The American summer vacation was not born on the beach but in the mountains. In the late 1800s, elite families such as the Carnegies, Rockefellers, and Vanderbilts “left” their Manhattan homes in search of fresh air and cooler temperatures, building the so-called “Great Camps” in the Adirondack Mountains, in northeastern New York. Today, the Adirondack Park—protected as “perpetually natural” by the New York State Constitution since 1892—is the largest publicly preserved area in the Lower 48, covering 6 million acres. That’s more than the Everglades, Glacier, Grand Canyon, and Yellowstone National Parks combined.
Today, the most beautiful gateway to these outdoor sports is Lake Placid, a village that has hosted the Winter Olympics (in 1932 and 1980) and is close to some of the highest altitudes. Several hotels debuted last year, including the charming Eastwind Lake Placid, Great location along the Chubb River. (Eastwind also has two locations further down, in the Catskills region.) The 21 rooms and eight suites feature Scandinavian-style decor, with vintage touches, such as wooden tennis rackets on the walls and antique copies of Adirondack Life magazine. The property also has a sauna, pool, fireplace and grill, private dining room, and bar and lounge.
Most of the town’s sports facilities have also been renovated. December saw the opening of the renovated Lake Placid Olympic Museum, including two renovated ice rinks and a speed skating rink. The Olympic Jumping Complex and Mount Van Hoevenberg – where bobsled, skeleton, luge, biathlon, and cross-country skiing events take place in the winter, along with indoor climbing and cycling in the summer – were also revived. In addition, the Cliffside Coaster, the tallest mountain coaster in North America, opens in 2022. All sites are open to the public, and this year, the Legacy Sites Passport carries admission to all Olympic sites.
However, sometimes a classic ride is just the ticket. Ten minutes outside of town is Mount Marcy, the state’s highest peak, reached by a 16-mile hike. For more, take the 5.8-mile trail to Hurricane Mountain. At the top, climb the fire tower and immerse yourself in a 360-degree view of the desert—one unchanged since the Great Camps.
A version of this article first appeared in July 2023 Travel + Leisure titled “Shaping Up.”