Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in The Adirondacks, NY

  • Published 2022/08/08

The mention of New York evokes all things urban.

However, upstate in the northeast, you’d find the Adirondacks, a historic and spectacular New York natural attraction.

In 1892, the State of New York created Adirondack Park, a wilderness area now the largest publicly protected area in the continental United States.

Contrary to widespread knowledge, the six-million-acre Adirondack Park is a National Historic Landmark, not a National Park.

You can explore the entirety of the park, with its peaks and valleys, thousands of lakes and ponds, and tens of thousands of miles of rivers and streams.

To get you started on exploring this expansive New York landmark, here are the best things to do in the Adirondacks:

Raft and Float at Ausable Chasm

Welcome sign of Ausable Chasm

Leonard Zhukovsky /

Go on an ultimate adventure at Ausable Chasm, the Adirondacks’ Grand Canyon.

Learn about the history and geology of the Ausable Chasm on the guided float tour that takes you on board a raft traversing the chasm’s narrowest and deepest area.

The adventure kicks in when you go through the rapids mid-way in the tour!

The rapids of Ausable Chasm

James W. Thompson /

Hike back for a sweeping view of the chasm via the Rim Trail.

The Ausable Chasm, with its unique carvings and vertical walls, is one of the oldest attractions in the United States.

It opened decades before the establishment of the Adirondack Park.

Self-guided trails in the area are also perfect for some wandering and sightseeing at your own pace.

Beautiful waterfall at Ausable Chasm

Mihai_Andritoiu /

Take a Wild Walk at the Wild Center

Wild Center's spider web

Larry Porges /

See nature from a new perspective when you go for the Wild Walk experience at the Wild Center.

Walk up a trail of bridges across the treetops, where you can stick on a spider’s web or enjoy the view from the twig tree house.

Upon reaching the highest point in the trail, there’s a bald eagle’s nest where you can rest and gaze out into the forest.

Located in Tupper Lake, the Wild Center is the Adirondacks’ Natural History Museum.

With more than 50,000 square feet of indoor area, you can spend hours exploring interactive exhibits and seeing the animals of the Adirondacks, such as otters, porcupines, and various birds.

The Wild Center is an excellent choice for spending an adventurous day as you can walk scenic trails, view wildlife, or even paddle in a canoe.

Try Railbiking in North Creek

Go on a railbike in the Lake George Region for a one-of-a-kind Adirondacks experience.

This exciting activity involves riding on a two-seater or four-seater railbike that you’ll pedal on the railroad tracks.

Revolution Rail Company, which runs the excursions, offers two routes in North Creek.

Join the seven-mile roundtrip North Bridge course and pedal your way under the mesmerizing Adirondack forest canopy.

See interesting wildflowers and shrubs keeping you company on sidetracks.

Cross the trestle bridge and take in the beautiful views of the Hudson River.

Choose the South River course and see birds and wildlife as you pass a beaver dam and a pond.

Whichever North Creek route you choose, wear weather-appropriate outerwear, put on insect repellant, and don’t forget your camera.

Explore The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake

Exterior of Adirondack Experience, The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake

Mwanner at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spend a day exploring the history and culture of the region at the heart of the Adirondacks.

The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake comprises more than 20 buildings housing fascinating exhibits, galleries, and programs about life in the Adirondacks.

See authentic Adirondack watercraft such as canoes and guide boats at the boating exhibit, which highlights the importance of vessels in transportation and recreation in the Adirondacks.

Tour a 20th-century cabin and glimpse the rustic architecture of Adirondack camps.

Sitting on the Adirondack Experience also offers various outdoor activities such as family-friendly nature walks and guided hikes.

Check out the cafe deck overlooking Blue Mountain Lake and enjoy the breathtaking scenery with a beer.

Visit the Museum on Blue Mountain Lake!

Cruise and Dine in Raquette Lake

The waters of Raquette Lake

vagabond54 /

Enjoy the cool breeze and the breathtaking scenery of Raquette Lake, one of Adirondack Park’s crown jewels, while cruising aboard W.W. Durant.

Raquette Lake Navigation Co operates it.

In Hamilton County, the vessel W.W. Durant continues the tradition of steamboating in the area.

Choose how you’d like to experience the cruise.

Go on a brunch cruise and enjoy the lake’s miles of pine-covered shoreline with your mimosa.

Take a lunch cruise and savor sumptuous meals with sweeping views of the lake’s pristine waters.

If you’re feeling romantic, go for the intimate dinner cruise and enjoy cocktail hour at the deck.

The tour also offers a no-meal excursion if you want to go sightseeing and learn the history of Raquette Lake.

Head to the Slopes at Titus Mountain Family Ski Center

Enjoy a ski day or night at the Titus Mountain Family Ski Centerin Malone for an Adirondack winter adventure.

Just a short drive from Plattsburgh or Lake Placid, this family-friendly ski site offers ski rentals and lessons, onsite lodging, and a snow tubing park for kids.

Watch the beautiful Adirondacks sunset and go night skiing as the sungoes down.

The uncrowded slopes at Titus Mountain Family Ski Centerare perfect for beginners, and short lift lines make it convenient for families to enjoy.

After hours on the slopes, refuel at Mo’s Moon Valley Grill or grab the famous hearty poutine at the Titus Trading Post.

Enjoy winter sports at the Titus Mountain Family Ski Center.

See World-Class Works of Art at the Hyde Historic House & Museum

Exterior of The Hyde Historic House

Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Check out works from Picasso, Rembrandt, and other distinguished American and European artists at the Hyde Historic House & Museum.

Housed in the former residence of avid collectors Charlotte Pruyn Hyde and Louis Fiske Hyde, the ollection features renowned works spanning 6,000 years of art history.

Spend hours admiring paintings of the Old Masters and marveling at modern and contemporary art.

Catch a talk in one of its five galleries or join an informal art side chat for a deeper understanding of the collection and exhibitions.

Otherwise, drop by for an afternoon of fun and interactive art program designed for parents and kids.

Located in the vibrant Glens Falls community of the Adirondacks, check out the dining and coffee scene in the area after touring the Hyde Historic House & Museum.

Experience the Adirondack Balloon Festival

Colorful hot air balloons at Adirondack Balloon Festival

Jim Lozouski /

Prepare your cameras to capture a spectacular sight of hot air balloons floating over the mountains.

See the balloons flying at the Lake George area for the Adirondack Balloon Festival.

Balloons in various colors and sizes take the day’s first flight just after sunrise, so plan accordingly.

Balloon flights happen again in the late afternoon if you miss the morning spectacle.

Check out the magical sight of balloons against the sunset.

People at the Adirondack Balloon Festival

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

This festival takes place at Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport in Warren County, the volunteer-led festival is free for everyone to enjoy.

Whether you’re a couple on a romantic date or a family vacation, experiencing the Adirondack Balloon Festival is an impressive start to the fall season.

People on a hot air balloon during the Adirondack Balloon Festival

Sean Donohue Photo /

Try Summer Glamping at Camp Orenda

Camp in style when you go on a glamping retreat at Camp Orenda in Johnsburg.

Enjoy the outdoors without the struggle of tenting as you stay in canvas cabins outfitted with modern conveniences, such as electric heating stoves.

Camp Orenda’s location provides easy access to Adirondack Park’s hiking spots, such as Crane Mountain, Peaked Mountain, and OK Slip Falls.

Take a camp bike and ride through back country roads and miles of trails offering adventure and scenic views.

After a morning of outdoor adventures, unwind with a refreshing bath under the forest canopy in Camp Orenda.

Enjoy its rustic outdoor shower, supplied with mountain spring water.

Clear evening skies and open tree canopy offer an excellent opportunity for stargazing.

Hike Mount Arab

The view from Mount Arab

James Casil /

Bring the family on a scenic hike up Mount Arab and climb a 35-ft fire tower at the top for unparalleled 360-views of the beautiful landscape.

With the trailhead located in Piercefield near Tupper Lake, the mile-long trail is an easy-to-moderate hike.

Spend some time learning about the area’s rich history at the museum housed in a homely cabin.

Snowy trail at Mount Arab

James Casil /

Mount Arab used to be part of a network of fire tower observation stations, but its fire tower is no longer operational.

Mount Arab is also a great choice for the winter, offering an excellent site to snowshoe.

Visit High Falls Gorge

The rushing waters of High Falls Gorge

cvrestan /

When you visit High Falls Gorge in Wilmington, you will feel your jaw drop upon seeing these four grand waterfalls.

Stroll under the giant centuries-old hemlock trees in the Climax Forest, which is among Adirondacks’ few remaining virgin forests.

In the summer, you’ll walk on glass floor walkways with gorgeous wildflowers and the lush colors of the Gorge surrounding you.

Downstream of High Falls Gorge

Zack Frank /

You can reach this place after a short drive from Lake Placid.

The 22-acre High Falls Gorge is highly accessible, with well-groomed walking trails and sturdy steel bridges that provide safe access.

Feel free to indulge in a hearty, Adirondack-style meal at the cafe.

Then, stop by the gift shop in the main building for locally handcrafted souvenirs.

Discover Maple Sugaring at the International Maple Museum Centre

Established in 1977, the International Maple Museum Centre at Croghan tells the history of Adirondack maple syrup production.

The Adirondack region features maple trees and sugar bushes, accounting for a third of New York’s production.

See an old-fashioned sap pipeline, a sweet reminder of the importance of maple sugaring to New York’s industry.

Learn about the roots of this Adirondack tradition through exhibits of equipment and techniques used in the early days of syrup making.

Drop by the International Maple Museum Centre gift shop for a pint of maple syrup.

Otherwise, grab other exciting finds such as maple scented candles and maple mustard.

Shop at Lake Placid’s Main Street

Shops at Lake Placid’s Main Street

Raphael Rivest /

Whether you’re in the area for a week outdoors or just on a short getaway at Lake Placid, explore Main Street for an Adirondack shopping experience.

Update your outdoor wardrobe with pieces from various outdoor apparel, essentials, and gear shops.

Grab a tin or two of Adirondack popcorn in fun, creative flavors like Moose Crunch and Maple Bourbon Bacon.

Indulge in an assortment box of locally made Adirondack chocolates.

Visit the gift shops and find a tiny Adirondack treasure to take home.

Lined with various local stores, restaurants, and coffee shops, Lake Placid’s Main Street is a welcome break from the outdoor activities.

Go on the Adirondack Craft Beverage Trail

Taste the best out of the Adirondack brewing scene on the Adirondack Craft Beverage Trail.

Sample local fruit-infused wines at the tasting rooms of Adirondack Winery in Lake George, Queensbury, and Bolton Landing.

In North Hudson, indulge in Paradox Brewery’s Pure Adirondack Beer, brewed using the water found only in the granite below Adirondack Park.

Take a sip of Springbrook Hollow’s bourbon and other hand-crafted spirits at their Farm Distillery, located right at the foothills of Adirondacks in Queensbury.

A program of the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce features various local craft beverage producers, which you can visit on your own when you sign up.

Enjoy these excellent Adirondack brews during the Adirondack Craft Beverage Trail but remember to drink responsibly.

Go Fishing at Lake Champlain

The waters of Lake Champlain

Mark Castiglia /

Prepare your fishing gear for great fishing at Lake Champlain, the Adirondack’s largest lake.

Lake Champlain boasts one of the best fisheries in the country, home to more than 80 species, including bass, trout, carp, and steelhead.

Go bass fishing near Port Henry or south of the Champlain Bridge, known for its excellent largemouth territory.

Sunset over Lake Champlain

Marian Wilson /

Visit a local bait-and-tackle shop or ask for a local Lake Champlain fishing guide and learn the ropes of trout and salmon fishing.

The lake carves through the Adirondack Mountains and has hundreds of miles of shoreline, offering spectacular views while exploring fishing.

Wooden chairs overlooking Lake Champlain

Guy Banville /

​​See Art Exhibitions at the View Center of Arts and Culture

Immerse in the arts at the View Center of Arts and Culture in Old Forge.

Established in 1951, the View is a multi-arts center for the Adirondacks region.

Get a chance to see works of emerging and local artists showcased at their exhibitions.

Catch one of their performance shows.

Or visit to join one of their annual events such as antique and vintage shows.

Check out their shop for artworks, pottery, books, home décor, and other items that highlight the Adirondacks.

The View Center of Arts and Culture hosts the Adirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolors.

Experience the Adirondack Arts & Heritage Festival

Visit Saranac Lake for days of great entertainment at the annual Adirondack Arts & Heritage Festival.

Enjoy the vibrant festival atmosphere with live music events and performances.

Attend gallery openings and get to see new artworks.

Try some of the region’s best food at the various culinary events.

Join tours that celebrate the Adirondacks’ rich history and showcase its natural beauty.

Whether you’re a couple on a romantic getaway or a family on vacation, experiencing the Adirondack Arts & Heritage Festival is a memorable midyear break.

Head to the Slopes at Whiteface Mountain

Welcome sign of Whiteface Mountain

nyker /

Ski and snowboard at the Whiteface Mountainin Wilmington for an Adirondack winter adventure.

Right at the heart of the Adirondacks, this winter destination offers ski rentals and lessons, various terrain parks, and gondola rides.

A person skiing on Whiteface Mountain

Pierre Williot /

It is also known as Olympic Mountain, as it previously served as an Olympic venue.

This might be intimidating if you’re a beginner, but Whiteface Mountain caters to every skill level and has adventures to offer even if you’re still learning the sport.

After hours on the slopes, refuel at one of the many dining spots they have, including family-friendly restaurants.

Ski lifts and gondolas at Whiteface Mountain

Wangkun Jia /

Discover Maple Sugaring at Adirondack Maple Weekend

Learn about the roots of maple sugaring as an Adirondack tradition at the Adirondack Maple Weekends.

The Adirondack region is dotted with maple trees and sugar bushes, accounting for a third of New York’s production.

Enjoy tastings and tours as local maple producers throughout the Adirondacks and New York showcase their maple products.

In northern Adirondack, towns that join the celebration include Lake Placid, Wilmington, and Tupper Lake, among others.

Held during the spring season, the Maple Weekend is a sweet reminder of the importance of maple sugaring to New York’s industry.

Final Thoughts

The Adirondacks should give you the adventure of a lifetime.

Whatever the season, this expanse of natural beauty presents many outdoor activities, offering year-round recreation for everyone.

As you take in the views and bask in the great outdoors, always remember not to spoil the environment and help preserve this gift of nature.

Book your trip today and discover more things to do in the Adirondacks!

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