Top Activities & Attractions to Soak Up Lake Placid in the Fall
Autumn always comes early – and lasts longer – in the Adirondacks. And Lake Placid offers plenty of ways to immerse yourself in the season, from fall-flavored beers and film fests to perfect leaf-peeping places to post up and enjoy the rolling patchwork of color.
Surrounded by the Adirondack High Peaks, boreal forests, and languid lakes, the Lake Placid region sure is something to look at in any season. But there’s something about the sights, sounds, and smells of fall that really sears itself into your memory. That might just be because the Adirondacks – along with being the largest protected area in the contiguous United States – boasts one of the longest and most spectacular fall foliage seasons in the country. Using Lake Placid Lodge as your launching pad, here are a few of our favorite ways to shape your fall stay.
TOP LAKE PLACID FALL ACTIVITIES & ATTRACTIONS
Hit a Fall Hike with a Legendary Adirondack Guide
There’s no one who knows the Adirondack’s six-million-acre forested wilderness quite like Ed Kanze, whose family roots in this region date back seven impressive generations (they first settled here in 1795). And lucky for you, Lake Placid Lodge has recruited the naturalist and former park ranger to offer intimate nature sessions/hikes that meet at the lodge every Wednesday and Saturday at 10 a.m.
But this is more than a hike. The sessions start with a casual fireside chat where Kanze answers any and all questions guests may have about the Adirondacks, like the region’s most unique animals, his favorite trails, and more. He can even tailor the talk to focus just on autumn ecology in the area. From there, it’s time to hit the woods for a leisurely hike in the Mckenzie Mountain Wilderness, one of the most remote and wildest parts of the Adirondacks – and also the area Lake Placid Lodge borders.
Double Your Fall Foliage Views on Local Languid Lakes
There’s a reason they call it Lake “Placid” and “Mirror” Lake. Located within mere minutes of each other – Lake Placid on the southern edge of McKenzie Mountain Wilderness and Mirror Lake in the center of the village of Lake Placid – these adjacent lakes are some of the most tranquil bodies of water you will ever encounter. And that means autumn colors are perfectly reflected in their stillness from the shoreline trees and surrounding Adirondack mountains. Take in the views on Mirror Lake with the 2.7-mile loop stroll that encircles the 128-acre, one-mile-long lake. For guests who stay at Lake Placid Lodge, the best way to immerse yourself in our namesake lake is by kayak or a tour aboard Christie, the lodge’s 35-foot mahogany Hacker Craft.
Savor the Signature Maple Crème Soft Serve at Emma’s
Emma’s Lake Placid Creamery may be small in stature. Still, this Main Street ice cream outpost sure packs some big flavors thanks to a surprisingly wide inventory of sweets – a sampling includes an impressive selection of flavored cones, 16 varieties of hard ice cream, milkshakes ranging in flavors from churro to fruity pebbles, 12 types of whoopie pies, and even bags of gourmet marshmallows. But come fall, there’s one concoction that locals crave the most in this candy-striped, 50s-style ice cream parlor: the signature maple crème soft serve. Get it in a dark chocolate cone with chocolate sprinkles (a favorite local combo), in a milkshake, or opt to sample it in one of their creative sundaes. We’re partial to the Maple Monkey, blending the signature soft serve with cinnamon monkey bread, maple syrup, and hot caramel.
Make a Fall-Scented Candle at Pure Placid
You could simply opt to purchase one of the already-made fall-scented candles at Pure Placid, like Cashmere Sweater (featuring notes of frothed cream, jasmine, sandalwood, and vanilla) or Sunday Morning (maple, cinnamon, and balsam). Or you could book a candle-making class at their on-site candle bar, get creative, and make your own based on the scents you most associate with autumn. The Main Street-based retailer offers a variety of classes to choose from, including both instructor-led and self-guided options, special Sunday classes featuring mimosas, as well as kid-oriented classes.
Sample a Seasonal Beer at Big Slide
Housed in a former warehouse space about a mile-and-a-half from Lake Placid’s Main Street, Big Slide Brewery and Public House is known for its experimental beers – including ones that are aged, soured, or wild-fermented. Which is why, come fall, you can always expect to find some unique releases in this low-key industrial-style brewery that tip a hat to the classic flavors of the season. Past creations have included an amber ale brewed with roasted sweet potato and pumpkin, an imperial stout aged in barrels that previously held local maple syrup, and a kettle sour made from freshly pressed apple cider from a local orchard.
Get Sky-High Foliage Views with Little Effort
Photo courtesy of the Olympic Jumping Complex
Want to take in the Lake Placid region’s sprawling mountaintop fall foliage views, but not put in the mileage, manpower, and time required to get to such an elevation? Look no further than the twin ski jumps – used in the 1980 Winter Games – and the Skyride Experience at Lake Placid’s Olympic Jumping Complex.
Here, for just a $20 ticket, a new state-of-the-art pulse gondola whisks you up and over the football field-length landing hill to the base of the two ski jump towers for your first glance at the breathtaking perspective. But it’s not over yet. From there, you’ll take a 45-second ride aboard a glass-enclosed elevator to the top of the 128-meter ski jump tower (that’s equal to a 26-story ride), enjoying views of Lake Placid and nearby John Brown’s Farm as you ascend. At the top, you’ll step out to the sky deck – a small outdoor observation area – where you’ll look down at the dizzying jump that scores of gutsy skiers have hurled themselves from as well as take in 360-degree views of the surrounding Adirondack High Peaks aflame in autumn color.
TOP 2023 LAKE PLACID FALL FESTIVALS & EVENTS
Whiteface Oktoberfest, 9/30–10/1
Set at the base of 4,867-foot Whiteface Mountain – home to the greatest vertical drop on the East Coast – this weekend-long, Bavarian-style celebration has been rated one of the “5 Must-Visit Oktoberfests in North America” by SKI Magazine. And for good reason, too: You can expect everything from authentic dress (be sure to bring your lederhosen), a high-stepping German dance troop, and crowd-pleasing powerhouse oompah bands to scenic gondola rides, schnitzel, flammkuchen (German pizza), and, of course, plenty of local frosty brews.
Flaming Leaves Festival, 10/6
It may look like your typical fall fest with live entertainment, food and beer, vendor booths, and lots of local color scattered across the grounds of the Olympic Jumping Complex. But one thing you’ll only ever see at this Friday-through-Sunday annual event? Soaring ski jumpers – actually about 20 of the world’s best from nine different countries who sail through the sky on the complex’s twin ski jumps. That’s because the whole event hinges around one of the premier ski jumping events of the season, the FIS Continental Cup. So you get to witness more than just a stunning view of the Adirondack High Peaks peppered with a patchwork of reds, oranges, and yellows, but a high-flying spectacle rooted in Olympic greatness.
Lake Placid Film Festival, 10/26–29
Most times out of the year, folks flock to the village of Lake Placid to immerse themselves in its Olympic heritage. But during this annual, four-day October event – now in its 22nd year – anything related to the Games takes a backseat when filmmakers, actors, and general cinephiles from around the country descend on this quaint community for its celebration of cutting-edge features and award-winning shorts. And we’re not just talking showings of anniversary classic films and productions by Adirondack and Upstate New York filmmakers in places like the Palace Theater and the Lake Placid Center for the Arts, but engaging mixers, educational seminars, and moving tributes, as well.
Two particularly unique highlights to look forward to during the 2023 event: A showcase of independent TV show pilots, thanks to a partnership with the prestigious Catalyst Story Institute, and an evening of cocktails and conversation honoring prolific film producer Barbara De Fina. Instrumental in many of Martin Scorsese’s productions (Goodfellas, Casino, Hugo, and more), De Fina is a trailblazing and prolific American film producer – and she’ll be here, sharing her coveted knowledge and behind-the-scenes stories that have shaped her remarkable career.