The Adirondack Mountains are known as the birthplace of the American vacation, but after living in the northeast for some time, I would suggest that they have become one of the most underrated US vacation destinations. Nestled like an emerald within upstate New York, this wilderness area is a hidden gem with much to offer. Here are five of the attractions:
5 Things to Do on Your Trip to the Adirondack Mountains
Dating back to the French and Indian War, Fort Ticonderoga’s scenic beauty is enough to draw anyone, but for history buffs, this is a must-see. Admission includes two-day entry into Fort Ticonderoga, the King’s Garden, and a drive up Mount Defiance.
The well-maintained Fort boasts stunning views of Lake Champlain and Vermont, and treats visitors to entertaining musket and cannon demonstrations. Furthermore, there are seemingly unending rooms where relics from the French occupation are on display, and staff demonstrate garment stitching and shoe making. The King’s Garden offers a peaceful walk through flowers while Mount Defiance gives you an aerial view of the Fort itself.
The Adirondacks have no shortage of gorgeous lakes, including perhaps best known, Lake Placid. And while they all offer stunning views, some are nearly completely privately-owned, making enjoyment difficult for tourists.
My suggestion is Lake George which has public sidewalks where visitors can meander along the lakeside viewing eagles, parasailers, and the Minne-Ha-Ha steamboat. Shops and restaurants also line the street; try out the Pink Roof for some excellent ice cream and stellar views!
The Adirondacks are home to 46 High Peaks—that is, mountains that are over 4,000 feet high. These hikes offer gorgeous views and remarkable scenery, but they can be challenging. Thus, for experienced hikers, I would suggest Cascade Mountain (or one of the others for the very avid hiker).
Cascade is one of the easiest hikes of the 46 High Peaks, but its rating of “moderate” is not to be taken lightly. The terrain—like many of the High Peaks—is rocky and littered with roots, making it a bit of a scramble to the top. But the views at the top make it all worth the work, not to mention the satisfaction of the climb.
For beginner hikers, or those with children, there are plenty of less-strenuous hikes like Death Falls, Auger Falls, or Ausable Chasm which are manageable terrain and reward you with great views of waterfalls.
4. Maple Syrup
The Adirondacks are home to the perfect climate for Maple syrup production, and thus Sugar Shacks and Maple Farms of varying types. There are small farms run by a few people—my favorite is Maple Knoll Farm in Minerva, NY—and others with a larger commercial reach. No matter which appeals to you, it is worth your time to visit one of these farms where you can learn about sugaring and purchase a bottle of syrup to take the taste of the Adirondacks home.
The Adirondack Mountains are perhaps most frequently visited in the winter for the excellent skiing and snowboarding. The Lake Placid region, which hosted the 1980 Winter Olympics, has some fantastic skiing and the dense snowfall in the region makes for a great experience in favorable conditions. Yet in addition to Placid, there are tons of other locations which can offer affordable passes, so do your research before you go. (*I went in June, so I did not ski—yet!)
Whatever you do on your trip to the Adirondack Mountains, be sure to do some research for whatever month you plan to go and be prepared for whatever you intend to do. Remember bug spray and water on your springtime hikes, and to bundle up appropriately for the snowy slopes. Oh, and it never hurts to bring cash as many places frequently are cash-only! Happy vacationing!