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Day trip north of Albany

New Hartford...
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Day trip north of Albany

We'll be in the Albany area for two mid-week nights in early September and are thinking of spending a day driving north of the city. We're considering visiting Saratoga Springs, Ticonderoga, possibly Lake Placid and are interested in areas with nice scenery, small towns, possible shopping. Does anyone have suggestions for a nice route? Is Lake Placid too much to try to do in a day? We can get an early start but will need to be back in Albany by dinner-time. We'll be heading south afterwards, but wanted to get a sample of the area north of Albany during our free day. Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

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Albany
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1. Re: Day trip north of Albany

I think Saratoga Springs, Lake George and Lake Placid are all good possibilities for your day trip.

Saratoga is the closest to Albany, and you can make it into the center of town in about 30-40 minutes. It has a great little downtown, with lots of restaurants and little shops.

Lake George is about an hour from Albany, and is a beautiful lake right over the line into the Adirondacks. The Village of Lake George is quite touristy, with lots of t-shirt and souvenir shops. If you are bringing children, there is lots to keep them busy -- putt putt, arcades and wax museums. Fort William Henry is there if you are a history buff, and it is an interesting tour. And you can drive to the top of Prospect Mountain (or hike if you're feeling up to it) for some beautiful views of the lake. For shopping and eating, I prefer the village of Bolton Landing on Lake George. Home of the Sagamore Resort, it is a quainter town with boutiques and antique stores as well as restaurants and cafes.

Lake Placid is one of our favorite places, but it is a bit of a hike from Albany for a day trip (although people do it). It is about 2 1/4 hours. The village has lots of shops, and you can tour all the Olympic facilities from 1932 and 1980. Even take a bobsled ride if you are up to it! And you can drive to the top of Whiteface Mountain, which on a clear day has beautiful views (and is much taller than Prospect Mountain in Lake George).

Unless you really are interested in seeing Fort Ticonderoga, there isn't much to the town of Ticonderoga itself (other than having the Walmart and Lowes for the area), so I probably wouldn't make the trek there myself if only touring for the day.

The Adirondacks are beautiful in the fall, so I would recommend making the trip up that way. You can even stop in Saratoga on your way up or back from Lake George or Lake Placid. There are great restaurants for dinner.

And take a little time to explore Albany. We sometimes get a bad rap, but we are a great little city.

Hope this helps!

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2. Re: Day trip north of Albany

Quick add on to Jennyams' informative post!

if you are interested in outlets at all and head up to Lake George, there are some outlets before you get to the village.

http://factoryoutletsoflakegeorge.com/

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3. Re: Day trip north of Albany

Jenny is right on target, I would recommend Saratoga. It will be a lot quieter in September than it is right now.

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4. Re: Day trip north of Albany

I also recommend Saratoga for its strollable downtown, good restaurants and overall charm.

I personally am not a fan of Lake George village or Lake Placid as they are WAY too touristy. Lake George is beautiful, though and any detour while driving around will be very scenic and more like the true Adirondacks. I agree that Fort Ticonderoga is probably not worth your time unless you were continuing east or north on the way to somewhere else.

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5. Re: Day trip north of Albany

As a former resident of Saratoga Springs, I’m disappointed with how ‘downtown’ is turning out. Many of the independently owned shops have been replaced by the chains. Still, it has a little charm in its own way. It’s not as charming, just for comparison, as Woodstock, Vermont, where nearly all the stores are indendently owned. Granted, Saratoga Springs does not have a mas$$ive benefactor like Woodstock, Vermont does to keep the town more traditional.

While popular, like post #4 I am not a fan of Lake George Village. Not just touristy, but cheesy touristy. We usually stay at a house in the northern part of the lake.

Lake Placid [the town] is also touristy. There are MANY more tourists in the summer than in the winter. However, it has interesting history. How many places can lay claim to have hosted TWO Olympic games? And, the drive around the Lake Placid area is quite scenic. I admit some bias towards Lake Placid/Whiteface as we have Olympians in the family.

Another unique item in the Adirondacks are the Great Camps, such as Durant’s Camp Sagamore:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sagamore_Camp

Another example is Santononi:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santanoni_Preserve

Some of these families were so rich, they had private railroads going to their camps. Santononi is 2 hours from Albany, Camp Sagamore about 2 hours, 20 minutes. Lake Placid is about 2 hours 45 minutes in the summer. I realize you can get to Lake Placid in less than that [done the drive many times], but its easy to get held up in the summer. But if you really need to be back by ‘dinner~time’, Lake Placid would be a stretch.

I suggest you go as far as Lake George and ride one of the many boat rides available in the village. Then have a light meal on the porch at the Sagamore Resort in Bolton Landing [call ahead to check that the restaurants are open].

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Bolton Landing, NY
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6. Re: Day trip north of Albany

If you're looking for scenery, small towns and a little history, I can recommend a great drive north of Albany. It's a tad long, but if you like road trips and can get an early start, this one can't be beat; indeed, it's one of my favorites:

Take the Northway (I-87) north from Albany past Lake George to Exit 23 ("Warrensburg"). Get off and follow US 9 north through town, then turn left onto NY 28 north. Stay on NY 28 to the hamlet of North Creek, where you can take a scenic gondola ride to the top of Gore Mountain, one the region's largest ski areas (follow signs); take a ride on the historic Upper Hudson Scenic Railroad; or do a little shopping in the village.

Continuing on, NY 28 parallels the Hudson River between North Creek and North River, with several pull-overs where you can stop and enjoy the view. Stay on NY 28 through Indian Lake. Now you're in the Adirondack lake country and some of the most beautiful scenery you'll find anywhere. At Blue Mountain Lake, turn right onto NY 28N-NY 30 and follow it around part of the lake. At the top of a steep incline, you'll arrive at the Adirondack Museum, a fabulous collection of buildings, exhibits, artifacts and more that tells the history, culture and way of life of the Adirondacks. You have to see it to believe it. You'll find lots of info at http://www.adkmuseum.org.

Continue north on NY 28N-NY 30 to the town of Long Lake. If you have time, turn left at Hoss' where NY 30 branches off and drive down to the lake. Here you'll see some of the most coveted scenery in the state. If it's lunchtime, grab a bite in the old Adirondack Hotel (www.adirondackhotel.com). Then head back up the hill and turn left at Hoss' onto NY 28N again. Now you're on your way toward Newcomb, home of the Hudson River's headwaters and the smallest school district in New York. The Adirondack Visitor Interpretive Center is worth a visit. Or continue on 'til you get to a bridge over the Hudson River. Hard to believe this small mountain creek becomes one of America's greatest rivers. There's a small park off the side of the road that tells more about it. A little further on NY 28N is Overlook Park with a spectacular view of the Adirondacks' highest peaks -- a "must stop and see."

Continue on NY 28N. Now you're on what's known as the Roosevelt-Marcy Highway. A large tablet just past the Overlook Park explains the name. In a nutshell, Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was vacationing in an isolated community north of here called Tahawus when an assassin shot President McKinley. When word got to Roosevelt, he raced down from Tahawus on buckboard and headed to North Creek, where he would take the train to Buffalo. You're driving on Roosevelt's route to North Creek. McKinley died while Roosevelt was en route, so Vice President Roosevelt became President Roosevelt in these mountains. As you drive along 28N, you'll come upon a rather dilapidated building called Aiden Lair (look for a historic marker out front). Roosevelt changed horses at this tavern on his way to North Creek. A historic building that, sadly, has been allowed to fall into ruin.

NY 28N then winds through a few more small communities before depositing you back in North Creek, where you'll pick up NY 28 south back to Warrensburg and, eventually, I-87 back to Albany.

Enjoy! It's a full day, but one that will fill up the memory card in your camera.

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7. Re: Day trip north of Albany

I love Hoss'!

That is quite a post Del. My wife and I have done some of that route and is a nice, although for me - long, ride.

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8. Re: Day trip north of Albany

Wow, thank you everyone for all the good information! I think we will definitely start in Saratoga Springs and Lake George sounds nice too. Depending on the time after that, we may try some of these other options, but I'm inclined to not try to make it all the way up to Lake Placid. I would love to see some of the great camps as I saw a documentary about those not too long ago. Anyway, it looks like this will certainly not be our last trip up that way! Thanks again for everyone's input - I will take all of this info with me on the trip.

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9. Re: Day trip north of Albany

I agree with all recommendations for Saratoga. Lake Placid and Lake George would be too far for just a quick day trip. I am not sure where else you are traveling but in mid-September it would also be amazing to do some hiking or a stop at a local apple farm while you are in the Albany area.

Hope you have a wonderful trip:)

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Albany
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10. Re: Day trip north of Albany

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