The Adirondack mountains are a favorite getaway destination for people who enjoy spending time outdoors. This region is welcoming to everyone, whether you’re an experienced hiker or you’d rather spend all day boating, if you came to town with a big family or if you’re looking to relax at a secluded cabin with a book and no phone service. And one town in particular in the Adirondacks is worth visiting if you’re traveling with kids: Lake George, New York.
Lake George is a resort town on the surface, but there are so many layers to this stunning area. There are massive lake front homes and private islands reserved for the wealthy, groups of rustic cabins that share a communal pool, and campgrounds for those who prefer the more rustic approach. And that’s just where to stay. Activities in Lake George cater to families with kids in their teens and younger in particular.
If you’re craving fresh air, a swim in cool waters, stunning views, and quality time with the people you love, here’s what to should expect – and everything you should fit into your vacation – when you get to Lake George.
Things to do in Lake George
Lake George Village: Though downtown Lake George is probably where you’ll start your trip, it’s not the highlight of the area. Here you’ll find lots of activities to occupy older kids, like arcades and mini golf. This is also where you can take a boat tour of the lake and rent a pontoon boat.
Lake George Lakefront Walkway is a 1,700-foot paved path in the village that offers beautiful views of the lake and marina and is a good place to start your day. There are a number of restaurants overlooking the marina where you can stop for lunch. Lake George Beach Club’s chicken and shrimp pasta is exceptional and there are fun tropical themed cocktails on the menu. But with so much to do in Lake George, you won’t want to spend too much time in the crowded souvenir shops.
Beaches: There are eight beaches in or around Lake George, and though small, they are well worth visiting. The water is clear, warm, and exceptionally clean – a large trout once swam by me as I was wading the lake. The relatively small trenches of sand here, where you can set up a small umbrella or set out a towel or two, is actually a benefit in this case – limited space means the beaches don’t get overcrowded.
One of the best public beaches in Lake George, especially for kids, is Shepard Park Beach in Lake George Village. There is a shallow wading area for little ones, and an unobstructed view of the mountains. The other beach in town, Million Dollar State Beach, is larger and more accommodating to big groups, but it gets busier than Shepard Park.
Hiking: There are 12 mountains surrounding the lake and all have hiking trails. Prospect Mountain is one of the most popular hikes in Lake George. At three miles round trip, the summit offers clear views of the entire lake. For an easier hike that might be better suited to families with kids, try Black Mountain. Pilot’s Knob is another family friendly option, where you can hike to a waterfall and a gazebo overlooking the lake.
Boat tour: If it’s your first time in Lake George, book a steamboat tour of the lake. The Lake George Steamboat Company offers one hour and two and a half hour tours. It’s an easy, laid back way to get a deeper view of the lake’s many islands and inlets, and the knowledgeable captain will give you a history lesson on the many important figures, from artists to politicians, who once lived there.
Water sports: Paddle boarding, jet skiing, and parasailing are among the most popular water sports in Lake George – jet skiing on lake george is particularly exhilarating. Chic’s Marina is a 15 minute drive from Lake George Village and offers jet skiing and tubing excursions.
Head to LG Boat Rentals to rent a pontoon boat for the day. This is a great way to get a closer look at all the nooks and crannies of the lake, and you don’t need previous boating experience to operate this type of boat. With expansive space for many occupants, you can take your family on an exploration of Dollar Island and the Lake George Narrows.
The Island Paradise Tour run by Lake George Narrows Boat Tours takes people out to a private island where you can picnic, swim, and relax – you just need to bring the food. There’s also Tubby Tubes River Co., which offers a two hour lazy river tubing experience open to kids 2 years and older.
Bolton’s Landing: You might be too busy playing on the lake to take a drive, but Bolton’s Landing is worth visiting. Just 20 minutes from Lake George Village, Bolton’s Landing has more small town charm. A quiet flower garden greets everyone entering the town, and there’s kayaking, beaches, and a zipline park in Bolton’s Landing if you want to spend more time there. For lunch, head to the Bolton’s Landing Brewery Co..
Lake Luzerne: Lake George gets all the hype, but the nearby Lake Luzerne is worth a detour. Head to Wayside Beach, a 15 minute drive from Lake George Village. This slice of secluded paradise offers a grassy hillside and small beach where kids can swim and a ramp where locals push off their boats and kayaks. The water is cool and inviting, there are never too many people around, and an idyllic-looking wooded island in the middle of the lake is visible from the shore.
The Sembrich: Inevitably, you will need to escape the constant activities that a family vacation entails. That’s when you need to take a trip to the Marcella Sembrich Opera Museum, or the Sembrich for short. Opened in 1922 by a singer for the New York City Metropolitan Opera as her retreat and space to teach music, today the property features a museum where you can learn more about Marcella Sembrich’s life in Lake George. But the real draw of the Sembrich is the peaceful, stroller-friendly hiking trails where you can go out around the lake with hardly any other person in sight. It’s truly a place to calm your mind, reset, and embrace the splendor of the wooded and mountainous Lake George landscape.
Where to stay in Lake George
Lodging in Lake George is abundant – there are cabins, resorts, cottages, and campgrounds peppering the perimeter of the lake, so everywhere you turn, there is somewhere to stay. Staying in Lake George Village isn’t recommended – you’re better off finding a resort or a cabin lakeside, or in the woods surrounding the lake, where it’s more secluded.
There’s lodging on the lake side of the road that winds around the perimeter (where you’re more likely to get private beach access) and on the opposite hillside. These closely packed cottages usually share a pool and have the close knit feeling – all of them welcome families. With names like Golden Eagle Cottages, Bear’s Den, and Kathy’s Resort and Cottages, it’s not hard to find a place to stay.
The newly opened Huttopia is where you should stay if your family is looking for a balance between camping and a rustic cabin. At Huttopia, you’ll find 109 canvas tents, equipped with a wooden deck and a grill. Inside the tent, you’ll find a full size bed and a bunk bed, a kitchen sink with running water, a wood stove, and a shower and toilet.
Huttopia has a distinct summer camp vibe – the adjoining lodge features a pool and serves a breakfast menu of crepes, and for dinner, pizza. When we stayed there at the height of summer, there were groups of kids running around all over the place, so you know it’s welcoming to families. Plus, you can ask for a kit of baby friendly items which includes a pack and play, a high chair, and a bathtub – life savers for parents who don’t want to pack these hefty items in their luggage.
Cars aren’t allowed to park near the tents, which means there are no car alarms blaring in the middle of the night or headlights blinding you as you try to make a fire. The downside is that you have to haul your belongings up to the tent in an unwieldy wagon up a rocky hillside (my recommendation is to leave your stroller in the car) which is not easy.
Other than that slight downside, Huttopia makes it easy for parents to immerse their families in nature without the hassle of pitching their own tent. You can get the peace and calm of nature, with nearby Lake George offering the opportunity for adventure. Huttopia is situated between Lake George and Lake Luzerne, so you can experience both towns without subjecting your energetic little ones to too much time in the car.
I found retreating to our tent at the end of a hectic day in Lake George to be a relief, and being able to soak in the natural beauty of the Adirondacks in a way that felt safe for my young daughter was a huge plus.