6 things you MUST put on your Adirondack trip itinerary – especially for first time visitors! A full guide to things to do, experiences to try, travel tips and views you will not want to miss when visiting the Adirondack Mountains.

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View from summit of mount jo

Whether you are the ultimate outdoors man, lover of relaxing water sports or enjoyer of picturesque nature, the Adirondack region will have something for everyone. Spanning over 6 million acres, this natural area is stocked full of adventures waiting to happen. Located just under 300 miles from New York City, the Adirondacks are the perfect spot to re-center and escape from life’s bustling days. No matter what time of year it is, visitors to the region can enjoy activities like bobsledding in the winter, hiking in the spring, kayaking and cliff jumping in the summer, and whitewater rafting and watching the leaves change in the fall. If you have never booked a trip to this location in upstate New York, I’m hoping these 6 must do things in the Adirondack Mountains will help you start planning your own dream Adirondack itinerary!

Let’s talk lodging – where will you want to stay in the Adirondacks?

From expansive ski resorts, to beach front properties, to quaint log cabins and primitive forest lean-tos, you really will find anything and everything in the Adirondack Mountains. If you’re thinking of having a luxurious stay, the High Peaks Resort in Lake Placid should be on your list. The rooms’ sliding doors open right up to a lake front patio with lounging chairs. When you’ve finished sunbathing in one of the lounging chairs, grab a paddleboard or kayak just steps away from your room – free to use during your stay! This resort is also pet friendly so your furry family members won’t feel excluded from your adventure. Another gorgeous option is Whiteface Lodge. With a luxurious rustic design, you will have the coziest indulgent experience. Between the stunning vistas and world class spa, you will be able to treat yourself to endless amenities.

Something a little private and cozy, please!

Looking for something a bit private and cozy but not lacking in fun family activities? Motel Long Lake in Long Lake, NY will be just what you’re looking for. This lakefront property offers private rooms + large cottages depending on your needs. My favorite part about staying here was the beautiful beach just steps away from my room. We enjoyed sunbathing and watching the boats during the day and finished our evening with a beachfront fire that we built in their complimentary fire pits. It doesn’t get any better!! If you stay in the cottages, I definitely recommend visiting the nearby grocery store to stock up on provisions to make your own meals. Dining options are very limited in Long Lake, so enjoy some cottage cooked meals. This motel is great for families who want to enjoy a low key get away relaxing by the water and exploring the nearby trails. Kayak and paddle board rentals are complimentary with your stay, so you will not have time to be bored! Check out my Instagram for more shots and scenes of this picturesque place.

Maybe you’re not feeling the touristy spots

If you’re looking to get away from the tourist spots in Lake Placid, renting a charming log cabin is the way to go! Check out Air Bnb or VRBO for great Adirondack cabin rental options for families, couples and groups. With this lodging option, you can cook plenty of delicious family meals, build fires for smores and have access to a washer and dryer – which is a must for washing those stinky hiking socks! Many cabins are also pet friendly so your dogs can enjoy the hikes, too! Renting a cabin can also be a more affordable option, especially if you are going with a group of friends and can split the cost of lodging. Staying at a cabin with a kitchen also means you’ll be able to whip up a fresh batch of my chocolate swirl banana muffins, which are the perfect hiking snack!

For the ultimate hiker, backpacker or outdoors man, camping in the Adirondacks is the answer

For those extra bold backpackers, there is always the option of camping right in the woods. Along many of the trails are small lean-tos that offer overnight shelter for backpackers taking on the long haul high peaks, as well as campgrounds in the Adirondack mountains where you can set up shop for a few days. While this sleeping situation isn’t for me, my brother has done this many times and always had a blast. If you decide to take the camping route, DO NOT forget to have a bear can to store any and all food. If any food is left unpacked in the campsite, you will have some hungry nightly bear visitors scavenging through your provisions. I’m going to guess that wouldn’t be the wake-up call you’re after.

Now that you have some idea of where you want to stay, let’s start planning the day to day activities. Here are 6 MUST DO THINGS on your trip to the Adirondacks. These are the perfect experiences for first timers.

1. Paddleboard and kayak on Mirror Lake

Paddleboard and kayak on Mirror Lake. The water views are top notch and just can’t be beat. Many of the shops surrounding Mirror Lake offer water sport rentals. I found that Eastern Mountain Sports has the best deal in Lake Placid. If you’re not feeling the water portion, Mirror Lake also has a 3 mile trail that circles the lake so you can admire the kayakers from a short distance.

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Mirror Lake views. You can sit in the chairs by the water to watch the paddleboarders and kayakers. SOOO relaxing! There are many restaurants surrounding this lake in Lake Placid, NY.

2. Eat at the Pickled Pig

THE BURGERS ARE UNFORGETTABLE. Pickled Pig also claims to have the best wings in Lake Placid, and I can confirm this is true. I sort of consider myself a wing connoisseur and these did NOT disappoint. The service was amazing and the food was so yum. If you like BBQ and burgers, you need to put this place in your plans. This meal was my favorite of the trip – by far!

Burger from the Pickled Pig. They are loaded with toppings and MASSIVE! Unforgettable!, adirondack mountains, adirondacks new york, new york travel, camping in new york
Burger from the Pickled Pig. They are loaded with toppings and MASSIVE! Unforgettable!

3. Cliff jump at the Wilmington Flume

If you’re feeling adventurous, this secret little spot in Wilmington, right off Route 86, (if you put 44°21.994’N 73°50.416’W into your GPS it’ll take you to the spot) is the place for you – jump off of one of the massive rocks and take a dip in the cool mountain water. There is a little parking spot off the side of the road at the start of the little path to the flume. PLEASE BE ADVISED. DO NOT SWIM AT TIMES OF HIGH WATER AND ALWAYS SWIM/JUMP WITH CAUTION. There are sooo many other great spots to sit and enjoy the sun, rippling water and views. It’s such a fun and relaxing spot that didn’t seem to be taken over by tourists. There isn’t any signs pointing to the hidden flume, so consider yourself my internet bff that’s getting the scoop on the secret spots in the Adirondacks 😉

4. Devour allll the ice cream

If you know me, you know that I can’t go anywhere without investigating the ice cream situation. Emma’s Lake Placid Creamery has sooo many unique creations, you can’t go wrong with any of them. Check out their Instagram here to see how yummy everything is! We went here more than once during our trip and my uncle has claimed this is his favorite ice cream shop in the Adirondacks!

5. Hike all the trails (duh!)

With 46 high peaks and so many other beautiful trails, there is something for everyone and anyone. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or a strenuous multi-day trek, you’ll be able to find a trail you love. I’m not a huge hiker, but loved the challenge of climbing over rocks and trekking through forests and waterfalls during my trip in the Adirondacks. Mount Jo was probably my favorite hike. It’s a quick hike (takes about 35 minutes to the summit) but still semi-challenging. Packing a picnic lunch is always a must! Don’t hit the trails with a hungry belly. If you’re hiking near Wilmington, stop at Little Super’s Deli for a custom made sandwich for your hike.

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My brother, Andrew, and me at the top of Mount Jo.

6. Build a fire on the beach

We spent one night at Motel Long Lake and loved taking advantage of their firepits on the beach. Nothing beats watching the sun go down while sitting by a cozy fire eating some smores. After a full day of hiking or kayaking, enjoying some fireside hangs with your family and friends definitely hits the spot.

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The beachside fire that we built on the beach at Motel Long Lake. So cozy!


  • Each town in the Adirondacks has their own host of local events. Be sure to check about local happenings shortly before you arrive. Between festivals and farmers markets, seasonal activities are a great way to explore the local community.
  • Even in the spring and summer, pack clothing items that can be layered. Many times it is much chillier under the tree cover while hiking. Mornings and evenings are a bit chilly, so packing some light layers that can be thrown on or off your hiking outfit is a must. Pro tip if they are quick dry! Hiking can work up a sweat and those mountain creeks are the perfect place to take a quick dip, so wearing quick dry clothing will set you up for success.
  • Find a few pairs of Merino Wool hiking socks. No one wants blisters but they can easily happen if you aren’t properly prepared. Hiking many miles a day can take a toll on those toes so find a good pair of hiking socks to protect your feet so you can hike daily without discomfort.

Already checking Expedia for the first flight to the Adirondacks?

I’m sure you’re already looking at flights and browsing Air Bnb to plan your Adirondack adventure, and I hope this blog post of must do things in the Adirondacks can help you plan your next getaway. Once you experience the sounds of the waterfalls, the fresh mountain air and unforgettable activities, you’ll want to visit the Adirondacks over and over again. Planning your trip in advance using these tips will ensure that you are having an affordable travel experience. Whether you are balling on a budget or ready to plan the luxury trip of your dreams, the Adirondack experience can fit anyone’s travel budget.

Let’s stay connected, shall we?

I’d love to hear from you! If you have been the Adirondacks before, share your favorite experience in the comments. Connecting on Instagram is always fun, so feel free to shoot me a message with any more questions or requests for future blog posts.

mount jo


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Hi there, I'm Anna

Brunette Collective is a lifestyle blog focused on creating happiness through an intentional life, founded by Anna Fenstermacher.