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Lake Placid in Winter Desperate for a WINTER break? Longing for good old-fashioned winter experience? Lake Placid, Upper New York State is the place for you. Their brochure says it all. . . 'Each year the village transforms into a winter wonderland of twinkling lights, fragrant balsam and white snow.' One is invited to leave noise, tension and the rat race behind for a unique winter experience. Hubby and I are familiar with the magnificent Adirondack Mountains and Park in Upper New York State, but we'd never enjoyed the area and its many amenities during winter. It was with great anticipation we found ourselves on Highway #3 reveling in picture-perfect landscapes as only snow and mountains can deliver. As the Golden Arrow Hotel on Mirror Lake in downtown Lake Placid had a room waiting for us, reserved several months before, we took our time driving from the Canadian border at Kingston, through quaint little villages along the route. We also enjoyed a stay at the Lake Placid Ramada Inn.
When winter driving, especially through the mountains, one should always take into consideration road and driving conditions and plan extra traveling time. Accommodations in Lake Placid range from elegant suites to cosy inns, bed & breakfasts to reasonably priced motels. The Golden Arrow was our honeymoon choice thirty-six years ago and has never disappointed us, situated as it is right on the Lake and in the heart of the village, within walking distance of many attractions. When approaching Lake Placid don't let the sprawling outskirts be a deterrent. It is a necessary part of a community, which hosts thousands of ski enthusiasts during the winter.
Arriving at dusk, we turned off Highway #86 onto the village's heritage Main Street and were immediately enchanted by the thousands of white lights strung in trees, from lamp posts and buildings. The street was vibrant with post-Christmas activity, bursting with families enjoying the holiday break. Checking into our lake side room at the Golden Arrow we immediately threw open the drapes. Below on frozen Mirror Lake scores of people skated while the lights of private residences twinkled from the far shore. You'll note that although I am writing about the village of Lake Placid, Mirror Lake is mentioned as the main body of water. Placid, the Lake flows into Mirror Lake, with Mirror Lake the focus of the village hub and its activities. Placid, the Lake is surrounded by "cottages", some owned by the rich and famous - all beautiful homes. Placid, the lake also has its resident ghost, - Lady of the Lake - about which several books have been written.
Goldberry's was our second stop for their thick soups, homemade breads, chicken and apple pie. The restaurant, a part of the Golden Arrow complex, is at street level with indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub two floors below at lake level. Be prepared to pay an additional service fee on your bill at Goldberry's. I personally like to leave my own amount of money on the table and not be forced to "pay at cash register" - but there soups are good. Early next morning, and every morning until we left, we walked a quarter block east of the hotel to The Black Bear Restaurant for their inexpensive full breakfast. From windows overlooking the lake we watched dog teams racing across the ice, paying customers in their sleds, tucked up warmly against the snapping cold.
Lake Placid's Main Street is small town America at its sophisticated best. Shopping is pleasurable and upscale in this prime winter ski destination. Hours can be spent browsing unique shops where rustic Adirondack twig and bark furniture begs to be bought, along with pine scented soaps and candles, birchbark canoes, beautifully hand carved birds and animals, antiques and collectibles. Take your pick of local preserves, honeys and gourmet foods. Treat yourself to huge honey dipped yeast doughnuts. 'With Pipe and Book", the ultimate tobacco and used book store held our attention for an hour. Tearing ourselves away with several rare books in hand, we checked out "Where'd you get that Hat" for the latest in snowboard headgear, then ducked into "Candyman Homemade Adirondack Chocolates" for melt-in-your-mouth truffles. We sipped steaming hot chocolate while overlooking the lake and chatted with other "drop-outs" from around the USA. Clothing shops run the gamut - from comfortable, sturdy recreational wear to one-of-a-kind evening dresses. Sporting enthusiasts can choose from a myriad of shops specializing in ski, hiking and snowboarding needs.
Hungry? There are a score of restaurants in the area that cater to everyone's tastes and pocketbook. Dine at Mirror Lake Inn at least once during your visit. Choose the main dining room or their Cottage Cafe & Patio on the Lake. We've also enjoyed great meals at Great Adirondack Steak & Seafood Restaurant. During Christmas break, and on busy weekends, expect line-ups at the more popular restaurants. Our personal rule of thumb is - join the longest line. The food must be good and reasonably priced.
We wore supper off each evening with a brisk walk around Mirror Lake, which affords excellent views of the village by night. The thousands of lights sparkling from Mirror Lake Inn are marvelous from across the lake, and spectacular when walking through them. Laughter from skaters and the friendly greetings of fellow walkers reminded us that we were indeed away from the rat race.
Spend a day exploring the area east of Lake Placid. Our favourite destination, an appropriate one in winter, is a graveyard on a hill at the junctions of #73 and #9N, approximately ten miles south of Lake Placid, where a woman by the name of 'Experience Snow' was buried more than one hundred and eighty years ago. This stop is not so much to pay our respects to 'Experience' as to take in the view of the Keen Valley, a perfect bowl surrounded by brooding mountains. For a special treat, time your visit for sunset. Bring a camera. Elizabethtown, Upper Jay and Wilmington are all worth a look-see and can be done in a day. Lake Placid is known for its superb winter recreational activities. Remember this is the site of two previous winter Olympic games. Alpine skiing is excellent. The area boasts miles of groomed cross country ski trails. Snowboarding is a fast growing sport. Ice skating is popular on indoor and groomed outdoor rinks. Mirror Lake provides a great expanse of ice for skating and other winter pursuits. If you've not brought equipment, there are rental shops eager to cater to your needs. The extent of our sports 'activities' was a visit to the International Winter Sports Museum with its Virtual Reality Bobsled Simulator and in-house theatre. Village accommodations and attractions often offer special weekday and weekend packages. The local Chamber of Commerce is the best place to obtain information on the area. Ask for their trip planner. Lake Placid is a jewel in the crown of unique villages in the northeastern USA. It always delivers in full measure what it promises - in this case a great relaxing winter break.
IF YOU GO:
216 Main Street
Lake Placid, New York 12946
Lake Placid Village, New York 12946
Mirror Lake Road
157 Main Street
137 Main Street
34 Main Street
91 Main Street
155 Main Street
130 Main Street
(Admission fee charged)
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