If you are looking for some winter family fun, Lake Placid is an excellent destination to visit. Located 5 hours from the New York City and Boston areas, nestled in the stunning Adirondack mountains (here are other things to do in the Adirondacks), lies the charming town of Lake Placid, New York, home to the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. Lake Placid’s ski resort, Whiteface Mountain, features one of the highest mountain peaks east of the Rockies. The Whiteface Resort is the center of all things winter sports related, but visitors will find many enjoyable activities off the slopes as well. Here’s what to do in Lake Placid with kids during the winter.
Things to Do in Lake Placid with Kids
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Most visitors head to Lake Placid in the winter for the skiing and they will not be disappointed. Whiteface Mountain has 87 trails, four terrain parks, cross country skiing, and some crazy double black diamond slides for expert skiers (hopefully your kids won’t make you go on those).
Group and private lessons are available for children of all ages and abilities (adults too) and there is child care available for those little ones who aren’t quite ready to hit the slopes. Olympic athletes still train on the mountain and world class events are held on these slopes, so prepare for some top rate skiing when you visit Whiteface.
If skiing and snowboarding aren’t your thing, don’t worry, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy. Head over to the Olympic Sports Complex where you can experience the thrill of a lifetime, shooting down a bobsled track! Don’t worry, they give you a brakeman and driver, you just have to be brave enough to climb in. It isn’t cheap ($90/adult, $85/teen (13-19), $80/junior (7-12)), and riders must be at least 48″ tall. Families can choose either a four or six man sled, and rest assured you will make it down the track, you just might leave your stomach somewhere along the way.
Next to the Sports Complex is the Olympic Cross Country Biathlon Center where snow shoes and cross country skis are available to rent. Down the road at the Olympic Jumping Complex visitors can ride an elevator to the top of the launching platform where skiers prepare themselves before speeding down the ramp and shooting through the sky. There is a stunning view from the top, and there is an admission fee, but this is your opportunity to see what Olympic ski jumpers experience at the beginning of their run. This is not for the faint of heart.
When you are ready to head inside, one of the first places to explore should be the Lake Placid Olympic Museum inside the Olympic Center where visitors learn about the stories, athletes, and the history of the Winter Olympics and Lake Placid. Before a visit, you may want to watch the movie “Miracle on Ice” with your family. The movie is the story of the historic Olympic matchup when the U.S. hockey team defeated the USSR in the Olympic Center ice arena during the 1980 Winter games. It helps to have background information and watching the movie brings some of the history to life when you step through the doors and see the ice for the first time. You don’t have to be a hockey lover to appreciate the Olympic Center and the moments of glory that have happened on this ice.
Outside the Olympic Center there is outdoor public ice skating at the James Sheffield Speedskating Oval. Here you can rent skates and show off your Apollo Ohno like moves as the crowd goes wild. The 400 meter oval was used in both the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Games and is the location where Eric Heiden won his 5 gold medals in the 1980 Winter games. Families with children of all ages can enjoy the outdoors and skating in the crisp mountain air.
Other fun activities in Lake Placid include the Cloudsplitter Gondola ride at Whiteface Mountain, horse drawn sleigh rides through the Olympic village, snow tubing, hiking, tobogganing onto the town’s lake (weather permitting), and riding on a dog sled too. Families may find themselves short on time to experience all the wonderful winter activities that Lake Placid has to offer.
Most restaurants and shops are located along Main Street or around Mirror Lake. For delicious Mexican food, head to Wyatt’s where they have tacos and burritos made to order, a perfect place for a quick bite to eat and a reasonably priced lunch. Big Mountain Deli and Creperie has the most amazing sweet and savory crepes as well as numerous sandwich options. For those with a sweet tooth try Emma’s Lake Placid Creamery for frozen treats or Adirondack Popcorn Company for fun flavors such as Fire Starter (sweet/cayenne), Almond Joy, and Birthday Cake to name a few.
My sister’s family stayed at the Courtyard Marriott in Lake Placid which is newly renovated and located about 20 minutes from the ski slopes at Whiteface, and a two minute drive to town. She said the staff was friendly, the rooms were comfortable, and they enjoyed the pool, hot tubs, and workout facility. There are many lodging options in Lake Placid, from basic to luxury, so every traveler should be able to find accommodations to suit their needs.