Lake Placid Travel Guide

Lake Placid is a small village in Essex County, New York, that sits in the shadow of the Adirondack Mountains and on the shores of the body of water known as Lake Placid. Lake Placid is often referred to as “Olympic Village” because it hosted both the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. The village is also famous for its skiing, hiking, mountain climbing, fly fishing, and sports opportunities.


The village of Lake Placid was first settled in the early 1800’s, though at first, the settlement in the area was called “North Elba.” In the 1850’s, abolitionist Gerritt Smith bought large amounts of land in the area and deeded it to freed slaves, which inspired the famous abolitionist John Brown to buy a farm in the area as well. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, Lake Placid began to acquire its current status as a resort and getaway town. Adirondack Park, which surrounds Lake Placid and all of Essex County, was established in 1892 and protects some six million acres while still allowing for human activities.

Things to see and do at Lake Placid

Go hiking in the vast forests and wilderness areas. You will walk through the largest boreal forest in the world, amid towering, majestic peaks and thousands of lakes, ponds, rivers, and creeks. The wild flowers in bloom in the spring and summer and the colorful fall foliage are truly breathtaking. And there is much wildlife to be spotted while out on the trail, including moose, black bears, beavers, foxes, flying squirrels, otters, muskrats, bobcats, and “little brown bats.”

Climb any of the 46 high Adirondack peaks that surround Lake Placid. Most have to hiked up, but Whiteface Mountain can be driven up. Whiteface also offers gondola rides and a bobsled run for the snowy season. Those who climb all 46 peaks earn the special title, “Adirondack 46er.” During the winter, you can ski on many of the surrounding slopes as well, and this is one of the major draws for many vacationers.

Lake Placid, New York

Adirondack chairs by Lake Placid.

Go golfing in any of the numerous golf courses in and around the village. The beautiful surroundings remind many of the Scottish highlands, and the weather is warm and agreeable in the summer.

Go fly fishing in the nearby Ausable River (West Branch) or in other mountain streams where conditions are perfect for this sport.

Visit the John Brown Farm State Historic Site, where you can not only see the place Mr. Brown lived for a time but also the very spot where he is buried.

Climate conditions

Lake Placid has a hot, humid summer and a cold but “bearable” winter. It is a good year-round vacation spot, with plenty of snow for winter sports enthusiast and plenty of sunshine and warmth for outdoor, summer excursions.