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Why Go To Adirondacks

Whether you're a lover of outdoor activities, sports history or just appreciate beautiful scenery, odds are you'll adore northern New York's Adirondacks region. Situated about 290 miles north of New York City, 250 miles northwest of Boston and 110 miles south of Montreal, the Adirondacks offer a welcome break from the area's bustling metropolises. During the winter months, visitors can participate in an array of outdoor activities, including skiing, snowshoeing, bobsledding and dogsledding. Once summertime rolls around, travelers can go biking, fishing, hiking, canoeing and whitewater rafting. No matter what time of year it is, you'll have your pick of stunning scenery to explore — like Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake — thanks to more than 6 million acres spread across 12 regions.

For those looking to catch a break from the Adirondacks' outdoor adventures, you're in luck: This mountainous area also features plenty of historical treasures. In Lake Placid, travelers can experience all things Olympics while exploring the Olympic Jumping Complex, Olympic Sports Complex and Olympic Museum. And if sports history just isn't your thing, there's also John Brown Farm State Historic Site, which is the gravesite and former home of abolitionist John Brown. Additional offerings include a variety of seasonal events, boutique shops and Adirondacks-inspired gastropubs and fine dining eateries. And once you're ready to retire for the evening, you'll find a bevy of accommodation options, ranging from traditional campgrounds and quaint bed-and-breakfasts to luxurious cabins and upscale resorts.

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Rankings

The U.S. News & World Report travel rankings are based on analysis of expert and user opinions. Read more about how we rank vacation destinations.

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Adirondacks Travel Tips

Best Months to Visit

The best time to visit the Adirondacks is from May to August, when the weather is warm and the top sites are open for longer hours. But the region can get crowded this time of year, so you should book your accommodations at least three months in advance. November to April is the best time to experience the winter sports season in full swing, but be prepared for single-digit temperatures. The shoulder months of September and October are generally less crowded, but businesses in smaller hamlets (like Paul Smiths) will be closing up shop for the winter season.  

Weather in Adirondacks

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See details for When to Visit Adirondacks

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center

What You Need to Know

  • Prepare for the outdoors Before trekking out into the wilderness, it's always a good idea to check the weather, let someone know where you're going and pack plenty of warm layers and water.
  • Be mindful of bears There are large populations of black bears in the region, so it's best to research where you're headed and pack all your food in bear-resistant canisters. For more information, check out the Department of Environmental Conservation's website.
  • Take it easy on the slopes Skiing in the Adirondacks is intense, especially on Whiteface Mountain. Keep the edges of your skis sharp and pay close attention to the trail difficulty levels. 

How to Save Money in Adirondacks

  • Avoid peak season Come after peak season, during the shoulder months of September and October, and you'll battle fewer crowds and find bargain hotel rates.
  • Plan ahead Instead of purchasing expensive outdoor gear sold in Lake Placid, arrive prepared with plenty of layers, good hiking shoes and ski supplies if you're planning to shred some powder.
  • Buy an Olympic Sites Passport Travelers planning to explore all of Lake Placid's iconic Olympic landmarks should invest in an Olympic Sites Passport. Although it'll set you back $35 a piece, each passport includes access to all of the Olympic sites  Olympic Museum, Olympic Sports Complex and Olympic Jumping Complex, to name a few  plus reduced rates for bobsledding, snowshoeing, snow tubing and other experiences.

What to Eat

The region's stunning scenery and agricultural traditions are at the forefront of Adirondack cuisine. Whether you're looking to pack a picnic for a hike, enjoy local brews and seasonal flavors at a gastropub or savor fine dining bites in an upscale or family-friendly setting, you'll have plenty to choose from to satiate your appetite.

For some of the best seasonal fare offered in the Adirondacks, former diners say a visit to Five Corners Cafe is a must. Although small, this eatery leaves a big impression with its menu, which includes fan favorites like the rack of lamb and ricotta gnudi. Another budget-friendly option that receives traveler praise is Lisa G's. Known for putting a modern spin on classic comfort foods, Lisa G's is a hit with locals and tourists alike, thanks in part to  dishes like meatloaf, beet risotto and chicken parmesan.

If you're willing to spend a bit more coin, travelers recommend treating yourself to a meal at The View. Set within a wood dining room that overlooks the mountains and includes a stone fireplace and antler chandeliers and light fixtures, The View features a seasonal, locally sourced menu, with offerings like foie gras, braised pork cheeks and house smoked trout. Keep in mind, though, that all of the area's fine dining establishments fill up fast, so make your reservations well in advance.

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Getting Around Adirondacks

The best way to get around the Adirondacks is by car, whether it be your own or a rental. Having a set of wheels enables you to experience the region's gorgeous scenery at your own pace. Plus, the Adirondacks' ideal location makes the area easily accessible in a day's drive. That said, hopping on the Amtrak from New York City's Penn Station to Lake Placid is an excellent alternative if you don't plan on bringing a vehicle. Another option: flying into Adirondack Regional Airport (SLK) in Saranac Lake or Plattsburgh International Airport (PBG) and renting a car from there. Either way, plan to get behind the wheel if you're looking to visit a variety of areas and attractions. If you would rather get the lay of the land by water, you'll find boating is a popular means of getting around specific regions.

Photos

Adirondacks
Adirondacks
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Part mountain art, part trail marker, cairns (or rock pilings found on hiking paths) can be spotted throughout the Adirondacks.

Nick Pedersen/Getty Images

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