One night in Lake Placid? Here's where we went to stay, eat, shop.
My last time in Lake Placid, New York, I was close to death with undoubtedly a very unusual, very exotic ailment befitting a travel writer. Okay, okay I had an ordinary, everyday, run of the mill virus that I defeated with rest and ginger ale! But I digress...
The gap between what I wanted to do in Lake Placid and what I was actually able to accomplish was so big that the circumstances felt much more tragic than they were. I felt I had spent so much time in the city but I really hadn't had a chance to properly see it, to really connect. So when I had the opportunity for a last minute do-over, I jumped at the chance! And this time, I took Ryan along for the adventure.
Roadtripping through upstate New York.
I'm not joking when I describe things as last minute. With less than 24 hours to go we decided to leave a day early and split up our drive to Providence, which was on our radar for a $200 Challenge. Am I ever glad we did!
We made it to Lake Placid in under 4 hours, even with a bad snowstorm on our end. As we drove through upstate New York, the skies began to clear. This was a good sign and our road trip was off to a great start!
A shot of good luck at the Lake House.
Things couldn't have been sunnier when we pulled into Lake Placid - literally and figuratively. We had grabbed a room at the Lake House purely on the criteria of it being the cheapest hotel of the day and doing so was a wonderful stroke of luck.
We were lucky in more ways than one. We hadn't realized just how few properties lined Lake Placid's Main Street - a good number are a few blocks away or just on the edge of town. In most locations this wouldn't be something we'd give a second thought to but in Lake Placid it pays to be in the centre of town. But first, a few words about the Lake House...
For a last minute booking and the bargain price of under $100, the Lake House blew us away. Our room had an incredible view of Mirror Lake and we loved the spacious layout of the room and the rustic style of the decor. It was so nice to have a room with some character, especially at a great price point. Some of our favourite features included the bright red wool bedspread, the wooden headboard, and wooden detailing on the high ceiling.
The killer view, the cute room, and the amazing location weren't the only reasons we liked the Lake House. We were also impressed by the wonderfully friendly staff, who didn't hesitate to give us personal recommendations for dinner and remembered to follow up with us later in the day to check about our choices.
At $100 a pop, it's hard to be picky about a room like this but we did have two concerns. The first was the Wi-Fi. It was spotty in the extreme - for all intents and purposes it was like we didn't have it. The second concern was that while the majority of the room was gleaming clean, some things could have been improved.
For instance, the coffee maker hadn't been cleaned and emptied after the last guest. There was still a used filter in the machine, one of the paper cups was dirty, and the empty wrappers of the coffee packs remained in place as if they were full. And in the otherwise spotless bathroom, there was some dirt and dust and plastic pieces behind the door.
We had the impression that the hotel is kept to a very clean standard but our room received a rush job when the previous guest had checked out. Fortunately, these minor annoyances didn't dampen our excitement to explore the city.
Exploring Lake Placid's Main St.
After checking in, we instantly took advantage of our amazing location and set out to explore. Have you ever had one of those travel days where you are just SO HAPPY to travel and it fully hits you just how wonderfully fortunate you are to be on the road?
That's exactly how I felt walking through the shops on Main Street - and I had my epiphany in the Adirondack Popcorn Company (of course)! I was obsessed with this company from my first visit - and had no idea it was located in the same building as my previous stay's hotel. It was time to stock up! Gosh Lake Placid, it's good to be back!
The Adirondack Popcorn Company wasn't the only tasty stop along the way. We also had the chance to visit the Saratoga Olive Oil shop and sample to our hearts' content. I absolutely adore this little store! It was hard to narrow down our choices to just one bespoke bottle but we haven't regretted our purchase of Harissa spiced olive oil yet. (Though there's a Vermont maple balsamic vinegar that I'm still feeling wistful about....)
My only regret about our trip is that we arrived so late in the day that many of the stores were already closed when we headed out to explore. But considering that Lake Placid was a last minute addition to our trip we certainly couldn't complain. We had clear skies, fancy oil, gourmet popcorn, and sweet deal of a hotel room. What more could anyone want?
Finally, some food.
A short visit didn't leave us with much time to explore Lake Placid's restaurants but we still managed to fit in two big meals. For dinner, we opted for convenience and went to The Dancing Bears, just across the street from the Lake House in their sister hotel.
We were again treated to some amazing views and Ryan got to sample something that I had missed out on during my last visit - the region's fantastic craft beers. His beers were a steal at just a few dollars each but I was admittedly disappointed that they didn't offer any local wine from the many wineries in New York.
Luck stayed on Ryan's side for his dinner. He was in burger heaven with his selection and couldn't help saying "I'm so happy!" with each mouthful. I didn't sample things myself but that sounds like a pretty wholehearted endorsement if you ask me!
I was less exuberant about my turkey dinner platter. It wasn't that my meal was bad. It just wasn't fantastic. I appreciated the generous portion of juicy turkey but the apple cider gravy wasn't much in evidence - which was a good thing given how salty it was (and I'm a salt lover!) The garlic mashed potatoes would have been a delicious on another plate but here the garlic was a misfit. The carrots, which were delicious, were icy cold. All in all, I'd happily eat here again - I just wished I had order my second choice entree, the trout. I think I would have enjoyed it more.
One thing I did enjoy without hesitation was the delicious mug o' brownie that came, true to form, with a brownie style mud cake cooked in a mug, served hot, and topped with ice cream and whipped cream. It was delicious and a wonderful end to our day.
We were up bright and early the next morning to fit in one final treat - a hearty breakfast and the chance to catch up with a friend. The Breakfast Club Etc is something of a Lake Placid landmark - it seems everyone in town was recommending it to us. And we were happy to find lots of variety on their menu and fast service during our visit (though we were glad to have arrived as early as we did - it filled up FAST.)
While Ryan chowed down on a mashup of sausage and biscuits-meets-eggs Benedict, I was congratulating myself on finding a breakfast plate that combined eggs, bacon, potatoes, sour cream, melted Brie, and apples all in one dish. With the exception of the potatoes being on the dry side, we were happy campers and felt properly fueled up and ready to tackle a full day in Providence.
Definitely not my last trip.
I've come to realize that I'm not your typical Lake Placid visitor. I'm not particularly sporty or adventurous and you'll never catch me going down the epic toboggan chute or hitting the ski trails. I even -gasp! - couldn't care less who won a certain Olympic hockey game!
But Lake Placid brings out a different side of me - and while I may not be a typical visitor, when I'm in Lake Placid I'm also not my typical self. It always feels like the right place to reconnect with my traveling roots. Things that I hate to do in other destinations - like popping into gift stores and shopping for souvenirs - feels right here. I just feel more relaxed. I may never be one of those visitors who books an annual crazy ski trip but I will be one of those visitors who's always happy to pop in every time I'm passing through town to reconnect once again.
Have you ever had a destination do-over?
Heading to Lake Placid? These articles will help you plan your trip:
Feeling Lazy and Lopsided in Lake Placid
Planning the Perfect Lake Placid Snow Day
The Anti-Adventurist's Guide to the Adirondacks
Save, Splurge, Steal: Talking Adirondacks Value with Kim Rielly
Sustainable Travel for the Value Minded Traveler