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8 Picturesque Small Towns in The Adirondack Mountains for a Weekend Retreat

by Staff

New York City tends to dominate most discussions about New York, but the state also hides a hidden treasure: the Adirondack Mountains. This mountain range, which likely comes from the Mohawk word for “eaters of trees,” contains more than 100 peaks in Northeastern New York. It also features the highest peak in New York: Mount Marcy. This region includes many picturesque small towns perfect for a relaxing weekend retreat. Here are eight small towns to visit.

Wilmington

Scenic view of the walking trail on Hardy Road in Wilmington, New York, surrounded by lush vegetation and tall trees.

With a population of 772 people, the charming historic community of Wilmington, located in the Whiteface region of the Adirondack Mountains, prides itself on being a relaxing tourist destination. For one, it is the home of the Whiteface Mountains, which held the 1980 Olympic downhill ski race. A total of 62% of the town is State Forest Preserve, which provides hiking, mountain biking, skiing, and other activities. Visitors can also go trout fishing on the west branch of the AuSable River or try out local trout at the Hungry Trout Restaurant at the Hungry Trout Resort. There are plenty of local shops to check out in the town as well, such as Adirondack Chocolates, Ausable River Two Fly Shop, and Unicorn Square. The town also has a rich 200-year history, which you can learn more about on the town’s Historical Walking Tour. 

Saranac Lake

Vibrant aerial view of Saranac Lake, New York, nestled in the Adirondack Mountains during the fall season.

Vibrant aerial view of Saranac Lake, New York, nestled in the Adirondack Mountains during the fall season.


Located in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains, Saranac Lake prides itself on its outdoor activities, especially its cross-country ski routes at Mt. Pisgah Recreation Center. This beautiful Adirondack Mountain town has many hiking trails, such as Ampersand Mountain, St. Regis Mountain, and the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest. Learn about the loon birds at the Adirondack Loon Center or take a ride on the Adirondack Carousel in town. As a retreat destination, Saranac Lake has many cottages you can rent, such as Mallard Hill Cottages. The area also has many local cafes, such as Bitters & Bones Breakfast and Origin Coffee. You can also visit the Saranac Laboratory Museum or the Adirondack Artists Guild Gallery for a day of relaxation after hiking.

Lake Placid

Main Street in Lake Placid, New York, USA, serves as the heart of the downtown area.
Main Street in Lake Placid, New York, USA. Editorial credit: Karlsson Photo / Shutterstock.com

 With a population of 2,200 people, Lake Placid provides hospitality in the mountains with many picturesque locations to visit, such as the historic Olympic Oval, where Eric Heiden won five Olympic gold medals during the 1980 Olympics. The true beauty of Lake Placid is Mirror Lake, a marvelous spot for walking, running, swimming, fishing, ice skating, and hockey. Lake Placid also offers rock climbing and cycling across the mountains. Go snowshoeing at the Jackrabbit Trail or the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Complex. For accommodations, consider staying at the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort.

Old Forge

Shops and businesses line Route 28 in the picturesque Adirondack town of Old Forge, New York, USA, during the summer season.
Route 28 in the Adirondack town of Old Forge, New York, USA. Editorial credit: debra millet / Shutterstock.com

Known as the Adirondack Base Camp, Old Forge is the perfect place to begin your adventure in the mountains. With a population of just 606 people, this hamlet of the town of Webb is the ideal stop on your journey through the mountains. Sitting in the center of the Adirondack Mountains, it provides beautiful views and places to visit. Go skiing or hiking at McCauley Mountain or take a chairlift up the mountain. Explore the woods in the Adirondack Railroad or go for a cruise along the Stillwater Reservoir on the Norridgewock Tour Boat. Consider checking out the nearby Wild Center as well, an 81-acre attraction with a series of bridges and platforms that go over the mountains. There are many lodges in the area you can stay in, including the Adirondack Lodge, Old Forge, and Black Bear Lodge. 

Lake George

Autumnal foliage blankets the shores of Lake George as the sun sets, captured from aerial perspectives by a drone.
Autumnal foliage blankets the shores of Lake George as the sun sets.

With a population of 3,400, Lake George hides a stunning location in the mountains, Shelving Rock Summit, the site of a gorgeous natural waterfall. Named after the lake itself, the town is an ideal spot for a relaxing day in the water. It is also near to the canyons of the mountains: The Ausable Chasm. The community is home to many scenic mountains, including Gore Mountain, which features 115 skiing trails during the winter. Visit the Garnet Hill Outdoor Center for biking, paddling, skiing, and snowshoeing. Lake George also houses the Fort William Henry Historical Fortress & Museum and the House of Frankenstein Wax Museum. The area also offers many farmhouses and lakeside houses for rent for an ideal retreat. 

Keene

Aerial view capturing the peak fall foliage in Keene, New York, located in upstate New York.

Aerial view capturing the peak fall foliage in Keene, New York, located in upstate New York.


First established in 1808, Keene is home to just over 1,000 people and contains the highest peak in New York: Mount Marcy, one of the best mountains to hike in the Adirondack Mountains. It is a place of outstanding natural beauty as it includes the hamlet of Kenne Valley and 15 out of the 46 highest peaks in the Adirondack Mountains, along with Ausable Lakes. It is close to Hulls Falls Road, an excellent spot for birdwatching for native birds of the region, such as the Belted Kingfishers. Consider staying at the Johns Brook Lodge, located within the town’s borders and home to the Adirondack Mountain Club.

Lake Pleasant

Sunset at Hamlet of Lake Pleasant in fall, Adirondack, NY.
Sunset at Hamlet of Lake Pleasant in fall, Adirondack, NY.

First founded in 1795, this town contains the village of Speculator, which offers a Mini Route 66, a replica of Route 66. It is a place that is filled to the brim with beautiful water landmarks, such as the West Canada Lake Wilderness Area, Silver Lake Wilderness Area, and Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area. In Speculator, you can visit the Sacandaga River Community Park, which offers a handicapped-accessible walk through a wetlands area. The Lake Pleasant Lodge, WatersEdge Cottages, or Bearhurst Lakeside Cottages are all available for rent for your retreat.

Ticonderoga

Aerial view of Fort Ticonderoga on Lake George in upstate New York, showcasing its revolutionary war-era architecture including four bastions, demi lune, ravelin, covered way, and glacis.
Aerial view of Fort Ticonderoga on Lake George in upstate New York.

Ticonderoga is the home of two lakes, Lake Champlain and Lake George, known as the “Queen of American Lakes.” The best spot to visit this lake is at Ticonderoga’s Black Point Public Beach, which offers a great view of Roer’s Rock. The town is picturesque not just for its lakes but also for its historic locations, such as the self-named Fort Ticonderoga, an 18th-century fort that played a crucial role in the early years of the American Revolution. It is also an excellent spot to explore waterfalls, as the La Chute River Trail leads hikers to the La Chute Waterfalls. For a great hike, check out the Cook Mountain trail, which offers a view of Lake George’s northern end. For lodging, consider the Lake Bomoseen Lodge or Trout House Village Resort.

Discover Serenity in the Adirondacks

The Adirondack Mountains provide great views and experiences, and there are a myriad of small towns to choose from to stay at while you are on a mountain retreat. These towns offer cozy accommodations, equipment rentals for skiing, boating, or biking, and great jumping-off points to explore high peaks and beautiful lakes. The next time you plan a retreat in the Adirondack Mountains, no matter the season, consider these towns for your destination. 

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