We recently took a trip to Lake George and quickly fell in love with the area! It was a bit of a spontaneous trip, and I found myself looking up things to do in Lake George, NY while we were driving up there. We quite honestly had no idea what to expect since none of us had taken an Adirondacks vacation before!
It was myself, my husband, our 15 yr old son and 13 yr old daughter on this trip, and every single one of us said it’s in our top 3 vacations! It’s hard sometimes to plan a trip for not just teenagers, but two teenagers who like very different activities.
My son is very active and loves vacations where he can go for hikes, do water sports and enjoy great food. My daughter is a bit more like me and enjoys lounging on a beach, finding the best candy store and window shopping in a cute downtown area. Lake George, NY fit the bill for both of them!
One thing to note is that Lake George itself is a pretty large area and encompasses all of the little towns that surround the lake. For the most part, we stayed in Downtown Lake George for our vacation, so that’s all I will be covering this time. Hopefully we’ll get back soon to do even more exploring outside of the main downtown!
10 Things to do in Lake George, NY
- Take advantage of the amenities your hotel offers! I only booked our hotel 5 days before our trip, so not only were pickings slim, but I wasn’t sure of specific hotel locations since I had never been to the town.We ended up staying at the Howard Johnson, and while we were thrilled with the location (seriously, I don’t know if the location could have been any more ideal), it was very basic. But we were only about one block from this, so how could we complain?? The lake is literally right behind those buildings on the left!
One thing I noticed when looking at some of the other resorts/hotels, was that they offered lots of amenities that ours didn’t. Some had private beaches, free access to paddleboards and kayaks, heated pools and more. While the nightly fees are more, you may end up saving money since you won’t have to rent paddleboards.
We did take advantage of our hotel’s free continental breakfast. While it was very basic, it saved us about $40/day that we would have spent eating out. In my head, that’s $40/day that we now allot towards other activities. So check with your lodging and take advantage of any amenities that they offer!
- Since you’re saving money on your breakfast (hopefully!), go ahead and splurge on some activities! Rent a bike and take a self-guided tour of the quaint town. Or be a little more daring and go zip-lining on the new Eagle’s Flyer.
You can go parasailing, jet skiing, paddleboarding, white water rafting and so much more!There are boat cruises leaving many times a day.Or you can rent your own boat and head out for some fishing and cruising! They even have tiki hut “boats” you can rent.
- Not all of the activities cost money, though! The public beach is completely free and has a bath house right beside it. It’s a really quaint little area with shaded benches too if you don’t feel like going out in the sand.
The town of Lake George also has free concerts on Wednesdays and fireworks on Thursdays during the peak season. I was strolling through a farmer’s market that was set up at Shepard’s Park and randomly sat down on a bench to take in the gorgeous view of the lake in front of me. Within 30 minutes, a concert had started and the family ended up joining me!
We also loved just sitting at the end of the lake on one of the many adirondack chairs. It was the perfect spot to catch the sunset while we watched the boats come in. Our kids would walk around and grab an ice cream cone and then meet us back at the adirondack chairs. It became a little ritual of ours and I even took my breakfast there a few mornings, because it was so peaceful!
- While you’re planning your activities, pay attention to flyers you see around town. We ate at a restaurant for lunch one day and I happened to see a flyer on my bathroom stall for a dinner cruise. We had already been throwing around the idea of a dinner cruise, and this one looked amazing!
It was being held as a fundraiser for the Lake George Arts Project and was a Summer Solstice Cruise. There was food provided by local restaurants, live music and a silent auction. We took a risk and paid $30/person for a 2 hr cruise, not knowing at all what to expect.It was incredible. Seriously.
The highlight of our vacation for my husband and I, and my kids said it’s a tie as the highlight for them. The food was plentiful and delicious, and we loved sampling things from each restaurant since we wouldn’t get a chance to visit them all.
The best part, though, was seeing the lake from the middle of the lake! The houses along the shoreline were stunning
and the view of the Sagamore had us planning a return trip soon.
I can’t stress this enough… pay attention to the flyers you see and talk to your waiters and waitresses!
- Don’t just gawk at the mountains from afar! I know, they are stunning and majestic… so get out there on them!
From downtown Lake George, you can walk to the beginning of the Prospect Mountain trail and see views for 100 miles once you reach the top. It isn’t the easiest of hikes, but if you’re nervous about that, you can drive up so that you can still appreciate the views.
We also drove about 30 minutes north of Lake George to the Natural Stone Bridge and Caves. This is a paying attraction but it was well worth it.
We spent about 2.5 hrs there, and really took our time exploring nature. It boasts the largest marble cave entrance in the East,and also has beautiful water and bridges throughout the trails.
- When you’re planning your activities, try to look ahead to what the weather would be like during your stay. Our kids really wanted to visit the wax museum, mini golf and an indoor mini golf they found.
I checked the weather for the whole week we were there and managed to hold them off on the wax museum and indoor mini golf for the one day it was supposed to rain most of the day. It worked out perfectly!
We weren’t stuck inside a small hotel room during the rain and we got to play mini golf outside during gorgeous weather!
- Because of how spontaneous our trip was, we didn’t really think about the time of year we were visiting. We were there the 3rd week in June, which is apparently the last week of the off-season. The weekly fireworks didn’t start until the week after we returned, the water was still pretty chilly, some shops weren’t open their full hours yet, etc.
But it also meant that we paid about 1/3 of the price for our hotel room than what the rates were as people showed up the next week for 4th of July and the remainder of the summer!
So I’m not necessarily saying we timed it poorly… I’m just saying pay attention to the week you’re going and what part of the season that’s considered. It’s much different from what we’re used to peak season being at the NJ and MD beaches!
- Since we’re talking about time of the year you visit, you should also make sure you pack accordingly! You’re in the mountains, so be sure to pack light clothes for during the day and warmer clothes for the evening. It cools off fast in the mountains.
The day we took our dinner cruise, we had been in shorts and tanks all day and were hot, but absolutely needed jeans and jackets for the evening cruise!
Also be sure to pack plenty of bug spray. There are definitely a number of stores downtown that you can purchase it if you forget, but it’s a tourist town so it will nearly always be cheaper to bring from home.
We also were thankful that I had packed some of our beach chairs since that wasn’t an amenity offered where we were staying. They came in handy both for sitting at the beach and to take to the concert in the park the one evening.
- Lastly, make sure you talk to the locals! They have plenty of advice for where you should eat, where you should go for the best views, what activities to do and more!Thanks to the advice of one bartender, we ended up catching a local duo, JP Ferguson and Jesse, play at one of the restaurants on our 2nd night. It was quite honestly, a perfect evening for our family. Classic rock on a deck overlooking the lake with a cold drink and my teens singing along to The Who, Bob Seger and more.
In fact, we enjoyed it so much, that we followed them to a different restaurant a few nights later to listen to them again. My son said this was the highlight of his trip and maybe his summer! All because we chatted with a bartender!
We also found some great restaurants by talking to some locals! We really enjoyed the Adirondack Pub & Brewery and the Moose Tooth Grill (great for families with little kids).
Be sure to also check out my post on Free Things to do in Lake George, NY! It’s full of tips and ideas for all different interest!
We’ve been fortunate that we’ve been able to travel to some incredible places like Migis Lodge, Turks & Caicos, Disney World, Jamaica, the Poconos and more… but our whole family just fell in love with all the things to do in Lake George, NY.
We’re already trying to plan when we can get back there and how we can introduce this gem to everyone we know!