Holidays in the Adirondacks

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by Michael Martineau

Holidays in the Adirondacks

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

The holidays are upon us, and I don’t know about you all, but this is my absolute favorite time of year. The snow-covered forests, skating on the lakes, and enjoying a nice fire outside under the bright starry sky transports me back to my childhood. It’s an inner joy that’s hard to explain, and it’s one that has only amplified since I moved to the Adirondacks.

Let me back up and give you the history first. As a kid, I grew up vacationing in the Lake Placid Region during the winter months. From the first time I visited with my family, I was hooked. We had this tradition (that I still follow) where, as soon as we crossed into the Adirondack Park (aka the Blue Line), we would open all the car windows and take a deep breath of the clean crisp air. It didn’t matter the temperature or weather conditions either. But, I digress. While we enjoyed visiting at any time of the year, the holiday season in the Adirondacks always stood out to me.


One Christmas, my parents told my siblings and me that we were going up to Lake Placid with our family friends. I can still remember opening that card with the trip information inside and then calling our friends immediately after. There was a lot of yelling because we couldn’t contain our excitement. Fast forward a few days and we were on our way. Each car had a walkie-talkie so we could talk nonstop up the Northway (this was back when most people still didn’t have cell phones).

It was the first time I visited the Adirondacks during the holiday season. From the snowbank-lined roads to the lights, wreaths, and endless activities in the area, I felt like I had just found the North Pole. It was four days of continuous fun. Hot chocolate on the speed skating oval, rocketing down the toboggan shoot onto Mirror Lake, and seeing the Christmas tree all lit up in Mid’s Park – spectacular is one way to describe it.

Fast forward many years and I now call the Adirondacks my home. I get to experience more than just a few days of holiday joy – I get the entire season now. On top of that, I get to explore what each region of the Adirondacks has to offer during the holiday season. This year will be my first Saranac Lake Winter Carnival, the oldest running winter carnival on the East Coast. I’ll have the opportunity to try my luck at ice fishing on Schroon Lake and maybe even bring home some landlocked salmon for that evening’s dinner.

I’ll definitely be heading to the Heart of the Adirondacks to take advantage of their snowmobile trail system. Miles and miles of trails connecting the region? Yup, I sense a multi-day trip. No holiday would be complete without some skiing either. Whether it is cross-country skiing through Tupper Lake to the Public Observatory or downhill on the mountain with the largest vertical drop east of the Rockies, Whiteface Mountain. I’ve got my Santa outfit all ready to go for Santa Ski Day, too.

There is also Titus Mountain in Malone, which offers night skiing. There is nothing like skiing on fresh powder under the stars. I will be honest though, if there is one activity I am most excited to try this holiday season in the Adirondacks, it is ice climbing. Climbing a giant icicle is the ultimate holiday spirit activity if you ask me. Once Lake Champlain freezes, it’s off to The Palisades for me with ice screws and ice picks in hand.

Whether you decide to come visit the Adirondacks for a few days or a week during the holiday season, the amount of spirit in the region will sweep you up. You’re not alone either! You’ll meet people who travel from all over the country to the Adirondacks during the holiday season to enjoy the special feeling and all the activities going on here. So, when you go to make your holiday list for this year, make sure you include a trip to the Adirondacks.