Lake George: Gateway to the Adirondacks
I admit— as a teenager, I absolutely hated going up to Lake George with my parents. Being an only child, I tired of the main drag’s ice cream shops and arcades very quickly, and every summer visit, I’d turn my nose up at what, at the time, felt like a dying tourist town tragically grasping at the memory of its Dirty Dancing-era heyday.
Fun fact: Although set in New York’s Catskills region (north of NYC but south of the Adirondacks) Dirty Dancing was filmed at locations in states further South in North Carolina and Virginia. (source)
Years have passed, and Lake George is once again thriving as a vacation destination, thanks to social media-driven awareness and an improving economy. While some of the original resorts are still holding on to their original . . . well . . . everything, the area has definitely seen much-needed renovation and modernizing, leading to the return of tourists and roadtrippers on the search for a family-friendly lakeside getaway just a few hours from NYC, Philadelphia, or Boston.
Casual conversations and small talk with other vacationers quickly confirmed that, like us, they were also repeat visitors. We encountered lots of folks who grew up making summer trips to Lake George, returning now with their own families.
Unlike my teenage self, I am now able to fully appreciate the beauty of the Lake George region, and I’m glad to be able to share these experiences with my family! (Also, knowing what I didn’t like as a teenager is definitely helpful for planning our days so that my kids have even better experiences than I did.)
Top 5 family-friendly things to do while in Lake George
Explore the village
The village is lined with enough shops and restaurants to keep you busy during your stay, with a diverse selection of cuisines and more than enough ice cream shops to keep the kids happy! There are a few arcades and even a teeny-tiny amusement park tucked on the corner of Canada and Beach Roads. Walk along the waterfront for great views, live music at the park, and pretty gardens to meander through.
Take a Drive up Prospect Mountain
Are you into gorgeous views but not quite up for a hike? Prospect Mountain won’t disappoint.
If, on the other hand, you want a moderate hiking challenge, head to Cat and Thomas Mountains Preserve, located Northeast of the village.
Visit Fort William Henry
… or Fort Ticonderoga further North
With an emphasis on kid-approved exhibits and tours, Fort William Henry is a great way to spend an afternoon. This historic site also offers a special nighttime ghost tour a few times a week and various special events throughout the year.
And the hour drive North of Lake George is absolutely worth it to visit Fort Ticonderoga— and you can read more about our visit there in this blog post.
Go on a narrated lake cruise
Nothing like an afternoon-long narrated cruise to really round out that tourist feeling! You have a few options for this activity in Lake George:
Or rent a pontoon and tour the lake yourself!
The Queen of American Lakes covers approximately 45 square miles, stretching 32 a little over 32 miles long. Yup, there’s tons to explore on the water— from fishing and swimming to docking on one of the public islands and camping out! There are a few rental companies right in the village, but for the best deal, we recommend going with a company further North in nearby Diamond Point or Bolton Landing.
Where to stay in Lake George
I highly recommend choosing a resort on the water or opting for a larger hotel with amenities. There are tons of choices, and here are some notable Lake George hotel, resort, and B&B options.
In or near the village
- Fort William Henry Hotel and Conference Center
- Holiday Inn Resort
- Tea Island Resort
- The Inn at Erlowest
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Note: A shorter version of this post first appeared on my STEEM-powered blog here: Lake George, New York: bluer than blue and pretty as can be