Wait, winter’s not over yet! Here’s your ticket to a gold-medal getaway.
(Long Island, N.Y.) Winter seemed to have skipped right over us here on Long Island, but it has been snowing up a storm at one of my favorite places on earth: Lake Placid. We spent some time there during the summer and we vowed to return during the winter when the area truly becomes magical. Perfect timing.
Lake Placid is known worldwide as the “Winter Sports Capital of the World.” The destination hosted two Olympic Winter Games and even now it continues to play host to numerous international competitions. National Geographic Magazine has named Lake Placid, N.Y. as one of the “Best 10 Winter Trips 2012.” The two-time Olympic village was one of only three United States destinations to make the worldwide list.
Warming Up To Winter Sports: Honestly, we were not a winter-getaway type of family.until we took this action-packed trip. Even if you have never skied before in your life (like me and the kids!) it’s never too late to learn. After some wonderful skiing lessons, we had a blast-even learned enough skills to go up the ski-lift and down the mountain a bunch of times all full of smiles. If you’re looking to get that one last winter thrill, this is an ideal spot. The ski season will typically last until Easter weekend, perhaps a little longer depending on the weather. Lake Placid is truly one of my favorite places in the world to visit. Worth the (very scenic and peaceful) drive. What to do, where to go? Read on…
Go Skiing! Whiteface Mountain (www.whiteface.com) is where it’s at. It’s touted as “The Greatest Vertical East of the Rockies” and while the mountain attracts athletes from all over the world, it’s a place that local families flock to as well. It has plenty of terrain for skiers and riders of all ages and levels. If you’re newbies or need a refresher, don’t forget to sign the kids up for group lessons at Kids Kampus and book an individual lesson for yourself. Also be sure to try some Cross Country Skiing at Mt. Van Hoevenberg.
Other family fun activities: Be sure to check out the Olympic speed skating oval. Bring your own skates or rent them. In the center of the Speed Skating Oval, one of the few outdoor rinks of its kind left in the country, get cozy and warm up around the fire pit. On both rinks, you’ll be skating with history. Here’s the story: It was in Lake Placid during the 1932 Winter Olympics that Norwegian figure skater, Sonja Henie, won gold and pirouetted into hearts around the world. That same year, the USA Men’s Speed skating Team made a gold medal sweep, with local hero Jack Shea striking gold twice and teammate Irving Jaffee winning the remaining two medals. Nearly 50 years later on that very oval, USA Men’s Speed skater Eric Heiden set Olympic history by winning an unprecedented five gold medals.
Another great place to hit— Snow tubing at Olympic Jumping Complex. We totally lucked out. The first time we tried to go for an hour session was right before dinnertime and it was too crowded. So we waited until near dark and it was like he had the hill to ourselves! The perfect activity to get the blood pumping. Bonus: every tubing ticket purchased, funds will go to support USA Ski Jumping.
Where to Eat: Before you hit the slopes, grab some breakfast at The Breakfast Club (the eggs benedicts are incredible!) Stop in for lunch at Pan Dolce Restaurant and enjoy a stellar dinner, The Great Adirondack Steak and Seafood Company (be sure to order the “Grilled Crisp Romaine” appetizer!) Or drop in, kick back and chow down with some great food at The Cowboy (2226 Saranac Ave., Lake Placid)
Must Not Miss: If you’re brave enough, the Bobsled Experience is one for your bucket list! Chills, thrills, and the coolest way to see what it feels like to be a comet. You get a professional driver and a brakeman and the thrill-ride begins on the half-mile point on the track –the same one used by Olympic racers! All four of us got to go together-my little one was in the back because we were seated tallest to shortest. I wasn’t sure if she’d be laughing or crying at the end but under her helmet, she was all smiles and begged to go again. It’s pricey but absolutely exhilarating!
Also, about 35 miles away is the Tupper Lake Wild Center, and it is a must-see. They’re open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout the winter season. You can take part in the special Wild Winter Weekend action-they offer free snowshoe use for everyone who visits, if you are interested in a hike on top of the snow. There are so many educational and fun things to see there. For example, the indoor Hall of the Adirondacks houses the Living River Trail and its live exhibits, including the otters at Otter Falls. The otters are awesome and there’s a wealth of information about the nature of the wild Adirondacks.
Where to Stay: For all-out, top-notch luxury accommodations, Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa is the place to book-it’s the only four diamond resort on the lake, and totally worth the splurge. There’s a world-class spa, three restaurants, an indoor pool-even a private ice rink! If you’re on a budget or want a throwback to classic Lake Placid charm, Wildwood on the Lake is a wonderful suggestion. It’s owned and operated by the (very hospitable!) Weber family for 39 years and they truly make you feel like a welcomed guest. Enjoy an indoor heated pool, whirlpools, and sauna. Their winter-package prices are extremely affordable. Ask for a room with a fireplace-so warm and cozy!