Thoughts unavoidably turn to the North Pole this time of year, and a lesser known North Pole sits in the shadow of Whiteface Mountain in New York's Adirondack Park. It's a real town (hamlet, actually, in the town of Wilmington) in the state's northeast corner, just about twelve miles from Lake Placid. Appropriately, it's home to Santa's Workshop, believed to be the nation's oldest theme park.
5pm: Comfort food at 'Dack Shack
There's comfort food with an attitude at the ‘Dack Shack, a one-of-a-kind roadside diner in downtown Lake Placid, complete with kid's menu.
7pm: Skate the Olympic oval
Work off dinner on one of nation's few remaining outdoor ice skating ovals, the very same one where Eric Heiden made Olympic history. Bring your own skates or rent, and warm up around the fire pit at center ice. An Olympic Sites Passport will get you admission to all sites and discounts off select activities.
10am: Santa's Workshop
Explore the charming and retro Santa's Workshop, North Pole's signature attraction. Visit Santa and Mrs. Claus in their very own home, and the live reindeer in their barn; ride the steam train, carousel and other kiddie rides; catch the musical review, puppet show or Nativity Pageant; and visit the U.S. Post Office to have a letter from Santa postmarked from the North Pole.
12pm: Adirondack-style lunch
Grab lunch at the park, head over to Up a Creek for American cuisine in an authentic Adirondack-style eatery, or get a quick bite (and root beer, of course) at the classic, old-school A&W drive in.
2:30pm: Olympic Jumping Complex
Tour the Olympic Jumping Complex and ride the elevator to the skydeck at the top of the 120 meter jump tower. Also on-site, grab a tube to conquer the 700-foot snow tubing hill.
6pm: Tasty BBQ at Smoke Signals
Feast on hearty ribs, brisket and more at Smoke Signals BBQ in downtown Lake Placid. Find their upcoming live music here and stop by for tasty eats, craft cocktails and an extensive whiskey menu.
8pm: Toboggan chute
If you still have energy to burn before bed and the weather allows, see if the 30-foot high toboggan chute is open to send you flying onto frozen Mirror Lake. Ready for a game? Come by Bowlwinkles for Cosmic Rock & Bowling and arcade fun.
10am: Skate Mirror Lake
A plowed track around the entire perimeter of frozen Mirror Lake allows for free skating. If needed, skates are available at Lake Placid Skate Rentals inside Fantasy Photographs.
11:30am: Dog sled tours on Mirror Lake
When Mirror Lake freezes over, mushers set up shop for real, live dog sled rides on the lake. Walk down to the lake and book your ride directly for this amazing experience.
1pm: Olympic bobsled & gondola rides
Join a professional driver and brakeman for a thundering half-mile bobsled experience at the Olympic Sports Complex. Riders must be over 48 inches and reservations are encouraged. An alternative for those with small fries is a ride on the aptly named Cloudsplitter Gondola to the top of Little Whiteface. Grab lunch at the mountain at spots like J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines Café.
HOW TO GET THERE
By plane: Adirondacks Regional Airport, 96 Airport Road, Saranac Lake, NY 12983-30 minutes to Tupper Lake or to Lake Placid
By train: Amtrak to Westport Station-1 hour to Tupper Lake or 45 minutes to Lake Placid (by shuttle, taxi or rental car)
By bus: Trailways or Greyhound to Saranac Lake for Tupper Lake or to Lake Placid
From Albany: 2.5 hours
From Boston: 5 hours
From NYC: 5 hours
From Philadelphia:6 hours
From Montreal: 2 hours