Introducing guest blogger Melissa from Navigation Junkies
The Adirondack Mountains are truly a hidden gem in New York State that are often overlooked due to the more well-known Big Apple, New York City. For anyone who has had the chance to live in the area or visit the area extensively, there is no argument that the Adirondacks are not to be missed and offer a truly memorable, family-friendly experience.
As a local to the area, I can confirm that this area of New York is one that is not to be missed! Lake George, a small town in the Adirondack Park, is the perfect base for exploring the Adirondacks. With its location within Adirondack Park, you can be guaranteed to find plenty of outdoor, adventure-filled attractions that the whole family will enjoy.
So, what are we waiting for? Let’s explore all that Lake George and the surrounding areas have to offer families!
This post is part of our Explore My City series – come and visit cities around the world through the eyes of locals
What to Do in Lake George
1. Go for a Hike
Lake George, being situated in Adirondack Park, is the perfect haven for the outdoor loving family. Hiking is one outdoor activity that you must do when visiting Lake George with the family. With the wide range of hikes available, from simple round-trip loop hikes to more extensive, mile-long trips, you are sure to be able to find one that suits your family’s skill levels.
For some simpler hikes, check out the Shelving Rock Falls hike or Stewart’s Ledge, which will give you some stunning views of Lake George. For some more difficult hikes that may be better suited for families with older children, check out Black Mountain or the Tongue Mountain Range.
2. Go White Water Rafting
Another great outdoor adventure option in Lake George is white water rafting. You can find rafting tour options suited to children as young as ten, making it the perfect outdoor adventure opportunity when visiting Lake George with kids! You can choose from Adirondack Adventures situated along the Hudson River, located just 30 minutes outside of Lake George, or Sacandaga Outdoor Center situated along both the Hudson and Sacandaga Rivers.
If you are a fan of water sports, extend your adventure with kayak, canoe, tubes, or paddleboard rentals with either Adirondack Adventures or Sacandaga Outdoor Center. If you choose to do these, be sure to check age requirements, as they vary and may not be appropriate for younger children.
3. Visit Shepard Park
Shepard Park is a popular location in Lake George for locals and visitors alike. Shepard Park can be found off Canada Street and features a relaxing place to sit by the lake, a sandy beach for swimming in the summer, a playground to let the kiddos run wild, and a fishing dock with easy access. You can also find a selection of lakefront restaurants just next door to Shepard Park.
If visiting the area in the winter, you will not want to miss the Lake George Winter Carnival. It is a local favorite but sees visitors from around and outside of New York State too. The festival will treat you to ice sculptures littered throughout the park, food trucks, family-friendly activities, a bonfire on the beach, a wood carving artist, races, and the annual Polar Plunge. The carnival takes place every weekend in February.
4. Get Some Thrills at Six Flags Great Escape
Six Flags Great Escape is a combination of a traditional outdoor amusement park and an indoor waterpark. Admission to both is separate, but if you are planning on staying in Lake George for a few days and have the money to spare, a stay at the Great Escape Lodge is ideal. The stay will include admission to the indoor water park, or you can choose to visit just for the day.
If you choose to visit just the outdoor amusement park, you will have a day full of classic amusement park rides, roller coaster thrills, carnival games, live entertainment, and tasty treats. With a section devoted entirely to kiddie rides Six Flags Great Escape is the perfect theme park getaway for families.
5. Explore the Natural Stone Bridge and Caves
Natural Stone Bridge and Caves is a nature park located just 20 minutes outside of Lake George that contains the largest cave entrance in the eastern US along Trout Brook. The caves and bridge can be viewed along an easily walkable ¾ mile nature trail that is suitable for younger kids.
There is also a small section at the start of the trail with a small garden and disc golf course. The cavemen statues and panning for gold will also be a hit with the kids. If you have children over the age of 13 you could also opt to do the Adventure Tour, which will take you through the cave system by walking, climbing, and crawling through the caves and underground river.
6. Go to the Beach
Any summer family vacation should include a trip to the beach! Lake George has plenty of opportunities for the beach-loving family. Combine your visit to Shepard Park with a dip in the lake or visit one of Lake George’s many other beaches, including Million Dollar Beach, Huletts Park Beach, the Dog Beach, Veteran’s Memorial Park Beach, and Roger’s Memorial Park Beach.
7. Enjoy a Scenic Cruise on the Lake
Right off Canada Street, you will find Lake George Shoreline Cruises that offer a family-friendly way to get out on the lake. You can hop aboard a Lake George Steamboat while choosing from a variety of tours.
The tours range from one-hour scenic cruises to dinner cruises to fireworks cruises after dark. Whichever you choose, even the youngest member of your travel party will enjoy cruising along Lake George and taking in the stunning mountain views surrounding it.
8. Shop Along Canada Street
Canada Street is Lake George’s main street for entertainment, shopping, and good eats. Along Canada Street, you will find plenty of quaint, local gift shops where you can find a variety of locally made souvenirs, saltwater taffy, and maple syrup. For clothing, check out Adirondack Clothing Company and DILLIGAF.
For fun, visit the House of Frankenstein Wax Museum. For some tasty treats that the kids will love, check out the Lake George Baking Company or the Candy Apple.
What To Do in the Surrounding Areas
While visiting Lake George can make a trip complete, if you have the time to step outside of the town, do it! There are plenty more family-friendly attractions found within driving distance of Lake George that will only complement your time spent in the Adirondack Mountains and I would recommend taking at least one of these day trips during your visit.
1. Go Spring Hunting in Saratoga Springs
A short, 30-minute drive outside of Lake George will find you in Saratoga Springs, New York’s mineral spring destination. Visit the Saratoga Spa State Park, home to 13 of Saratoga’s mineral springs. Be sure to bring a cup as you and the kids will love tasting the unique waters flowing from each of the springs.
While spring hunting is one of the best things to do in Saratoga Springs, you can also relax and see the ducks waddling around Congress Park, visit the Saratoga Farmers’ Market, visit the Children’s Museum at Saratoga, catch a horse race, or enjoy a hot air balloon ride.
2. Drive to the Top of Whiteface Mountain
Whiteface Mountain, located in Lake Placid (an hour and a half drive from Lake George), is one of the tallest mountains in New York. The Veterans’ Memorial Highway is the perfect way to reach the summit of Whiteface Mountain for families visiting with young children. You can also hop aboard the Whiteface Mountain gondolas and ride to the summit of Little Whiteface, which boasts stunning views of the surrounding mountains and towering Whiteface Mountain Summit.
Nearby, you will want to stop at North Pole, NY, an amusement park themed like the North Pole complete with Santa’s Workshop, Santa’s House, the Reindeer Barn, rides, and live shows. If you are looking for another outdoor adventure in the area visit High Falls Gorge, an easy one-mile nature trail through the gorge with waterfall views.
Take a Day Trip to Water Safari and Old Forge
Water Safari is one of the most beloved attractions in the Adirondack Mountains for locals. Water Safari is the largest outdoor water park in the state, with plenty of water rides, ranging from kiddie-sized water slides to the recently added Kilimanjaro’s Revenge water slide. Aside from the water rides, you will find a storybook village, kiddie-themed dry rides, a circus show, train ride, and plenty of sweet treats, including an old-fashioned candy shop with a wide variety of saltwater taffy flavors.
Next door to Water Safari you can find Calypso’s Cove, where you and the kids alike can enjoy an arcade, go-karting, ziplining, and rock climbing. Other things to do in Old Forge as a family include a ride on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, riding the McCauley Mountain chairlift, going for a family-friendly hike, and strolling downtown Old Forge where you will find plenty of quaint, local shops and an old-fashioned movie theater.
4. Visit Fort Ticonderoga
Fort Ticonderoga is a historic, 18th-century star fort that played a role in the Revolutionary War. Located just an hour outside of Lake George, Fort Ticonderoga is the perfect fun and educational experience for families visiting the area. A visit to the fort includes a self-guided tour, living history displays, and interactive exhibits to learn about the history of the fort.
Fun, family-friendly activities at the fort include a corn maze, King’s Garden where you can stroll a blend of colorful plants and flowers, a cruise aboard the Carillon on Lake Champlain where you will enjoy views of the surrounding Adirondack Mountains and Vermont’s Green Mountains, hiking trails, and a visit to Mount Defiance, where you will get a bird’s eye view of the area.
5. Visit the Wild Center
The Wild Center is the perfect day trip for a family adventure with a unique perspective of the nature of the Adirondack Mountains. The Wild Center features the Wild Walk, which will take you up amongst the trees as you walk through a real, carved-out tree, walk across a humongous spider web, and step inside an oversized eagle’s nest.
The museum offers interactive exhibits that kids will love while learning about the history of the Adirondacks and exploring the wildlife they have to offer. Outdoors kids will love the Wild Walk, the play area, and the nature trails on the property. The Wild Center is located in Tupper Lake, NY (about an hour and a half outside of Lake George).
Where to Stay in Lake George with Kids
1. Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Waterpark
Although this may be one of the more expensive options in Lake George, it is one of the most family-friendly options! A stay at the Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Waterpark goes beyond just accommodations, with a complete indoor waterpark, an onsite arcade, Kids Clubhouse with crafts, live nightly entertainment geared towards kids, characters, interactive, virtual Adventure Trek, two onsite restaurants, and specialty rooms designed to look like log cabins for the kids. The lodge is also right next door to Six Flags Great Escape outdoor amusement park.
2. Surfside on the Lake
Surfside on the Lake is a lakefront hotel that offers plenty of amenities to make your family vacation a little more special. The hotel features a private beach, game room, sun deck, outdoor heated pool, boardwalk area, boat rentals, standup paddleboards, kayaks, and a playground. You will also get discounted tickets to Six Flags.
3. The Lodges at Cresthaven
The Lodges at Cresthaven are the perfect, private accommodation option for your family vacation to Lake George. Each private lodge holds enough room for up to six with two bedrooms, a living area, dining room, and full kitchen. Onsite you will find a private beach, outdoor pool, sports courts, fitness center, indoor pool, and game room. If you are visiting during the winter, you will find an ice-skating rink and sledding hill.
Where to Eat in Lake George with Kids
1. Mario’s Restaurant
Mario’s Restaurant is an Italian restaurant found on Canada Street in Lake George. The food is delicious, the location is central to many of Lake George’s top attractions, and kids can choose from a wide variety of items, including a 7” personal pizza, spaghetti, chicken or veal parmigiana, chicken fingers, fries, and ravioli. You are bound to find something here even for the pickiest eater!
2. Prospect Mountain Diner
This classic American Diner is the perfect spot for traditional American food. The restaurant is set in an old-fashioned diner setting with indoor and outdoor seating available. The kids will be delighted with the wide range of options, including grilled cheese, chicken fingers, hotdogs, pizza, pancakes, French fries, and onion rings.
3. Bistro Leroux
For a wide variety of seafood and meat dishes, visit Bistro Leroux. The kids’ menu features traditional foods for the picky eater, including macaroni and cheese, chicken tenders, cheeseburgers, and French fries. For the adult that wants a little more variety, you can find lobster, duck, salmon, scallops, pork chop, ribs, vegetable risotto, crab cake, chicken or eggplant risotto, and a full beer and wine menu.
About the Blogger
Melissa is the writer and photographer behind Navigation Junkie, a family-focused travel blog that offers tips and recommendations on destinations across the US and beyond to help make your next family vacation a success! Together with her 6-year-old daughter, she is conquering the world one city and a time and sharing it with those who will listen!
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With thanks to Melissa for her contribution to our guest series. You may also like to read about family outdoor destinations in Brooklyn, New York, or what to do in Boston, Massachusetts with kids.
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