Cabin fever? Yes. Bored kids? Absolutely. Money to burn? Hopefully a little tucked away somewhere. Then head to the
self-proclaimed Winter Capitol of the World in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains. If you live in the North Country, Lake Placid is practically in your backyard. While the cost is expensive no matter how you try to budget, it’s far less than flying to Vail or Miami.
For downhill skiing, Whiteface Mountain sports the steepest vertical on the East Coast, according to Ski Magazine, which has ranked Whiteface the #1 ski resort in the eastern U.S. To create a family-friendly environment, Whiteface provides Kids Kampus, with programs for the novice skiers in your family, and the Bear’s Den Nursery, if your kids are still a bit snow-shy. Lift tickets run about $80 per day plus the cost of ski rental, and kids 6 and under ski free.
If you’re intimidated by the slopes, Lake Placid offers miles of cross country ski trails. Other activities include a toboggan chute for kids along the shore of Mirror Lake, dogsled rides, tubing, and ice skating at the outdoor Olympic oval. Lake Placid embraces its Olympic heritage, as the site of both the 1980 and the 1932 Winter Olympic games. Tour Olympic Center, famous for the “Miracle on Ice,” when the U.S. beat Russia for hockey gold in 1980. If you’d like a heart-stopping, bird’s eye view of Lake Placid, ride the elevator to the top of the ski jump. You can buy an Olympic Passport for $29 per person that lets you into the Bobsled Experience and the Jumping Complex, plus the museum.
To avoid the cold, you’ll find great shops lining Saranac Avenue downtown, including Van Heusen and Bass outlets and a Life is Good shop. And don’t miss Just Bead It, especially if you have girls who like to design their own jewelry. Again, stores are pricey, but you can find deep discounts at the Gap Outlet. The cinema downtown shows first-run movies, or try Bowlwinkles for some physical activity indoors.
Lodging and restaurants vary according to your budget. A stay at the award-winning Whiteface Lodge costs around $850 per night, with extra amenities like their day spa adding considerably to your bill. Even the most mundane motels run well over $100 per night. If budgeting is a large concern, you could get a suite with a full kitchen, so you can prepare your own food. Otherwise, good luck spending less than $50 per meal for a family of four. A fine-dining restaurant will run at least $150 if you bring the whole family.
If suffering through another weekend of Phineas & Ferb mixed with a little Sponge Bob seems too dismal, venture instead to the winter paradise that is Lake Placid. You can’t escape the cold, but the energetic sports atmosphere, twinkling lights and snow-draped pine trees make winter a bit more bearable.