There are a few destinations in this world where young and old can come together and have a great vacation. A place where a teenager can laugh just as loudly as a toddler. Where a couple can take a romantic getaway while a family of five is watching a bachelorette party unfold on a party boat down below. Lake George, New York has something for everyone and summer is their time to shine.
Our blogs so far have discussed our “just the two of us” trips, and we dipped into taking your parents along, but we haven’t brought our brood of boys into the mix yet. We love a good family vacation. As parents, we want to pack as many memories in as possible, and a little trip can do exactly that.
For our readers, we will let you know that that we braved the waters of taking a 15, 17 and 21-year-old on vacation and stayed in one room. This could go either way. It could be the ultimate disaster or absolute perfection. I like to think we landed somewhere in the middle (honestly leaning a little towards perfection.)
We decided the summer of 2020 (after canceling our family trip to Italy for the second time) that we needed to get out of town for a few days. Obviously with the pandemic we were a little limited, but still had limitless possibilities. New York State is so much more than the City. There are the Adirondack Mountains or the Catskills, the Finger Lakes or the countless lakes surrounded by mountain ranges, Lake Placid, the Thousand Islands, or even Niagara Falls. The list goes on and on, and any decision will be the right one because you will be with your people.
We chose Lake George for a couple of reasons, For Jen, she has a personal history with the area. All of her childhood family vacations were here, so she is filled with nostalgia anytime she takes exit 22 on Interstate 87. For Craig, he grew up just shy of two hours away and knew the area well.
Now that we knew our intended location, on to where to stay. Lake George is filled with newly renovated motels surrounding the water. Our one “must” was to be on the water. We did some searching on booking.com and found The Lake Motel to be the perfect fit for us. We find this app incredibly useful, and most properties allow you to see the room on their map. We chose the Lakefront Suite to ensure our view of the lake at the end of each day.
A large attraction in this area is Six Flags, which was closed due to the coronavirus restrictions. However, this area offers so much more than an amusement park with rides and overpriced food. We were so excited to dive in and explore! Our travel advice always includes buying a travel guide ahead to plan out your trip, but we can also be tech savvy.
The research for this trip started the same way most do, Google. We were brought to visitlakegeorge.com that offers many ideas and even gears towards couple or family activities. Google also brought us to a handful of articles, all with different ideas (remember teenagers in tow….). We were only going to be there for three days, so we wanted to pack in as much adventure as possible.
The day had finally arrived, August 4, 2020. We loaded into the minivan at 6:00am with grumbling passengers, grabbed our beloved trip treats, snagged Tim Horton’s coffee, and headed on out of town. Ah, Hurricane Isaias had set its sites on all of New York State that day. We drove through torrential downpours because nothing was stopping our family vacation.
We finally arrived and the drenching rain continued. Our original plan was to get aboard the Minnie Ha Ha Steamboat to tour the lake and feel the cool lake breeze on our faces, while we smile with the knowledge that we are knocking this trip out of the park! Well, Noah was the only one with a ship operating that day and we did not make the cut to get on.
So what do you do when it rains? You eat or you shop! We did both.
One of our favorite eateries is A&W Restaurant located right on Route 9. If you can squeeze into the parking lot for an available space it is worth the walk back in time. It is set up like a 50’s style drive up order and serve to your car. You can also choose from one of the many outdoor tables available. Due to the tropical storm surrounding us, we sat in a booth under a canopy to enjoy our burgers and fresh root beer. Food brings conversation and laughter in any kind of weather.
With full bellies, it was time to shop. Lake George is known for its outlets and we hit as many as we could. When we say as many as we could, we mean as many as the boys would allow. The difference between boys and girls can be detailed in books that would rival any encyclopedia set. The boys dragged Jen out and headed to our motel for check in.
Route 9 is the main drag of the area and where you will find most of the bustling life of the area. We drove along passing motel after motel until we saw our motel’s sign hanging proudly. We checked in and had keys in hand (actual keys, not electronic cards or fobs-real keys) ready to dry off and get settled.
Most of the motels are set up as rectangles. The rooms begin close to the road and go all the way down to the lake. This was to set up as many properties as possible with access to the lake. As you can imagine, this does not allow for much parking. Craig’s parallel parking skills came in handy as he squeezed us in.
We were on the second floor and were able to quickly get under the covered walkway (still raining) to get to our room. Our room was the one closest to the lake and worth every penny. We would have slept on cardboard boxes to wake up to that view. The room was a large square with two double beds and a sleeper sofa. The highlight was the large outdoor covered private patio with table and chairs.
Naturally, everyone dropped their bags and as if magnets, were pulled out to the patio. Even in the rain you could see the outline of the mountains, giving it an almost ghostly look. The rain bouncing off the water below created a show not to be missed. We sat around the table and talked about life. Everyone laughed and relaxed. We did what a vacation was meant to do, brought us together. Only a few hours in and already it was the best trip ever.
Tubing and White Water Rafting
Luckily, the next day the hurricane’s path was well past us. We were headed to Adirondack Adventure Center in Lake Luzerne, about a ten-minute drive from our accommodations. They offer a wide variety of outdoor activities from white water rafting, lazy river tubing to tree top zip-lining. For our day we chose the white water rafting and lazy river. We were equally excited for both! This destination does require reservations, so please visit their website to select your preferred day and time.
As requested, we arrived early to check in and get sized for our life jackets. Once the groups were ready, we loaded onto their redesigned school buses and headed to the Sacandaga River. The guides explained the rules and safety procedures on the way. They gave a brief history on the area and offered some great entertainment. Full disclosure, we are not “rafters” in any way, shape or form. This is great for beginners with zero experience. The guides have decades of experience to make you feel completely safe in their hands.
Arriving at the drop off location, we watched in awe as the guides expertly bring down the rafts from the roof of the bus. We promise you that you have never seen anyone leap from the roof of a bus in Birkenstocks like this. We near the rapids and the excitement and nervous giggles begin. One by one the rafts are dropped, loaded and pushed away from shore. Our turn arrives and we each get on, careful to select what we hope is the ideal spot to sit. Your guide sits at the very back of the raft, steering and guiding us along the way while shouting out instructions on when and how to row.
Our guide ensured we hit every possible pocket of thrills. Once you are through the first part of the rapids you hit a calm stretch where you can jump ship and float along. As you guessed, we jumped right in! While the rapids were gone, the swift moving river took us down stream in a hurry. The water was refreshing and added a little something more to our day. All too soon it was time to get back on the raft. This is not done too gracefully, but all the same we all got back on safely. We finished up with a few more splashes and ended up at our checkpoint to disembark. They efficiently loaded everything back up and we were headed back to the Center’s home base.
We had an hour before our reserved tubing time and needed some food. Water always makes you ravenous! While we did not have enough time to drive around to find a local diner, luckily there was a convenient store right next door that made any kind of sub you can think of, along with homemade summer salads. It hit the spot perfectly!
We then checked back in, retrieved our activity bracelets for tubing and waited to receive our life jackets. Again, this place is a well-oiled machine. They quickly managed the crowd to get everyone fitted and back aboard the bus to head to the Hudson River for some lazy river tubing.
This activity has a wide variety of customers. You have the couple looking for a romantic afternoon. There’s the group from the city there for a good time with the cooler raft ready to go. You have the family with young children ready to be entertained for the day. Then you have us with the teenagers ready to see the river in a whole new way.
We waited for most of the group to disburse down the river before we waded in and headed out. It is not as easy as one might think to stay together. All you have to do is use your hand as an oar and make your way to your party. Yeah, it does not quite work like that….. The guides reminded me of pre-school teachers trying to herd cats. After about ten minutes, Jen gave up on trying to stay with the boys and let Jesus take the wheel. The boys had hooked their tubes together, so they were at least with each other.
At the midway point, the guides rounded us into a spot to get off the tubes and swim if we wanted. Remember Isaias had just come whipping through? Well, the rain had caused the Hudson to be a bit swifter than it normally would have been. Jen’s tube was separated from the group and the guide’s instructions on how to paddle were not working (spoon versus fork, sure buddy).
Craig was on the shore watching the rest of the boys come in and was searching to find his wife. Oh, there she is….rocketing by like a slingshot. Thank God for Mr. Kayak, our guide, that came to the rescue and brought her to shore. Jen would also like it to be known that she was not the only one he had to bring in.
We spent some time laughing at the strength of the current and took in the views. We took a few pictures and then loaded back up. This time we made sure we were closer and hooked some of the tubes together. Jen was not about to get lost again.
It was a great opportunity to ride through the Adirondack wilderness and feel the sun on your face and the cool water underneath. It was a day well spent in the water and sun. We cannot recommend Adirondack Adventure Center enough! We will be booking here each time we return.
With the day we had, we were exhausted. We got back to our room and ordered pizza. We spent the evening eating, laughing and enjoying the great company. Our best conversations were spent out there, whether it was morning coffee just the two of us or eating Twizzlers with the whole crew. Some travelers tell you to not spend your money on the room because you spend so little time there. While we agree to a point, we think it needs to depend on your destination and your travel companions. We knew we would have some down time on this trip and wanted to make sure we had a space to allow the ultimate relaxation for all of us. That patio held some of our best moments, so choose your room wisely.
The next morning it was already time to check out, but we had one more plan before we were to head home. We booked zip lining at Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course located in Bolton Landing. They offer a variety of courses based on age and ability. We chose the Four-Course package with tandem zip lines. They do have reach (reach a height of 5’9″ with arms raised) and age requirements. You will watch a safety instructional video and must pass a test area before you can take off on your adventure. We were incredibly impressed with the precautions in place and the overall setup. Go to their website to check out the courses and book a time. Little tip- buy the gloves!!
As a parent you are always warning your kids to use caution and be careful. On this day the roles were reversed a bit. It is something to watch your child conquer fears on their own and zip line through the forest. To hear them encourage you rather than the other way around. Upon completion you have a sense of accomplishment and more memories than you can hold.
We loaded back up and began our journey home. While it may not have started quite the way we wanted, it ended up being perfect. Go to Lake George, you will not regret it!
Who’s been to Lake George? What was your favorite part? Tell us in the comment section below.
Thanks again for reading, and as always, #NeverStopPlanning.
Craig and Jen