10 Reasons to Visit Lake George

By Patricia Canole

Adirondack Park and its mountains cover just under 10,000 square miles—nearly filling the northeastern section of New York State, from close to the Canadian border to as far south as the town of Glens Falls. In spring, visitors come to hike and birdwatch; in summer, families enjoy the lakes, mountains, forests, fishing, golfing, and whitewater rafting.

Well over 100 years old, the park offers almost unlimited opportunities for outdoor activity. It encompasses endless mountain trails, a section of the Hudson River, more than 125 canoe routes, campsites, and several famous lakes—Saranac Lake, Lake Champlain, and Lake Placid, known as the “Queen of American Lakes”.

Just 205 miles from New York City, Lake George Village is the most populated in the area. It sits on a 32-mile jewel of a lake ringed by mountains and dotted with dozens of state-owned islands. And although commercial ventures have sprouted up here and there, Mother Nature still reigns supreme in the region.

Take a peek at the variety of events, activities, and attractions to take advantage of this spring and summer in Lake George; then pack your bags and hop in the car for a fun road trip.

1. THE BEACHES Lake George’s beaches offer just the right spot to relax in the sun in addition to picturesque views of the surrounding Adirondack Mountains. While there are many places to swim, the most popular is the state-run Million Dollar Beach, where lifeguards are on duty and, best of all, it’s free. You’ll find restrooms, showers, a volleyball area, snack stands, and picnic areas complete with grills. And the calm waters here make swimming ideal for kids of all ages. After a day worshipping the sun, take a ride on one of the lake’s historic steamboats. The most famous of them all, the Minne-Ha-Ha, is one of the last steam paddle wheelers in the country. Don’t miss the fireworks display from July 4th through August in nearby Lake George Village.

2. THE CAMPING Summer is tuning in with nature, and there’s no better way to do just that than by camping. With more than 380 shoreline campsites available on the 44 islands of Lake George, campers come back year after year to enjoy the crystal clear waters and stunning green mountains. Some islands boast a single site while others offer a cruiser dock—Glen Island even has a camp store. For those craving the creature comforts, there are nearby glamping sites. Posh Primitive in Chestertown offers custom-styled tents on platforms, which include the luxury of homes. If you prefer, Adirondack Safari will set up a custom canvas tent on any site of your choice and will even arrange outdoor activities.

3. THE LARAC JUNE ARTS FESTIVAL One of the premier summer events in the Southern Adirondack Region, LARAC draws crowds of twenty thousand plus. Held June 18 and 19, the festival features some 200 exhibitors offering shoppers a variety of products—many handcrafted—including jewelry, fine art, textiles, and homemade foods. The festival is near Lake George in beautiful downtown Glens Falls City Park. The festival also boasts not-for-profit booths, art demonstrations, kid’s activities, food concessions, and lots of live entertainment by local musicians.

4. THE HOPPY TRAILS BREW BUS No need to pick and choose among the brewers, distilleries, and wineries in the Adirondack region; the Hoppy Trails Brew Bus offers all-inclusive tour so you can see it all. You’ll experience the crafting process and samplings along with plenty of snacks to soak up the suds along the way.

5. THE OUTLET MALL SHOPPING The Lake George Area features 57 factory outlet centers offering 20 to 70 percent off retail prices. Shoppers will find name brand clothing, accessories, footwear, housewares, and lots more. The Factory Outlets of Lake George are located just off I-87.

6. THE SAGAMORE RESORT Located on a 72-acre island in Lake George, The Sagamore is a step back in time. The resort has hosted celebrities and dignitaries alike with the signature hospitality established over a century ago by Myron O. Brown. Rooms in the 1883 Colonial-revival main house provide guests views of the lake or gardens. The decor, including marble bathrooms and handsome wood furniture, is elegant but not formal; while guest rooms in the newer lodge buildings are country-chic. Notable facilities here include the spa, and the sailing school makes a stay here very memorable.

7. THE ADIRONDACK BALLOON FESTIVAL The four-day festival kicks off on September 22 in Glens Falls with live music, activities for kids, and a massive launch of hot air balloons. On Saturday, grab your flashlight for “Lighting up the Night: Moonglow” featuring a spectacular display from more than 20 hot air balloons.

8. THE HYDE COLLECTION ART MUSEUM This complex, which includes a historic house and art museum, combines the heritage of the Adirondacks. It’s one of the finest art museums in the Northeast with some 2,800 pieces including paintings and works by Cezanne, Da Vinci, Degas, El Greco, Rembrandt, and Picasso. In addition to displays of antiques and period furniture, educational programs are also part of the programs.

9. HORSE RACING For the sheer beauty and exhilaration of thoroughbred racing, head to nearby Saratoga Racetrack. For well over a century, some of the most thrilling races in history have been won here. Legendary races—like the upset of 1919 when Man o’ War, the superstar horse, was defeated—are what make Saratoga like no other track in the country. Come early in the day and enjoy breakfast at the track, watching these gorgeous creatures do their practice runs. The track is open for six weeks from July 22 to September 5. The festive spirit spreads throughout the region with music filling the air and showy hats are once again in fashion.

10. THE DINING Complete the day in style at one of these local favorites—you may even come back for more! The Barnsider Smoke House Restaurant’s wedge-cut fries are thick and satisfying along with the juicy ribs. Lake George visitors also like their breakfasts that include all-you-can-devour pancakes. Summertime diners enjoy eating on the terrace at Log Jam, which looks like someone’s cozy log house. With a down-home feel, the restaurant serves upscale dishes including roast duck and prime ribs. Surf-and-turf combos are also very popular.

For more information on Lake George, visit them at: visitlakegeorge.com