Escape to the peaceful shores of Lake George for a long weekend away in upstate New York.
Just north of the town of Glens Falls and the Hudson River, Lake George bills itself as “the birthplace of the American vacation,” thanks to a 19th-century book that inspired Americans to head there for adventure. Today, the Lake George area of the Adirondack Mountains offers classic vacation activities and much more — from swimming, boating and hiking to parasailing, kayaking and whitewater rafting.
“Lake George is the close-to-home escape to fresh air, wide-open space, backwoods and beautiful back roads,” Sara Mannix, president of Mannix Marketing, which owns LakeGeorge.com, told the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce & CVB.
Three miles wide and 32 miles long, the lake has numerous beaches plus lodging options for almost every need, from inns and houses to hotels and cabins, some of which are pet-friendly. While there’s plenty to do in the summer, some spots remain open year-round, giving guests a chance to enjoy activities including the Winter Carnival held each February and the fall foliage season that paints the region with bright colors.
On the water, visitors can tour the lake through several cruise options, one of which, the Lake George Steamboat Co., has operated on the lake for more than 200 years. It offers lots of cruising options, including themed events, on its three ships, the Minne-Ha-Ha, the Mohican and the Lac du Saint Sacrement.
Guests can get an even better view of the lake from the air. Two to three people can parasail side-by-side at a time, and no prior skill is necessary. Parasailing is available for ages 6 and older.
Those looking for adventure in the water can check out the whitewater rafting nearby on the Hudson and Sacandaga rivers. Gear is provided for these guided tours, available through several local companies.
Head away from the lake and you’ll find even more action nearby. Just south of Lake George sits the Great Escape & Hurricane Harbor amusement and water park. In business for more than six decades, the park is home to the Comet roller coaster as well as other thrill rides and more traditional fun, such as go-karts, the Flying Trapeze swings, a train, carousel and treehouse for the kids to explore. If you’re looking to cool off, the outdoor waterpark offers activities including a lazy river, slides, a log ride and the Buccaneer Beach kids playground.
At Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Waterpark, situated across the street from the amusement park, guests of all ages can enjoy aquatic fun year-round, including inner-tube rides, surfing, whitewater rafting, water slides and more in the perpetually 82-degree waterpark. This family resort has 200 guest suites in its Adirondack-themed lodge.
The Lake George area also puts visitors in a prime spot to access the recently completed Empire State Trail, open to foot traffic and bicycles. With “750 miles of repurposed towpaths, vestigial railroad beds and rural highways,” it is America’s longest multi-use trail, according to the Lake George Mirror. Lake visitors can use the Warren County Bikeway and the Feeder Canal Trail to reach a 12-mile section of the Empire trail.
“You can ride from Lake George, do the Feeder Canal Trail and go right up north along the Champlain Canal,” planning expert and Lake George resident Tracey Clothier told the Mirror. “We’re trying to connect all these big corridor pieces.”
Once you’ve dried off, hop in the car for some shopping at the outlet malls located along Route 9, featuring dozens of shops and restaurants. There, you’ll find deals from major retailers such as Michael Kors, Adidas, J.Crew, Tommy Hilfiger, Yankee Candle and more.
Don’t forget to stop at the Hyde Collection as you pass through Glens Falls. This small but mighty museum has works by many of history’s most notable artists, including Botticelli, El Greco, Rembrandt, Degas, Picasso, Renoir, Homer and Whistler. And the collection doesn’t stop there: its modern and contemporary art roster includes work by notables including Josef Albers, Dorothy Dehner, Ellsworth Kelly and Robert Rauschenberg.