was an unexpected enjoyment for me – I thoroughly had a great time learning about Lake Placid’s crazy cool past. It was also a fantastic way to kill some time as we waited for the rain to pass.
After the rain had passed, we continued our Olympic tour by driving on over to the Olympic Jumping Complex where I realized, for the first time, how HIGH these ski jumps really are. Seeing them on television and standing at the base of one in real life is a whole other story. For the price of $11 per adult, we rode a ski lift to the top of the slope arriving to an elevator that then carried us to the top of the ski jump. At the top of this incredulous jump, I then realized just how STEEP these things are as well. I mean, they’re insane! And, at this point, I’m in utter dismay how athletes are able to jump off these, let alone perform the stunts that they do. Sometimes, humans are unbelievable…I’ll tell ya. Anyways, besides the amazement I felt exploring the Jumping Complex regarding human capabilities, I was simultaneously amazed at the breath-taking natural views my eyes could see from atop these jumps. It was a win-win experience all around. And, its safe to say, after visiting all these Olympic sites, I now have a newfound appreciation for the Winter Games and can’t wait to watch in 2018.
After all the Olympic learning and touring, take an unforgettable scenic drive through the Adirondacks on the Old NY Turnpike built in 1829. As I previously mentioned, this guide is best for an Autumn getaway which makes this drive even better. Not only will you see the most beautiful array of colorful fall foliage, but you’ll also stumble across several abandoned and dilapidated homes, schools and chapels and many old cemeteries along your drive. PERFECT for some Halloween season FUN! There’s also endless places to pull off alongside the road to film some captivating time-lapses and picturesque photo-ops. There’s so much to discover just by driving around the Adirondack region alone. We even stumbled upon a trail that led to a hidden lake where we watched a stunning sunset. Such an easy way to spend some quality time with this awe-inspiring place. AND, this road was built in 1829…HOW NEAT?! Just think to what it was like back then.
To end your night, if you’re staying in the town of Saranac Lake (which we did), stroll over to the Waterhole – the best bar (that also happens to be a music venue) in the area! I promise you, if you want a good time, this is the place to go at night! Our bartender there was the nicest lady ever. We got to talking and she even invited my husband and I to join her and her friends on a boat party the next day on Saranac Lake. She said she’d give us a tour and all! This place is big and includes an outdoor area, so there’s plenty of space to enjoy yourself as you listen to music, drink, chat and breathe in the fresh air. Another bonus: the Waterhole was in walking distance from our hotel so there was no worries of drinking and driving. We stayed at the hauntingly historic, Hotel Saranac – however, this hotel is currently closed until March 2018 due to new ownership and renovations.
On the final day of our Adirondack Getaway, we drove approximately 50 minutes to explore the Ausable Chasm. This, to me, was such an unexpected surprise – I had no idea a canyon like this existed in the Eastern US. It is mesmerizing! No wonder it is dubbed the “Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks”. I was in my glory: hiking all throughout the chasm, hopping over rocks, climbing fallen trees, skipping across tiny bridges, scaling the sides of the canyon walls, discovering hidden trails, splashing in the white waters etc! Not only is there superb hiking and scenery galore, but there are so many adventurous ways to explore the Ausable Chasm as well, including: raft float tours, tubing, rappelling, rock climbing, ziplining and more! I almost wish we hadn’t waited until our last day to come here – I certainly could plan a weekend getaway to JUST the Ausable Chasm and I certainly plan to return in the future! After our fun-filled day here, my husband and I drove to the nearby Lake Champlain to watch the sunset and take some more time-lapses. It’s a rather large and very pretty lake bordering New York and Vermont and well worth the 10 minute drive from Ausable Chasm.
“Mindy and Doug’s Adirondack Adventure” video: