Best things to do in Lake George, New York

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Located halfway between New York and Montreal, Lake George has long been a popular getaway destination for New Yorkers and Canadians. The lake itself is 32 miles wide and sits at the base of the Adirondack Mountains. Originally called Andia-ta-roc-te by the indigenous people of the area, its current name was named in 1755 after King George II and the town also consists of different communities along the water such as the village, Bolton Landing and Diamond Point.

Once known as a country getaway for the wealthy, this popular destination offers plenty of year-round activities like hot air ballooning, scenic boat rides, and hiking, as well as seasonal activities like ice fishing in the winter. In the summer, Lake George can see its population swell to as many as 50,000 people participating in water activities, but there’s no reason to wait that long as cold weather adventures await.

Located just 200 miles from New York City, here are nine of our favorite reasons to drive to Lake George.

The Sembrich
The Sembrich

Learn about local history through forts, boat tours and historical re-enactments

For history buffs, Lake George has forts and artifacts from the 1770s, as the area was a turf war between European settlers in the form of the French and Indian War. To learn more about this war considered one of the world’s first major conflicts, visit Fort Ticonderoga with specialty tours like Ticonderoga Guns By Night demonstrating 18th-century cannons and muskets; a 75-minute boat tour through the Adirondack Mountains and the Ticonderoga Museum featuring unique exhibits on 18th-century menus, the evolution of fortress construction, and the life of Sarah Pell, co-founder of the fort; Fort William Henry Museum for the history and re-enactment of the French and Indian War of 1755; and The Sembrich, a cultural center listed on the National Register of Historic Places, offering concerts, programs, a historical museum and memorabilia, on acres of lush grounds. Every summer sees free concerts and events in the city and mid-September brings the Lake George Jazz Festival for culture vultures.

Faina Gourevitch/Shutterstock

Discover the magic of a winter wonderland

As for the weather, it’s still winter until mid-April in this area and Lake George holds a seasonal extravaganza to celebrate in the form of Winterfest. This event runs until March 11 and includes discounts on winter activities, accommodations, restaurants and more. The city’s newest winter attractions are the IG-worthy Ice Castles, built with thousands of icicles, frozen tunnels and LED-lit ice sculptures for a relaxing experience.

Elissa Ebersold/Shutterstock

Soar over canopies, ride in a hot air balloon, and cruise the trails

Not afraid of heights? Take part in a thrilling treetop and zipline adventure of varying difficulty through the forest canopies. For two-footed activity, the hiking trails the Adirondacks are known for, like Ausable Chasm (aka the “Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks”). Here you can walk through the forest, past Rainbow Falls and listen to the silence of Mystic Gorge. If hot air ballooning has always been on your bucket list, sign up with SunKiss Ballooning and soar over the Adirondacks with professional flight operators.

Lake George Community
Lake George Community | Flickr/Carol Norquist

See the historic mansions of Millionaire’s Row

Lake George is known for its 1800s mansions that were havens for the downstate’s wealthy during the Gilded Age. Millionaire’s Row is on Bolton Road on the west side of the lake, with neo-Tudor and Italianate stone buildings like Erlowest, Mohican Point and Wikiosco. The latter was built in 1895 by Royal Peabody, founder of Brooklyn Edison, and features 10 bathrooms, a 20-car garage, a separate cottage, boathouses, and other architectural details. With the advent of the income taxes of the 1930s, the upkeep of mansions became expensive, leading to their conversion into luxury resorts and accommodations over the decades.

Algonquin Restaurant
Algonquin Restaurant

Enjoy the lake view with your meal

Reopening in mid-April, a Lake George dining tradition to partake in is The Algonquin, a restaurant famous for its New American cuisine, water views, and bar named Topside Grille. Another seasonal spot that will reopen in April is Pumpernickel’s Restaurant, the area’s only authentic German restaurant that also boasts the country’s largest cuckoo clock. A farm-to-table place to indulge is Bistro le Roux, known for its wine collection and French-inspired dishes. Sushi Yoshi specializes in Japanese hibachi and Chinese dishes; Capri Pizzeria & Restaurant is known for its pizzas, soups and salads; Frederick’s Restaurant is popular for its live music, patio, soups, burgers, and pastas; and 163 Taproom is the place to go for pub grub. Plus, there are plenty of family restaurants in Lake George Village without an online presence, so do it the old-fashioned way and wander around town to find more.

Bolton Landing Brewery
Bolton Landing Brewery

Sip locally produced wines and beers

For oenophiles, Adirondack Winery is open daily and serves fruity and traditional locally made wines in special tastings or by the bottle. The Bolton Landing Brewing Company has a tasting room serving seasonal Lake George bites and craft beers. And if you’re keen, travel 5 miles to Queensbury for the Springbrook Hollow Farm Distillery where maple moonshine, vodka and limoncello are abundant in their tasting room. Tours and outdoor seating are available for visitors.

The Erlowest Inn
The Erlowest Inn

Relax in luxury accommodations, rustic cabins and boutique beds

The Erlowest Inn, overlooking Lake George, will seduce you with its stone exterior, floral wallpaper, private mahogany boat (reservation required), hot tub and fireplaces. Built as a private residence on Millionaire’s Row in 1898, it now serves as luxury accommodation. For added opulence, The Chateau on the Lake is a 3-bedroom French country inn centrally located in Bolton Landing with private views of Lake George, or cozy up in the lakeside cottages at Trout House Village Resort with a sandy beach, kayaking, and a nearby village, The Hague, to explore. For the budget-conscious, there’s Admiral Motel — atypical of conventional motels — with an outdoor patio, heated pool, and trolley stop. The Heritage of Lake George is also affordable and offers motels and cabins just minutes from local activities and attractions. Do you prefer rustic digs? Stay in the log cabins at Candlelight Cottages which feature a wood burning fireplace. If the outdoors is your style, at least for a day, there’s wild overnight camping at Adirondack Adventures where you pitch a tent (bring about it forever), collect kindling for the fire, and cook your own. having dinner.

Lake George Kayak Co.
Lake George Kayak Co.

Enjoy outdoor activities like parasailing and kayaking

There’s no better way to enjoy the city than indulging in its famous water activities for all ages and experience levels. Parasailing on the lake in doubles and trios with licensed Coast Guard captains at Parasailing Adventures; glide slowly and safely on a 3-hour Lazy Tubing River adventure through the Adirondack Mountains over gentle waves and pebble bottoms; and whether you’re a novice or a natural, try your hand at kayaking or paddleboarding at Lake George Kayak Company. For those with daredevil tendencies, a whitewater rafting adventure at Adirondack Adventures might just be the rush you need. If you prefer a tranquil water experience, embark on a Lake George Island boat tour for scenic views, optional water activities, and lake history, covering everything from sunken ships to ghost stories. Take note that these activities are mainly suitable for warmer temperatures and are dictated by weather conditions (always confirm availability in advance).

THE GOLDEN APPLE
THE GOLDEN APPLE

Indulge in craft, cheese, and homemade fudge shops

Bring Lake George souvenirs home by visiting The Indian Tepee Gift Shop in Bolton Landing for Adirondack candy, jewelry, homewares and personalized gifts; pop into Live Love Laugh for soaps and crafts; don’t leave without cheeses from Argyle Cheese Farmer Store & Bakery, which produces high-quality cheese, buttermilk and yogurt on an 1860s family farm; satiate your sweet tooth and bring home Adirondack candy apples, caramel corn and fudge from The Candy Apple; the popular Tom Tom Shop for local gifts and souvenirs; Candy Space, an interactive candy store that launches candy into a rocket; Trig Point Designs for laser cut maps of the Lake George area on mugs, frames etc.

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Kimi is a travel blogger and Brooklyn resident who explores New York happenings, enjoys day trips to historic and scenic locations, and enjoys cultural trips at home and abroad.

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