Just three to four hours from NYC, Lake George is a popular upstate vacation spot, and if you're expecting souvenir shops, pizza, and outlet shopping, you'd be right. But visitors will also find history, classic hotels, and thousands of wooded acres in the surrounding Adirondack Park.
Lake George itself is 32 miles long, with 109 miles of shoreline. Lake George Village, in the south, is the most commercial zone. Bolton Landing is less developed, and there's still room for quieter villages and stretches of natural shore.
Area attractions span an A to Z from: "arcades, balloon rides, boat cruises, exhibits, galleries, golf, historic sites, horseback riding, markets, museums, outlet shopping, scenic train rides, rodeos, seasonal activities, spectator sports, theater, theme parks, whitewater rafting, and much more" -says the Lake George website.
A big draw for families is the Great Escape Amusement Park, a Six Flags theme park that has great coasters and a Splashwater Kingdom water park. Across the street is the Six Flags Great Escape Lodge with indoor water park.
Kids may also like the Enchanted Forest Water Safari waterpark, or the Pirate's Cove Adventure Golf themed minigolf.
History and Museum Sightseeing
Families can mix some education into the vacation, as Lake George has plenty of history: first with the native Indians; then in 1642, a French priest arrived and gave the lake a French name. The mid 1700's saw fighting between the French, British and native populations, as portrayed in James Fennimore Cooper's famous novel, The Last of The Mohicans. The British prevailed, and renamed the lake for King George II. Later still, Lake George -- and especially the British Fort Ticonderoga-- featured in the American Revolution.
All this history comes to life at several museums. Fort William Henry Museum has guides in period dress, and re-enactments; the Adirondack Museum's 32 acres has indoor and outdoor exhibits; Fort Ticonderoga National Historic Landmark has a military fortress, costumed guides, museum, musket demonstrations, Fife and Drum performances and other family-friendly activities.
Lake George also has history as a playground for the wealthy: take a cruise and you may spot some of the estates on "Millionaire's Row," built during a heyday that began in the 1870's with stagecoach travel. Some of the grand hotels -- such as the Fort William Henry Hotel in Lake George village, and The Sagamore in Bolton's Landing-- are still welcoming guests today.
- See many more sightseeing ideas in the Lake George area. Day trips might take you to Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory, historic Cooperstown with National Baseball Hall of Fame, Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum.
The vast Adirondack Park dates back to 1892, and has a staggering size of 6.1 million acres: to get some perspective, this is " the largest publicly protected area in the contiguous United States, greater in size than Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier, and Grand Canyon National Park combined." ( --Adirondack Park site.) Approximately half belongs to New York State (protected to remain "forever wild"); the rest is private land for farms, businesses, homes, etc.
Hiking is awesome in the Adirondacks: see the Adirondacks regioins' site. Other summer fun includes white-water rafting, canoeing, kayaking. Families can also look for Visitor Interpretive Centers for Adirondack Park.
Winter, meanwhile, is very quiet in the area, but you can find cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, some downhill areas.
This brief profile is meant to introduce this area to family vacationers; please note that the writer has not visited in person. Always check web sites for updates!