East Coast

Go For The Gold: 9 Fun Things to Do in Lake Placid in Winter

Lake Placid Olympic Gold Medal
See a Lake Placid Olympic Gold Medal at the Olympic Center. credit: Catherine Parker

Located in the protected Adirondack Park, Lake Placid is one of the top winter destinations in the U.S. With the help from the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Winter Games, Lake Placid still churns out winter gold. From ice skating to skiing and boarding to dog sledding, Lake Placid is all about winter activities and winter sports. Its charming downtown offers independently owned shops and cafes, and all are decorated with twinkling white lights. About five hours from NYC and just two from Albany, Lake Placid makes for a great weekend winter getaway. Here are the top things to do in Lake Placid.

New York State protected the 6 million acres of Adirondack Park in 1892. A mix of public and private land, it includes about 100 mountain peaks and rolling forestland. For travelers, it offers a refined winter getaway, combining outdoor activities, understated lodges and restaurants with farm-to-table menus with New York’s best products.

Top Things to Do in Lake Placid New York

Go Skiing or Boarding at Whiteface Mountain
Visit Olympic Legacy Sites in Lake Placid
Ice Skating in Lake Placid
Dog Sledding on Mirror Lake
Take a Horse-Drawn Sleigh Ride
Stroll Main Street in Lake Placid
Visit the Lake Saranac Winter Festival Ice Palace
Go Tubing and Sledding near Lake Placid
Sample a Farm-to-Table Menus
Northface Mountain Resort
Northface Mountain Resort features the highest vertical on the East Coast. credit: Catherine Parker

Whiteface Mountain for Skiing and Boarding

This is where to ski and snowboard in the Adirondack Mountains. Whiteface Mountain boasts the greatest vertical in the East. For those new to skiing and snowboarding, that means Whiteface has the greatest skiable elevation east of the Rocky Mountains.

Whiteface Mountain is owned and operated by the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA), a New York State public benefit corporation set up after the 1980 Winter Olympics held in Lake Placid. This is the only state-run ski organization in the U.S. It includes Belleayre Mountain, Whiteface Mountain, Mt. Van Hoevenberg, the Olympic Center, and Gore Mountain.

Whiteface Mountain By the Numbers

Base Elevation: 1,220 ft.

Summit Elevation: 4,650 ft.

Vertical Drop: 3,430 ft.

Skiable Acres: 290

Type of Terrain

Percentage of Runs






Double Black



Longest Run

2.1 miles

Total Named Runs:



13 Total:

1 gondola, 1 high-speed quad, 5 quad chairs, 1 triple chair, 3 double chairs, 2 surface lifts

Like most resorts on the East Coast, Whiteface Mountain offers snowmaking across its resort, covering 99% of its skiable acres. The remaining 2% is in the glades. To do this, it uses 650+ snow guns and over 40 miles of pipe.

Like most resorts in the East, the snow conditions can be icy at times.

2023-2024 Lift Tickets


At the Resort

Advance Online Purchase

20+ Full Day


Weekday from $62

Weekend/Holiday $93

13 to 19 Full Day


Weekday from $47

Weekend/Holiday $71

7 to 12 Full Day


Weekday from $40

Weekend/Holiday $59

Senior 65 to 69


Weekday from $47

Weekend/Holiday $71

Senior 70+


Weekday from $28

Weekend/Holiday $41

6 and Under


Available at the resort only

Whiteface Mountain Lodges

Whiteface Mountain features two lower-level lodges: Base Lodge and Bear Ben Lodge. There is also a mid-mountain lodge, Legacy Lodge.

The Base Lodge offers the most dining options. From Black Diamond Burrito Bar to the Base Camp Market, this lodge offers the most dining options. Both the Bear Ben Lodge and the Legacy Lodge are newly constructed.

Learning at Whiteface Mountain

Cub Camp

Whiteface Mountain offers ski lessons for kids 4 years old and older. Lessons are headquartered at the Bear Ben Lodge. Non-holiday lessons run from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., with holiday lessons running from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. with a sack lunch.

The learning area features two surface lifts of different lengths. They are the Coyote Cruiser and the Cub Carpet.

Junior Adventure

For kids from 7 to 12, skiers and snowboarders are grouped together by ability. For snowboarding lessons, kids can start at 7-years-old.

At Whiteface Mountain, most group lessons include a beginner lift ticket, valid on the surface lifts and the Falcon Flyer. Group lessons do not include rental gear.

Cub Camp lessons and lift ticket starts at $239. Junior Adventure lessons and lift ticket starts at $259.

Teens and adults are also grouped by ability, and lessons start at $99 (lesson only). Whiteface Mountain offers adaptive ski lessons as well. Private lessons are available as well.

History of Whiteface Mountain

Whiteface Mountain opened in January 1958. It was the location of all the Alpine skiing events at the 1980 Olympic Winter Games. The 1932 Olympic Winter Games did not offer Alpine Skiing.

Located at 5021 Route 86, Wilmington. It is open for winter operations from mid-November through mid-April, depending on the weather. It is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Lifts open at 8:30 a.m.

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1980 Olympic Ice Rink
The 1980 Olympic Ice Rink is in the Olympic Center. credit: Catherine Parker

Visit Olympic Legacy Sites in Lake Placid

From Whiteface Mountain to Mt. Van Hoevenburg to the Olympic Center, Lake Placid’s Olympic Legacy is hard to miss. Visitors will see the Olympic Rings at several locations, and best of all, these sites have been upgraded over the years and are still in use.

The Olympic Center

At the Olympic Center, visitors can enjoy The Lake Placid Olympic Museum. It explains Lake Placid’s Olympic history with authentic artifacts from past games, like actual Olympic Medals and the Olympic Relay Torches. It is an excellent first stop.

In the complex, visitors will also find the 1932 Jack Shea Arena, completed renovated and still used by competitions and the public. The 1980 Herb Brooks Area is the fabled location of the 1980 U.S. Hockey triumph, the Miracle on Ice. During the games, the U.S. team defeated the favored Soviet Union team and went on to win the gold.

Located at 2634 Main St. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Mt. Van Hoevenburg Olympic Sports Complex

From its Olympic Heritage, Mt. Van Hoevenburg is an Olympic Sports Complex. It is the home of the slide track, used for bobsled, luge and skeleton competitions from youth to the World Cup. There are also 55 km of cross-country and snowshoeing trails open to the public.

For visitors who want to get out and explore, Mt. Van Hoevenburg offers lessons and rental equipment. Snowshoeing is a top winter activity in Lake Placid, perfect for enjoying the scenery more than wind-in-your-face thrills. Lessons are available for those new to the sport, starting at $36 for adults and $24 for students. Rental gear is also available.

Mt Van Hoevenburg offers lessons, day passes and rentals for cross-country skiing (Nordic). So visitors new to the sport (or traveling without their gear) can cross-country ski, both classic cross-country and skate ski. Group lessons are available for beginners, intermediate, and advanced. Lessons are $65 and include a trail pass, rental gear and the lesson.

Bobsled Lake Placid
A bobsled at the Olympic Slide Center at Lake Placid. credit: Catherine Parker

Mt Van Hoevenburg Slide Track

Mt Van Hoevenburg hosted the 1930 Olympic Bobsled competition on an earthen track built for the event. The track was eventually replaced by a concrete and refrigerated slide track in 2000 that is used today. It is known as a technically difficult track for athletes in all slide events.

During my visit, Mt Van Hoevenburg was holding timed runs for bobsled. It was exhilarating to watch in person. I really got a sense of the speed and power of the bobsled event.

For guests who want to experience speed without years of training, Mt Van Hoevenburg hosts a Bobsled Experience. Held over the Holidays and Holiday weekends, a professional driver guides participants down a mile of the course at speeds of 50 mph.

Skeleton Experience is also available. Participants will head down the track head-first on a skeleton sled, hitting speeds over 30 mph. For both experiences, participants have to be 9 years old and 52 inches tall.

Located at 31 Van Hoevenberg Way. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Olympic Ski Jump
The Olympic Ski Jump hosts competitions like the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup. credit: Catherine Parker

Olympic Jumping Complex

With a 100-meter and 128-meter ski jump, this complex towers over the surrounding forest. It was built for the 1980 Winter Olympics and is still used for events. It hosted the 2024 FIS Ski Jump World Cup.

Visitors can ride to the top of the 120-meter ski jump when it is not in use with the Skyride Experience. First, you take a gondola, then a glass elevator to the top of the platform.

Located at 5486 Cascade Rd. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Adult (13+) admission is $20 and kids (7 to 12) are $15.

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Olympic Oval Lake Placid
The Olympic Speed Skating Oval in Lake Placid. credit: Catherine Parker

Ice Skating in Lake Placid

One of the top things to do in Lake Placid is ice skate. There are both indoor and outdoor options. If you own skates, there are even free places to skate in Lake Placid.

Lake Placid offers three separate indoor ice skating rinks, open for public skate sessions most days. The 1932 ice skating rink is still operational. Both the 1980 ice skate rink and the USA rink are used.

All indoor rinks are located at the Olympic Center at 2634 Main St. The schedule changes day by day as the Olympic Center is used for hockey games and figure skating practices. Adult admission is $15, students (7 to 19) are $12 and kids (6 and younger) enter for free. Skate rental is an extra $10 per person.

Olympic Speed Skating Oval

Visitors can see how fast the ice is on an Olympic Oval. After all, this is where Eric Heiden won five Olympic gold medals in 1980. This is one of the Olympic Heritage Sites from the 1980 Olympic Games.

The giant outdoor loop is oval-shaped and was used for speed skating events. In the evenings, it is lighted, making for a popular spot to enjoy the outdoors for all ages.

Located at 2634 Main Street. Adult admission is $15, students (7 to 19) are $12 and kids (6 and younger) enter for free. Skate rental is an extra $10 per person with helmets and pads available as well.

Public skate events are subject to weather closures and special events. The Olympic Over is open for public skating most evenings from 7 to 8:30 p.m., with additional times during holidays and weekends.

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DogSledding on Mirror Lake
Thunder Mountain Dog Sled Tours is on Mirror Lake. credit: Catherine Parker

Winter Activities on Mirror Lake

On the other side of Lake Placid’s Main Street, Mirror Lake freezes in the winter. This is a popular spot for several winter activities, including ice skating, dog sledding and pond hockey games.

Mirror Lake offers a toboggan chute, a 30-foot high structure with three separate chutes that empties onto frozen Mirror Lake. The toboggan chute is weather-dependent. Adults are $20 and students are $10 with a toboggan rental.

Dog Sledding on Mirror Lake

A team of happy Huskies (and Husky mixes) take their passengers on a spin of the lake in a time-honored winter activity. During my visit to Lake Placid, I hopped on a custom-built sled owned and operated by Thunder Mountain Dog Sled Tours.

It has a team of 33 dogs and uses eight dogs to pull the sled. Its mushers are very friendly. During my ride, I learned about the dogs, like what temperatures they prefer and what they eat after a day at work.

The dogs are bred for cold, and some breeds can handle up to -80F. After work, the dogs enjoy high-quality dog food and are given high-fat snacks during the day.

Thunder Mountain Dog Sled Tours are located on Mirror Lake behind High Peaks Resort at 2384 Saranac Ave. It operates from Friday to Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and daily during holiday weeks. Adults are $20 and kids are $10. Cash only and first-come, first-served.

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Horse-Drawn Sleigh Rides near Lake Placid

If you’re traveling with your loves, a sleigh ride at Lake Placid is hard to beat. Taking a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the snow-covered landscape is magical. This sleigh ride is lantern-lit for an extra dose of ambiance as it travels through an original Adirondacks Great Lodge.

Carriage rides are located at Clear Lake Lodge and Resort, 6319 State Route 30, Lake Clear, about 30 minutes west of Lake Placid. Each carriage ride lasts about 30 minutes. Adults are $42, kids (4 to 9) are $25 and kids 3 and younger cost $10. Reservations are required, and sleigh rides are available on Friday and Saturday evenings during the winter, along with holidays.

Stroll Downtown Lake Placid

Even in the shortest days of winter, downtown Lake Placid is cheery and bright. Main Street offers winter decorations throughout the season. See the trees lining the street with white lights and the individual shops dripping in icicle lights. 

Evergreen trees are everywhere, both indoors and out. The overall vibe is cozy and welcoming with wooden canoes and paddles used a decorations.

While strolling the streets of Lake Placid, I recommend ducking into its independently owned shops. The Bookstore Plus sells books, art supplies, and stationery. It is located at 2491 Main St., Lake Placid. ZDAKS makes custom wood art featuring digital photos. It is located at 2527 Main St. in the Alpine Mall. For those who need another cozy sweater, Irish Treasures sells tweed, cashmere and wool clothing and accessories. It is located at 2567 Main St.

Saranac Ice Palace
Lake Saranac Winter Festival builds an Ice Palace credit: Catherine Parker

Ice Palace at the Lake Saranac Winter Festival

As a part of the Saranac Lake Winter Festival, the first ice palace was constructed in 1898. Located about 10 miles west of Lake Placid in Lake Saranac, the annual ice palace is a favorite.

Constructed by volunteers with locally harvested ice blocks, the palace is made with 2-by-4-foot blocks. With walls at heights of 30 feet, modern machinery is vital to construction. However. some of the work is still done the old-fashioned way. The traditional antique ice shavers are used to shape walls. Each block is placed and mortared by hand with a slushed mix.

The design and shape of the Ice Palace change each year, and it often features rooms and even furniture. The addition of LED-colored lights adds excitement, especially at night, with its changing colors bouncing off the ice walls.

Located at 22 River St, Saranac Lake, NY. It is open from early to mid-February and dependent on weather conditions. It is free to enter and has no official hours.

Where to Go Tubing and Sledding near Lake Placid

For a fun snow play day, head to a snow-covered hill for tubing and sledding. It is one of the top things to do in Lake Placid.

Mt. Pisgah Recreation Center in Saranac Lake

Mt. Pisgah Recreation Center is the easiest place to snow tube. It offers groomed tubing lanes with a rope tow, so you don’t have to haul the tube back up the hill.

Mt. Pisgah Recreation Center also offers a small ski and snowboarding hill with two T bar lifts. This mountain doesn’t offer rental equipment.

It is open Tuesday to Friday from 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Closed most Mondays, except holidays.

Located at 92 Mount Pisgah Lane, Saranac Lake.

Kiwanis Teddy Bear Park

Parks and playgrounds are excellent places to sled if you BYOS (bring your own sled). Kiwanis Teddy Bear Park offers playground equipment and some slopes for sledding. This area isn’t groomed, though other sledders might have blazed a route already.

The park is located at 48 Elm St., Lake Placid. For travelers, find inexpensive sleds along Main Street in Lake Placid.

Wilmington Youth Center

In the shadow of Whiteface Mountain, this park offers a sled hill.

Located on Park Lane. Open to sunrise to 10 p.m.

Poutine is a hearty meal perfect after a day outdoors. credit: Catherine Parker

Where to Eat in Lake Placid and Saranac Lake

Soulshine Bagel

For active mornings, a quick and hearty breakfast is just the thing. At Soulshine Bagel, diners will find an assortment of bagels, like cinnamon-raisin, everything and sesame. Keep a look out for seasonal bagels in fanciful colors.

Bagels are an easy to-go breakfast for those headed to the slopes. Soulshine Bagel offers several cream cheese spreads and breakfast sandwiches.

Located at 2526 Main St. Open daily from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Capisce Coffee and Espresso

Step into Capisce Coffee and Espresso for a quick bakery bite along with barista-made coffee and inventive teas. It also blends smoothies and makes breakfast sandwiches.

Located at 5659 Cascade Rd., Lake Placid. Open Thursday through Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. (2 p.m. on Sunday). Closed Wednesday.

Big Slide Brewery & Public House

Craft beer is a time-honored tradition in New York State. Big Slide Brewery & Public House offers a full menu of lunch and dinner farm-to-table favorites, like hearth-oven pizzas, hero sandwiches and locally sourced salads.

Beer drinkers will find a full menu of specialty craft beers and beer flights are available. New York-produced cider and wine is also available.

Located at 5686 Cascade Rd., Lake Placid. Open Monday to Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Stagecoach Inn Lake Placid
The historic Stagecoach Inn features a farm-to-table menu. credit: Catherine Parker

Stagecoach Inn

Built in the late 1700s on seven acres of land, The Stagecoach Inn is the oldest building in Lake Placid. Inside an authentic Adirondack Lodge, the Stagecoach Inn offers a hearty menu with locally sourced ingredients, perfect for a special occasion.

Its chef creates weekly menus with an eye to local flavors and ingredients. During my visit, its menu offers Wagyu flat iron, Icelandic cod and Kangaroo Loin. I recommend starting with a New York cheese plate. Diners will find local beer, cider and wine.

Located at 3 Stagecoach Inn. Open for dinner and reservations are required.

Campfire Adirondack Grill + Bar

For a modern take on traditional comfort food, Campfire Adirondack Grill + Bar offers a menu with classics like Fried Chicken, Grilled Salmon and a Ribeye. During my visit, I dug into ADK Poutine, followed by ADK Shepard’s Pie.

Campfire offers craft beer and New York cider, a full wine list and a range of craft cocktails. Desserts include a s’mores board for two, a peanut butter skillet brownie, and others.

Located at 100 Main St., Saranac Lake. Open daily for breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 9 p.m.

The Marcy

Located on the ground floor of the Grand Adirondack Hotel, The Marcy features Adirondack classics like poutine, a charcuterie board and a cheese board. For entrees, the steak frites are popular. I had Hunter Schnitzel, a breaded pork cutlet served with braised red cabbage, during my visit.

It offers a bar with a selection of wine, beer and cocktails.

Located at 2520 Main St., Lake Placid. Open daily for breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m., and dinner from 4 to 11 p.m.

Where to Stay in Lake Placid

Grand Adirondack Hotel

This storied property opened as The Northwoods Inn in 1897. It underwent its first of many renovations just before the 1932 Winter Olympics as it became the Grand Adirondack Hotel.

The Grand Adirondack Hotel anchors Main Street and overlooks Mirror Lake. It interiors offer lots of gathering space, from its sun-filled solarium to the cozy corners of its Great Room next to the fireplace.

This design-forward hotel offers laid-back luxury with an organic color palette, muted wood tones, stone fireplaces and a dash of plaid. Vintage Adirondack artwork graces the walls, and there’s even a wood canoe above the stairs. Guests will enjoy a beverage bar and a daily schedule, both in the lobby.

Its rooms offer thoughtful spaces with clean lines and vintage-inspired bathrooms. Some rooms overlook Mirror Lakes. Guests will enjoy an in-room beverage bar. Some rooms offer separate sitting rooms, outfitted with a pull-out sofa and an additional flat-screen TV.

It offers dining at the Marcy for breakfast and dinner, along with drinks. There is a fitness room. On the roof, guests will find a seasonal rooftop bar.

Located at 2520 Main St. The Grand Adirondack Hotel is part of Marriott Bonvoy.

Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

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