Top Things to Do in Lake Placid in February & March
Forest bathing experiences on snowshoes, old-fashioned tobogganing down a 30-foot ramp, and the FIS SKI Jumping World Cup are just a few reasons to visit Lake Placid during these two months.
(Feature image) © Paul Havel & Jackie Greaney
Most northern tourist towns close up shop when the snow begins to fall, but that is when Lake Placid really comes alive. Steeped in winter Olympic tradition (the little alpine village has hosted not one, but two winter Olympic games – one in 1932, the other in 1980), the best athletes in the US and Canada flock to the area for competitions for everything from Nordic skiing to hockey to dogsled racing, making this one of the best places for active winter pursuits.
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LAKE PLACID ACTIVITIES & ATTRACTIONS
Join a Local Pickup Game
Lake Placid Lodge has skates in all sizes for guests to borrow for pickup hockey games on Mirror Lake. Kid-friendly games are usually held midday or after school, while the adults take over later in the morning or wait until later to hit the ice. Just be conscious of dogsled mushers giving locals and visitors rides up and down the lake.
Take a Walk in the Winter Wild
Those who have heard of forest bathing – the therapeutic pastime of immersing yourself in the sights, smells, and sounds of nature through a walk in the woods – often associate the act as something limited to the warmer seasons. But according to Helene Gibbens, co-owner of Adirondack Riverwalking, a Lake Placid-based guiding service that leads sensory-immersion excursions into the wilds of the Adirondacks, winter is one of the best times for the practice for the serene hush and quiet. Which is why, from February through the end of March, she offers regular Sunday morning Sensory Snowshoeing walks – essentially her wintertime version of her popular warm-weather forest-bathing sessions. These two-and-a-half-hour tours take place on various trails weaving throughout the Lake Placid region; registration is required.
Lake Placid favorite Big Slide Brewery has a constantly rotating selection of 10 taps. This time of year, however, expect to see some of their classic cold-weather staples, including the Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout (with roasted barley and dark crystal malts aged for eight months in bourbon barrels) and the unique Hot Pepper Pale Ale, brewed with 15 pounds of chopped poblano peppers and two pounds of fresh jalapeños.
Book Dining Package That is Delightfully Delicious
A favorite feature of a Lake Placid Lodge stay? Finding five-star flavor right at your fingertips. Now through March 23, book the Savor & Stay package and dig into Lake Placid’s most celebrated dining experiences right off the lobby with daily breakfast and dinner included per adult at Artisans and Maggie’s Pub.
Race Across Mirror Lake
Once Mirror Lake – the tranquil body of water that the town of Lake Placid centers around – freezes over, thrill-seekers of all ages can take advantage of a unique sliding experience: The Lake Placid Toboggan Chute. After pulling an old-fashioned sled up a 30-foot-high converted ski jump trestle, you’ll tuck your feet for a front-row seat to whiz more than 1,000 feet, skittering across the frozen surface of Mirror Lake. The estimated open date for the activity in 2024 is late January/early February (call ahead to check weather conditions). On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, the lines for this only $15 experience can often be long, so plan to go during the 4 to 7 p.m. window on Friday for the shortest wait.
Try to Spot Some Stunning Winter Visitors
After spending much of the year breeding and hunting in the tundra of the Canadian Shield, two types of raptors – the elusive snowy owl and now endangered species of short-eared owl – migrate southward to establish a winter-hunting territory in the more hospitable surroundings of the Lake Placid/Tupper Lake/Saranac Lake region. A potential place you may spot them locally: The Craig Wood Golf Course, reminiscent of their home in the arctic tundra. Take a causal cross-country ski climb (either at daybreak or dusk when they are more likely to be active) up River Road to Craig Wood Golf Course and keep your eyes peeled as you descend into Cascade Ski Center’s groomed Nordic trails.
Want to ensure you see some birds of prey during your visit? Every Saturday, from 4 to 6 p.m., Lake Placid Lodge hosts a local organization, Adirondack Raptors, to bring in real, live owls, hawks, and other local raptors. In fact, guests can even slip on a leather glove to allow Tessie, the beloved barn owl, to perch on their arm.
2024 LAKE PLACID FESTIVALS & EVENTS
Wild Lights at The Wild Center, February 2–24 (Fridays and Saturdays)
Photo courtesy of The Wild Center
Located 30 miles from Lake Placid in Tupper Lake, the sprawling 115-acre campus of The Wild Center is set ablaze with thousands of twinkling lights strung across the various outdoor exhibits, creating quite the wonder to wander through. Highlights include 130 trees wrapped in 55,000 colorful lights, artist Patrick Dougherty’s lit-up large-scale sculptural installation constructed of woven tree saplings, and interactive lighting on the award-winning Wild Walk.
Empire State Winter Games, February 1-4
With 25 winter Olympic-style games, this multi-day sporting event brings a bit of the glory from the Winter Games back to the village of Lake Placid. In fact, many of the same venues used from the 1980 Games are enjoyed by participants and spectators alike, with some of the finest athletes in the state competing in sliding sports, figure skating, sled hockey, and more. There’s even a 700-mile torch relay – starting in Buffalo and ending in Lake Placid – that culminates in the opening ceremony.
FIS Ski Jumping World Cup, February 9–11
Photo courtesy of the Olympic Regional Development Authority
In February 2023, after an absence of 33 years, Lake Placid welcomed back the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup to its recently refurbished Olympic Jumping Complex. But if you missed the event last year that drew 15,000 spectators to the three-day event showcasing high-flying aerials, consider yourself fortunate: Lake Placid is set to host the competition once again in 2024. Similar to the previous year, attendees can anticipate an intimate experience as they witness elite ski jumpers from the U.S., Poland, Slovenia, Norway, Austria, and beyond, soaring the length of a football field from the impressive 128-meter jump.
Annual Loppet, 2/24
One of the only races of its kind in the US, this citizens cross-country ski race features athletes from the US and Canada who compete in two distance races – 25 or 50 kilometers – on the Olympic trails on Mt. Van Hoevenberg.
ECAC Men’s Hockey Championship, 3/22
Each year, during this two-day event, the premier teams from the Eastern College Athletic Conference converge at the Herb Brooks Rink Arena to claim the top spot and move on to the NCAA DI Championships. And there’s no better place to do so as the rink is the same one that was home to the legendary 1980 “Miracle on Ice.” But what’s even better for spectators is that the venue has undergone significant upgrades – including new seating, concession areas, restrooms, and more – making witnessing the fast action of hockey the best it’s ever been.