1. Where to StayThough a blaze last December destroyed the main building of the Lake Placid Lodge, individual cabins remain open at half the normal price (from $325). One of the closest to the lake is the Owl’s Head, with a stone fireplace, private sauna, and Jacuzzi. Leave the kids at home unless they’re 14 or older.
Sister property the Point (from $1,250) on nearby Saranac Lake is the ultimate in small, upscale resorts. A former Rockefeller home, the Point has eleven ultraprivate rooms, a staff used to serving the needs of the wealthy, unlimited gourmet food, and a generous open bar.
Drive one exit south of Lake Placid to the Elk Lake Lodge (from $110 including meals) for absolute seclusion. Walk 40 miles of hiking trails along the property, which is embedded in a nature reserve. Cabins require a reservation a year or two in advance, but rooms in the main lodge are often available on shorter notice. The quarters are somewhat cramped and a bit shabby, but the common areas are splendidly rustic.
2. Where to EatStart the evening with an Ubu Ale, an English-style microbrew made at the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery. Watch the sun set over the lake from the second-floor terrace.
Grab a soup and sandwich for lunch, or wait for the sophisticated wine-pairing menu for dinner at the Brown Dog Café & Wine Bar (2409 Main St.; 518-523-3036). The duck quesadillas are excellent, and the rear tables overlook Mirror Lake.
For a blowout celebration, head to the best upscale restaurant in the region: Kanu. Chef Brian Moyers has serious downstate experience from places like Nobu and Tribeca Grill. But at Kanu, he shies away from the rarefied and obscure, preparing hearty but complex dishes like Duo of Long Island Duck and a grilled rack of lamb — perfect food for the Great Camps atmosphere of the stunning dining room.
3. What to DoBefore venturing outdoors, school yourself at the Wild Center, a natural-history museum in nearby Tupper Lake that opened in July. Living exhibits inside (including otters and birds) complement the hiking paths outdoors. Drive fifteen minutes outside of Lake Placid to get to the trails that set the Adirondacks apart from other mountain ranges. Follow signs for the Adirondack Loj Road to find the Adirondack Mountain Club. The helpful staff will map your hike according to your abilities as well as give you tips for the trail. Swap your hiking boots for skis at Whiteface Mountain, the largest vertical in the East. If it’s too late or too early in the season to ski, test your intestinal fortitude on a mountain-bike ride down. Or how about a peaceful ride across a lake, led by canine beasts of burden? You won’t have to whip the huskies yourself; Thunder Mountain Dog Sled Tours (518-891-6239) will mush you across frozen Mirror Lake.
4. Insider’s TipLake Placid is a charming, bustling body of water, but it’s not a tranquil wilderness paradise. If you yearn for a day floating past the absolutely wild, then drive to Long Lake and rent a canoe from Camp Hilary ($25 a day plus portage fee from $30). The top portion of the lake has no road access and fronts protected parkland, which means that after a little paddling, you’ll reach remote waters surrounded by only trees, mountains, and wild animals. In colder weather, see the same region from above on a seaplane ride with Helms Aero Service ($20).
5. An Oddball DayLake Placid invariably conjures up flag-draped images of Olympic glory. To truly feel the power of 1980, though, you’ve got to do more than gaze at an empty stadium. Start the day at lightning speed with a luge-rocket ride at the Verizon Sports Complex at Mt. Van Hoevenberg (518-523-4436). Then, if you really want to learn to ride the impossibly tiny sled like an Olympian, attend USA Luge’s Lake Placid Fantasy Camp. Can’t pick a sport? Listen for the gunfire and you’ll find the “Be a Biathelete” shooting center where you can aim a .22 at the same targets used by World Cup competitors. Then make like Bode Miller and stop by the Cottage for a midday brew overlooking Mirror Lake. At this point in the day, you may be questioning your Olympic commitment. Just surrender and take the bronze. Recover across the street at the spa at the Mirror Lake Inn, which even sports a “Gentlemen’s Corner” where manly men can enjoy an “extreme climate facial.”
6. LinksThe Olympics haven’t been in Lake Placid since 1980, but visitors can still use the Games’ facilities, maintained by the Olympic Regional Development Authority.
LakePlacid.com has an event calendar, maps, and discounts on hotels and activities.
Round the Bend tells you the best places in the region to ski, hike, and play other outdoor sports.