February 04, 2014
Top Winter Activities List in Saranac Lake NY
Family fun is easy in Saranac Lake. No matter what size, shape, or attention span that family might have.
Whatever the weather, we have activities to help everyone explore winter at their own pace. Share our amazing wildlife up close, slide down a snowy mountain, and ride our indoor carousel.
Don't worry about what to do with the kids. From their first snowshoe trek to tucking them into a horse-drawn sleigh, we know how to crank them up and wear them out.
ride our Adirondack Carousel
Our gorgeous indoor carousel features hand-carved Adirondack animals like a raccoon, a loon, a bobcat, a brook trout, a red fox, and even a sleek mini-Chris Craft motorboat. There's eighteen different animals in all, each one emblematic of the Adironack Park's special collection of wildlife.
There's a gift shop, and our historic downtown is a short walk away. The sunny building with its many windows is inviting on any kind of day, and opens onto William Morris Park with swings and slides for outdoor fun, too.
The Adirondack Carousel was a labor of love for many years, with the community coming together to raise money for its construction, from bake sales to large philanthropic involvement. Now it is a popular attraction which holds events like concerts, craft parties, art shows, live animals and other interpretive activities.
We don't have to ride the carousel (though everybody wants to) if we want to have fun on our visit. Many local artists contributed paintings for the walls and the carousel itself. It's all part of their mission: to "fuse art, education and entertainment" while promoting the Adirondacks.
Pro tip: Ask the children to find the ladybug on each animal!
Tubing at Mount Pisgah
This is tubing with all the thrills, without trudging back up to the top of the hill. Mount Pisgah features a rope tow which drags you, and your tube, back up to the top. Pisgah's gentle slopes have been making children squeal with delight since the first settlers arrived, but it became official in 1948 when it was designated a village ski complex.
The equipment has been regularly upgraded ever since, most recently with snowmaking equipment and a newly remodeled lodge. From 3 PM in the afternoon on weekdays, and all day on the weekends, there's plenty of time to give skiing a try, too, because Pisgah is lit at night. Whether sliding under a black velvet sky, or a bright Bluebird Day sun, it's like two different experiences.
Take a break to warm up with some hot chocolate and snacks in front of the lodge's wonderful native stone fireplace. Watch the skiers from the tall windows. Decide to take the time for a few more runs.
Pro tip: Read our blog post, Tubing Adventures at Mount Pisgah.
Explore nature at The Wild Center
The Wild Center has a multitude of hands-on exhibits, live animals, a video room, and enough interactive features that we usually have to drag the children out. But that's only so they can enjoy the many snowshoeing trails (free snowshoes with admission) and the view of the lake the building is in. (Yes, seeing is believing!)
There's so much to do they have a lunch bar on the premises, with a unique gift shop. There's always a featured nature movie in in their Planet Adirondack Theater auditorium, free with admission. There's real science going on here, from green energy research to caring for the plants and wildlife of the whole Park.
Favorites include the moving glaciers, the real Adirondack lean-to inside, the teeny-tiny owl who often visits, and the Smell-O-Rama exhibit where we can guess the different scents of the Adirondacks. (They are going to pick skunk, first. Be prepared.)
Then, there's the otters. They are hard to miss in their many-sided, floor-to-ceiling tank which offers plenty of room for them to show off in. And show off they do, with those famous water acrobatics. They get plenty of toys, but their favorite seems to be the chunk of ice with fish frozen in it. This is the closest otters get to working hard.
Pro tip: Arrive in the morning to find the otters at their liveliest!
Snowshoeing at Paul Smiths Visitor Interpretive Center
The Visitor Interpretive Center has wonderful exhibits which explain the birth of the Adirondacks. Access the lovely flora and fauna via their network of groomed trails. There's a variety of different terrain to explore, from Heron Marsh and the Spruce Bog, to Barnum Pond, a fish barrier dam, and abundant beaver ponds.
Depending on their schedule, there are bird and nature walks, concerts, rotating art exhibits, workshops, and a wide range of children's programs. Do ask about getting some real maple syrup from the onsite maple sugaring operation. Breakfast (or lunch or dinner) never had it so good. Or, adopt your own tree, and get a quart of maple syrup during spring sugaring time.
There's snowshoe rentals available on the premises, with tips on use and many sizes. Expand your options by trying some cross country skiing. Trail fees are included in the rental. There are ski & snowshoe races along with skate skiing clinics if you want to try this "hot" new winter sport.
Pro tip: Ask about the boardwalk trails for a great combination of dramatic scenery and easy going!
Sleigh Rides at Lake Clear Lodge
Even if it's not Christmas, everyone can still sing "Jingle Bells." In fact, just try and stop them.
Enjoy a sleigh ride through the winter wilderness around Lake Clear Lodge, a classic Adirondack Inn. There's sleigh bells, lap robes, lantern lit routes, and hot chocolate. It's simply the coolest possible way to end a winter wonderland kind of day.
The Main Lodge itself dates from 1886 and is a working museum as well as a center of hospitality. Their dining hall offers a delightful lunch or a sumptuous dinner. A Heritage Breakfast is often scheduled which doubles as a learning experience with a cooking class afterwards.
Pro tip: Ask about petting the horses... they can't always see a very small person, so lift the child up to our level, first!
Don't delay in making reservations at your favorite Adirondack spot. This is a very popular time, when winter is at a peak of loveliness. Get some real maple syrup with that family breakfast at one of our wonderful dining options. Explore more enjoyable learning opportunities.
In Saranac Lake, we know how to make every season, amazing.