LAKE PLACID: Over the course of many years my family and I passed the exit leading to Lake Placid, New York off Highway 87 and wondered when we would actually visit the former Olympic Village. Well, over the recent holidays that opportunity finally arrived.

On our way back from New York City, Lake Placid (www.lakeplacid.com) was added to our itinerary and I can now strongly recommend others do the same. This is a four season destination. We got a taste of the winter experience and now we are tempted to go back in the heat of the summer.

The area boasts a world-class array of trails for skiing and riding. For those readers already looking for good March Break options, pencil in Lake Placid. You will be able to slide down the toboggan chute on frozen Mirror Lake, go ice skating, take an invigorating dog sled ride, and revel in the beauty of the Adirondack wilderness by snowmobiling, cross-country skiing or ice climbing.

There is also the option of exploring the endless Adirondack snowshoeing trails to see the forest from a whole new perspective.

Lake Placid was the proud host of the 1932 and 1980 winter Olympic Games. In all of the four seasons, this celebrated history can be experienced with a full range of activities from ORDA – the Olympic Regional Development Authority (http://www.orda.org/corporate). Make sure to purchase the Olympic Sites Passport, which gives you access to every one of the Olympic venues—from Whiteface to the Olympic Sports Complex and everything in between. Sold for $29 at the ORDA Store and all of their ticket offices, the passport saves you time, money, and gets you into the venues at a good value.

For sports fans, be sure to check out the Olympic facilities, including the Lake Placid Olympic Museum and the various sports venues such as the hockey arena, home to the 1980 “Miracle on Ice.” I spent considerable time at these two venues, soaking in the history.

If you’re seeking an adrenaline rush, take a ride on the bobsled run (a family member did so with great joy) or ski or ride down the highest vertical drop in the East at Whiteface Mountain. As America’s very first winter resort, Lake Placid has skiing and riding covered. Whiteface, the only ski area in the East to have hosted the Olympic Games, boasts the highest vertical drop east of the Rockies with terrain for any skill level. The mountain’s 86 trails are serviced by high speed lifts and the Cloudsplitter Gondola – and with terrain parks, slides, glades and miles of groomed runs, you’re sure to find something that suits you. Whiteface is open generally from the very end of November until the middle of April. There is now a tubing run in place. Also take note of the Lake Placid Toboggan Chute (www.northelba.org/html/toboggan_chute_.html) and the chairlift and glass enclosed elevator to the observation deck of the 120K jump.

Lake Placid has a thriving arts community while shopping down Main Street is a blast, with some outstanding outlets such as Gap and Van Heusen.

We stayed at the Northwoods Inn (www.northwoodsinn.com), situated right on Main Street, a short walk to the Olympic Arena and Oval, a public beach, numerous restaurants, a movie theatre and quaint shops of Lake Placid. The hotel offers a sidewalk café, two restaurants and “The Cabin,” a warm and cozy fireplace bar overlooking Main Street. There is complimentary onsite parking and WiFi. The Inn was purchased by the Smith family five years ago. Gary Smith has handed the day-to-day operations to his son Garrett, who as innkeeper spends a lot of time mixing with guests and getting their feedback. He is working hard at rebuilding the property.

For dinner I recommend Milano North (www.milanonorth.com), just a few doors down from the Inn. Modeled on its Albany cousin, this 110 seat, Northern Italian bistro features a dynamic open kitchen design, wood-fired oven pizzas, freshly-prepared homemade pastas and entrees using only the finest of ingredients. Milano North offers a warm and contemporary Adirondack ambience. We absolutely loved our meals: a piping hot and delicious tomato soup, delicious salads and beautifully prepared entrees of grilled scallops, the best veal parmesan I can remember having (with some linguini on the side) and a grilled shrimp dish with fettuccini.

The restaurant offers a nice second floor view of the charming downtown. You can also catch your favorite game at the bar in its relaxed and inviting atmosphere. Head Chef Ryan Preston oversees a very impressive menu and general manager David McKenty greets everyone with a smile and some Lake Placid trivia.

Lake Placid is less than three hours from Montreal.

Mike Cohen’s email address is info@mikecohen.ca.
Log on to his travel advice column www.sandboxworld.com/travel .

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