Exploring Adirondacks, New York: 24 Must-Try Things To Do in the Adirondacks

Things to do in Adirondacks New York - best places to visit in the Adirondacks.
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Northeastern New York is home to the Adirondacks. Surrounded by mountains and waterways, it’s a peaceful haven adored by locals and visitors all year round.

With acres of ‘forever wild’ land, it’s a great place to adventure, unplug, recharge, and take in the serenity of nature. Surrounded by breathtaking views and scenic overlooks, the Adirondack Mountains is also home to wineries, breweries, historical sites, museums, water parks, and more.

Whether you’re visiting for the first time, vacationing in the Adirondacks several times a year, or living in the area, discover over twenty incredible things to do in the Adirondacks.

To save you time, I’ve broken down what to do in the Adirondacks based on activity type. Click on the areas you’re most interested in to jump to that section.

Adirondack Museums

Outdoor Activities

Breweries and Wineries

Where is the Adirondacks?

The Adirondacks, a.k.a. the Adirondack Park, is a region in the northeastern part of New York State that spans approximately six million acres. It is renowned for its pristine wilderness, majestic mountain ranges, crystal-clear lakes, and charming, historic towns.

Located 4-6 hours’ drive from New York City, the Adirondacks offer a tranquil escape for nature enthusiasts, outdoor adventurers, and those seeking a relaxing getaway from the hustle and bustle.

As the largest state park in the contiguous United States, the Adirondacks is larger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon National Parks combined. It’s roughly the size of Vermont and blends public and private land. Established in 1885, it’s also the oldest natural forest preserve in the United States.

Popular Adirondack destinations include Lake Placid, Lake George, and Saranac Lake, each with unique characteristics and attractions.

The High Peaks region is renowned for its towering mountains, offering exceptional hiking and outdoor adventures.

Lake Placid, a charming village, hosted the Winter Olympics twice in 1932 and 1980. Known as the Bobsled Capital of the World, it’s a hub for winter sports and outdoor recreation.

The Saranac Lake area is known for its vibrant arts scene and outdoor festivals, and in the Lake George region, you’ll find pristine lakeside beauty, amusement parks, and historical attractions.

Over the past few years, we’ve had the chance to spend summer in the Adirondacks visiting Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, and Long Lake with our family. We’ll continue to update this article with new attractions and experiences. So, what is there to do when you visit the Adirondacks?

What Are the Top Attractions in Adirondacks, New York?

1. The Wild Center (Tupper Lake)

The Wild Center in Tupper Lake is a natural museum dedicated to a future where people and nature coexist. Discover new ways to commune with nature while getting to know some Adirondack animal ambassadors, like the famous otters.

The Wild Center - Things to do in Adirondacks, New York.

Some of our favorite exhibits include Wild Walk, Climate Solutions, Forest Music, Patrick Dougherty’s Stickwork, and more.

At Wild Walk, climb along a route of bridges through the forest treetops. From there, explore a four-story twig tree house, scale a spider’s web, or ascend to the highest point to reach the full-sized bald eagle’s nest.

What to expect at Climate Solutions Exhibit at The Wild Center

Listen to this podcast episode for what you can expect when visiting The Wild Center.

2. Adirondack Experience (Long Lake)

Adirondack Experience is situated in Blue Mountain Lake, the exact geographic center of Adirondack Park. As one of the biggest and most well-known museums in northern New York, it spans 121 acres.

The Adirondack Experience -

The open-air Adirondack-themed exhibitions create an immersive experience that explores every aspect of the region’s past, present, and future.

Explore the new art exhibit that opened in 2023, Artists & Inspiration in the Wild, which showcases how nature sparks creativity in painters, sculptors, and artisans throughout the region.

If you love to hike, paddle, or enjoy lakeside views, you’ll appreciate an easy ¾-mile hike on Minnow Pond Trail.

Blue Mountain Lake - views from Adirondack Experience. Adirondack Museums.

Learn why you should visit Adirondack Experience by clicking the link to read or listen to this podcast episode below.

3. The Hyde Collection Art Museum and Historic House (Glen Falls)

The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls used to be the cozy home of passionate art collectors who couldn’t keep all that beauty to themselves. Wander through the historic Hyde family home and soak in a mesmerizing collection of European and American masterpieces. Think Rembrandt, Rubens, Picasso, Renoir, and Hassam – they’re all there, sharing their brilliance with visitors from far and wide.

4. Adirondack Military Forts and War Museums

As one of the historic locations in the Adirondack Park, Fort Ticonderoga, which overlooks Lake Champlain, provides stunning and expansive views of the lake, highlighting its significance throughout the French and Indian War and Revolutionary Wars.

Fort Ticonderoga features interesting exhibitions and engaging historical interpretations. Family-friendly activities are plentiful in the fort, including daily weapon demonstrations, boat tours, live war reenactments, and more.

The staff at Fort Ticonderoga is skilled at producing interesting and distinctive events like reenactments on important war anniversaries and midnight weaponry displays.

5. American Maple Museum and Hall of Fame

Preserving New York State’s maple legacy, explore the history of maple sugaring at the American Maple Museum and Hall of Fame in Croghan, located in the Adirondack Tug Hill Region.

From rustic taps to state-of-the-art equipment, discover the sweet, fascinating history of “liquid gold.”

Enjoy pancake breakfasts during the annual New York Maple Weekends in the spring, or try your hand at tapping a maple tree.

6. Winter Carnivals

Participate in a winter carnival in the Adirondacks to embrace the cold season. In the spirit of winter fun, these enchanted ice and snow festivities bring together locals and tourists.

Saranac Lake Winter Carnival is one of the oldest winter carnivals in the country. Held typically in February, it features many activities, including the famous Ice Palace, fireworks, parades, and various winter sports competitions. Check out ice castles, polar plunges, snowshoe and snowmobile races, and lots more.

When the glimmer of the holidays fades, attend a winter Adirondack Carnival and gift yourself something to look forward to before spring arrives. 

Adirondacks Things To Do Outdoors

1. Dog Sledding or Horse-Drawn Sleigh

Dog sledding is an enjoyable and unique activity that you have to try while you’re in the Adirondacks. There are a few local companies, like Thunder Mountain Dog Sled Tours, that would love to take you for a ride! Some even offer rides on wheeled sleds in the warmer months. Or, opt for an authentic horse-drawn sleigh ride. Adirondack Sleigh Rides offers trips through the John Brown Farm State Historic Site.

2. Spectacular Waterfalls

The Adirondack Mountains are renowned for their many waterfalls, each a natural wonder creating a tapestry of cascading beauty.

From the iconic High Falls Gorge, where visitors can traverse elevated walkways for stunning views, to the hidden gems like Roaring Brook Falls, tucked away in dense forests, the Adirondacks offer a diverse array of waterfall experiences.

Another fantastic alternative is Stone Valley Recreation, where the walk passes waterfall gorges, rapids, and rock outcroppings.

3. Adirondack Great Camps Boat Tour

With over 3,000 lakes and ponds, don’t miss a boat tour while you’re in town.

Picture this: you’re on board, and your captain is sharing tales about epic love stories, juicy heartbreaks, political shenanigans, and the rich history of the Adirondacks.

Cruise along the serene lake shores, pass those grand Adirondack Great Camps, catch glimpses of the majestic mountains, and soak in some seriously jaw-dropping scenery.

If you’re unfamiliar, the Adirondacks are known for their “Great Camps,” lavish retreats built for wealthy families in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of these historic camps are open for tours today.

4. Boat Tour in Lake George

Speaking of boat tours, explore the coastline on one of the several cruise options available, which range from a private pet-friendly outing on a stylish wooden boat to a July 4th extravaganza complete with spectacular fireworks. One of the best ways to see all 32 miles of Lake George is to take a boat excursion. With so many boat cruises, click on this link to find the right one for you.

5. Old Lighthouses on the Lake

Visit several old lighthouses in the area. Split Rock Lighthouse in Essex may be seen from the air, water, or the other side of the lake. Other lighthouses to add to your list include Crown Point Lighthouse on Lake Champlain and Barbers Point Lighthouse.

6. Guided Horseback Riding

Does horseback riding through the wilderness of the Adirondacks sound like a fun time? Several ranches can take you on guided tours of the Lake George region and southern Adirondacks. Some ranches, like Circle B Ranch, not only offer guided horseback riding tours but also sleigh rides and carriage rides.

 7. Cliff Jumping on Lake George

On Lake George, there are several fantastic spots where you may go cliff jumping and land in the amazing waters. Consider Burgess Island, West Dollar Island, and Calves Pen!

8. Rail Biking 

Discover New York’s splendor by rail bike! 

This fun and environmentally sustainable activity is an excellent option for those wanting a thrilling adventure! Enjoy a stroll along the railroad lines while admiring the Adirondacks’ stunning surroundings.

Or enjoy the thrill of tubing down the river as you conquer minor rapids and take in the cool water.

9. Enchanted Forest Water Safari

For a thrilling amusement park and water park, visit the Enchanted Forest Water Safari. Situated in Old Forge, it’s the biggest water park in New York state, and the fourth-best water park in the country.

10. Scenic Drives and Byways in the Adirondacks

The Adirondacks is no stranger to scenic drives. Drive the Revolutionary Trail and explore historic military sites and forts. Or travel along the Seaway Trail, winding around the Lake Ontario Basin and the mighty St. Lawrence River.  

11. Natural Stone Bridge and Caves Park

Visit the largest marble cave entrance in the east, Natural Stone Bridge and Caves Park is an Adirondack natural treasure that has been family-owned for more than 200 years. 

Visitors can explore waterfalls, a gorge, and optional descents into lit caves.

Various guided adventure activities are available in the summer from July to August, including “cave float” expeditions and gemstone mining. There’s also snowshoeing in winter.

Furthermore, there are family-friendly activities, including a climbing wall, a disc golf course, and DinoDig.

12. Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Waterpark

Near Lake George, Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Waterpark is a family-friendly lodge with a giant indoor waterpark. The Timbertown Kids Klub activity area is fun for kids and there’s a full-service Johnny Rockets Diner and Sports Lounge.

13. Lake Placid Olympic Ski Jumping Complex

Whether you’re a sports enthusiast or searching for your next exhilarating adventure, immerse yourself in the Olympic experience by escaping to the Olympic Jumping Complex’s.

While admiring breathtaking views of the Adirondack Mountains, see ski jumpers blast off the hills and fly the length of a football field.

The Sky Flyer Zipline, which runs beside the 100-meter ski jump and simulates the flight of ski jumping at up to 30 mph, is the ultimate adventure experience.

The Skyride, an eight-passenger pulse lift, provides a bird’s-eye view of the landing slope as it takes you up to the foot of the ski jumping towers.

14. Go Hiking and Camping

Hiking in the Adirondacks promises amazing views all year long. Enjoy lush evergreen trees in the summer, colorful Fall foliage in the autumn, and snowy landscapes in the winter.

Ready to relax after a long day of hiking?

Camping in the Adirondacks offers a chance to return to nature without leaving civilization too far behind. Throughout the region, there are thousands of campsites and hundreds of campgrounds, from state-owned and operated to private campgrounds with family-friendly amenities.

Spacious Skies Adirondack Peaks is the perfect spot for family fun or peaceful quality time in nature. In addition to tent camping, there are deluxe cabins, cozy yurts for glamping, and full hook-up sites for your RV or camper.

Breweries in the Adirondacks and Adirondack Wineries

Not only do the Adirondacks offer beautiful natural landscapes, but there are many scenic wineries. Plus, the craft beer industry has been booming, so there’s no shortage of breweries and tasting rooms. Here are a few wineries and Adirondack breweries you can check out.

1. Adirondack Pub & Brewery (Lake George)

For craft beer enthusiasts seeking a behind-the-scenes look, Adirondack Pub & Brewery, nestled in the scenic Lake George region, is the place to be.

With a commitment to quality, they produce more than 25 all-natural, non-pasteurized craft ales onsite, allowing visitors to witness the beer-making process with brewery tours offered throughout the year.

What’s more, Adirondack Pub & Brewery’s reach extends far beyond the local scene, as their brews are distributed across 32 counties in New York State through six dedicated distributors.

2. Cooper’s Cave Ale Company (Glens Falls)

Cooper’s Cave Ale Company in Glens Falls offers traditional English-style ales, porters, and stouts. A family-owned and operated company, sample brews made from some of the finest ingredients available, including specialty malted barley, or enjoy a meal or ice cream.

3. Adirondack Winery (Lake George)

Get a taste of the Adirondack region by sampling over 35 award-winning, hand-crafted wines produced locally using specialized grapes.

Pair your wine with regional cheeses, chocolates, and other high-quality foods to broaden your palate.

The Adirondack Winery is a must-see destination in the Adirondacks and a recognized TasteNY site. Visit one of their stores in Queensbury, Bolton Landing, or Lake George to taste these wines for yourself.

4. Highlands Vineyard (Lake Champlain)

This family-owned and operated winery produces 100% estate wines. Savor the breathtaking views of Lake Champlain by visiting their beautiful wine-tasting room.

If you’re looking for the best things to do in the Adirondacks, I hope this article inspired you with plenty of ideas. This region invites you to explore, discover, and make cherished memories with your loved ones. Be it hiking, museum visits, adventurous excursions, or a taste of local beer and wine, the Adirondacks have it all, ensuring your vacation is nothing short of unforgettable.

So, what are you waiting for? Book your next Adirondack vacation by reserving a room at one of these hotels.

Where to stay in the Adirondacks

Hotel Saranac, Curio Collection by Hilton is a charming 1920s historic hotel in Lake Saranac village in New York. Conveniently located within walking distance of restaurants, shops, and nearby lakes, there’s complimentary onsite self-parking and charging stations for electric vehicles.

There’s also the onsite spa salon and fitness center.

The hotel has two bars, one on the second-floor ballroom called ‘Great Hall,’ inspired by a 14th-century Italian palace, and another on the first-floor restaurant called ‘Campsite.’

While rooms are compact, they are comfortable and have modern amenities. Free coffee and tea are offered throughout the day, and the onsite concierge helps you plan your day with personalized advice.

Reserve your unforgettable stay at Hotel Saranac with Booking.com by clicking here.

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