I have been on several journeys by air recently, so when a road trip beckoned, it felt novel to pack up the car with snacks, books on cd from the library, magazines to read (not while driving) and drive to a different country. We arrived, if not totally refreshed, close to it, with no jet lag or time difference to deal with. We did not have to stand in line or worry about luggage restrictions (whoo hooo) and could stop as we desired. Road trips are growing in popularity and the reasons are clear. They can be fun, especially if your destination is as appealing as Lake Placid.
Lake Placid is a delightful escape from the busy-ness of everyday life. Sheltered among the Adirondack Park’s six million acres, it is a 2 hour, 10 minute drive from Montreal, and part of a day’s drive from Toronto, but feels a world away. There are mountains to climb, newly formed in the last 10,000 years, but made of granite and other rocks up to 1.3 billion years old. There are rivers to fish, serene lakes to kayak and forests to explore. Bike through dramatic landscape from quiet country roads to scenic mountain passes. If Golf is your passion, play a round on one of 13 golf courses.
During our short visit, the weather was miserable (read cold and foggy, with bucketing rain) but we weren’t. Even with inclement weather, we were spoiled which choices to explore. One thing I enjoyed about the area were water views at every turn, whether it was a lake, river or pond. The Adirondacks contain 30,000 miles of brooks and streams, 6,000 miles or rivers, and about 3,000 lake and ponds. The Ausable River is a magnet for trout fishermen.
Outdoor activities are key here and why not with so much to discover. It is no surprise that Lake Placid has just been ranked No. 1 Outdoor town in America in the new book, ‘101 Best Outdoor Towns.’
We headed to High Peaks Cyclery where guides and gear are available for mountain biking, guided hiking, kayaking, canoeing, moutaineering, skiing, snowshoeing . While we were looking at maps of the trails, planning our hiking route, a group of fifteen came in to pick up hiking and camping equipment they had reserved ahead for their overnight reunion. Arriving with nothing, they left for their overnight hike replete with sleeping bags, tents, knapsacks, head lamps and everything else required. Later as we hiked and traversed trails and high rocks with Karen, owner and guide of High Peaks, she shared her detailed knowledge of the area. High Peaks Cyclery, 2733 Main Street, Lake Placid, 518—523-3764, http://www.hpmountainguides.com
High Falls Gorge on the Ausable river is unique in many ways, and surprisingly privately owned. The series of waterfalls that make up the gorge travel over 700 horizontal feet, with one million gallons of water flowing through the Gorge daily, and ten times that in the flooding that followed Hurricane Irene. When we visited it had just reopened as it suffered substantial damage from recent Hurricane Irene. Newly rebuilt walkways perch perilously beside the waterfalls for dramatic views and photographs.
Shopping: even though the outdoors beckons for many activities, the shopping has its own special lure. A small outlet mall on Main street houses Van Heusen, Bass, Izod, and on the opposite side there is a three story Gap outlet. The unusual book stores, a quirky antique store and a unique hat shop “Where’d you get that Hat?” are definitely worth checking out.
Stay: Interlaken Inn, 39 Interlaken Avenue, Lake Placid, 518-523-3180, www.theinterlakeninn.com, Hosts: Mary Neary and John Arons. For adults who want to kick back, enjoy the relaxed Lake Placid lifestyle with casual, not stuffy elegance and attention to detail, this is the place. Ideally located as it is set back from the busy main street in a quiet residential area, but moments away walking to all activities, the inn has a regal and welcoming charm. Brimming with antiques, comfy chairs and sofas accented with twig arrangements, the sitting and dining room are paneled set off by twinkling chandeliers. Attention to detail, noted where it counts in Frette linens and robes and White Company of London toiletries. Owners, Mary and John are both lawyers and 10 years ago decided to take the plunge and buy the old rambling inn. After boating from home across the lake, then driving to the inn to start their day, I would think that they would sit back and schedule staff to take on everything – not them – they are bustling, serving, chatting to customers, and off again to tend to another task.
Breakfast was a treat. The table was elegantly set with white linen, silver, combined with classical music and fabulous homemade food, I could have stayed all day. We were served warm, homemade banana nut bread with fresh fruit while we perused the menu. Alongside the pats of butter was a small bowl of homemade blueberry cranberry jam. I heard a nearby guest say “it’s just heavenly – how does she do it – unbelievable.”
An oil mural winding its way around the dining room is captivating with realistic images of woods, ponds, wonderfalls, and life size images of Mary and John’s golden retrievers. Anthony Mackenzie, from Australia took a year to paint the canvases and install them, joining Mary and John in the champagne celebration of each installation.
The Whiteface Lodge, 7 Whiteface Inn Lodge, Lake Placid, www.thewhitefacelodge.com. Whiteface Lodge opened in 2005 with a classic timber Adirondack look. This family oriented lodge primarily caters for young families, boasting a movie theater with three daily movies, a games room, a bowling alley, ice cream parlour, spa, and smores every evening at 9:30. All 94 suites have kitchens, washer/dryer and fireplace making it an ideal getaway for a family to be self sufficient or partake of the extensive menu at the lodge’s grand restaurant.
Where to eat:
Interlaken Inn:, 39 Interlaken Avenue, Lake Placid, 519-523-3180, www.theinterlakeninn.com . Chef Kevin Dunford is a talented self- taught chef who knows how to make your taste buds sing with combinations unheard of that work. Buck Island Crab Cakes with orange basil beurre blanc, Maine Lobster Roll stuffed in a pretzel roll served with pommes frites, Bison Meatloaf with thyme scented veal jus, Ribeye Sandwich with Maytag blue cheese, charred bell peppers, onion marmalade and spicy horseradish. Just reading the menu makes my mouth water. Black Truffle mac and Cheese – whoa.
Lake Placid Pub & Brewery: make sure you order the sampler: a 4 oz glass of each of their six beers, appropriately served on a slice of log. Flat screen televisions have sports fans cheering as they enjoy the food and excellent microbrewed beer. Pick up a case to take home with you like we did (another benefit of taking your car!).
Whiteface Lodge, 7 Whiteface Inn Lodge, Lake Placid, www.thewhitefacelodge.com. Grand in size and style, this rustic Adirondack lodge has an open kitchen so you can see the pizzas tossed in the air before they are slid carefully into the wood fired oven. A varied menu made it difficult to choose, but I finally settled on seared Tuna with a trio of dipping sauces, accompanied by fresh veggies. The restaurant had the only cigar menu I had ever seen ranging in price from 9-35$ with a note encouraging diners “after dinner, step out to our two furnished lean-to’s and enjoy a fine hand rolled cigar paired with a rich cognac, scotch or aged rum and watch time slow down under the serene Adirondack sky.”
Coff E Bean: tiny and worth checking out for the Belgian waffles, the popular breakfast sandwiches, and the incredible view., 2527 Main Street, Alpine Mall, Lake Placid, 518-524-0668. In keeping with an environmentally friendly atmosphere, stir your coffee or tea with their fettuccine stir sticks.
Cascade Inn and Restaurant: Route 73, Lake Placid, 518-523-2130 The dated exterior and décor are a contrast to the scrumptious food served from a diverse menu. I rarely order steak at a restaurant but the petite filet mignon had my name all over it. Perfectly cooked accompanied by a potato, tossed salad, and fresh rolls, it was all great food, top service, and competitive pricing.
High Peaks Resort, Dancing Bears Restaurant, 2384 Saranac Avenue, Lake Placid, 518-289-4206: this bar-restaurant does a roaring business at happy hour, and beyond. Flat screen televisions showing the game of the day attract enthusiastic patrons. Menu offers standard bar grub as well as unique combos such as lobster mac and cheese.
The Cottage Café: appropriately named with a nice, cosy atmosphere. Fresh food, beautiful view of Mirror lake, 77 Mirror Lake Drive, Lake Placid, 518-523-9845, www.mirrorlakeinn.com/dining-cottage.
Melody’s trip was sponsored by the Lake Placid Board of Tourism, www. lakeplacid.com
Photographs by Jeff Thomason