9 Reasons to Drive to Lake George, New York
This popular year-round destination in the Adirondacks has everything from ice fishing to hot air ballooning.
Situated midway between NYC and Montreal, Lake George has long been a popular getaway destination for New Yorkers and Canadians alike. The lake itself is 32 miles wide and located at the base of the Adirondack Mountains. Originally called Andia-ta-roc-te by the Indigenous people of the area, its current name was designated in 1755 after King George II and the town also consists of different communities along the water like the Village, Bolton Landing, and Diamond Point.
Once renowned as a country escape for the wealthy, this popular destination offers plenty of year-round activities like hot air ballooning, scenic boat rides, and hiking, along with seasonal pursuits like ice fishing in the winter. In the summertime, Lake George can see its population swell to as much 50,000 people partaking in activities on the water, but there’s no reason to wait until then because cold weather adventures await you now.
Located just a mere 200 miles away from NYC, here are nine of our favorite reasons to drive to Lake George.
Learn about the local history through forts, boat tours, and historical reenactments
For history nerds, Lake George has 1770s forts and artifacts as the area was a turf war between European settlers in the form of the French and Indian War. To learn more about this war that’s considered to be one of the first major global conflicts, check out Fort Ticonderoga with specialty tours like Ticonderoga Guns By Night demonstrating 18th century cannons and muskets; a 75-min boat tour sailing past the Adirondack Mountains, and the Ticonderoga Museum showcasing unique exhibits from 18th century menus, evolution of fortress construction, and the life of Sarah Pell, the fort’s co-founder; Fort William Henry Museum for history and reenactment of the 1755 French and Indian War; and The Sembrich, a cultural hub on the National Register of Historic Places, providing concerts, programs, a historic museum, and memorabilia, on acres of plush grounds. Every summer sees free concerts and events in the town and mid-September brings the Lake George Jazz Festival for culture lovers.
Experience the magic of a winter wonderland
Temperature-wise, it’s still winter until mid-April in this region and Lake George puts on a seasonal extravaganza to celebrate in the form of Winterfest. This event runs through March 11 and includes discounts on winter activities, lodgings, restaurants, and more. New winter attractions in town are the IG-worthy Ice Castles, built with thousands of icicles, frozen tunnels, and LED-lit ice sculptures for a chill experience.
Soar through canopies, go on a hot air balloon, and hike trails
Have no fear of heights? Take a thrilling Treetop & Zipline Adventure of varying difficulty through forest canopies. For an activity on two feet, hike trails the Adirondacks is known for such as Ausable Chasm (aka the “Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks”). Here, you can walk through forest, amble past Rainbow Falls, and listen to the silence of Mystic Gorge. If hot air ballooning has always been on your bucket list, sign up with SunKiss Ballooning and soar above the Adirondacks with professional flight operators.
View the historic manors of Millionaire’s Row
Lake George is known for its 1800s manors which were getaways of the downstate wealthy during the Gilded Age. Millionaire’s Row is on Bolton Road, on the west side of the lake, with remaining Tudor Revival and Italianate stone edifices like Erlowest, Mohican Point, and Wikiosco. The latter was built in 1895 by Royal Peabody, founder of Brooklyn Edison, and boasts of 10 bathrooms, a 20-car garage, separate cottage, boathouses, and other architectural details. With the advent of 1930s income taxes, mansion maintenance became expensive resulting in their conversion to luxury resorts and accommodation over the decades.
Enjoy lakeside views with your meal
Reopening in mid-April, a Lake George culinary tradition to partake in is The Algonquin, a restaurant famed for its new American cuisine, views overlooking the water, and bar named Topside Grille. Another seasonal spot reopening in April is Pumpernickel’s Restaurant, the only authentic German eatery in the area that also boasts the largest cuckoo clock in the country. A farm-to-table spot to feast at is Bistro le Roux, known for its wine collection and French-inspired dishes. Sushi Yoshi specializes in both Japanese hibachi and Chinese fare; Capri Pizzeria & Restaurant is known for their pizzas, soups, and salads; Frederick’s Restaurant is popular for their live music, patio, and soups, burgers, and pasta; and 163 Taproom is where to go for pub grub. In addition, there are many family-owned eateries in Lake George Village with no online presence, so do it old school and wander around town to discover more.
Sip on locally-produced wines and brews
For oenophiles, Adirondack Winery is open daily, serving locally-made fruity and traditional wines through special tastings or by the bottle. Bolton Landing Brewing Company has a taproom serving bites and seasonal Lake George-crafted brews. And if keen, drive 5 miles to Queensbury for Springbrook Hollow Farm Distillery where maple moonshine, vodka, and limoncello are plentiful in their tasting room. Tours and outdoor seating are available for visitors.
Kick up your feet in luxury accommodations, rustic cabins, and boutique beds
The Inn at Erlowest, overlooking Lake George, will wow you with its stone exterior, floral wallpaper, private mahogany boat (reservation required), jacuzzi, and fireplaces. Built as a private residence on Millionaire’s Row in 1898, it now serves as luxury lodgings. For more opulence, The Chateau on the Lake is a 3-room French country inn in the center of Bolton Landing with a private view of Lake George, or cozy up in the lakeside chalets of Trout House Village Resort with a sandy beach, kayaking, and a nearby village, Hague, to explore. For the budget-conscious, there’s Admiral Motel—atypical of conventional motels—with an outdoor patio, heated pool, and trolley stop. The Heritage of Lake George is also wallet-friendly and features motels and cottages minutes away from activities and local attractions. Prefer rustic digs? Stay at the log cabins of Candlelight Cottages that have a wood-burning fireplace. If nature is your style, at least for a day, there is overnight wilderness camping from Adirondack Adventures where you pitch a tent (boast about this forever), gather kindling for fire, and prepare your own dinner. And, of course, there are plenty of excellent Airbnbs worth booking in the area if you'd rather go that route.
Enjoy outdoor activities like parasailing and kayaking
There’s no better way to enjoy the town than to indulge in its famous water sport activities for all ages and experience levels. Parasail on the lake in doubles and trios with Coast Guard licensed captains at Parasailing Adventures; glide slowly and safely on a three hour Lazy Tubing River Adventure through the Adirondack mountains on gentle waves and a pebble bottom; and whether novice or a natural, indulge in some kayaking or paddleboarding at Lake George Kayak Company. For those with daredevil tendencies, a white-water rafting adventure at Adirondack Adventures might just be the rush you need. If you prefer a leisurely water experience, hop on a Lake George Island Boat Tour for scenic views, optional water activities, and history of the lake, covering everything from sunken ships to ghost stories. Take note that these activities are mostly suited for warmer temperatures and are dictated by weather conditions (always confirm availability beforehand).
Indulge in shops for homemade crafts, cheese, and fudge
Take memories of Lake George home by popping into The Indian Tepee Gift Shop in Bolton Landing for Adirondack treats, jewelry, houseware, and custom gifts; pop into Live Love Laugh for soaps and crafts; don’t leave without cheeses from Argyle Cheese Farmer Store & Bakery, producing high quality cheese, buttermilk, and yogurt on an 1860s family farmstead; sate your sweet tooth and bring home Adirondack candy apples, caramel corn, and fudge from The Candy Apple; the popular Tom Tom Shop for local gifts and souvenirs; Candy Space, an interactive candy store that launches sweets in a rocketship; Trig Point Designs for laser-cut maps of the Lake George area on cups, frames etc. Many unique shops have no online presence so stumbling upon them is a treat, like Silvermine North glass shop and Heroes Hideout for vintage toys and comic collectibles.