For me, there are 3 different types of vacations.
There are the ones when I just want to relax. Those are the trips to the Caribbean – Jamaica, Mexico, or the Dominican Republic. I’ll find a chair under an umbrella and sit on the beach or near the pool for 5-6 days while drinking rum punch and reading magazines. Don’t ask me to do a damned thing.
Then there are the trips just for Olivia – when we go to Disney, Universal Studios, Busch Gardens, or to some other overly crowded amusement park in central Florida or southern California. Miles of walking, then standing in line for 45-minutes, then walking, then standing again. I usually return needing a vacation more than I did when I left.
Then there are the active vacations, and these have become my favorite. It’s when we go someplace that requires you do do something active in order to fully enjoy it. The first one I went on was with a group to Costa Rica in 2001. I loved it. Walking among the trees, hiking, swimming in hot springs; it was amazing. The next one was in August of 2006. I was newly pregnant and we decided to stay local. We drove to the Delaware Water Gap, stayed at a hotel on the river, did some kayaking and hiked amongst the waterfalls. It was awesome!
Welp, last week we decided that flying wasn’t somewhere for Labor Day Weekend was going to break the bank, so instead, we drove 4 hours up north to Lake George. First off, I had no idea the lake was so big. At 32 miles long, it’s the largest lake I’ve ever seen (other than Lake Michigan). And let me tell you, it is incredibly beautiful, and relatively inexpensive to stay.
Where to stay
Where you stay depends on a few things. How far do you want to be from the lake? Do you want quiet or crowded streets? Do you want a hotel room, a cabin, or a fancy resort?
The most popular area to stay when visiting Lake George is Lake George Village (Route 9) right on the lake at it’s most southern tip. This area consists of 1/2 mile strip of hotels, motels, eateries, shops, and amusements. Everything you need in one place. Problem with that is EVERYONE stays here it is incredibly crowded during the popular weeks/weekends. Additionally, the beaches here are overcrowded with means very little relaxing on the water. Even if you have a waterfront hotel, they only have about 40 feet of beachfront and with at least 40 people staying at each hotel, you think you are going to get some private space on that beach? Think again.
In addition to waterfront activities (kayaking, parasailing, and swimming), there are also arcades, museums, Fort McHenry, and a water slide park, to name a few. Great for the kiddies.
Now, if you drive up Route 9N about 10 miles, you will come to Bolton Landing. This area is similar to the village, but it’s much smaller, which means much quieter. This quaint location has several small hotels and eateries, but the big one is the upscale Sagamore Hotel on Green Island. This is where the rich stay on Lake George.
If you are looking to keep busy, but don’t want the hustle and bustle of a small city, this area is for you. There are boating activities here such and SUP and kayaking. You can also rent a boat to go fishing, a jet ski to speed around the lake, or a small boat to take your family and friends on a slow cruise. It’s up to you. There is also a waterfront beach park where families and couple relaxed while sunning themselves.
If you are like us, and want to be in quieter area, you can try and actual non-tourist town such as Glens Falls. There are a couple of hotels and motels, but the big one is where we stayed at – the Queensbury Hotel.
Big plus, it has an INDOOR pool and spa. A great way to spend a rainy day. This hotel is old, but not in a dingy way. The rooms are tiny, and don’t automatically come with a fridge or microwave, but you can request those at the front desk for an extra $10 per night. And the area is in the business residential center of the city, with a few restaurants, a movie theater, fast food joints, with a Rite Aid directly across the street. This area is basically for the locals, which makes it pretty cool, in my humble opinion.
The negative is that this area is about a 15-20 minute drive to the action at Lake George. So you can go up I-87, or take Route 9 all the way. If you take the latter, you will pass Six Flag Great Escape, and across the street is the Great Escape Lodge, which is a hotel with an indoor waterpark. This might be a great place to stay in the cooler months or during the rainy season.
If you continue to drive up Route 9, you will pass a few outlet malls and a lot of motels. There is no shortage of places to sleep.
Now, for activities, there is of course, the lake. You are free to swim, kayaking, stand up paddle-board, fishing (license required), or parasail, amongst other things. We went kayaking at Lake George Kayak in Bolton Landing (my third time, Olivia’s first). The lake was just so beautiful; the water was refreshingly cool, but not cold. We had the boats for 4 hours $59 for a tandem, $39 for a single). The employees give you a quick tutorial before sending you off. There is an island where you can get out of the boats and buy lunch or go swimming, but we couldn’t find it. LOL!
But that may get tiring after awhile, and there are loads of other things to do that don’t involve water.
About 30 minutes northwest of Lake George is the Natural Stone Bridge and Caves center. It’s pretty cool cause you walk along this very uneven path of rock and gravel and find all these little nooks and crannies, with beautiful views. You can go in some of the caves (I kept looking for snakes the entire time but didn’t see any) and watch the water flow through them. A great way to get close to nature. Lots of mosquitoes so bring your bug spray.
We drove all the way up Route 9N to Hague, on the way stopping to hike up and take a look at the lake from Jenkins Point.
At Hague, we stopped st the town beach park. There were 4 other people there. That water was warm and clear and beautiful. So relaxing and quiet on a Tuesday. I even took off my clothes and exposed my very patriotic bikini.
There are loads of mountains too – Gore Mountain, West Mountain, Hackensack Mountain – you can ride the chair lifts to the top and hike or bike down. These areas are just so beautiful and peaceful. I’m still not sure why I felt leaving New York was necessary to see beauty. We’re going back up there this winter so I can try skiing, snowmobiling, etc.
So, if you are a NY native, check out what our wonderful state has to offer. No need to spend thousands on a week-long vacation with the family. Get them out into the waterways, the hills, and the valleys on New York State and have the time of your lives.
What’s tour favorite activity to do wile on vacation?