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Things to do in Lake Placid & how to build a budget-friendly stay this winter

Even for people who don’t ski or snowboard, Lake Placid in New York’s Adirondack Mountains is a charming little town full of Olympic sites and museums, great shopping, fabulous independent hotels and awesome restaurants.

There so many things to do in Lake Placid during the winter months that it’ll take you several trips to get to them all.

But, as tourist towns go, holidays, weekends and peak season visits can be expensive. So as winter begins to wind into spring, consider midweek vacations and this magical travel time known as “shoulder season” to stay and play here in a more budget-friendly way.

Where to stay in Lake Placid

It’s not uncommon to see hotels in Lake Placid more than double in price between midweek and weekends. You can often stay at even the most luxurious resorts, like the Mirror Lake Inn, for a fraction of peak pricing just by arriving on a Sunday instead of a Friday or Saturday.

Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa
The Mirror Lake Inn has been family-owned since it was built in 1924. (Photo credit: Andrea Traynor,

Other properties — such as Hotel North Woods and the Hampton Inn — increase prices significantly during prime summer months when kids are out of school and when Lake Placid plays host to major events like the Ironman or annual Holiday Village Stroll.

If saving money on lodging is your priority, travel to Lake Placid off-peak or midweek to save the most.

Where to eat in Lake Placid

Lake Placid restaurants offer everything from inexpensive, on-the-go bagels to AAA four-diamond fine dining. Plan strategically and you don’t need to spend a fortune on food — even though you’ll be eating at some of the best restaurants in town.

For example, The View — rated the No. 1 restaurant in Lake Placid on TripAdvisor and so-named because of its incredible view of Mirror Lake — serves a mouth-watering breakfast in the Mirror Lake Inn, which is designated one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. You don’t need to be a hotel guest to dine at The View, and eating breakfast here instead of dinner will save you oodles of dough while still giving you the experience of eating at a four-diamond restaurant.

breakfast at The View
The breakfast sandwich at The View is a must. (Photo credit: Andrea Traynor,

Alternatively, skip a formal breakfast altogether and save money by popping into Soulshine Bagels for one of its multi-coloured bagels or Bluesberry Bakery for the apple strudel of a lifetime. You’ll spend less than $5 at each and be full until mid-afternoon.

Roll après-ski into dinner and dinner into a great night out by choosing local haunts that have a fun vibe and aren’t expensive tourist traps. Big Slide Brewery, Lisa G’s (with 60-cent wings on Mondays) and The Cottage are three great options where food is reasonably priced, the drinks won’t break the bank and fellow diners are likely to be social. The Cottage gets bonus points for its Prosecco on tap and Thursday’s crowd-pleasing Trivia Night.

Just keep in mind that if you stray beyond walking distance from your hotel for a night on the town, Lake Placid’s taxi and ride-share situation is, well, shockingly poor. You’ll need a designated driver if drinks are part of the plan. But look on the bright side: you don’t need to budget for cabs.

Things to do in Lake Placid this winter

“Ski the Face,” as they say. (Photo credit: Andrea Traynor,

Skiing at nearby Whiteface Mountain doesn’t have to be a financial drain. Plan ahead and buy your lift tickets online instead of at the window when you arrive and you can save as much as 50 percent off of listed rates.

Many people don’t realize that Whiteface’s lift ticket prices change nearly every day of the week online, and are always more expensive on weekends if you buy them onsite. If your plans are flexible and skiing or snowboarding is a big part of your visit, look at the online calendar first where some adult lift tickets can be found midweek for as little as US$49.

There’s also a program in place for lucky Ottawa residents, where CDN$94 will get them a lift ticket and return transportation to the mountain on select dates.

But you don’t have to spend much at all to be part of Lake Placid’s winter fun. Here are six free or inexpensive things to do in Lake Placid this winter:

1. Bring your ice skates and go for a spin around Mirror Lake. The ice is maintained by the city and is checked daily to ensure it’s safe.

ice skating on mirror lake
The author’s daughter enjoying Mirror Lake’s free skating trail. (Photo credit: Andrea Traynor,

2. Rent or bring your own snowshoes or X-country skis and putter around on Mirror Lake where ice skates can’t take you.

3. The Toboggan Chute is a reconstructed former ski jump that shoots passengers into the middle of Mirror Lake.

4. Cash-only movies at the historic Palace Theater, which is usually showing a few of the latest releases for less than the big theatres.

5. Kids six and under get a free Olympic passport, which features attractions like a ride on the Whiteface gondola, entrance to the Lake Placid Olympic Museum and an Olympic Sports Complex Tour — all of which are fantastic experiences.

6. Try a unique AirBnB Experience like candle-making at Pure Placid.

The author, far right, making an essential oil candle at Pure Placid. (Photo credit: ROOST)

Now get packing…the Adirondacks are calling.

Andrea Traynor

Andrea is the founder of award-winning lifestyle and travel site, where she helps inform and inspire discerning travellers.