Your Next Weekend Escape: The Best Things to Do in Lake George

While the Catskills and the Hudson Valley may get the bulk of admiration when it comes to NYC-area leaf peeping, don’t sleep on the Adirondacks. Sure, it’s a farther drive from the city—about four hours, give or take—but you’ll be rewarded with some of the most spectacular foliage on the East Coast.

The Adirondack Park region, however, is massive: It encompasses more than 6 million acres of upstate New York. So if it’s your first time, make a beeline for the accessible and charming Lake George area, which is known as the birthplace of the American vacation. Should you need any more convincing, read on for the best things to do in Lake George.

This North Fork Hotel Will Plan Your Whole Getaway for You

1. Sleep In A Log Cabin

The “Queen of American Lakes” is 32 miles long and two miles across at its widest point, which means there’s enough room for hotels and B&Bs for virtually every type of traveler. And log cabin lovers, you’re in the right place. One of the prettiest properties in that vein is The Lodges at Cresthaven, whose dwellings boast rough-hewn wood exteriors and charming Adirondack decor. And with many units equipped with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a full kitchen, it’s perfect for a girls’ or couples’ trip.

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2. Or A Historic Hotel

Those looking for a more Edith Wharton–type vibe should definitely visit The Sagamore, the region’s crown jewel. Located on its own private island connected by a bridge to the mainland, this historic property is a stone-cold stunner. Many rooms in the main hotel feature unobstructed views of the lake, and bigger groups can opt for one of the apartment-style layouts in one of the newer lodge buildings. And guests can take advantage of complimentary lake cruises in the Morgan, the hotel’s replica of a 19th-century touring vessel—an especially beautiful trip as the leaves start to change.

3. Grab dinner at a local favorite

The area of Bolton Landing offers the highest concentration of delicious dining in the area. The Huddle is one of the most popular spots for dinner, with a killer crab cake and tons of fresh fish like barbecue ginger salmon and seared sea scallops with lemon. And of course, in this part of the world, do not overlook the humble diner. Bolton Beans is everything you’d want from this classic American staple—it’s even housed in a 1946 service diner—but get there early to avoid the crowds. And for your caffeine fix, look no further than Bear’s Cup, which, apart from the usual, also offers nitro-infused cold taps and pastries made in house daily.

Courtesy of Warren County Tourism Department

4. Take A Hike

The Adirondack region is rightfully famous for its hiking, and there is no better time to admire the mountains than in the fall. Some of the most jaw-dropping treks in all of New York state are located just outside Bolton Landing at the Cat and Thomas Mountains Preserve (or Cat and Tom if you’re local). To get the most bang for your buck, climb Tom first, then hike from there to the summit of Cat, where you’ll be rewarded with an incredible 270-degree view of the Adirondacks and Lake George.

5. Go for a bike ride

If biking is more your speed, pick up a set of wheels from Lake George Bike Rentals and cruise the 18-mile Warren County Bikeway. The paved path is perfect for those not used to riding on a daily basis, and the trip is a lovely route from Lake George Village all the way to the charming city of Glens Falls.

The Shirt Factory/Facebook

6. Shop Locally

Yes, you probably will go home with either a picture frame made of tree bark or a vintage black-and-white photo of people canoeing (or both), but the shopping in the Lake George area is not all kitschy. One of the coolest stops is The Shirt Factory in Glen Falls: Named for the building’s former life as a fashion facility, it’s now an eclectic marketplace where artisans sell everything from locally made jams and honeys to handmade jewelry and ceramics. In summer, you’ll find weekly flea markets complete with food trucks and entertainment, while winter brings an annual holiday open house.

7. Pick up souvenirs

The citizens of Lake George are rightfully proud of their surroundings, and you’ll see many cars with a long squiggly window decal that’s actually an outline of the lake. Pick up your own Lake George swag at Local, which sells everything from tank tops to Nalgenes emblazoned with the image. And for the best in non-kitschy Adirondack decor, check out Trees Adirondack Gifts and Books, where you can pick up a coffee table book about cabins (to bring some rustic vibes back to your cramped city apartment) and candles scented with smells like “The Lake” and “The Lodge.”