For those not ready to give up the chill and graceful beauty of winter, why not take a weekend trip up to the winter wonderland that is Lake Placid? The village with the same name as the nearby lake is a five-hour drive away from Nassau County, but a vast—and much needed—change in surroundings, with the tips of mountain peaks covered in white at all times and a frozen lake perfect for snow-filled activities.
My boyfriend and I packed the Durabed of the 2019 Chevy Silverado—perfectly roomy for a ton of ski gear—with our bags, a few bottles of wine, boots and room for more, and hit the road at 6:30 a.m. on a Friday morning. Now, a five-hour drive might seem pretty long, but we had curated a Spotify playlist to get us through. I don’t know how great our song choices were because we kept hitting next on the infotainment touch display or on the steering wheel. Although there were two of us in the front seat enjoying the personalized heating system and seat warmers, the Silverado would have comfortably fit a family of five, with plenty of leg room.
As we drove further upstate, we could see a change in the weather and a light snow on the ground. After getting off I-87, it was as if we had been transported into a winter wonderland, with frozen ice formations and ice climbers with their picks and ropes, a partially frozen river and a picturesque bridge covered in a recently fallen snow. At first, I was a bit weary because I hate driving in snow, but the truck handled extremely well. Going upstate, back down and each day of the trip around the village and to Whiteface Mountain called for many of twists and turns that the Silverado navigated with ease.
Before checking into our lodging, so we decided to use our Olympic Passports, a ticket I highly recommend when visiting the area because it allows you to visit several of Olympic sites, such as the Lake Placid Olympic Museum, a quaint museum with interesting Olympics memorabilia. The passport also includes ice skating on the Olympic Speed Skating Oval, a tour of the combined bobsled/luge/skeleton track, a tour of the Olympic Jumping Complex and elevator to the skydeck, which sits on top of the 120-meter jump tower, and a scenic ride on the Cloudsplitter Gondola to the top of Little Whiteface.
After checking out the museum, we ventured onto Main Street, full of shops offering ski and skate rentals, a bookstore, a plethora of restaurants for all tastes, homemade décor stores, a popcorn shop with unusual flavors like mint chocolate, breweries, clothing stores and a four-screen movie theater. While walking down Main Street, you can nab a glimpse of the frozen lake between stores.
Most of the restaurants in Lake Placid sit right on Mirror Lake, so each night and morning we were able to view couples walking hand in hand on the snowy lake or ice skaters practicing through the wall-length windows. While the views were phenomenal, each restaurant had fantastic cuisine from Jimmy’s 21, a cozy Italian restaurant, to The Boat House, which sits across the lake allowing for views of the bustle of Main Street inside a cabin-like restaurant with a roaring fireplace, to The Breakfast Club, Etc., which has a lengthy menu of mimosas and bloody Marys and a must-have menu item: the sausage biscuit bene which featured a scratch-made cheddar biscuit topped with homemade rosemary whole grain Dijon sausage, poached eggs and hollandaise.
For all dessert needs, Emma’s Lake Placid Creamery has a ton of tasty treats like edible cookie dough and hot cocoa with a scoop of ice cream topped with whipped cream and toppings. Each restaurant we visited was family-friendly and, while at Emma’s, we witnessed staff go out of their way to learn about a family’s weekend plans and help them create the best sundae.
Our hotel, Crowne Plaza Lake Placid (101 Olympic Dr.), sat atop a hill, allowing for mountain and lake views, and was within walking distance of all of the shops, restaurants and lake activities. Pulling up to the hotel, it was like walking into a Hallmark Christmas movie—you know the one, with the log cabin resort that the main character always ends up stranded in and the fireplace with a seating area perfect for a relaxing night after a day of skiing and romance and all. Our deluxe room was at the other end of the hotel, and just oozed a cozy feeling with its own in-room fireplace that captured my attention immediately as a spot for reading and a balcony with a view of the mountains and the snow that fell almost every day.
While the Olympic sights are a must-visit, there are still so many activities happening on Mirror Lake every day. I would say a day could be dedicated to lake activities: ice skating, friendly games of hockey, a walk on the frozen lake, or a ride on the Toboggan Chute that launches riders straight onto Mirror Lake. Although we waited about an hour for dog sledding (I’d suggest getting there when it opens at 10 a.m.), it was worth the wait to experience the beauty of Mirror Lake and its surroundings while watching little dog butts run along a path in front of you.
On our last day, we headed to Whiteface Mountain, traveling just a few minutes outside of the Main Street area along a winding road filled with snow. We barely felt any bumps along the way, including the twisty ride up the mountain and into a lot where we had to parallel park in one of the last spaces with ease because of the surround vision and back-up camera. The resort was filled with skiers in colorful jackets each way you looked, families, couples and individual skiers getting ready to hit the slopes, speeding down the mountain or waiting for the Cloudsplitter Gondola. If you only use the Olympic Passport for one thing, make sure it’s the gondola ride. Whether a skier or not, the ride takes you to the top of Little Whiteface, during which I learned you can view Vermont from someone else on the ride. The ride is a winter lover’s dream with overall breathtaking views as the ride climbs the mountain, and once you reach the top, step out and look at the mountain tops above and lakes below.
With a ton of activities, restaurants and gorgeous views, Lake Placid is a great spot for a family weekend getaway, a romantic couples retreat or a friends vacation that will have you returning time and again.