If I’d ever lived anywhere that had a hard-core winter (lakes freezing over, lots of snow as a normal thing, etc.) then I might have learned how to do winter sports and outdoor activities, but alas, I’ve always been a moderate-climate gal.
However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate those places when I visit in winter. I know how to layer. I can find my gloves and scarves when required. My trusty Lands’ End stadium coat has kept me warm from Norway to Alberta.
A winter visit to northern New York state for an Adirondacks tourism conference gave me a brief opportunity one morning to explore the town of Lake Placid.
I gave a brief overview of my “perfect day” in this 40 second video:
Here’s what I’d recommend if you ever have a chance to visit this delightful town located in the enormous Adirondack Park….
Stay in town so that you can walk everywhere; I enjoyed my time at the family-owned independent Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort overlooking Mirror Lake.
Here was the view one afternoon from my room’s balcony:
If you like local products, there’s an active craft beer scene in the Adirondacks.
I worked my way through a flight of local brew one night, along with an excellent burger at the Generations restaurant next door to the Golden Arrow.
My favorite was Ubu Ale from Lake Placid Pub & Brewery.
Uncharacteristically, I bounced out of bed early on my last day in town so I could enjoy a leisurely breakfast on Main Street at friendly local joint The Breakfast Club, Etc.
Here’s my Apple, Sausage, and Brie rösti….
After breakfast I [waddled] down the street to learn about what made Lake Placid famous in the past, but is not necessarily a top draw for visitors today – hosting the Winter Olympics in both 1932 and 1980.
Amongst a bazillion young stick-and-skate-carrying kids in town for a hockey tournament, I entered the Olympic Center in the older part of the complex, used in the 1932 Games.
It had the same feel and smell as the 1930’s high school gym in my Mom’s small East Texas hometown; cozy, human-scaled, and heavy with decades of sports dreams.
I kept walking and found myself in the newer part of the complex, where a nice woman checking hockey tournament badges let me sneak into Herb Brooks Arena for just a moment, where I stood and looked around at the very place where it happened….the 1980 Olympics Miracle on Ice hockey game.
Do you believe in miracles? YES.
There’s a fantasy camp coming up, if you’re interested.
If I could stay upright on skates, I’d love to go!
Downstairs near Herb Brooks Arena is the small Lake Placid Olympic Museum. You can go through it in less than an hour, but I found myself wandering around slowly, reading every placard.
(Except the section on Olympic mascots. I have a thing about mascots – can’t stand ’em.)
Here’s a pair of Sonja Henie’s skates, right next to a red skating costume used by the (apparently quite tiny) silver medalist Linda Fratianne. I vividly remember watching Fratianne on TV in 1980, skating her long program.
There were a few displays about Olympic athletes and consumer product sponsorships. It felt really weird to see this ad featuring gold medal-winning skater Dorothy Hamill and a shampoo I remember buying in the 1970’s.
We ALL wanted her hair….
There’s a whole corner devoted to the Miracle on Ice game, but I was surprised by how much time I spent looking at a display of all of the outfits worn by the U.S. athletes for Winter Olympics opening ceremonies.
The early ones were all bulky shearling and boiled wool, then years of puffy coats, then more recently, lots of high-tech jacket fabrics. That super-loud and colorful 2014 Ralph Lauren patchwork sweater from Sochi is displayed, too.
I was also surprised by how much time I spent looking at the various Winter Olympics torches, carried by runners to light the Olympic flame in the various host countries.
They are sculptural works of art; quite beautiful and every year more imaginative since the first one from Berlin in 1936 that looks like a basic candle on steroids.
If you bring kids to the museum, they can play on winter sports practice gear like this….
Even if you don’t see yourself as an “outdoorsy” person or winter sports enthusiast, consider a visit to Lake Placid and the Adirondacks region.
Update: on a later visit to Lake Placid, I did learn how to snowshoe, so now I have a winter sport!
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