Tired of sitting in endless traffic to get north for the weekend? Here’s a suggestion: go southeast to the “other Muskoka” – the Adirondacks.
Only a five hour drive from Toronto and two hours from Montreal, The Adirondacks of Northern New York offers a great getaway option for city dwellers. The region spans 6 million acres of mountains, lakes, rivers and valleys from the shores of Lake Champlain, to the expansive Tug Hill Plateau near Lake Ontario.
The Adirondacks is also an nature lover’s dream, with a plethora of pristine, protected landscape, low-impact outdoor activities, and wildlife galore. And for foodies, there are purveyors of food and drink that are often locally produced. The Adirondacks boasts 100 towns and villages to explore, each with their own off-the-beaten path treasures – from gastro-pubs and Olympic sports, to centuries-old carnival celebrations, and boutique shops selling hand-crafted Adirondack furniture and goods.The Adirondacks is definitely a destination for travellers who want add a little wild to their weekend beyond boozing on the dock.
Here are our top summer activities for your visit to the Adirondacks:
Hiking in the Adirondacks is a must, especially since the region is one of the earliest examples of conservation in the United States. Champlain Area Trails (CATS) has trails for all fitness levels, and offers hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, birding, and picnicking in the Champlain Valley.
Coon Mountain Preserve is a moderate two mile hike with steep stair steps of stones, and stunning views. It’s famous for its mysterious and craggy interior, with rocky outcrops and dark hemlock forests. Keep an eye (and camera) out for native animals, as we spotted a phoebe nest and a red eft salamander on our hike.
Remember to pack a snack or a picnic lunch for the summit, but don’t be a jackass: clean up your litter and avoid disturbing the wildlife.
If you’re looking for a slice of history, book your stay at the rustic Westport Hotel and Tavern, operating since 1876. Owners Jim and Jayne Vance purchased the property in 2012 and added some charming touches to the décor, including reclaimed barn siding in the tavern. It’s easy to feel at home here with small town hospitality – the staff are friendly and it’s a hoot to hang out with the locals over a pint in the tavern.
The restaurant features home-cooked fare and fresh ingredients, and the red pepper and smoked gouda soup is a top pick. In the morning, take your breakfast on the verandah, and enjoy the sound of birds chirping and fresh scent of woody pine.
History was made at the 18-century Fort Ticonderoga and some of it involves Canada. It’s worth a stop to take in a history lesson and spectacular views of nearly 2000 acres of landscape on the portage of Lake George and Lake Champlain in between the Adirondack Mountains and Vermont’s Green Mountains.
Set on traditional Mohawk territory, this region has been the site of various armed conflicts between the French and Haudenosaunee, French and British, and Americans and British. The Fort was built by the French in 1755 and has been destroyed and rebuilt several times.
During the American Revolution, Fort Ticonderoga was the scene of America’s first major victory in its struggle for independence and a stronghold that protected the colonialists from British troops in Canada.
Today, the Fort holds reenactments and interesting artifacts on display, such as late 18th century military regalia. Military history buffs should make an appointment to visit the archives and library in the Thompson-Pell Research Center.
After touring the Fort, drive 5 minutes to Mount Defiance, and soak up a bird’s eye view of Fort Ticonderoga and the Green Mountains.
At the Dogwood Bread Company, warm, doughy loaves are pulled from the oven and locals salivate over the homemade pizzas on Friday nights. It’s also the perfect place to grab a sandwich on artisan bread,layered with gourmet meats and cheese, like the Cheddar Spinach Bacon on Rye.
In keeping with the Victorian and Antebellum architecture of the area, the Dogwood is housed in a historic building and decorated with some really cool art.
Can’t choose between exploring unspoiled greenery or playing a round of golf? At the historic Westport Country Club, you can do both. This 18-hole golf course has a captivating driving range that overlooks the Adirondacks, so that you can soak up the green space while improving your swing. It’s also been in operation for 116 years, and can accommodate amateurs and pros alike. The holes are challenging and private lessons are available. Westport sits blocks away from Lake Champlain, with easy access to the marina and waterfront dining.
To plan your visit to the Adirondacks, check out the Lake Champlain Region website for information about accommodation, hiking, scenic drives, shopping and restaurants, as well as information about the best fishing spots and paddling routes.
The website also has sample itineraries with practical tips on where to go for leisurely exploration or extreme adventure, and where to find celebrated art museums and cultural exhibitions in the Adirondacks.
The writer was a guest of Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism. The sponsor did not review or approve this article.