Weekend Trip Idea: Saranac Lake New York

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Saranac Lake

One of my life goals is to stay at an ice hotel which probably won’t happen for a couple of years because there isn’t anywhere cold enough in the U.S. to sustain such a structure (I think the closest is Quebec), but also because they are insanely, insanely expensive. I’ll do it someday, just probably not still while I’m working as a public school teacher. It was on a search for an alternative ice-structure to visit that I stumbled up on the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival.

The Carnival, which has been an annual event since 1897 runs from January 29- February 4th. It was named the second best winter carnival in the world by National Geographics in 2012, probably because the pinnacle of the event is the building of an Ice Palace on the shores of Lake Flower. The Carnival also boasts 3 firework shows, two parades, performances, sporting events and a Celtic Music night.

Saranac Lake is a small village in upstate New York’s Adirondack Park named after the nearby Upper Saranac, Lower Saranac and Middle Saranac Lakes. It sits on the shores of Lake Flower, which is in actuality a dammed portion of the Saranac River. Another reason I’m aware of Saranac’s Lake existence is that it sits roughly seven miles northwest of Lake Placid.

Saranac Lake has an interesting history, gaining prominence as a place where Tuberculosis patients would find solace in sanitariums and the fresh mountain air. It ballooned to a very popular vacation area in the late 1800’s and was a big bootlegging town in the 1920’s. Today, nearby Whiteface and Lake Placid are much bigger tourism draws but the town still does alright, with the same amount of outdoor activities available and as a very art-centric Adirondack destination.

Saranac Lake is a bit of a drive from Pennsylvania, but I’m tell you from experience, the Adirondacks are obscenely beautiful, especially if you, like me, are into snowy winter landscapes. There’s tons of places to cross-country ski and snowshoe during the winter , including the Dewey Mt. Recreation Center. It’s also something of the center of canoeing in the Adirondacks if you head up during the summer and is just a 20 minute ride from the new-ish Adirondack Wild Center museum in Tupper Lake. More adventurous travelers can try to earn a Saranac 6 badge by hiking the 6 peaks surrounding the town. You could earn an “ultra-6” badge by doing them all in one day or a “winter six” badge by tackling these guys via snow shoes.

I thought you’d be able to take a tour of the Saranac Brewery, simply because of the name and because it seems like that beer is everywhere when I go up to Lake Placid, but that’s actually located 3 hours away in Utica. My bad.

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