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Adirondacks Travel Guide

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It doesn’t get much more scenic than New York’s Adirondack Mountains. From the majestic forests to the dazzling lakes to the snowy peaks in the winter, you’ll never get tired of the view here.

People have been traveling to the Adirondacks for centuries, and for good reason. Whether you’re looking for an adventure or just want to relax in the fresh air, this is the place to go.

The Adirondack region is a destination for all seasons and you’ll always find something fun to do, whether you’re traveling with your family or just enjoying a solo getaway.

From skiing to boating to some of the best hikes in Upstate NY, if you can think of an outdoor activity, it’s probably available in the Adirondacks.

With so much to do in the Adirondacks, you might not know where to start. Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered! Keep reading to dive into resources that will help you with planning a trip to the Adirondacks in New York State.

Note: This ultimate Adirondacks guide contains affiliate links to trusted partners!

Adirondacks Map

Use this Adirondacks NY map to begin planning your trip to this incredible destination!

Adirondacks map

Click here for an interactive Google Map version of the above graphic.

Adirondacks Travel Guide

Visiting the Adirondacks in Upstate New York? These guides can help you plan an unforgettable itinerary:

Upstate NY Travel Guides

Looking to explore the best of New York State travel? Don’t miss:

New York City Travel Guide

Looking for a travel guide to New York City? Check out:

New York State Road Trips

Planning a New York State road trip? These guides can help:

Renting A Car In The Adirondacks

Need a rental car for your Adirondacks trip?

Use Discover Cars to quickly compare your car rental options.

Their comparison tool does the homework for you, so there’s no need to have up 10+ tabs trying to figure out which company is the most affordable. Actually, you can save up to 70% using their tool!

Hotels In The Adirondacks

Wondering where to stay in the Adirondacks?

Click here to browse the best Adirondacks hotels!

Prefer self-contained stays?

Click here to check out unique local rentals!

You can also use this map to search for local stays and experiences. The rental link and map are set to Lake Placid, but you can easily change the location to your specific destination:

Adirondacks Travel Insurance

It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling solo or with a group on an Adirondacks tour. When visiting the Adirondacks — or anywhere else in the world — make sure to get travel insurance to protect your health and safety.

In my opinion, the best travel medical insurance for travelers is SafetyWing as they’ve got a large network and offer both short-term and long-term coverage — including coverage if you’re traveling for months as well as limited coverage in your home country).

Additionally, SafetyWing is budget-friendly and offers $250,000 worth of coverage with just one low overall deductible of $250.

With coverage, you’ll have peace of mind as you embark on your Adirondacks travel itinerary.

Click my referral link here to price out travel insurance for your trip in just a few clicks.

Adirondacks Travel Guide FAQ

Below, find answers to frequently asked questions about traveling in the Adirondacks.

Q: What are the Adirondacks famous for?

Located in Northeastern New York, the Adirondacks are known for their gorgeous mountains, lakes, and forests that have attracted travelers for centuries.

The Adirondacks are a great place to visit all year round, but they truly come alive in the winter. The 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid really put the area on the map as a top destination for winter sports.

Winter athletes still come to the area to train in events like ski jumping, luge, hockey, and more.

Even if you’re not a pro, you can enjoy winter activities like skiing and snowboarding at the area’s many mountain resorts.

And in the warmer months, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for challenging hikes, kayak excursions and more throughout the region.

Q: What are the best places to visit in the Adirondacks?

One of the best places to visit in the Adirondacks is Lake Placid, a two-time Winter Olympic host destination.

This small village in Essex County is particularly proud of its Olympic legacy and has kept many of the facilities built for the games as tourist attractions.

At the Lake Placid Olympic Museum, the 1932 and 1980 games are brought to life through items like hockey equipment used in the famous “Miracle on Ice” and figure skating uniforms from famous medal winners.

You can also get in on the action at the Olympic Legacy Sites; skate on official Olympic Ice at the Olympic Center, watch ski jumpers train at the Olympic Jumping Complex, and try your hand at bobsledding at Mt. Van Hoevenberg.

Visiting in the warmer months? Go for a hike through the breathtaking High Falls Gorge or enjoy some waterskiing or wakeboarding on Mirror Lake.

Whenever you visit, be sure to make some time to explore the idyllic Main Street area with tons of great shops and restaurants to enjoy.

When it comes to Adirondack towns, you can’t go wrong with a trip to Lake George, one of the area’s top destinations.

The town is named for the sprawling lake on which it sits and offers tons of fun outdoor activities all year long.

Enjoy skiing, snowshoeing and snowtubing in the winter as well as more unique cold-weather activities like ice fishing for trout and salmon and cocktails at an ice bar.

During the summer months, you can cool off on the lake with activities like stand-up paddleboarding, waterskiing, parasailing, and even scuba diving.

The Lake George area also has tons of great arts and culture hotspots that are open all year long. Browse great works of American and European art at the Hyde Collection in Glen Falls, try your hand at folk crafts like woodworking and basket weaving at the Adirondack Folk School in Lake Luzerne, or learn about the area’s role in the French and Indian War at Fort William Henry.

Skiiers and snowboarders alike will definitely want to visit North Creek, a town with tons of opportunities to hit the slopes.

Whether you’re going downhill or cross-country, North Creek has you covered with easy access to Gore Mountain, Ski Bowl Nordic, and Garnet Hill Cross Country Ski Center just a quick drive away. Wherever you decide to go, you’ll find many opportunities to enjoy the winter weather here.

You’ll also find tons of fun things to do in the summer in North Creek, from fishing to hiking to whitewater rafting.

One of the most unique activities has to be the the Revolution Rail Rail Bike Tour, where you can explore the old railroad tracks of North Creek on a multi-person bike attached to the rails. With multiple tour routes, it’s a fun way to see the Adirondacks and upper Hudson River from a new perspective.

Q: What are some fun things to do in the Adirondacks?

A trip to the Adirondacks is all about enjoying the great outdoors!

Love adventure travel? As one of the top hiking and mountain biking destinations in the Northeast, you’re sure to find the perfect trail for you, whether you’re a pro or just starting out. The region is truly home to some of the world’s best bike trails.

You’ll also find that the Adirondacks are home to some truly amazing wildlife. You can get to know them at the Wild Center, a unique museum and nature center located in Tupper Lake. Get up close and personal with porcupines, otters, and turtles — then climb above the treetops on a sky-high trail leading to a giant bird’s nest.

The Wild Center also hosts guided canoe trips where you’ll learn even more about the Adirondacks’ unique ecosystem.

There are also tons of opportunities to get out on the water throughout the region. With lakes and rivers flowing throughout the mountains, it’s the perfect place to try your hand at fishing, waterskiing, and even white water rafting.

Of course you can’t talk about Adirondack activities without mentioning winter sports! The mountains’ ski slopes and ice rinks have played host to the Winter Olympics twice over the last century, and winter sports fans still make the pilgrimage to the snowy region every year.

Top ski resorts include Whiteface Mountain, Gore Mountain, and Titus Mountain, all of which offer a plethora of activities to give you a real adrenaline rush.

Beyond the slopes, you can explore the mountains via snowshoe, or hit one of the area’s frozen lakes for outdoor ice skating and even ice fishing.

And don’t forget to get your apres ski on at one of the region’s famous breweries and distilleries, like the Lake George Distilling Company and Great Adirondack Brewing Company.

The Adirondack Mountains are also rich in history and culture, with tons of great sites to explore. Most famous of these is Fort Ticonderoga, an 18th-century star fort that played a pivotal role in the French and Indian War and the American Revolutionary War.

Today, you can tour the fort and learn about its rich history through military reenactments, living history interpreters, and guided tours with expert historians.

In Lake Placid, you can visit the John Brown Farm State Historic Site, which preserves the home and legacy of famous abolitionist John Brown. The site often hosts events and exhibits pertaining to the history of slavery in the United States, as well as nature walks around the grounds of the farm.

Looking to satisfy your sweet tooth? Visit the American Maple Museum in Croghan, a museum dedicated to the history and evolution of the maple syrup industry in North America. Here, you can tour a replica of a classic sugar house, see the trees where the syrup is collected, and even get some locally-made syrup to bring home.

Q: What are some top Adirondacks hikes?

Adirondack Park, a National Historic Landmark that makes up 6 million acres of the region, is home to some of the best hiking trails New York — actually, in the entire Northeast — and has something for every kind of hiker.

Beginner hikers will want to visit the Great Camp Sagamore Lake Trail, a 3.7-mile loop around Sagamore Lake in Raquette Lake, NY. You’ll start and end the loop at the lodge at Great Camp Sagamore, an idyllic mountain lodge straight out of a brochure for a winter retreat.

The trail is fairly flat all around and takes about two hours to complete, offering incredible views of the lake and gorgeous pine trees that surround it. You can also enjoy the trail in the winter months on snowshoes or cross-country skis.

When hiking in Upstate New York, you can’t skip the Mount Van Hoevenberg Trail in North Elba, just a few miles from Lake Placid. This trail is a bit more challenging with both flat and steep sections and runs about 4.4 miles round trip.

In the warmer months, you can spot some gorgeous wildflowers and giant mushrooms growing along the trail, a sight straight out of a children’s book.

The top of the trail offers amazing views of the Adirondack High Peaks Region that you’ll definitely want to write home about, as you can see in this video:

For some truly epic views, try your hand (or foot) at a hike up Mount Marcy, the highest peak in New York State.

Towering above the forest floor at 5,344 feet, this mountain is definitely for the more experienced hiker.

The trail runs 14.8 miles round-trip and takes about 7 to 8 hours to trek altogether.

The effort is definitely worth it, though, as you’ll capture some truly epic views of the Adirondacks from the top, and if the climb doesn’t leave you breathless, the sights surely will.

Bring plenty of snacks and water and come prepared with proper hiking gear (layers are key!).

Q: What are the top Adirondack lakes to visit?

Saranac Lake is one of the top lakeside towns in the Adirondacks. Despite its name, the town actually sits on Lake Flower, a gorgeous mountain lake with access to 24 miles of navigable waterways, flowing into other nearby lakes like Oseetah Lake and Lower Saranac Lake.

Lake Flower is a great destination for boating, paddling, and fishing, with generally calm water and lots of access to boat launches and marinas. Fish for northern pike or just enjoy the view from a pontoon boat or jetski.

Those looking for a more rustic getaway should consider a trip to Cranberry Lake, located just off the Five Pond Wilderness. The area surrounding Cranberry Lake is not as developed as those around other Adirondack Lakes, so it’s the perfect place to go if you really want to get away from it all.

Book a spot at the Cranberry Lake Campground, a state-run campground with 171 campsites and tons of amenities like hot showers, boat launches, a sand beach, and more.

The lake is only a few feet deep, making it perfect for swimming and paddling. You can also fish for bass, trout and pan fish on the lake, though you’ll need a fishing license to do so.

Of all the Adirondack Mountain Lakes, Lake George is one of the most popular, and for good reason. The lake is one of the largest in the Adirondack Mountains, stretching 44 square miles.

During the summer months, you can cruise the lake on a classic steamboat and even enjoy fireworks displays from the water.

The lake’s size and depth also make it a great spot for freshwater scuba diving. Sign up for a tour to see the ruins of ill-fated ships as well as the marine life that calls Lake George home.

With fairly calm waters in the summertime, it’s also a great place to try your hand at watersports like waterskiing and wakeboarding!

Q: What is the best time to visit the Adirondacks?

The best time to visit the Adirondacks definitely depends on the kind of trip you want to take.

If you want to take full advantage of the region’s many hiking trails or cool off in one of the dazzling lakes, plan your trip for the spring and summer months. Temperatures range from the high 60s to the low 80s Fahrenheit from May through September, making it the best time to enjoy all the warm-weather activities the area has to offer.

If you’re looking to try your hand at some winter sports, book a trip for November to April. While the temperatures can get frigid at times, you’ll be able to see the mountains in all their winter glory and enjoy activities like skiing, snowboarding, and more.

And you can’t miss the Adirondacks during the autumn months when the leaves turn shades of bright red, orange, and yellow. The Adirondack fall foliage is really a sight to see, and you’ll find that it’s still warm enough to enjoy hiking, kayaking, and other outdoor activities.

Q: Are the Adirondacks safe?

In terms of crime and public safety, there are few places in America safer than the Adirondacks. The area experiences very little crime, though as always, general travel safety recommendations still apply here.

There are some safety concerns when it comes to outdoor adventures in the area.

Adirondack Park itself can be very remote and there are only a small number of rangers protecting the park and its visitors at any time.

Even if you’re an experienced hiker, biker, or outdoor adventurer, try not to stray too far from designated trails, as it can be easy to get lost.

Try to go out with a hiking buddy and read up on nature safety ahead of your trek. And be sure to check the weather before you head out – you don’t want to get stuck on the mountains in bad weather.

Q: How long can a tourist stay in New York?

Most visitors from abroad who are allowed to enter the United States — the country New York State is located in — can stay for up to six months. Entry requirements and allowances vary depending on where you are from, so definitely check the US government website.

Q: Do I need a travel visa for New York?

Visa requirements vary depending on where you are from. You can visit the US government website to see if you need a visa and what type.

Q: Where are the Adirondacks located?

The Adirondacks are located in Northern New York. It’s counties include:

  • Clinton County
  • Essex County
  • Franklin County
  • Fulton County
  • Hamilton County
  • Herkimer County
  • Lewis County
  • Oneida County
  • Saratoga County
  • St. Lawrence County
  • Warren County
  • Washington County

Q: Are credit cards accepted in the Adirondacks?

Credit cards — particularly Visa and Mastercard — are widely accepted in the Adirondacks, though it is always wise to carry some cash for smaller establishments and in case of emergency.

Q: Can you drink the tap water in the Adirondacks?

While tap water is safe to drink in most places, it’s smart to check with the hotel in your specific destination to be safe.

Q: What is the local currency in New York State?

The local currency in New York is the US Dollar (USD).

Q: What is the difference between the Catskills and the Adirondacks?

Both the Catskills and the Adirondacks have their own advantages and are incredible travel destinations in their own right.

The Adirondacks are a bit more isolated, but offer incredible views and challenging hikes for more experienced trekkers.

The Catskills are perfect for those looking to explore small towns while enjoying the great outdoors.

The best option generally depends on the time of year and your priorities for your trip.

For incredible fall foliage views and winter ski experiences, head to the Adirondacks.

To cool off in the great outdoors during the summer months, book a trip to the Catskills, where temperatures top out in the 70s and 80s.

Of course you’ll have plenty of fun in the great outdoors wherever you decide to go.

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