Witness a winter wonderland with help from our family guide to visiting Lake Placid this winter with kids! Famed for its Olympic Legacy, this quaint town in Upstate New York is a haven for all kinds of winter sports. With proximity to Whiteface Mountain and its varied terrain, even beginners will find something to suit them. Whether it’s skiing, ice skating, or even bobsledding, adventurous families will surely have a blast during their vacation! Of course, visiting Lake Placid with kids means you’ll have to find a family-friendly hotel, as well as other things to do off the slopes. In this Family Guide To Visiting Lake Placid This Winter With Kids, we break down everything you need to know about taking a winter vacation, from hotels to how to reach Lake Placid, transportation, and more. Keep reading to plan your next cold-weather getaway as a family!
How to Reach Lake Placid with Kids
Wondering how to reach Lake Placid with kids? By plane, the closest domestic option is Adirondack Regional Airport in Saranac Lake, which is a 20-minute drive from Lake Placid. It’s serviced by Cape Air, and offers direct flights to and from Boston every day. You can also fly into Plattsburgh International Airport, an hour away, or Albany International Airport, Burlington International Airport, and Montreal International Airport, approximately two hours away. Lake Placid is also accessible via car from New York City or Boston. Families traveling from major cities can also take the Amtrak to the Saratoga station. Certain tickets include a free bus ride via Adirondack Trailways directly to Lake Placid. Adirondack Trailways also offers a bus service from Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City, with drop-off in the center of Lake Placid. Once you reach Lake Placid, you can arrange for a car service, taxi, or rental.
Transportation within Lake Placid for Kids
One of the main ways families get around Lake Placid is by car or to walk, since many people usually stay within the area of their accommodations. We highly recommend bringing a car, since it’s hard to get around town just depending on taxis or Ubers. However, if you want to get around town without a car, you can hop on the Placid XPRSS. This free combination trolley and bus system helps visitors avoid looking for parking by running routes throughout the Village of Lake Placid and to Whiteface Mountain. Skiers and snowboarders hitting the slopes on Whiteface Mountain can take advantage of the Mountain Valley Shuttle. This special shuttle service runs between Whiteface Mountain, Lake Placid, Wilmington, Jay, and Au Sable Forks.
About Exploring the Town of Lake Placid with Kids
Lake Placid is a cozy village with lots to do for families. In the downtown area, you’ll find its quaint Main Street lined with boutiques, restaurants, and more. It’s the perfect place to go shopping for souvenirs, since a lot of artisans set up shop during the winter. Main Street also runs along Mirror Lake, the main body of water in town and the center of activity during the winter. Families can also see traces of Lake Placid’s Olympic history throughout the village and at the Olympic Jumping Complex. The Lake Placid Olympic Museum is currently closed for renovations, but there is a free Exhibit Gallery, located on the 2nd floor of the Conference Center. For families who want to go skiing, Lake Placid is approximately 15 minutes away (around 13 miles) from Whiteface Mountain Ski Resort.
Skiing near Lake Placid with Kids
For skiing near Lake Placid with kids, head to the Whiteface Mountain Ski Resort. As one of the tallest mountains in New York State, it also features the highest vertical drop East of the Rockies. Whether you’re looking for beginner, intermediate, or advanced slopes, you’ll find 90 trails across 25 miles of terrain. Located at the very bottom of the Main Side, the Mixing Bowl is an easy beginner trail for kids, alongside the Fox, Dear, or Wolf run. You can access these ski trails via the SkyTrac Quad. There are more beginner trails at the Bear Den Mountain Learning Center as well. Further up the mountain, the Face Lift provides access to Easy Street or the Boreen Loop. Intermediate skiers will find lots of challenges in the Lower Valley. Meanwhile, expert skiers can take the Cloudsplitter Gondola to Little Whiteface for an epic ride down.
Best Ski Schools near Lake Placid for Kids
If you’re looking for the best ski schools near Lake Placid for kids, head to Whiteface Mountain. Here, you’ll find the Bear Den Learning Center, which offers access to great beginner terrain for kids who are just starting. Little ones between the ages of four and six can enroll in the Cub Camp, where they’ll learn from professionals, make friends, and have tons of fun! Meanwhile, there’s the Cloudsplitter Club for novices between the ages of seven and fourteen to learn the fundamentals. Or, the Junior Adventurer Program for beginners between seven and twelve who’ve mastered the basics but still need a little instruction. Group lessons welcome beginners thirteen and older who want to brush up on their skills. Private ski and snowboarding lessons are also available, and season-long kids’ programs too.
Where to Rent Ski Gear near Lake Placid for Kids
Renting ski gear for kids will be a breeze when you visit Lake Placid this winter with kids. Along Main Street in the Village of Lake Placid, you’ll find multiple local vendors who offer rentals, such as Lake Placid Ski & Board, Cunningham’s Ski Barn, and High Peaks Cyclery Mountain Adventures. Families looking to rent ski gear directly from a provider on Whiteface Mountain for the sake of convenience can visit The Rossignol Experience Center. There are two locations on the ground level of the Main Base Lodge and Bear Den Lodge.
Where to Stay Near Lake Placid with Kids
Need somewhere to stay near Lake Placid this winter with kids? These hotel suggestions are your answer! For a family vacation overlooking the beautiful (and frozen!) Mirror Lake, book your stay at the Mirror Lake Inn. This upscale spa resort is family-owned, features an indoor pool, and even has its own ice skating rink. In the heart of the Village of Lake Placid, there’s the Crowne Plaza Lake Placid, An IHG Hotel, a lodge-style resort with perks like an indoor pool. It’s also just a 10-minute walk from Mirror Lake. For a more affordable option overlooking Lake Placid, the Placid Bay Hotel has spacious rooms with kitchenettes, fireplaces, and more. Many families visiting Lake Placid also opt to rent a home in the area from AirB&B or VRBO.
Families who plan on skiing during their time near Lake Placid may prefer staying at The Whiteface Lodge, just 15-minutes away from Whiteface Mountain. It has a kids’ club and is super family-friendly. A hotel shuttle can get you to and from the mountain, plus to town!
Where to Eat near Lake Placid with Kids
Families looking for delicious food will find plenty near Lake Placid’s Main Street. Start your day with breakfast at Big Mountain Deli & Creperie, serving anything from breakfast burritos to sweet and savory crepes! For a sit-down breakfast, visit The Breakfast Club, Etc, which has a kids’ menu. The Good Bite Kitchen is great for a healthy lunch, with a variety of salads and sandwiches. For dinner, stop by Smoke Signals for BBQ, Black Bear Restaurant for casual American food, or Lisa G’s for American food with a twist. Main Street Pizza is wonderful for a quick slice, or Wyatt’s for Mexican food. Parents looking for a romantic date night can visit the Mirror Lake Inn to eat at its fine dining restaurant, The View. Or, gather the family to eat at The Cottage, located directly on Mirror Lake’s shores. Emma’s Lake Placid Creamery is a must for dessert!
Things to Do Near Lake Placid with Kids Besides Skiing
Lake Placid has plenty to do with kids besides skiing. Whether you want an alternative type of winter sport or to stay cozy indoors, your family will love these suggestions. Stay tuned for the best things to do near Lake Placid this winter with kids!
Enjoy Dog Sledding On Mirror Lake
When Mirror Lake freezes over, a fun dog sledding adventure awaits your family! This incredible winter activity is a must for all ages, as you glide over the ice on Mirror Lake guided by adorable dogs! It’s usually inexpensive too, which makes it a great activity for the whole family to enjoy together. Mushers usually set up shop along Main Street, and you’ll be able to contact them directly and pay for a session. However, you can also book this experience through local outfitters such as Thunder Mountain Sled Dogs or Mike Arnold Dog Sled Rides. The ride only lasts around five minutes, but it’ll surely be one to remember! Certainly, dog sledding is one of the best things to do when you visit Lake Placid this winter with kids!
If your kids are daredevils, they’ll love the adrenaline rush accompanying bobsledding. Little ones can cruise down the track just like professionals do thanks to The Lake Bobsled Experience! Available at Mt. Van Hoevenberg, a sports center originally built for the 1980 Olympics, this thrilling experience will be well worth the cost. A car will take you to the top of the track as you don your helmets, then make your way down on a bobsled. At around 50 MPH, the ride only lasts around a minute, but it’s definitely an epic one! Once you’re done, kids can also get their pictures taken with various historic bobsleds from past Olympic Games. Or, take it up a notch with the Skeleton Experience, perfect for older kids. Instead of sitting, you lie on your stomach and go around 30 MPH!
Experience the Thrill of Ski Jumping
Experience the thrill of ski jumping at the Lake Placid Olympic Ski Jumping Center! Located a little south of Lake Placid, it’s a wonderful place to watch ski jumpers or aerialists in their element. Then, kids can recreate the experience on the center’s zip lines, located right next to the 90-meter jump. Enjoy the ride from a seated position as you fly from the 70-foot tower, soaring parallel to the Olympic landing hill at a 30-degree decline. Various ski jumping events are also available throughout the season, complete with sweet treats like hot chocolate. The Olympic Ski Jumping Center also offers families a whirl on their new Skyride, an eight-passenger gondola that travels to the base of the ski jumping towers. From there, a scenic elevator climbs up even further, to the sky deck of the 120-meter ski jumping tower. Prepare for an amazing view of the Adirondack High Peaks!
Go Ice Skating or Play Pick-Up Hockey
Nothing says winter in Lake Placid quite like ice skating! Depending on the weather, Mirror Lake is a popular outdoor rink during the winter. When the lake freezes over, it fills with skaters and pick-up hockey games. If you’re visiting the Olympic Center, you can also head to nearby The Olympic Speed Skating Oval in the heart of Lake Placid. This outdoor rink is where USA Men’s Speed Skaer Eric Heiden set an Olympic record 50 years ago! In fact, hockey players will love visiting The Hockey Box at the Olympic Oval. It is a free, specially designed area just for them, with a net and cleared ice (you will need to bring your own gear). For indoor skating on a chilly day, there’s another rink located inside the Olympic Center.
Visit the Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum
Lake Placid is America’s Olympic hometown, so a visit to the Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum is a must! Located in the Lake Placid Olympic Center on Main Street, this small but mighty museum is a great place to learn more about the area’s Olympic legacy. (Lake Placid, hosted two Olympic Games and inaugurated North America’s first Winter Olympics.) Your family could easily spend 45 minutes enjoying the exhibits, reading the stories, and experiencing the excitement of the Games! From ice skating costumes to medals, torches, and more, kids will love the excellent collection of artifacts on display. Who knows, they may even be able to try on a helmet!
Note: The Museum and Olympic Center is currently closed for renovations. During this time, there is a free Exhibit Gallery, located on the 2nd floor of the Conference Center. You can find updates here.
Challenge Yourself to Ice Climbing
Adventurous kids will love the challenge of ice climbing! Available through local companies such as High Peaks Mountain Guides, this fun activity lets kids climb frozen waterfalls to enjoy breathtaking views of the Lake Placid region. High Peaks offers an introductory course for beginners, so kids can learn the ropes with an experienced guide. Once you’ve mastered that, there’s another course to teach more technical topics such as side-climbing. All courses include equipment rental, so all you have to do is show up ready to climb!
Take a Sleigh Ride
What better way to explore Lake Placid than with a scenic sleigh ride? Kids and adults alike will love the thrill of cruising through the snow as a horse leads the way! Cozy up under some thick winter blankets as you wander through a winter wonderland. This adventure is available through outfitters such as Adirondack Sleigh Rides, such as John Brown’s Farm, just 10 minutes outside of Lake Placid. Just thirty minutes outside of Lake Placid in Lake Clear, families can also visit the Lake Clear Lodge & Retreat for a special lantern-lit sleigh ride. You can even combine it with a dinner or speakeasy experience for parents!
Snowmobiling is one of the best Adirondack winter activities for families! Kids will adore zooming around in the snow. From groomed trails to thrilling backcountry areas, there are plenty of places to hop on a “sled” and enjoy a beautiful winter day together. In Lake Placid, Adirondack Snowmobile is a great option for families seeking an exciting tour. In fact, they provide a variety of snowmobile trips ranging from one hour to a full day. If you’re comfortable going on your own, they also rent snowmobiles. Then, just a short drive from Lake Placid, near Saranac Lake, Farmhouse Snowmobiling offers 1 hour to 2 1/2 hour guided snowmobile tours that appeal to beginners and experienced riders. Certainly, thrill-seeking families will love adding snowmobiling to their Lake Placid itinerary!
Explore Lake Placid Center for the Arts
Have a budding artist in your family? They’ll love a visit to Lake Placid Center for the Arts! Located just 10 minutes from Lake Placid’s Main Street, this multi-arts center welcomes creatives of all ages who want to engage their imagination. First, families can explore the gallery, which showcases a rotating selection of contemporary art every season. They also offer performances and other events throughout the year, such as film festivals, dance shows, and more. Kids can also enroll in arts and craft classes to improve their skills and learn new subjects such as drawing, photography, and more!
Things to Do Near Whiteface Mountain with Kids Besides Skiing
Whiteface Mountain boasts some killer slopes, but once you’re done skiing, there are plenty of other things to do. Here are our favorite suggestions if you’re headed to Lake Placid this winter with kids!
Ride a Scenic Gondola
Enjoy an incredible view over Whiteface Mountain on the Cloudsplitter Gondola! Equipped for eight passengers, this fun ride takes you from the Main Base Lodge to the top of Little Whiteface in around 15 minutes. Along the way, you’ll get a great birds-eye view of the mountain, as well as Lake Placid. At the top, you’ll also find an observation deck and picnic area. You can either ski down from the top or take the gondola back down.
Learn How to Snowshoe
Snowshoeing is an exciting activity for families to try in Lake Placid. Once you’ve had enough of skiing, borrow some snowshoes from your hotel or rent them from High Peaks Cyclery or Lake Placid Ski & Board. Then, take your gear to one of many snowshoeing trails in the area. A lot of hotels even offer their own trails or paved hikes, but beginners love the leisurely Jackrabbit Trail too. Families who want to learn how to snowshoe from an expert can also book a guided tour.
Go Snow Tubing in Saranac Lake
Families who want to try snow tubing can head to nearby Saranac Lake, a quaint lakeside village just 15 minutes away from Lake Placid (around 10 miles). Here, families can go snow tubing at the Mt. Pisgah Recreation Center, which offers this fun activity during the day and at night. This small, village owned-ski hill has the perfect terrain for kids who want to snow tube. A puller-and-levy system takes you up the hill, and then you get to soar back down! Snow tubes have an easy hook and rope, so it won’t be hard for kids to carry them like at most other resorts. Skiing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing are also available here. If you’re seeking additional locations to go sledding, tubing, or tobogganing near Lake Placid, you can find some ideas here!
We hope you liked this Guide To Lake Placid In The Winter With Kids! Whether you’re an advanced skier or a beginner looking to experience Whiteface Mountain in the winter, this winter wonderland will welcome you with open arms. Have a wonderful time in Lake Placid with your kids!
*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the attractions, accommodations, or things to do on this list may be closed. Please ensure availability before making your decision.
*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.
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