Saranac Lake is a beautiful conglomeration of mountains and people. The downtown captures this essence in a wonderful way — eclectic eateries are interspersed among art galleries, music is on everyone’s mind, and mountains and lakes play peek-a-boo from behind the historic architecture. People visit for a lot of reasons, but they always find more than they expected while they’re here. Still not convinced? Check out these six downtown Saranac Lake draws, then pay us a visit. You’re sure to find a few more things to add to this list and to discover why this little community prides itself on being decidely different!
1. Art is everywhere
A magnet for creative types, Saranac Lake is bursting at the seams with artistic expression. Art openings happen every month, and in summer the downtown galleries overflow onto the streets as artists set up easels and photographers capture the beauty here. Take a workshop if you’re interested in trying something new, or simply grab a sketch pad and find a place to relax — you’re sure to be in good company. There’s also Pendragon Theatre, which has a robust summer performance schedule. Art-centric events include art walks, studio tours, and plein air painting.
2. The sound of music
The birds are chirping, people are out, and music is in the air. Don’t be surprised to see someone strumming a guitar on a park bench while you’re here — it’s just a warmup for the bigger acts the area draws. This village is big on folk and bluegrass, but lately it’s seen a more eclectic surge of bands playing funk, punk, jazz, jam, and blues. Every week in the summer there are two free shows, one in Berkeley Green and the other at the Waterhole’s Party on the Patio, and you’ll find more in the various restaurants, bars, and galleries.
3. An event-full calendar
Many of Saranac Lake’s events are centered around music and art, but there’s more to downtown than that. If you’re the sporting type, get ready to race by boat, bike, or foot, or get a team together for rugby weekend, an energetic mix of competition and revelry. If you’re more into locally-produced goods, there’s a huge farmers market in Riverside Park every Saturday. Adding to the mix of offerings is a new downtown event called Saranac Lake Street Fest on July 20. A true celebration of what makes this village "decidely different," Street Fest will feature a wild and energetic array of music, magic, art, costumes, live theater, and a whole host of unexpected twists and turns. And even though we already covered music, it’d be a shame not to mention Northern Current, a free, all-day, outdoor music festival in Riverside Park that will cap off the summer in style Labor Day weekend. If you were a fan of Hobofest, don't miss this day of music!
4. Excellent eats
A village with so much going on needs food to fuel the masses, and Saranac Lake doesn’t disappoint. You’ll find a gastronomic-sampler here for any budget. Fill up on classic diner food, grab a deli sandwich or salad to go and eat by Lake Flower, go completely casual at a pub, or spring for one of the fine dining options. There’s craft beer on tap, farm-to-table offerings, and plenty of creative chefs to hold your interest and keep your belly full.
5. It's historic!
A lot of villages have a historic bent, but Saranac Lakers truly embrace theirs. A fun way to explore downtown is to follow the Walk of Fame plaques, which highlight some of the community’s most renowned inhabitants, both past and present. Along the way you’ll see notables such as physicist Albert Einstein, composer Bela Bartok, local Olympian Bill Demong, and Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau. For more of a history fix, check out the Saranac Laboratory Museum and the Robert Louis Stevenson Cottage.
6. Nature is close
In Saranac Lake, the woods and waters aren’t just close, they’re easily accessible. Paddlers can pop a boat in the Saranac River and drift away from downtown in minutes, while fishermen and women can throw a line in the same current without leaving town. For a big-water experience, head to Lake Flower and paddle past mountain-lined vistas to one of the free campsites that are en route to Lower Saranac Lake. If you like to keep both boots on the ground it’s a short walk to Mount Baker, where a mile-long hike ends at a series of ledges with views of the High Peaks. Road cyclists can begin and end their scenic ride from downtown, and mountain bikers can head to Dewey Mountain or Mount Pisgah to get their ride on.