In June of 2021, we planned a Lake Placid family vacation with our baby and 4.5 year old. I’d recently been looking for lake trips and I figured a Lake Placid family vacation was exactly what we were looking for. We live in northern New Jersey so doing a 4.5 hour road trip with a baby felt doable.
Other than our hotel stay and reservations at two restaurants, our trip to Lake Placid with a baby (and our older daughter) wasn’t particularly pre-planned. Like other trips we’ve taken, I had prepared a list of places to go and potential things to see in Lake Placid.
I’ve learned that when traveling with a baby or toddler, it is best to approach activities based on how everyone is feeling and of course the weather.
Lake Placid with a Baby or Toddler – Table of Contents
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Where to Stay in Lake Placid with a Baby
Given our youngest was newly 1 year old, I wanted to make sure our baby-friendly hotel in Lake Placid was perfect in case of bad weather. I combed through different forums and travel pages for suggestions and thankfully landed on Golden Arrow Resort.
Quite frankly, I think this hotel has the best location in downtown Lake Placid. It is situated on Main Street and has a large property facing beautiful Mirror Lake. There are several other hotels in town but in my opinion, it didn’t look like they offered as much private lake front as the Golden Arrow.
We stayed in their Morningside Suite which was probably a bit bigger than we needed, but I was thankful for the kitchenette and extra bedroom. The hotel website has an accurate description of the room including a layout of the room.
From the hotel lobby it’s a bit of a maze to get to this room but we learned there is direct access to it from the Alpine Mall, which is how we got to our room daily. Access through the Alpine Mall could be viewed as odd by some travelers but I found this to be one of the best features since we didn’t have to go in an elevator multiple times a day or walk through the hotel. Another bonus was we were right next to a coffee shop, which we found to have really good drinks.
Golden Arrow employees were all courteous, friendly and helpful. They offer several family friendly amenities so families can take full advantage of Mirror Lake, including kayaks, row and paddle boats, and stand up paddle boards. There is a swimming area and two docks with plenty of beach chairs.
While we didn’t use them, there are two fire pits where we saw several families roast marshmallows at night. If you decide to stay here, bring supplies for s’mores! The hotel does not include breakfast but attached to it is the restaurant Generations. I saw a lot of families with dogs too so if you are a family who would want to bring their dog, Golden Arrow may be the perfect spot for you.
Getting Around Lake Placid with a Baby
With needing so much baby travel gear, we drove to Lake Placid from our New Jersey home. Thankfully we have such a wonderful place to travel in the US with a baby or toddler that’s within driving distance. It was an easy drive and thankfully we didn’t experience any traffic at all. On our way we stopped in Saratoga, NY for lunch since that was the perfect halfway point for us.
When in town, we mainly kept our car at the hotel and walked around using our Bob jogging stroller for my youngest.
Things to do in Lake Placid with a Baby or Toddler
We covered a lot of ground in the 3 full days we were visiting Lake Placid with kids. Here’s is how we spend our time in Lake Placid with a baby.
After we arrived at Golden Arrow and unpacked, we were all eager to explore the hotel property. Due to the weather forecast for the upcoming days we knew that our first afternoon would be the best time visit the lake. To our surprise our baby LOVED the water and probably would have kept going into the lake had I not stopped her.
Don’t forget all your baby beach essentials!
We played in the sand for a bit and also checked out their indoor pool for a short while. There is a small “snack shack” outside that is staffed and I saw one couple get food delivered to them at their beach chairs from Generations.
We tried one of the hotel’s row boats on the lake on our second day in Lake Placid. Unfortunately, our baby didn’t love the life jacket so we weren’t out there very long but I was thankful that we at least tried a family boat ride in Lake Placid!
We liked that we had this easy family friendly Lake Placid activity right from our hotel. On our last afternoon in the area, we took it easy so after lunch we came back to our hotel. My husband and older daughter went out on one of Golden Arrow’s row boats while I did a walk along Mirror Lake with my youngest.
While we didn’t rent a boat for Lake Placid, it is another option. While we didn’t do this, our hotel recommended Placid Boat Rentals (located between Lake Placid and Mirror Lake giving people the option of which lake), Mirror Lake Boat Rentals and Captain Marneys Boat Rentals.
Lake Placid held the 1932 and the 1980 Olympic Winter Games. After breakfast on our first full day, we walked to the Olympic Center. Sadly during our stay most of downtown Lake Placid was under construction, including the Olympic Center. Due to the construction, we weren’t able to see the 1980 or 1932 rinks.
That aside, we spoke with the woman at the visitors center who gave us a schedule of local events taking place at the different Olympic Sites. The schedule given to us was particularly helpful since the next day we’d have the chance to see the US bobsled team practice at Mount Van Hoevenberg (Mt. HVN).
Wild Center is an interactive learning museum about the Adirondack Mountains that was formerly known as the Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks.
Wild Center is located in Tupper Lake, which was about a 40-minute drive. My research suggested that we bring food for a picnic, since food options around there are limited. We placed an online order from Big Mountain Deli and Creperie and by the time we had packed our car to go the sandwiches were ready to be picked up.
Heading to the Wild Center brings you out of Lake Placid and through Saranac Lake. If you decide to visit here, please check their website because at the time of our visit reservations were required.
Upon arrival we parked at the far end of the property near the Wild Walk entrance and had our lunch there. The Wild Walk takes you up a series of bridges to the top of the trees. For the walk, I carried the baby in a baby carrier and my oldest decided she wanted to go in our Bob stroller.
While the Wild Walk is very much do-able with a stroller, certain parts are only accessible via stairs so please keep that in mind or bring a lightweight travel stroller.
Unfortunately, due to current restrictions and bad weather rolling in, we didn’t get to spend much time in the visitor center.
Mount Van Hoevenberg (Mt. HVN)
Thanks to the schedule we had received at the Olympic Center, we drove to Mt. HVN to check out the bobsled team practice. The complex is large but unfortunately for us the run wasn’t operating that day.
Once indoors, you will want to head upstairs to the 3rd floor where you’ll see two viewing areas of the indoor track. Because we were there on a practice day (ask the Visitor Center for their schedule), we got to see some of the men’s team go up and down the track.
On our way out, we were lucky enough to run into one of the female team members who kindly answered a lot of questions about the sport and future opportunities like the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
High Falls Gorge
After our visit to Mount Van Hoevenberg, we still had time to visit High Falls Gorge. Once there, you have two hiking options. The first allows you to see the waterfalls and it is a half mile (~45 minute) roundtrip walk along the gorge. Around the gorge are bridges, walkways and groomed paths so it’s a relatively easy path for most. We managed to have the youngest in the baby carrier and our oldest walked along with us.
They also offer an additional, one mile beginner/intermediate separate nature trail. We did this as well but be prepared for steep inclines and uneven surfaces, so you definitely want to have sneakers or closed toed shoes on.
Lastly, there’s a gift shop and café and there we had my oldest (who loves rocks) choose a geode to crush.
Other Lake Placid Hiking
While reading a local tourist guide about hiking options, I read about the Peninsula Trails. The Peninsula Trails are a hike that was family friendly and would bring you near Lake Placid. To me this was one of the most beautiful spots we saw when in Lake Placid so I highly recommend you consider this walk!
To access the Peninsula Trails, you turn onto Peninsula Way Road which is right next to the entrance to the hotel Quality Inn on Lake Placid or type in 114 Peninsula Way, Lake Placid, NY 12946 into your GPS. Follow the road for a short while and you’ll see trail parking when you curve left.
The walk was manageable for our 4.5 year old but for any babies, you either have to wear them in a baby carrier or use an off-road stroller. We used our Bob stroller and it was fine but definitely expect a bumpy ride with tree roots and rocks. A hiking backpack carrier for babies or toddlers would have been a better choice for this hike.
There are different trails/loops once you enter but we followed the signs for the Lake Placid outlet and it was incredible. I had no idea what to expect but being so close to the lake without being in a boat was a pleasant surprise. We easily spent at least 30 minutes just taking in the sites around here and could have walked further after crossing a bridge next to the Lake Placid dam.
Looking for more kid-friendly hiking trails? Check out the best toddler and baby-friendly hikes in the USA or the best baby and toddler hikes around the world.
Lake Placid Farmers Market & Picnic
After we got back to our car there happen be a farmer’s market nearby so we checked that out and enjoyed some of the activities they set up for kids. It was approaching lunch time so we got food from the market, Green Goddess Natural Foods and the Mini Euromart for a picnic. For our picnic we drove towards Lake Saranac and found a random spot to eat outside.
Family Friendly Restaurants in Lake Placid
Down the hill from Golden Arrow. We were told it wasn’t walkable to the restaurant but I think we could have. Enjoy the view and check out the playground around the corner!
Eating at Smoke Signals is a MUST in Lake Placid. We enjoyed it so much we went there twice also bought a bottle of their barbeque sauce to take home with us.
They have a kids menu too but the BBQ nachos is easily an appetizer for two adults and a meal for the little ones it was so big!
Visit their website to check if reservations are still required.
Emma’s Lake Placid Creamery
Stopping by Emma’s Lake Placid Creamery was our nightly tradition of getting dessert while in Lake Placid.
Big Mountain Deli and Creperie
When we were in town they were only offering items to go. If you decide to visit the Wild Center, grab food here first and pack yourself a picnic!
Big Slide Brewery
There is plenty of kid friendly space indoors and while we didn’t sit outside, there was a lot of outdoor seating available.
Our trip started with breakfast at Generations, the restaurant next door to our hotel. We were able to sit outside and do a bit of people watching since their deck faces Main Street.
What to Pack for Lake Placid with a Baby
- Off Road Stroller
- Baby Carrier for Hiking
- Hiking Backpack Carrier
- Cooler for picnics
- Travel High Chair like the Inglesina Fast Table Chair
If you plan to spend more time on the beach, consider these toddler beach essentials (depending on the age of your little one).
If you’ll be hiking with a baby or toddler, we have all the best tips on hiking with a baby or these toddler hiking essentials.
Final Thoughts on a Lake Placid Family Vacation
I don’t often say that I would return to a spot but I definitely would go back to Lake Placid again but when my girls are older. Given their ages we weren’t able to fully take advantage of all the water activities at Mirror Lake. Plus I think in a couple years they’d be interested in the Olympic Sites, especially the bobsled run!