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Spotlight: Lake George, NY

"...Without comparison, the most beautiful water I ever saw" - Thomas Jefferson

Known as the "Queen of the American Lakes," with its 109 miles of shoreline and 300+ islands, Lake George has been a vacation paradise for almost two centuries! Families come to experience the many lakeside activities, including beaches and fishing, or to get out on the lake for a ride on a classic paddleboat or in a pontoon boat or canoe. The views surrounding the "beautiful water" are breathtaking, a perfect postcard of Adirondack wilderness. The hotels, cabins, and campsites offer something for every type of traveler, and the charming lakeside towns offer plenty of fun activities and dining options. 

Note: Some attractions featured here may be temporarily closed or may feature reduced amenities. Please check directly with individual attractions before making plans. 

Three Things You Can't Miss Family Fun | Spend the Day | Spend the Weekend | Spend the Week | Hotels & Stay | Where to Eat | Getting There
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Three Things You Can't Miss

Lake George Steamboat Company - Photo by NYS ESD

Cruising Lake George

The view of pristine Lake George gets even better from the water. See for yourself with the Lake George Steamboat Company, running for more than 200 years. These historic cruises have revealed the panorama of mountains, beaches, inlets and islands of Lake George to generations of travelers. Hop aboard an old-timey steamboat or shoreline cruiser for brunch, lunch, dinner, drinks, and maybe even a fireworks show.

View of islands in Lake George

Island Camping

If you thought you needed a flight to Fiji to sleep under the stars on a secluded island, think again. Lake George is home to 44 state-owned islands with 387 campsites that are accessible via canoe or boat. If you’re looking for more than an afternoon of blissful solitude, you can rent a spot for $28 a night. These campsites do fill up so book as soon as you can!

Fort William Henry

The Rich History

Long before Lake George was synonymous with leisurely lake days, it was a major player in US history. During the French and Indian War, major battles were fought right along the water, and are memorialized at forts, museums, and public parks. From the monuments and sculptures littered throughout the 35-acre Battlefield Park to the ghost stories told in a whisper at Fort William Henry (pictured), the history is plentiful.

family fun

Roller coaster at Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom

Six Flags Great Escape and Hurricane Harbor

Six Flags Great Escape and Hurricane Harbor in Lake George is one of New York’s largest amusement parks. Visit for 135+ rides, games, concerts, and events ranging from the Northeast’s first inverting virtual reality roller coaster to a 500,000-gallon wave pool. In between, you’ll find something for everyone, whether you’re traveling with the tiniest of tots or are just a (big) kid at heart yourself. 

A T-Rex at Lake George Expedition Park and Dino Roar Valley

Lake George Expedition Park

Lake George Expedition Park's new-in-2019 Dino Roar Valley feels like a real-life Jurassic Park (without the danger), with life-sized dinosaurs along a nature trail, complete with roars, tracks, and educational opportunities. The park's Magic Forest has delighted visitors since 1963 with 24 kiddie amusement rides (including a train and a Tilt-A-Whirl), a diving show, and magic shows. Seasonal: Spring through fall.

Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course

Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course

Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course, since 2007, is fun for all ages with a mile and a half of treetop ropes courses, plus a special kids' course for ages six and up with more than 30 games across two courses. Parents and guardians can walk underneath the courses on trails to take photographs and offer encouragement to their little climbers. Seasonal: April through November.

spend the day

Lake George Parasailing - Photo Courtesy of Warren County Tourism

With its many islands and shorelines connecting to verdant, wooded hills, Lake George is something else from above. Find out for yourself with Parasailing Adventures and soar high in the sky over the lake. Anyone ages six and up can give it a go, and if you’re looking to rope in a friend, the boat can accommodate two to three riders at the same time. 

In the afternoon, hike to the waterfalls at Shelving Rock Falls, an excellent place for birding. It’s an easy trek with a wide, former carriage road that makes it perfect for groups and less experienced hikers. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy at the pool of the falls. 

At the end of the day, literally and figuratively transport yourself into a bygone era with a cruise on one of Lake George’s famous shoreliners. From sleek yachts to authentic paddle wheelers, there are dozens of options to enjoy the breathtaking views and setting sun on the water.

spend the weekend

Million Dollar Beach - Photo Courtesy of Warren County Tourism
Saturday

There are so many beaches in Lake George that it can be hard to know where to start. A tried and true favorite is the aptly named Million Dollar Beach (pictured). Clean, wide, and with a roped-off swimming area, it’s the perfect landing spot for a day along the water. Plus, with lifeguards on hand, it’s a top pick for families with young swimmers. 

Whenever you grow tired of lounging on the beach (if that's possible), head out to explore the 32 miles of Lake George by boat. There are plenty of rental options in town, whether you’re looking for a low-key, family-friendly pontoon, or a high-speed nautical ride. You can also stock up on equipment for wakeboarding, water skiing, or fishing. At night, head to Salt Water Cowboys for a well-deserved lobster roll.

Prospect Mountain - Photo Courtesy of Warren County Tourism
Sunday

Start the day with a 100-mile vista atop Prospect Mountain (pictured), one of Lake George’s iconic peaks. The summit can be tackled by hiking or biking. Hikers can expect about three hours round trip. You can also park and take the kid-adored Prospect Shuttle tram to the top. Either way, the reward is uncontested: Sweeping views of Lake George and the lush foothills of the Adirondacks.

Whether you’re breathless from the incline or the views, a glass of wine at Adirondack Winery is a refreshing post-Prospect treat. Family-owned, this Lake George favorite features a tasting room with dozens of varieties, including popular fruit-infused wines. Should a two-ounce pour not suffice, they have plenty of bottles on site for purchase, and they even ship nationally.

spend the week

Fort William Henry with mountains in backdrop

Monday

Fort William Henry (pictured) is an exciting historical site modeled after the British fort that was destroyed in the area during the French and Indian War. The fort is an interactive living museum that will enthrall everyone in your camp. If you’re traveling with kids, they’ll be recruited and trained as soldiers—even given uniforms, muskets, and a certificate after they complete their drills. For an added dose of adrenaline, tour the grounds at night during a candlelit ghost tour and hear battleground stories handed down generations.  

In the afternoon, beeline back to the lake to leisurely paddleboard, kayak, or tube float on the water. After, grab a table on the patio at Tavern on the Lake for some crab cakes, drinks, and killer views.

Wild Waters, Warrensburg

Tuesday

Feel the rush of rafting down the Hudson and Sacandaga rivers on a whitewater adventure with Wild Waters (pictured) in Warrensburg, just a ten-minute drive from the village. The 3.5-mile partial day trip is perfect for families. Thrill-seekers may be interested in the full-day 17-mile trip that includes Class III and IV rapids. Seasonal: Late June to early September, reservations highly recommended.

After cleaning up, grab dinner at Lizzie Kaeys or indulge a round of greens at the Sagamore Golf Course. This course maximizes the beauty of the region around every bend. Whether or not you play your best round, there’s always a cocktail waiting at Caldwells in the Sagamore lobby.

Exterior of the Hyde Collection Art Museum in Glens Falls, NY

Wednesday

Plunge into the day by scuba diving with Halfmoon Marine. Life under the lake proves fascinating—explore historic wrecks dating back centuries, including submerged hotel sites. You can also expect to see island walls and reefs teeming with trout and salmon.

In the afternoon, pay a visit to the Hyde Collection Art Museum and Historic House (pictured), whose small but mighty art collection is one of the best between Manhattan and Montreal. The museum is brimming with work from masters like Rembrandt and Degas, along with contemporary artists. Still, it’s the art’s residence in a storied historic home that really makes it a two-for-one treasure, as you’re just as likely to stumble across a rare book in the library or spot beautiful period-era furnishings.  

French & Indian War reenactment at Fort Ticonderoga.

Thursday

Take the short drive to Fort Ticonderoga (pictured). A reconstruction of this fort, pivotal to the French and Indian and the Revolutionary wars, means you can experience a day in the life of a soldier from a bygone era. Whether you want to catch a reenactment or tour the King's Garden, this hands-on living museum has plenty to offer all ages.  

Later, trek up Buck Mountain for a moderately challenging trail that rewards climbers with sweeping views of Lake George and the Adirondacks. Plan for at least a few hours, but bank on the views being worth the effort.

At night, head to Lake George Village to catch the town’s weekly fireworks show above the lake. Seasonal, during the summer.

Gurney Lane Mountain Bike Park

Friday

Spend the day exploring the adorable town of Glen Falls, just south of Lake George. Stroll the boutiques then take on Warren Country Bike Trail if you're a casual bike rider or Gurney Lane Mountain Bike Trails (pictured) if you can shred. Cool off in the public pool nearby for just $5 admission.

Fill up on Italian classics at Rocco's Italian American Bistro or Mexican fare at Raul's—pro tip: happy hour runs from 2 to 6 pm.

Finish up at the taproom of Common Roots Brewing Company, a father-son craft beer company committed to great beer, community, and sustainability.

Family rafting down Ausable Chasm

Saturday

Nicknamed the Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks, Ausable Chasm (pictured) is a sandstone river valley gorge pocketed with stunning waterfalls and low-level trails to enjoy the view. At the oldest natural attraction in the US, catch a glimpse of fossils and remnants from eons ago and see trails and markers from brave souls that ventured into the canyon hundreds of years ago. Descend deep into the canyon for a unique mile walk against the sandstone, and then float back on a lazy river tour. Or, try your hand walking cable bridges, climbing under cargo nets, and along cliffs' edges with a professional guide. 

At night, grab dinner at the Boathouse Restaurant, a waterfront restaurant with private docking right on the lake, should you want to arrive in high style.

Adirondack Pub & Brewery, Credit: Adirondack Pub & Brewery

Sunday

As its name tends to suggest, the Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course is a spirited obstacle course that will raise the eyebrows of even seasoned adrenaline junkies. Set some 60 feet into the canopy above the Adirondack forest, the adventure course features everything from wobbly bridges to zip lines, nets, and Tarzan swings. Prove to your friends once and for all that you could’ve made the cut for one of those extreme obstacle reality shows.

For surviving (and enjoying) a rough n’ tumble day on the adventure course, head over to Adirondack Pub & Brewery (pictured) for a pint. This family-friendly pub has a wide range of comfort-food menu options, plus hand-crafted beers brewed on site. You can even tour the brewery after your meal.

 

Hotels and Stay

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getting there

By Plane

Lake George is about 50 miles outside of Albany Airport, which offers car rentals and even some shuttle buses to local area hotels.

By Train

Lake George is accessible via Amtrak with daily stops in Fort Edward, which is about a 20-minute drive. From Fort Edward, you can hail a taxi, rent a car, or call the Greater Glens Falls Transit System to inquire about their shuttle service.

By Bus

Adirondack Trailways and Greyhound to Lake George.

By Car

• From NYC: 3 hrs, 45 mins
• From Albany: 1 hr
• From Buffalo: 5 hrs
• From Boston: 3 hrs, 30 mins
• From Philadelphia: 4 hrs, 40 mins
• From Montreal: 2 hrs, 40 mins

Bonus Tip

Check out Visit Lake George for more information.