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Covering much of northern New York State, the Adirondacks Mountains region contains the largest naturally protected area in the contiguous United States. With more than 100 communities, it’s truly about choosing your adventure, whether it’s a peaceful lakeside getaway in Lake George, a hiking adventure in the High Peaks Wilderness near Lake Placid, or even an underwater dive to look for shipwrecks in the Adirondack Seaway up north. Many choose to start their week-long adventures in Old Forge, known as the Adirondack Base Camp, while others make a weekend trip out of it, whether it’s chasing thrills at the theme park or just gazing into the serenity of the area’s natural beauty.
Since the Adirondack region covers six million acres, the length of travel depends on exactly where in the region you’re headed. Generally speaking, it’s about a five-hour drive northwest of Boston or four hours north of New York City. Sitting just across from the Quebec border, interstates 87 and 81 offer easy access. Once you’re in the area, there are 14 Adirondack Scenic Byways in the park. Train service runs from New York City and Montreal, and buses are available from major U.S. cities. For those looking to fly, there are three regional airports in the area: Adirondack Regional Airport (SLK) in Lake Clear, Plattsburgh International Airport (PBG) in Montreal, and Ogdensburg International Airport (OGS). If you’re hoping to travel around the vast region, a rental car is the best way to go.
For outdoor lovers, May to August is definitely the sweet spot to visit the Adirondack Mountains, when highs are in the upper 60s to low 80s Fahrenheit and lows are in the mid-40s to upper 50s. Of course, along with the lovely weather comes the crowds, so book ahead. Winter sports fans will generally find the best conditions from November to April, but look for freezing temperatures, usually in the low teens to mid-30s, but dipping down to the single digits in January and February. Pack accordingly with the warmest of gear, including hats, gloves, scarfs, and maybe even hand and foot warmers.
Best known as the site of the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980, the village is packed with winning spirit year-round. Take the elevator to the top of the 70- and 90-meter ski jumps for an aerial view of the Adirondack Mountains — and, for the more daring, speed back down to earth via the zipline. The high-adrenaline adventures continue on the country’s longest mountain coaster in North America at Mt. Van Hoevenberg, where the 1980 bobsled team raced. But it’s not all about the sports history here: The downtown area is packed with delightful locally owned boutiques and eateries, including a brewery and bakery.
The entertainment options are endless in the area surrounding the 32-mile-long lake. There are mini golf courses and an amusement park, craft breweries and wineries, local boutiques, and factory outlets, all set to the backdrop of the mountain-and-forest scenery.
Packed with unique adventures, a day in the village of Saranac Lake can include river walking in waders, forest bathing, and canoeing in the state’s only designated canoe zone. Plus learn how the mountain air here helped cure tuberculosis patients around the turn of the center at the Saranac Laboratory Museum.