When you think of the Adirondacks, you probably think about nature, hiking, camping, the winter Olympics, and that comfortable summertime chair that shares a name with the region. But just like we revealed the Secrets of the Catskills, we’re here to add some more off-the-beaten-path activities and attractions to your trip upstate.
Read more: Spotlight on the Adirondacks
A revolutionary way to ride the rails!
Sit back, relax, and pedal yourself down an abandoned train track surrounded by the gorgeous scenery of the Adirondacks. What was once the Adirondack Branch of the D&H Railroad bringing summer and winter visitors from NYC and Schenectady has been equipped with a tandem (for 1 to 2 riders) and a quad (for 1 to 4 riders) by Revolution Rail Co. While you are responsible for getting yourself down the track with your own leg power (it’s leisurely with just a slight incline, according to previous guests), you’ll be with a guide who can take photos so all of your friends will be jealous of this unique adventure.
A sandwich for each of the high peaks!
There is a sandwich named for each of the high peaks of the Adirondacks. This would be a cool feature for any region, but it’s especially impressive considering that there are 46 high peaks! The sandwiches are available at Simply Gourmet and Big Mountain Deli in Lake Placid. Offerings include the Marcy (roast turkey, cranberry horseradish sauce, cheddar, apple, and cracked pepper mayo), the Whiteface (cracked pepper turkey, provolone, avocado, spinach, and mayo), and the Marshall (sopressata, provolone, banana peppers, oil, and vinegar). A club exists for climbers of all 46 peaks, but word is still out about a club for those who have eaten each sandwich.
A chance to celebrate Christmas in July!
If you are one of those people who starts a countdown to Christmas after New Year’s (no judgment!), we’ve got the destination for you. Santa’s Workshop lives on in the summer in a town called (of course) North Pole, New York and yes, they do have special weekends for “Christmas in July”. Not only is every guest greeted by the man himself, but you can partake in a plethora of holiday-themed activities like riding a reindeer on the Christmas Carousel, having a conversation with Tannenbaum the Talking Christmas Tree, or jumping inside of a giant tree ornament. Make sure to send the kids in your life a postcard with a “North Pole” postmark to be on their nice list for years to come.
A different kind of trek than usual!
You may know about the hiking treks of the Adirondacks, but do you know about the Star Treks? Believe it or not, the Adirondacks are a destination for fans of the science fiction franchise which includes films, television shows, books, comics, and really is an entire cultural phenomenon. Complete recreations of the set of the original Star Trek series were painstakingly built in Ticonderoga by superfan James Cawley. Thanks to the original blueprints, tons of research, thousands of photos, and licensing from CBS, this place is legit. In August, fans can attend the 4th annual Trekonderoga convention where special guests, tours, presentations, workshops, a starfleet social barbecue, trivia, and costume contests (live long and) prosper.
A full immersion into the region’s history!
The Adirondack Experience in Blue Mountain Lake provides visitors with a complete history and immersive activities of the region, from learning about the wildlife and viewing Native American art to writing on a slate tablet in a one-room schoolhouse and feeding trout. Exhibits include “Work in the Woods: Logging in the Adirondacks,” “Woods and Water: Outdoor Recreation in the Adirondacks,” and “Boats and Boating in the Adirondacks.” The New York Times called this outdoor museum “the best of its kind in the world.”
An inexplicable echo!
X literally marks the (Mystery) Spot behind the Lake George Visitors Center. There is a circular platform with a blue outline of the lake on the sidewalk, with an X in the middle like a compass. Someone standing on the X can sing, shout, and speak out toward the lake and hear an intense, tinny echo of their voice coming back to them—the mystery is that those standing nearby outside of the circle will just hear the speaker’s voice without the echo. The echo is rumored to represent an ancient Native American god’s wisdom echoing throughout the region, though others reason that it’s because of the position of the circular stone wall or of the mountains.
A diving horse and a giant Uncle Sam!
The attractions and rides at Magic Forest in Lake George are meant more for the toddler and elementary school set, but the park does hold two pretty cool accolades. Uncle Sam, one of the U.S.’s most prominent symbols of patriotism, is rumored to have been based on a New Yorker from Troy, just an hour south of Lake George. Magic Forest pays tribute to New York’s hand in Uncle Sam with the world’s largest Uncle Sam, a 40-foot-tall fiberglass sculpture welcoming visitors into the park. The park is also the only place in the country where you can see a diving horse. Don’t worry, Lightning has a light performance schedule and a much shorter jump than when diving horses were popular back in the day.
A mile-long freshwater beach!
Photo Credit: Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau
The Adirondacks are home to 3,000 lakes (!) and Plattsburgh City Beach is the second-longest freshwater beach in the United States. It’s right along scenic Lake Champlain, with mountain views across the way. The beach is more than a mile long, perfect for a stroll, and while the water isn’t a tropical temperature, you’ll enjoy playing around, renting kayaks and paddle boards. There are picnic tables, barbecues, and a snack bar, so you could definitely spend the day. Bathrooms and changing rooms are available, but bring your own umbrellas.
A hidden history of civil rights!
You may not know that through the Adirondacks ran an important passageway for slaves on the way into Canada. There are several sites that pay tribute to and educate visitors about the abolitionist movement’s history within the region. Visit the home of Solomon Northrup, the subject of the Oscar-winning film and his own memoir 12 Years a Slave, who was an African-American born free but later kidnapped and sold into slavery. North Star Underground Railroad Museum delves into the history of the Underground Railroad in New York with exhibits on the important stories of people escaping from slavery as well as those of the safehouses and abolitionists in the area. Tours of John Brown Farm in Lake Placid allow visitors to learn about the abolitionists’ life while seeing beautiful scenery and historical reenactments.
The world’s largest McIntosh apple orchard!
Photo Credit: Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau
New York is known for its apples, which is why one of our cities is called The Big Apple. But it’s upstate where you’ll find them growing in all of their glory. If it’s McIntosh apples you’re a fan of sinking your teeth into, then Chazy Orchards is the spot for you—they are the largest McIntosh apple orchard in the world! Chazy can also fulfill your Honeycrisp, Cortland, and SweeTango™ (a hybrid of Honeycrisp and Zestar) apple dreams, and altogether the orchard produces 300,000 bushels of the fruit a year. Yes, you can pick ‘em. The Chazy Orchards Farm Market also offers honey from their own bees, pies, cider, maple syrup, and doughnuts (you know how much we love doughnuts).
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