Six hours from Toronto, Boston and New York City, the Adirondacks region is the largest publicly protected area within the 48 states (one just can’t compete with how big Alaska is). One of the most unique aspects to this state park is that there are towns and villages existing within the wilderness—like Lake Placid, best known for hosting two Winter Olympics. Between your planned hiking, canoeing and camping excursions and recharging the lungs with that crisp mountain air, here are some of the spots to take a breather.
Raquette River Brewing
Though technically not on the river, this Tupper Lake brewery is close enough for kayakers to make a beeline here after a long day of paddling. Decades long home brewer Mark Jessie co-founded Raquette River Brewing the day after he retired, eventually opening a space in 2014, and just recently expanding to four 10-barrel fermenters to keep up with the demand. It’s hard to select just four of the different beers on tap for the $5 flights; the classics like IPA and red ale (no fancy names here, it is what it is) are refreshing and brewed well in small batches. Summer’s the time to visit, as their popular strawberry cilantro and orange coriander wheats become available. There’s spacious outdoor seating, live music on the weekends and Arthur’s BBQ Truck caters wings, ribs and more all drenched in finger-licking sauce.
Since June of last year, Origin Coffee has jolted the sleepy Main Street in Saranac Lake (population: 5,345) with some much-needed caffeine. The delicious coffee—from pour-over to espressos pulled from their La Marzocco machine—is supplied by Portland’s Coava Coffee Roasters, and the vision is led by young owner Jecinda Hughes. Also available at Origin is a rotating menu of soups, baked goods and lunch fare incorporating ingredients from local farms like Battenkill Valley Creamery, Asgaard Farm, and Fledging Crow Vegetables. Important note: closed on Sundays.
Liquids and Solids at the Handlebar
This is a restaurant that we’d visit every weekend if it were in Brooklyn. The Lake Placid joint—sharing a roof with Kreature butcher shop—skips the rustic/pretentious vibes and serves unforgettable upscale drinks and plates (hence the straightforward name Liquids and Solids) in a comfy atmosphere. Champagne meets Coco Lopez in the Mother’s Milk cocktail, while their “#1” makes use of beautiful Whistle Pig whiskey in ways we never tried. Their beer menu even includes a wild ale and Brettanomyces section. There’s something for even the pickiest out-of-town eaters here, from poutine to crispy pig head, with ingredients sourced from nearby farmers and producers. But we could just order the local cheeses, charcuterie (including kielbasa, salmon rillette, chicken liver butter) and their pickled vegetables and still leave beaming.
This five-star hotel, named after one of the High Peaks, is without a doubt the most luxurious accommodation in the Adirondacks. Whiteface Lodge does an impressive job of keeping you entertained on-site, despite the hiking that beckons and nature that surrounds. There is a 56-seat movie theater that screens three films a night (with unlimited free popcorn), an old-school bowling alley and game room, tennis courts, skating rink, nightly s’mores by the fire. Take the underground tunnel to the pools and hot tubs; guests also have access to the spa’s eucalyptus steam room and sauna. And because you’re in the middle of the woods, there’s a lot of space: the smallest room type is a one bedroom suite that can fit a family of four.
The Wild Walk
Close to celebrating its one-year anniversary, the new Wild Walk exhibit—part of The Wild Center—is an outdoor, elevated trail designed to change perspective. When you think about it, even when climbing the highest peaks, we are still on the ground-level. Different flora and fauna exists at different levels in the forest, and the educational-while-engaging Wild Walk offers a rare birds-eye view from the treetops (bonus: it’s accessible to all, and we saw powered wheelchairs and strollers scooting around with ease). Special events like Symphony of the Forest provide yet another unique experience; the Wild Walk is opened at 3AM for guests to experience the Adirondacks under the moonlit sky and hear what it’s up to at night. Don’t miss out on the cute otters, owls, bug-eating lectures and pure Adirondack maple syrup made on-site at The Wild Center, either.
Origin Coffee image courtesy of Due West Photography; Liquids and Solids image courtesy of the restaurant; all other images by Nara Shin