You don’t have to visit exotic places for adventures this summer! New York’s Southern Adirondack region abounds with fun and excitement. Whether you are an outdoor person, a couch potato or somewhere in-between, this easily accessible resort area has it all…and is adding new attractions every year.
The Southern Adirondack region spans northern Saratoga County, to the Green Mountains and north to the heart of a state park the size of the state of Vermont. The shining star of the Adirondack region is the 32-mile long Lake George, known as “Queen of the American Lakes.” Just north of Lake George, is historic Lake Champlain. Other large waterways include the Hudson River and Great Sacandaga Lake. Besides these, the area boasts literally hundreds of lakes, ponds, and streams. The Champlain Canal is a popular waterway for international boaters. Water lovers have no end of activities in the Lake George region: several water parks–including a new indoor water park opening in February, boating, lake and canal cruises, para-sailing, whitewater rafting and tubing, water-skiing, jet-ski and boat rentals, fishing charters and local fishing derby’s, sailing, plus kayaking and canoeing. Boat and canoe launches are located in a number of places on the Hudson River and throughout the region.
For those of you who prefer working on your tan, the Lake George/Lake Luzerne areas have no less than six public beaches: two in Lake George, three in Lake Luzerne, and one in the village of Corinth. Additionally, there is a public beach located at the New York State Forth Lake campground, which also has boat rentals. Local tip: As an added bonus, during July, the secluded Main Beach in Lake Luzerne is located directly across from a youth’s music camp. At certain times in the afternoons, beach goers are treated to the sound of live chamber music drifting over the water.
If you’ve had enough of the water, you and the family can always visit the two amusement parks in the area. One is a large, well-known theme park featuring many thrilling rides and popular cartoon characters, as well as seasonal special events. The smaller park, which is tailored more to children, also has rides, but its unique shows are the biggest attraction there: it features a diving horse, bird shows and more. This park retains much of its original 1950’s character. Other places of interest include: two “haunted” houses/wax museums, a UFO “museum”, several arcades, numerous mini-golf courses, two go-kart tracks, indoor laser tag, paintball, hot air balloon rides, many well-maintained paved bike/rollerblading trails (bike rentals available), indoor roller skating, loads of golf courses–including indoor golf, public tennis courts, there are gyms offering seasonal memberships and there’s excellent hiking trails to fire towers, lakes and mountain tops. Whew! Modern life shore can be hectic, pardners…
If you’ve always dreamed of chucking it all and being a cowboy, then grab your hat, partner and saddle up! You don’t have to travel out west to feel like a buckaroo. Since the 1940’s, the Southern Adirondacks have played host to numerous dude ranches. Although the heyday of the dude ranch has passed, the Old West is currently seeing a revival in the area. Currently, there are two real old-time dude ranches in the area and two more that are a resorts with a dude ranch theme. Root for your favorite cowboy or gal at one of three area rodeos–one, a professional rodeo, and plays to crowds three times weekly. Grab your boots and straddle the saddle on a trusty steed. There are over a half-dozen business offering one to two hour trail rides, as well as dinner rides and riding lessons. If you like horses, but are afraid of riding, hourly carriage rides, hay rides and carriage rentals are also available in the area. There’s even an old-time western theme park, featuring horseback riding and stage coach rides, a petting zoo and a real live Wild West show. Want to dress the part? You can visit several local western stores to outfit yourself in style, and bring home gifts for the kiddies from Native American & western style gift shops in the region. Feeding that cowboy-like appetite you’ve worked up is no problem, as the region boasts a variety of BBQ and Southwestern style eating establishments.
Speaking of shopping and eating, what better place than the Adirondacks? Here, you can explore unique local Adirondack-themed gift and antique shops in the morning, and browse through dozens of major name-brand discount outlet stores in the afternoon. Want more? Then be sure to stop by the local mall and various shopping centers–the Glens Falls area is host to many popular department stores. What, still not satisfied? There are also flea markets and local auctions. Area auctions run the gamut from antiques to horses and tools, and estates to general merchandise–some country auctions feature all of the above, together under one roof! Auction notices appear every Thursday in the local papers. Art and craft festivals and many town-wide garage sales are also a huge area attraction. After all that shopping and exercise, you’re probably wondering about where to go to eat.
The Southern Adirondack region is surprising in its culinary offerings. In the countryside and small towns you can find home-cooking a small family-style restaurants and diners. But it doesn’t stop there. International and regional American cuisine can be found here as well. Here, you can find Japanese, Chinese, Italian, American Western/Southwestern, Mexican, Irish, BBQ, gourmet restaurants, Adirondack-themed steak houses, clam bars/seafood/lobster, deli’s, hot dog stands and fast food chains. One large local grocery store chain just of few miles south of Lake George features a bagel/coffee bar, hot and cold buffet, pizza & subs, fresh chicken and fish dinners, and a sushi bar. It can be a little pricey, but if you are with a group who can’t decide what they want, this store is a good bet, and you can eat-in or take out. Local tip: If you are looking for good, very inexpensive dining, and don’t mind the atmosphere, try the basement cafeteria at the local hospital. Some of their daily specials frequently include prime rib and roast pork…all offered ala carte, so you can mix and match your side dishes, or go with the salad bar. Call ahead for daily special(s) and serving times–just be sure to ask for the cafeteria, as there is more than one eating establishment there.
There’s more than one way to dine in the Adirondacks. For those of you who really want to experience dining out–how about an old-fashioned picnic? There are many fabulous picnic areas in the region. Stop by a deli or grocery store and load up the picnic basket. Some of the more popular areas include: the magnificent Prospect Mountain Memorial Highway in Lake George, the picturesque Washington County Park, just north of Whitehall in Hulett’s Landing (which also has a beach on Lake George and a tennis court–Local tips: On the way to this park, you will drive by a beaver pond and possibly see an old fire tower. On the way back down, just before you reach the main highway, if the day is clear, you will be able to see the Catskill Mountains–over 150 miles away! Also, before turning off the main road to Hulett’s Landing, be sure to stop at the lay-by for a broad scenic view of the Champlain Valley and distant hills of Vermont’s Green Mountain range. Another, far lesser known great picnic area is in the northern Saratoga County village of Corinth.
This nice little village is located on state Route 9-N, south. Like Lake Luzerne, it also has a beach on the Hudson River–and some wonderful and unique Adirondack gift shops and art galleries and frequently hosts parades and festivals. But the real gem of the village is hidden away across the tracks on Palmer Avenue. This is known by the odd name of Pagenstecker Park. The park was given to the village back in the 1900’s by a nationally known paper mill, which, until recently, was the town’s major employer. The park is lovely. It features genuine old growth trees–something there are few of in the Adirondacks, wildflowers, a picnic area with covered pavilion, free games–horseshoes, tennis and basketball, plus a playground for the kids. But the most magnificent feature of this park is the view: it sits directly on the edge of the northern-most palisades of the Hudson River, and one can look down the gorge at nearby Palmer Falls. The edge of the cliff is fenced off, but there is a supposedly a trail to a haunted spring at the bottom that was once used by the local Indians. A fall festival is held here annually.
If you like history, you’ll love the Adirondacks. Forts from the French and Indian (Queen Anne’s) War and the Revolution were rebuilt and are open to tourists. These include Fort Ticonderoga, Fort William Henry and the Old Fort House Museum in Fort Edward. Additionally, there are archaeological exhibits at Roger’s Island in Fort Edward and underwater sites open to divers on Lakes George and Champlain. Drive down NY route 149 between Comstock and Whitehall, and glimpse parts of the original Champlain Canal following the railroad tracks. In Whitehall, you can see the hull of an 1812 war ship, visit the interesting local history museum and splendid Skene Manor, a Victorian mansion perched high atop the cliffs overlooking the town. Back in the city of Glens Falls, there’s the area’s best history museum and at the NY route 9 bridge leading to South Glens Falls, is Cooper’s Cave. This is the actual cave featured in James Fennimore Cooper’s (an ancestor of mine), famous 1826 American novel “Last of the Mohicans,” in which the intrepid Hawkeye saves his damsel in distress from the savages by hiding in a cave underneath a waterfall.
Besides these attractions, many towns and villages have local history sites and museums. In Lake Luzerne, there are three small museums: a pulp mill museum, a local history museum and a one-room school house. Towns such as Lake George and Corinth also have museums. In Granville, in Washington County, there’s the Pember Natural History Museum and a slate museum. Glens Falls houses the world famous Hyde Collection. The paintings and sculptures here are housed together with antique and period furniture in a renovated mansion.
If history seems to tame for you, there’s always the night life and cultural events. If you like movies, there is a drive-in theater, a multi-plex and a restaurant/theater. For laughs, visit a local comedy club, or dance the night away at a nightclub, disco or local Adirondack bar. If you love theater, you can find dinner theater and regular stage productions by our resident company. Offered periodically are productions by an amateur theater company in Corinth, and others. Opera is available, and there is even an opera museum. Music festivals are all over the area. In Lake George there’s an annual Elvis festival and a jazz festival. In Corinth, you can camp out at the annual Bluegrass Festival. Besides music, there’s the huge fireman’s convention parade in June, as well as Americade–one of the east coast’s biggest motorcycle gatherings. If you like art, besides the Hyde Collection, there are many, many art and craft galleries throughout the region. In downtown Glens falls, you can find a casual atmosphere, featuring a brew-pub, sidewalk café, shopping, coffee house, Saturday farmer’s market and a jazz club. Local concerts are often held at noon-time in the city park, near the library.
As you can tell, the Southern Adirondacks hold a little something for everyone. They are easily accessible, too. From Montreal or New York City, take the I-87 Northway to Exits 17-N to 23. The trip from NYC averages around 4 to 4 ½ hours under most circumstances. Saratoga, Glens Falls and Warrensburg are accessible by bus. Saratoga, Fort Edward and Whitehall are accessible by train. Local taxi’s going outside of the city of Glens Falls can be very expensive, but they are available. Major airlines travel to Albany International Airport, about 50 miles south of Glens Falls. There are smaller airports at Saratoga Springs and Queensbury (Glens Falls). Car rental agencies are available locally. Accommodations: many types available, from hotels and motels, to resorts, cabins and bed & breakfasts. Camping: both public and private camping is available, but reservations, well in advance, are strongly suggested.