By Charlene S. Mixa
Mountains, Lakes and Activities Beckon Travelers
The year-round beauty of the mountains and lakes of upstate New York’s Lake George area make it a favorite anytime of year vacation destination. Boasting crystal-clear waters along the southern Adirondack Mountains the area offers an extensive calendar of events, a diverse selection of shops, fabulous accommodations and numerous quaint towns. The Village of Lake George has the excitement of historic forts, sandy beaches, a clear-water lake, fun attractions and cruise boats. As Route 9 takes us through the middle of the Village of Lake George, it is alive and bustling with families browsing the numerous shops, relaxing in the park or taking in an attraction.
Location, location, location is prominent at the Fort William Henry Hotel and Conference Center. Poised on a bluff at the south end of Lake George, the view is spectacular. We see the islands of Lake George and the surrounding Adirondack mountains, plus the village, the lake, the fort, the beaches, the docks and the parks are all within walking distance! The resort offers Adirondack accommodations on an 18-acre estate that even includes the historic Fort William Henry. Our king suite is roomy with a corner gas fireplace and the large bath even has a separate shower and bath tub. In the dining area is a long table with six chairs, a wet bar with both a refrigerator and microwave. This is great for our in-room morning breakfasts. From our fifth floor picture window we have a “world-class” view of Lake George.
Exiting the hotel from the back we have an unobstructed 180-degree plus view of Lake George as it stretches into the horizon. On the street level, we walk east to the popular “Million Dollar Beach.” The beach is packed with families on this sunny afternoon. A state-run beach, admission is “free”. Yes, it does have a $1,000,000 view and brags on having the most “sand” of all the Lake George beaches. Heading west we pass Steamboats leaving the dock for water excursions, boaters out for a fun afternoon and Para sailors gliding above the blue lake. Sitting on a dock, I dip my feet in the refreshing, cool water. What fish are found in Lake George? Just read the sidewalk with sketches of fish and their names such as small mouth bass and perch. Several restaurants and eateries are available along the roadside as we approach the end of the sidewalk.
In the Village, we find a variety of shopping venues from tourist oriented stores to more sophisticated boutiques. A plethora of eateries from upscale to family restaurants, taverns, cafes and of course the ever popular ice cream parlors line the street. A true family destination there is plenty for adults and kids alike with some really cute “kid-friendly” attractions and dining options. At the Adirondack Winery we are quickly greeted for a wine tasting. As we sample the various wines with the complimentary cheese, we learn that it is actually a micro-brewery. Chatting with the owner, Sasha Pardy, she explains they source their grapes from various vineyards, primarily in California. We’re intrigued as Sasha shares how she and her husband got into the wine business in Lake George. With their entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen, they now feature 30+ hand-crafted wines from whites to reds and dry to sweet. They have several award-winning wines, too! With our wine purchases, we continue shopping before heading back to the hotel.
This afternoon Lake George is crystal-clear and so is the azure blue sky. We’re off to Prospect Point with its 100-mile view from a 2,021’ summit. A short drive to the entrance of Prospect Point, we drive the 5 ½ mile highway to the parking lot. Boarding the “viewmobile,” a continuous running shuttle, it takes us to the summit. Fantastic! We have a 360-degree gorgeous panoramic vista of Vermont’s Green Mountains, New Hampshire’s White Mountains, and New York’s Adirondack High Peaks. Atop Prospect Point, Lake George dazzles with the Black Forest Range forming a dramatic backdrop. Climbing around the summit we find remains of the world’s largest cable railroad and the fireplace of once-thriving Prospect Mt. Hotel. On the walk back to the parking lot, we have more stunning views, especially of the Adirondacks to the west. Incredible scenery and a magnificent way to “see” the Lake George area!
Dinner is at the famous Boardwalk Restaurant and Marina in Lake George Village, the closest restaurant to the lake. Offering downstairs dining with a full dinner menu and the open-air upstairs deck with a lighter fare, we pick the downstairs option with its great view and great food. Having had a big lunch, we select Boardwalk “House’ Salad with grilled shrimp and Beer Battered Fried Cod with fries with a creamy coleslaw. The Manager stops by for a chat and invites us out on the new Boathouse Deck that extends over the Lake. On the large deck, he shows us a vantage point near the deck, where the French battled the British at Fort William Henry. An old tree fell recently and they hired a company to remove it. Trying to cut up the tree the company broke over five saw blades. The tree was full of chains, bullets and cannon balls from these earlier bombardments. Every Thursday night in July and August is fireworks over Lake George. From the dock we have an excellent view of the spectacular fireworks extravaganza. The event draws huge crowds on land and by boat.
Our second day is spent exploring quaint towns close of Glen Falls and Lake Lucerne (see separate article on this towns.) After a full day of visiting these village, it is a leisurely drive to the Village of Lake George. We enjoy some relaxation time before walking to SJ Garcia’s for a spicy Mexican dinner. The colorful tables and chairs in bright reds, blues, greens and yellow matches the festive décor with the zesty tastes of fish tacos and an extraordinary Mexican Casserole. SJ Garcia’s features a Tequila Bar with 90 different tequilas. One is 68 years old and $60.00 a shot!
Back at Fort William Henry, we line up for the opening night of the Outdoor Drama, “The Last of the Mohicans. Inside the Fort, the actual setting of the original story, the stage is set take us back in time. Beneath a canopy of stars the story unfolds of the three trappers protecting a British Colonel’s daughters in the midst of the French and Indian War. Fort William Henry and the characters come alive with the crackling muskets and the roar of canons. An excellent theatrical production of James Finnemore Cooper’s timeless novel.
In the morning we take a leisurely stroll along picturesque Lake George and the Village. Before leaving Lake George we stop for lunch at the Adirondack Brew Pub for some great burgers. The entrepreneurial spirit is seen here also as the owner John Carr welcomes us. Another intriguing story of how he “happened” into the microbrewery business. He also owns the family-friendly Moose Tooth Grill, we had spotted on our earlier walk through the Village.
Checking out of the resort, we arrive early at the Blue Water Manor near Bolton’s Landing for our one night stay. Luckily our room is ready and we have some time to explore the Manor and area. The Blue Water Manor is right on the shores Lake George and is a former fishing camp offering a casual, family setting. Our room with its rustic decor has the basics of a queen bed, color TV, A/C and a private bathroom. The Manor has a dock with plenty of water-sport activities, several children play areas, a small beach, outdoor dining with a lake view and an old stone tavern all on the bluff above the lake. Crowded with families this Saturday, we can see why it is a family-friendly retreat in the mountains.
In the Village of Lake George we found a wonderful hospitality. Impressed with the many business owners we met and their dedication, it was great to see that entrepreneurship is alive and well here. We join so many others that find the Lake George area is a “favorite” vacation destination with beautiful lakes, mountains, history, and so much more. Families and couples will all enjoy the variety of activities for exploration and discovery.
If you go:
Adirondack Brew Pub, 33 Canada St., Lake George, NY 12845; 518.668.0002; www.adkpub.com
Adirondack Winery, 285 Canada St., Lake George, NY 12845; 518.668.WINE; www.adirondackwinery.com
Blue Water Manor, 4436 Lake Shore Dr., Diamond Point, NY 12824; www.bluewatermanor.com
Boardwalk Restaurant, Lower Amherst St., Lake George, NY 12845; (518-668-5324); www.lakegeorgeboardwalk.com
Fort William Henry Hotel and Conference Center, 48 Canada St., Lake George, NY 12845; 800.234-026; www.fortwilliamhenry.com
Last of the Mohicans – Outdoor Drama, Fort William Henry Museum, Canada Street, New York 12845; www.lastofthemohicansoutdoordrama.org
SJ Garcia’s, 192 Canada Street, Lake George, NY 12845; 518.668.5111; www.sjgarcias.com
Warren County Tourism Department; 800.365.1050; VisitLakeGeorge.com