15 Best Things to Do in Saranac Lake, NY

Saranac Lake, NY
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Saranac Lake is one of New York State’s best-kept secrets that is now a thriving travel destination nine miles northwest of Lake Placid.

This small village community offers visitors its unspoiled natural attractions, charming shops, diners, and museums, amidst the Adirondack Mountains.

Saranac Lake has year-round activities and exciting attractions for all ages.

Whether you travel to Saranac Lake during winter or summer, you are in for a fantastic treat of sceneries and exciting activities.

From its charming and historical downtown area to its picturesque lakes and natural wonders, Saranac Lake offers the genuine Adirondack Experience.

Saranac Lake has plenty of adventure; you’ll likely spend most of your time outdoors.

So, find out the best things to do in Saranac Lake, New York, to pump up your excitement.

Stroll through Downtown Saranac Lake

The road of Downtown Saranac Lake
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Despite its size, Saranac Lake’s downtown area features a fantastic mixture of family-owned businesses, historical sites, and other attractions that keeps this small village vibrant.

A morning or afternoon stroll through Downtown Saranac Lake gives you a better perspective of how locals go with their daily lives in this charming community.

Buildings along Downtown Saranac Lake
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While strolling, you’ll pass along local eateries, gift shops, antique stores, and art galleries, giving you plenty of shopping and dining option.

If you want a relaxing activity in Saranac Lake, head to its downtown area for quality leisure time.

Shops at Downtown Saranac Lake
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Visit the Saranac Laboratory Museum

Exterior of the Saranac Laboratory Museum
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To start your Saranac Lake travel adventure, visit the Saranac Laboratory Museum.

Constructed in 1894, this famous historical attraction in Saranac Lake initially served as a research center for tuberculosis.

It underwent restoration and re-opened in 2009 as Saranac Lake’s public museum along Church Street.

Since its re-opening, the Saranac Laboratory Museum has become one of the village’s favorite attractions for locals and visitors.

Its fascinating permanent and rotating exhibits featuring scientific artifacts used to research the treatment of tuberculosis are sights to see.

In addition, its temporary exhibits feature many historical artifacts detailing Saranac Lake’s rich history and heritage.

Joining a guided tour at this museum in Saranac Lake is a fascinating and educational experience, perfect to start your travel adventure there.

After the tour, proceed to the museum’s gift shop to buy fantastic souvenirs and some refreshments.

Walk Inside the Robert Louis Stevenson Cottage and Museum

For history buffs traveling to Saranac Lake, there are plenty of historical attractions worthy of seeing.

One of the best historical attractions in Saranac Lake is the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum and Cottage.

This museum, constructed between 1865 and 1886, is famous for being the home of Scottish Author Robert Louis Stevenson who wrote the famous Treasure Island.

Visiting this museum takes you to numerous exhibits and sections of the cottage detailing Stevenson’s extraordinary life.

So, walk through the museum’s interiors and closely see its wood-framed architecture, memorabilia, original furnishings, and other fascinating artifacts.

Don’t miss visiting the cottage’s west wing, where Stevenson treated his lung diseases in the 1800s, for added fascinating history.

Winter view of Adirondack Carousel
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Bring out your inner childhood at the charming Adirondack Carousel, which has given smiles for generations in Saranac Lake.

Taking a spin at this famous carousel is a magical experience you shouldn’t miss while in Saranac Lake.

The carousel has 24 wood-carved animal sculptures inspired by the region’s native animals, making it a fascinating sight to visit.

In addition, this iconic carousel in Saranac Lake sits on a 3,600-square-foot pavilion designed to protect local wildlife, such as beavers, fishers, bobcats, turtles, and salamanders nearby.

Aside from the dreamy carousel ride, taking tons of photos with your loved ones or travel companions brings memorable souvenirs to your visit.

Spend Your Day at the Wild Center

Saranac Lake is also home to a fascinating interactive natural history museum called the “Wild Center” along Museum Drive.

It is an excellent place for a family day out in Saranac Lake for its fantastic interactive activities for everyone, featuring the region’s local flora and fauna.

Throughout your visit to the Wild Center, you’ll see over 900 animals, from otters, owls, fish, frogs, snakes, and porcupines to other animals in their natural habitat.

In addition, check out its incredible on-site learning center, where you can paddle on a canoe on a guided trip through various natural areas.

At the same time, join its guided hiking adventure to explore other attractions.

Your visit to the Wild Center won’t be complete without joining the “Walk,” a hiking experience above elevated platforms that gives you an eagle’s eye view of Tupper Lake.

Conquer the Grueling Saranac Lake 6er

Join the Saranac Lake 6er if you’re up for a challenging outdoor adventure while visiting this village.

Despite its excitement, the Saranac Lake 6er is not for newbie hikers since it features an insane trek that requires participants to climb six mountains surrounding Saranac Lake.

For those who join the trek, they need to climb the summit of Baker Mountain, St. Regis, Scarface, Haystack, Ampersand, and McKenzie.

The journey takes a few days, while hardcore hikers and climbers can complete the 31-mile trek within the day.

Despite the trek’s difficulty, the stunning sceneries above these mountains’ peaks make it a rewarding experience.

Climb the Ampersand Mountain

Scenic view from Ampersand Mountain
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Those who don’t have the energy to join the Saranac Lake 6er can head to Ampersand Mountain for a more leisurely hiking adventure through the Adirondacks.

Climbing the Ampersand Mountain is one of Saranac Lake’s highly recommended outdoor activities.

Sunset over Ampersand Mountain
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It features a 5.4-mile hike ascending the 3,353-feet mountain.

Once you’re at the top, be prepared to get mesmerized by the fantastic view of the Adirondack Mountains and forests below.

Taste the Adirondack Maple Syrup

Saranac Lake is also home to a famous maple syrup maker producing this sweet treat since 2013.

The Mark Twain MapleWorks is a must-visit place in the village for its top-notch maple syrup.

This place offers visitors guided tours through its maple farms, where you can taste various maple syrup flavors.

Situated along Lake Street, the Mark Twain MapleWorks is not just known for its top-notch maple syrup.

It also has a farm, home to over 500 maple trees, run by Jack Drury, who usually guides visitors during the tour.

When you’re in Saranac Lake, don’t forget to drop by and purchase a bottle of its famous maple syrup and join the fun-filled guided tours.

Hike the Saranac Lake Riverwalk

Butterfly sculpture at Saranac Lake Riverwalk
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Another exciting outdoor activity in Saranac Lake you must not miss is the Saranac Lake Riverwalk.

Savor the village’s unspoiled natural beauty while walking amidst the peaceful environment of the Saranac Lake Riverwalk.

This attraction features a brick-paved path meandering the Saranac River and traversing through bridges, parks, and downtown.

So, park your car along Dorsey Street and start hiking through this scenic trail in Saranac Lake to see the village’s beautiful landscape.

At the same time, you can stop by coffee shops, eateries, or boutiques along the way.

Make one last stop at the Adirondack Artists Guild Gallery for a worthwhile activity featuring Saranac Lake’s local arts scene.

This art gallery on Saranac Lake’s Main Street has celebrated the village’s vibrant art scene since 1997.

It features over 15 artists and their famous artworks for everyone to see year-round.

In addition, this local art gallery hosts art exhibits monthly, making it an exciting place to visit.

Aside from viewing the charming artworks at this gallery, you can also catch numerous events like the Adirondack Plein Air Festival, Studio Tours, and Thursday ArtWalks from its curators.

Sleep in the Haunted Hotel Saranac

Those who want a more extreme experience while in Saranac Lake can spend their night at the Hotel Saranac along Main Street.

Hotel Saranac is renowned throughout New York State as one of the creepiest hotels.

If you are looking for an excellent scare or are excited to see creepy stuff at night, then booking a room at this hotel is highly recommended.

This hotel in Saranac Lake has a dark past after opening in the 1920s as a public school.

Urban legend has it that the superintendent of the former school didn’t leave, still seen wearing his black suit and top hat roaming through the hotel.

In addition, other ghostly apparitions in the hotel add more scare, including the singing girl on the third floor.

Aside from the scary stuff, Hotel Saranac features excellent amenities, including modern bathrooms, cozy beds, a spa salon, and an on-site restaurant.

Despite its scary reputation, this hotel in Saranac Lake provides excellent lodging to its guests.

Join the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival

Entryway of Saranac Lake Winter Carnival's ice castle
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Saranac Lake is also home to a famous Adirondack festival that’s been growing its popularity over the years.

The Winter Carnival in Saranac Lake features one of the most magical experiences in the Adirondacks for everyone.

Suppose you’re looking for a wholesome experience while visiting Saranac Lake; this festival features celebrations, parades, fireworks, carnival attractions, and the Saranac Lake Ice Palace.

Exterior of Saranac Lake Winter Carnival's ice castle
DanielPenfield, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Amazingly, this festival has been happening in the Adirondacks since 1897, making it a beautiful tradition for locals in this region of New York State.

During the festival, everyone can join the Gala Parade, Ice Palace, Kiddie Parade, sports events, skiing, and watch the fireworks displays.

See Beautiful Artworks at the Adirondack Artists Guild

Over 15 local artists display their finest works at the Adirondack Artists Guild, making it a fascinating place to see in Saranac Lake.

Opened in 1997, this regional art gallery in the village is the culmination of these local artists’ passion and hard work.

Whether you’re a lowkey art connoisseur visiting Saranac Lake or an average tourist, you’ll be amazed by the beautiful artworks at its gallery.

Fascinatingly, most artworks there capture the stunning natural beauty of the Adirondack region in New York.

Stopping by this gallery along Main Street in Saranac Lake is a worthwhile experience you must not miss.

An hour or two of browsing through its galleries lets you appreciate the intricate and beautiful pieces seen at this attraction.

Try Skiing at the Dewey Mountain Recreation Center

Those who want to experience top-notch skiing adventures can head to Dewey Mountain Recreation Center along State Rte 3.

This famous recreation center is home to top-notch cross-country skiing and snowshoeing facility.

On the other hand, it became a famous outdoor destination for hiking and biking activities during summer.

Suppose you’re looking for a fun-filled activity while in Saranac Lake, either in winter or summer; this place offers many exciting things to do.

Originally named Ring Hill, this famous recreation center is the best place to try skiing and snowshoeing.

It has numerous trails and slopes with varying difficulty levels to cater to all skiers and snowboarders.

Paddle around Lake Flower

Daytime view of Lake Flower
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For a relaxing but worthwhile experience, hop on a kayak and paddle through Lake Flower.

It’s an excellent activity for those who don’t have a destination in mind.

The calm waters of Lake Flower offer those who visit there a serene experience.

You can either ride a kayak or try your balance on a paddleboard; there are various ways to explore this beautiful lake at the heart of Saranac Lake.

The waters of Lake Flower
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While paddling your way through Lake Flower, you’re going to be mesmerized by the stunning sceneries of its surroundings.

At the same time, you’ll also see numerous local wildlife freely roaming through the lake.

Lake Flower spans over 300 acres giving those who visit this body of water plenty of space to explore.

Final Thoughts

Saranac Lake is a unique village like no other.

Its location among the Adirondack Mountains and pristine lakes makes it an excellent travel destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Also, people who yearn to destress and find peace will surely appreciate Saranac Lake’s laid-back environment and fresh air.

This small village in New York State inspires visitors to unwind, go out on an adventure, and have a great time.

Pack your gear, and prepare for an unforgettable Saranac Lake vacation.

Also, don’t forget to pin this travel post about the best things to do in Saranac Lake, New York, as your handy itinerary.