We recently took a mini-break to Lake Placid, New York and I thought it would be interesting to give a few tips and ideas since I found information on travelling to Lake Placid with toddlers in the winter a bit limited.
Lake Placid is a wonderful little town not far from Montreal. We were there for three nights and it gave us a great taste for the area.
The town is about two to two and a half hours from Montreal. We made it in around two hours but had absolutely no wait at customs driving straight up and out. The last little bit of the highway winds through hills and along streams and is quite lovely. The town itself is fairly bustling and my guess is that during the peak summer months it would probably be bursting. We rented a chalet through Airbnb which was within a 10-15 minute walk to the main street but far enough away that it was quiet.
Things to do with Toddlers in the Winter in Lake Placid, NY
So, this is my first time to Lake Placid with kids in the winter so I am no expert, but in general this is what we did and what worked for us:
Ski Whiteface Mountain
We skied Whiteface on what I thought would be a busy day (New Years Day) but either we were lucky or there’s enough lifts for everyone because it was such a simple and no-wait process. We drove straight to Bear Den Mountain, which is the area for the little ones. It has it’s own parking lot, café, ski rental and you can even get your tickets there. The parking was much closer to the lifts than what was available at the main lot and we never waited in line for tickets or the lifts. There’s a covered and protected magic carpet, and a smallish ski lift. We were there on a fairly nice day – the sun was shining and it was fairly warm at this area of the mountain. It was a nice contrast to the peak which was blustery cold and covered in fog. The only downside to Whiteface? Ticket prices are expensive – 96 USD. If you’re just skiing with your kid at Bear Den Mountain I think there may be a cheaper ticket. Having said that, the mountain is fairly high (we were reminded how much higher it was than other mountains in the area with signs) and the runs were fairly long – at least compared to this area of the world.
Olympic Jumping Complex
We really enjoyed our visit here where you get to go up all the way to the top of the 120m jump. You park in a parking lot and buy your ticket right at the lot. From there it’s a little bit of a walk to the main gift shop which also has a few hot beverages and quite a large area to sit. We didn’t bring any snow gear, but when I realized we took a chair lift to the top we went back and got all our gear. I recommend wearing ski pants, toque, mitts, etc. Most people were just wearing jeans, but you’re going up quite high and the chair lift seats were pretty snow covered. From the top of the chair lift there’s another little walk to the glass elevator where you are taken to the top of the 120m jump which was fairly stunning. We also had fun standing on the medal podium and just playing in the snow in general and taking in the surroundings.
Tip: Apparently you can drive to the top where the elevator is but I have no idea how to get there. It may be fun if you have a small baby you didn’t feel comfortable riding the chair lift with.
Walk on Lake Placid
We walked right on Lake Placid a few times, which was easier with two kids who like to run in different directions than the busy main street sidewalk. Once was at dusk when all the twinkling lights were out and another during the day. There’s a fairly long path which you can skate on or even run alongside. We brought our little sled from Montreal and pulled the kids in it. It was fun looking at all the buildings surrounding the shoreline, and even exploring the ice under the snow and discussing frozen lakes and all that fun stuff. You can also walk along main street which is cute, but I found it a little less appealing. It’s pretty busy, and reminded me of many other mountain towns with it’s usual mix of fudge shops, mountain gear shops and random clothing stores.
Other things to do
If you time yourself right, bring your skates or rent skates and try skating around the outdoor Olympic Oval. Check the times as during the week it was only in the evening which was too late for us.
Santa’s Workshop – this looks amazing but was closed for the season when we were there
Toboggan Chute – again this was closed when we were there
Sledding – There was a hill on the way into Lake Placid from Whiteface where there were quite a few people sledding.
Watch a movie – Perhaps a bit random, but there’s a cute little theatre right on Main Street.
Bowling – Yes, if the weather is terrible you can go bowling with the family.
Bring a little sled to pull the kids around the lake – especially little ones who may not have a lot of legs
Bring your skates to go around the Olympic Oval or on Lake Placid itself (which was a bit bumpier)
Remember snow pants and winter wear. Even if you just wanted to walk around town a while it can be awfully cold in jeans, especially on the lake. Trust me – you won’t be the only one walking in snow pants.
We mostly ate in buying our food at Hannaford’s just off Highway 86.