In mid-October John and I took a little road trip to the Adirondacks for my birthday. We decided to keep this trip somewhat local (the Adirondacks are only about 5 hours away), relaxed, and mostly unplanned in advance (we have a habit of planning the crap out of our travels and we want this trip to be a little more go-with-the-flow). The main goals were to see a lot of nice foliage, eat some good meals, and do one fun activity per day.
On Wednesday, my actual birthday, we packed up the car and headed west.
Right off the bat the foliage on the Mass Pike was insanely gorgeous. In fact, the foliage on the whole trip was exquisite. I’ve lived in New England my whole life and have never seen it this wonderful. Birthday luck?
Foliage is so dreamy. There’s so much life in how vibrant the trees are. It’s like the best last hurrah ever.
We crossed into New York around noon and continued on to Troy, NY.
Troy is an old industrial city that has sadly seen some decline since the recession. Downtown Troy is small but very quaint; the narrow streets and brick buildings always feel like home to me.
Of course the reason for a stop in Troy is to have lunch at Dinosaur BBQ! We’ve been to Dinosaur a half a dozen times (in many locations) and it’s always amazing (it’s an upstate NY barbecue mecca that you absolutely must try if you haven’t already). We got the Sweetheart Deal For Two which is a full rack of ribs, four sides, and cornbread. We were stuffed but it was a total birthday treat!
After lunch we headed due north and drove through some pretty idyllic New York towns. My favorite was Stillwater, NY.
The Revolutionary War-era Blockhouse in Stillwater was a really cool stop – we learned a little bit about life in the 18th century and enjoyed a lovely view of the Hudson River.
In the early afternoon we reached Saratoga National Historical Park. We were both really excited to check out this amazing place and national park we’d never visited before!
Saratoga National Historical Park was the site of the Battle of Saratoga in 1777, which was the first significant American victory in the Revolutionary War (Americans defeating the British, of course). The first view when approaching the Visitor’s Center is of the vast battlefield, it was breathtaking.
The Visitor’s Center houses the museum where we checked out their really cool exhibits and educational film about the Battle of Saratoga.
Also in the Visitor’s Center is a fiber optic map which is part of a 15 minute presentation illuminating (literally) the American and British movements that happened just outside during the Battle of Saratoga. You can watch the whole presentation on the park’s website, if you want!
After taking our time in the museum, we headed out to the “Battlefield Tour Road.” Saratoga National Historical Park has a 10 mile road that goes through the entire battlefield. There are about a dozen marked stops where you can get out of your car and check out key battle sites along the way.
The Tour Road was beautiful and educational!
Each stop along the Tour Road had informational placards and showed what the site looked like in 1777 versus today. The descriptions were great; you could really conjure a vivid image of the battle with just a little imagination.
When we were done at Saratoga National Historical Park, we hit the road and headed an hour and a half north to Lake George. Our final stop for the day was our hotel, The Erlowest in Lake George. No joke, this place was an actual castle! A turn of the century, granite castle to be exact.
The interior was just as beautiful as the exterior, with a grand staircase and gorgeous dining rooms.
The art was also pretty great; I love this high society dog painting.
Of course our room was beautiful as well with a huge tub and absurd amount of pillows on the bed (just the way I like it).
We arrived to prosecco and a cheese plate in our room with a personalized note. A very classy touch and the cheese was so yummy! We took the prosecco out to the balcony and toasted to my 32nd birthday!
It doesn’t get much better than wine and lake views, right?
It goes without saying that the rest of the Erlowest grounds were gorgeous too. The patio and fireplace area was made entirely of stone and had charming lake views.
We ended the night with a lovely dinner at a local restaurant, Le Roux Bistro, and then crashed.
On Thursday we were up early to enjoy our complimentary breakfast (made to order in the Erlowest restaurant) before leaving Lake George.
From Lake George we drove two hours north to Fort Ticonderoga for our first stop of the day!
Fort Ticonderoga was built on Lake Champlain in 1755 during the French & Indian War. It was significant in many military events, including the Revolutionary War.
The Fort is decked out with cannons and guns, both real and replicas.
The location contributed to the military importance of the Fort – between Lake George and Lake Champlain, and on many trade routes. The name “Ticonderoga” comes from an Iroquois word meaning “it is at the junction of two waterways.”
Aside from military strategy, the lakeside location also makes for gorgeous scenery. It was raining when we went and it was still one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.
The Fort entrance has a placard noting all of the important military personnel who have passed through it. Pretty cool.
The Fort has three barracks and four storehouses, a real leather workshop where they make all the shoes worn by the guides, and an impressive military museum.
One of my favorite small details at the Fort – this emo keyhole.
After several hours at the Fort, we got back on the road and headed for Lake Placid.
The drive was an hour and a half through the most gorgeous part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. The preserve is 2.6 million acres – the largest park, and largest national historic landmark, in the contiguous US.
During the drive we stopped about 20 minutes outside of Lake Placid in Keene, NY to stretch our legs. Downtown Keene had just a few shops but it was so quaint and just our style. We picked up some donuts, handmade soaps, and a few knickknacks.
In the late afternoon we arrived in Lake Placid, NY.
We first checked into our hotel, The Golden Arrow Resort, and then went exploring for a bit. Fun fact: All of the action in Lake Placid actually surrounds Mirror Lake, not Lake Placid!
For dinner we headed over to Liquids and Solids, a dive bar for locals, and had one of the best meals ever. The menu was inventive and unique, and the service was excellent. Totally unexpected but very impressive. John wanted to go again the next night but I vetoed – there are just too many great restaurants in Lake Placid!
The next morning, Friday, we slept in and lounged in the morning. We finally got up and headed to Chair 6 for breakfast around 10am. Ah, the leisurely pace of vacation! Our meal was great, best breakfast I’ve had in a while (sweet potato hash and over easy eggs) and definitely the best chai latte on earth.
Bellies full and ready for the day, we headed up to the Olympic Jumping Complex to check out the 120m and 90m ski jumps used in the 1932 and 1980 Olympics (they are also used year-round for ski jumpers in training).
The ski jumps were really cool to see up close and personal. The downhill is so steep!
We took the chair lift up to the top to check out the view and get a closer look.
The ski jumps looks so different in person than on TV or in photographs. John and I kept saying we could not possibly imagine jumping off one of these. On skis, no less. It’s unreal.
The views of surrounding Essex County were pretty incredible up at the ski jumps. It was overcast but we could still see everything around us.
I worked a little Photoshop magic for this one…
Also at the Ski Jumping Complex is the Aerial Training Center where freestyle ski jumpers and snowboarders can train off the slopes in a 750,000 gallon pool.
Afterward we checked out Olympic Center just down the road, which houses the Herb Brooks Arena, Olympic Museum, and Olympic Training Center.
It was really cool to see the Herb Brooks Arena, where the 1980 Olympics ‘Miracle On Ice‘ men’s hockey game happened. The rink was so small, I couldn’t get over it! A lot of spirit in there though, you could feel it.
The Lake Placid Olympic Museum was great – they have a ton of Olympic Games exhibits, displays, medals, and artifacts on display from 1895 to the present. It is a really wonderful collection.
One highlight of the museum was the torch collection. They had one from each Olympics dating back to the 1970s.
The 1980 US Men’s Hockey Team display was also another highlight. They had equipment, photographs, uniforms, medals, and never before seen footage of the Miracle on Ice game. We had a great time in this museum!
After the Olympic Complex, we got some lunch and headed to Downtown Lake Placid. We walked along the waterfront, checked out all the shops, and took in the sights.
Downtown Lake Placid is really charming. The shops were adorable and fun, the views of the lake were pretty, and the vibe was really laid back. It was a very relaxing afternoon!
That night we had a fantastic dinner downtown at Smoke Signals and then headed back to the hotel to get ready to head home the next day.
On Saturday morning we checked out and began the long drive home. It was raining like crazy and we decided to take the scenic drive back to Mass. through Vermont. We also drove slow and stopped a few times so getting halfway home took 5 hours.
We did randomly stumble upon the New England Maple Museum in Pittsford, Vermont so of course we had to stop.
The museum had an awesomely retro interactive museum about the maple syrup making process. It was informative and hilariously old school.
On our way out we made sure to stock up on pure Vermont maple syrup, like you do. As we got back on the road the skies finally began to clear and we could enjoy the drive and the foliage again.
After another hour of southbound driving we stopped at one of our favorite places in Vermont, the Simon Pearce workshop, store, and restaurant!
While we were waiting for our table for lunch, we checked out the glass blowing studio, as we always do, and their new wood carving workshop. I’m always so amazed at the craftsmanship here at Simon Pearce; it is truly one of a kind.
We also strolled through the store and picked up a few new dishes to match the set we’ve been working on for the last few years. We get a few pieces each time we visit and it’s become an awesome tradition!
Finally we got seated for lunch, at a great table overlooking the water, and enjoyed a delicious meal.
Here’s John, excited about our new dishes. I should mention that as I took this picture an older couple drove by an audibly laughed out their window when they saw this happening. Haha!
Just down the street from Simon Pearce, we made our final stop before getting home – to the Cabot Creamery Store where we stocked up on cheese!
Our mini road trip was exactly what I wanted to do this year for my birthday – enjoy the best parts of Fall with my hubs, explore new places and revisit some of our old New England favorites, slow down, and relax. I couldn’t have asked for anything better!
I love your (road) trip recaps. What an awesome trip! It looks gorgeous. I’ve only been to Saratoga once for a brief work trip, but it would be nice to have more time to explore. Adding it to my places to visit!
Thank you! Yes, a must visit – there’s definitely enough to do for a long weekend, at minimum. And beautiful to boot!