More to Lake Placid than its Olympic heritage

When the opportunity to visit Lake Placid, New York, came up, I jumped at it. Well, I squealed a little out of excitement, and then jumped at it, much like some young children would when told they will be going to Disney World. What could warrant such a reaction from a soon-to-be-forty-year-old mother?

HOCKEY. That’s what.

Some of you may be too young to remember. Some of you probably don’t even care. But Lake Placid was the site of arguably one of the greatest moments in American sports history. I’m talking, “Do you believe in miracles?”

Lake Placid hosted the 1980 Winter Olympics. It was the second time the honor was bestowed upon the town nestled in the Adirondack Mountains, the first time being in 1932. But in 1980, a team of unknown American college hockey players was assembled and put on the ice to face off against the world’s best. I was barely six years old at the time but I remember words like “Russia” making me feel uneasy, even scared. So when the U.S. men’s hockey team was set to play against the Russian team in the medal round and, ultimately, to decide which country got to play for Olympic gold, the off-ice implications did not escape me. We were still in the midst of the Cold War and the Soviet Union was enemy #1.


I remember the game. I remember hating that team in the red uniforms. I remember jumping up and down when it was over as Al Michaels exclaimed, “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” It has stayed with me throughout my life and no doubt has fueled my deep passion for the game of hockey, as well as my patriotism. Because of that hockey game in 1980, Lake Placid already was a special place to me. I’d always hoped I’d have the chance to visit one day.

On the ice at Herb Brooks Arena

On the ice at Herb Brooks Arena

That day came – it was a whole weekend, actually – and I got to visit the Olympic sites and museums and even skate on the same ice where that historic game was played back in 1980. But you know what was even more amazing? I learned there is so much more to Lake Placid than its Olympic heritage. Unrivaled outdoor recreation opportunities are at the top of that list, thanks to the town being situated in the middle of the Adirondacks. Unfortunately, the weather did not allow us to have the winter sports adventures we’d hoped to (ice climbing in driving rain probably isn’t a good idea), but the potential for outdoor adventures was apparent. I hear the fly fishing is spectacular, too (I’ll be making a subsequent visit to verify that claim). There are incredible dining options, with a major focus on using local products, from grass-fed bison to maple syrup; choices for family accommodations ranging from rustic cabins to luxurious resorts; and, what I appreciated most, that overall laid-back, mountain-town kind of vibe, similar to what I have experienced in the Rockies.

Lake Placid, you are pretty miraculous, and I cannot wait to return.

My visit to Lake Placid was sponsored by the Lake Placid CVB and its partners. As always, my thoughts and opinions are my own, and I’m pretty sure I’d have felt the same way if I’d visited on my own.

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14 Responses to More to Lake Placid than its Olympic heritage

  1. Amber Degrace January 21, 2014 at 6:21 am #

    It sounds wonderful! Although I’m not into watching sports, I do enjoy outdoor activities as long as it doesn’t cut into my foodie time too long. 🙂 We have family in the Lake Placid area and they love living up there. I must visit!

  2. Lance | Trips By Lance January 21, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

    Bison and maple syrup, that’s enough to have me excited. I really didn’t start paying attention to the Olympics until 1984 but as a big sports fan I’m well aware of what Lake Placid means. I would love to visit the region. I’ve never been to Upstate New York. This sounds like a great winter or summer destination.

  3. Laura January 21, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

    I’ve always wanted to go there…I’d love to go when you go back and go fly fishing!

  4. Traveling Ted January 21, 2014 at 7:32 pm #

    I have never been a big hockey fan, but I watched every magical game during that memorable Olympics. What a fun team to watch. Incredible how a bunch of amateurs bonded into such a good team. I would love to step on that ice as well and do some cross-country skiing.

  5. Leah January 22, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

    I’m not a hockey fan, but as you know, I’m a huge sports fan. I would totally be in awe, too. I’m so happy you got to experience this. Such a cool thing!

  6. Raul (@ilivetotravel) January 22, 2014 at 7:35 pm #

    Lake Placid is indeed a great town and the Adirondacks just beautiful!

  7. Erin at The World Wanderer January 22, 2014 at 8:00 pm #

    Best. Weekend. Ever. #deadsea

    Okay, but seriously, I have been to LP three times in the last year, and I am so glad you were able to experience what I love so much about the town. It is so special. xx

  8. JPB January 22, 2014 at 9:24 pm #

    Lake Placid is a great day trip if you happen to be in the Lake George/Bolton Landing/Gore Mtn area in the summertime or winter time. I highly recommend visiting the biathlon course. My kids loved trying their hand at the rifle range.

  9. craig zabransky (@StayAdventurous) January 23, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

    Standing on the ice (can I call what I did ice skating) was a dream come true. Definitely a magical moment and a magical place… Happy to have shared it with such a Hockey Fan too. And I hear you on the fly fishing …

    I am glad you finally had a chance to visit New York… #iloveny

    Stay USA, Craig

  10. Karl January 24, 2014 at 12:28 pm #

    I knew that was you in Rauls post :). Great article the both of you.
    Although I remember it, the miracle on ice is a stand out sporting moment in US history. Like all classics, to be enjoyed by all

  11. lola January 26, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

    so so sad i missed this trip! the food scene sounds amazing and i’d definitely be into the hockey heritage for sure, having worked for the NHL at one point!!

  12. D.J. - The World of Deej January 28, 2014 at 5:28 pm #

    I’m a bit of an Olympics junkie, so this would be right up my alley. Too bad the weather didn’t cooperate, but I guess that’s a good reason to go back:)

  13. Pola (Jetting Around) January 30, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

    As a sports fan, I can understand what the trip meant to you. And thanks to this post, I learned something about the American sports history that I was unaware of. Lake Placid was never on my radar, but I see its appeal now – especially the mountainous setting and local food. It looks like a nice weekend getaway spot.


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