Named after a British king, and dubbed the Queen of American Lakes, this narrow, glimmering stretch of water runs 32 miles long from Lake George Village at its southern tip to Ticonderoga on the north shore. In the west, it is overlooked by mighty Prospect Mountain, in the foothills of the beautiful Adirondacks. Glacier-formed Lake George gained popularity as a summer vacation spot in the 1950s, and its landscape makes it a good spot to pair forest bathing with beach bathing.
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What is it? Prospect Mountain offers breathtaking views across the lake and the Adirondacks.
Why go? The views from Prospect’s summit are glorious – and even more mind blowing in the fall. Accessible via a three-mile mountain trail, which is steep in parts, you’ll also find the remains of the nineteenth-century cable car, at one time the longest in the world, which took wealthy gilded age guests up to the bygone Prospect Mountain House hotel at the peak’s top. Now, only its fireplace remains.
What is it? This reconstruction of the 1755-built British fort revisits a time when the British and French, with their Indian allies, fought for control of the North American colonies.
Why go? Depicted in author James Fenimore Cooper’s ‘The Last of the Mohicans’, and recreated in the Daniel Day Lewis film, the French siege forced a British surrender. Learn about how the French ignored the deal, brutally massacred the British and burned the fort to the ground.
What is it? A place for beer, casual dining, and yoga.
Why go? The brewers at this 20-year-old brewery and pub are doing interesting things in the craft beer world: try the Cucumber Cool (yes, it’s made with cucumber). The pub is popular for food, too: there are veggie curries along with rib-sticking dishes, like, well, sticky meaty ribs. Along with traditional brewery games like corn hole, there are Detox and Retox yoga sessions. We’ll drink to that.
What is it? This lakeside resort is styled as a Polynesian village, harking to the tiki craze of the 1950s and 1960s.
Why go? Tiki fans visit Lake George just to stay at this resort. With a high retro-kitsch score, this is among the last of its kind. The resort has a pool and the usual amenities, but whether you book a room or not, catch one of the nightly luau-style Polynesian dinner shows. Grass-skirted performers doing the hula in Upstate New York is quite surreal, but it all makes perfect sense with a mai tai in your hand.
What is it? This guided bus tour visits local breweries, wineries, and distilleries in the Adirondacks.
Why go? A cute shortie bus takes you to more than 20 of the area’s prominent drinks producers, all while driving through the gorgeous rural Adirondacks, from Lake George to Lake Placid. So, it’s a scenic Upstate New York tour, with great locally produced booze, food pairings, and a designated driver.
What is it? This downtown beachside park on Canada Street is a local hangout, loved for its dog friendliness and concerts.
Why go? During the summer, the park’s amphitheater features nightly entertainment, including live music – usually rootsy rock or jazz. There are also weekly firework displays. In the off-season, the park is populated by locals walking dogs or hanging out by the lake.
What is it? A ten-year-old winery specializing in locally made wines.
Why go? To try small-batch hand-crafted wines and check out the irresistibly stocked gift shop with pairing items like local cheeses, crackers, and chocolates. In 2015 it launched the annual Adirondack Wine & Food Festival in Lake George.
What is it? Million Dollar Beach is part of the 51-acre state park at Lake George Village – and a big part of the region’s identity.
Why go? Lake George Beach was nicknamed Million Dollar Beach because that’s apparently what it cost to create it. It’s had pollution problems of late, however the water is monitored and when it is open it’s the epicenter of Lake George. As a state-run facility, lifeguards are on duty whenever it’s open. The Lake George Bath House has changing facilities, showers, and bathrooms. There are food and drink stands, but picnicking is allowed too.
What is it? A seasonal restaurant overlooking the water off Lake Shore Drive – and one of the best lakeside dining spots in the area.
Why go? The restaurant is housed in a pretty Victorian boathouse once belonging to self-made banking magnate and philanthropist George Foster Peabody. The menu includes standards like steak, seafood, and pasta, plus interesting options like spicy gunpowder shrimp. There’s live music in the outdoor bar, but the beautiful natural setting and the charming historic atmosphere seal the deal.
What is it? This museum in the Old Warren County Courthouse, next to Shepard Park, celebrates local history.
Why go? Learn all about the likes of George Foster Peabody, a dominant force in the area in the late 1800s, the rise of Lake George as a popular holiday spot, and the Native Americans who lived in the region before the colonists took over. There is no admission fee, but donations are appreciated.