My kids had MLK, Jr. day and the next day off from school last week. I can’t stand to let time off go wasted, so I planned a four-day winter weekend in Lake Placid, New York. My husband and kids love winter activities, and I had always wanted to visit Lake Placid, as I vividly remember the 1980 Olympics “Miracle on Ice.” Since my kids hadn’t really heard of Lake Placid before, it was hard to get everyone excited about the trip. But they love a good vacation, so they were game. I’m happy to say that the trip exceeded everyone’s expectations! Our hotel was great, and it was 100% free using points.
Getting There: Lake Placid is located in the truly beautiful Adirondack mountains of upstate New York. It is about 9 hours by car from our house in the D.C. suburbs. My kids groaned at the thought of being in the car this long, and truthfully I wasn’t too excited about it either. But the flying options didn’t really make it better for us as the closest major airports are in Albany, New York; Burlington, Vermont; and Montreal, Canada, which would all require renting a car and driving at least 2 hours anyway.
Where We Stayed:
The town of Lake Placid is very, very cute. The main street (literally Main Street!) through town has tons of shops, restaurants, and hotels/inns all very close together, and is very walkable. The Olympic Center is right along this street, too. You could easily park your car (or not have a car) and get along just fine. However, there are a few activities you might be interested in that would require a car, or taking a taxi or shuttle. There is a free shuttle to some of the other Olympic sites.
I highly recommend staying right along Main Street to minimize the need for driving around. The best option for redeeming hotel points is Priority Club’s Crowne Plaza (transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards). The location is excellent, right in the middle of things, and overlooking Mirror Lake. Rooms were going for a steep 45,000 points per night, however, which was way out of line with the cash price.
So instead we stayed at the Golden Arrow resort hotel, and I’m so glad we did! The location is PERFECT. Right in the center of town (directly across from the Crowne Plaza), and even better, right on Mirror Lake. Our room overlooked the lake, and the kids absolutely loved stepping out the door and skating on the lake. The lake was cleared of snow into several “rinks” where people were skating and playing pick-up hockey.
Skating on Mirror Lake, right outside of the Golden Arrow.
The hotel also has an indoor pool, a fitness area, a racquetball court, and a very nice restaurant. Our room had a wood-burning fireplace which we made good use of. There was ample free covered parking, and the staff was very friendly and efficient. We had no complaints and I highly recommend this hotel. If I could do it over again, this is where I would stay.
We loved the Golden Arrow!
Our Whiteface Suite at the Golden Arrow
We used Capital One No Hassle Miles that I earned as part of last year’s promotion where Capital One would give you double the miles you earned in another rewards program the previous year. The total cost for a standard room would have been $550 or 55,000 Capital One Miles for the 3 nights total. Our small suite was $725, or 72,500 Capital One Miles.
What We Did:
There were many activities to keep us busy. We visited the Olympic Center and museum. We went to the Ski Jumping Complex where an event was taking place. It was really amazing to see those jumps in person! We also took the elevator all the way to the top and had the chance to look down the chutes. I can’t imagine actually skiing down there.
Would you ski down this hill?
One of the highlights of the trip was riding on an Olympic bobsled! It is amazing how fast they go, and how shaken up you get. You ride with a driver and a brakeman, and it was an all-around fun experience for us all. You can also do a Skeleton run if you are at least 13.
Bobsledding was so much fun.
Our favorite activity, however, was snowmobiling. We used a local service and took the 1 hour ride option. A personable guide led the way, and off we went on snow covered trails. I drove one with one of our boys, my husband drove one with one of the boys on back, and my 13 year old son was old enough to drive his own. Dress warmly if you do this, but it is really a fun experience.
Snowmobiling was our favorite activity.
There were many things we didn’t get to on this trip, but would add to our list in the future. These include skiing at Whiteface Mt, snow tubing at the Ski Jumping Complex, skating on the Olympic speedskating oval, and riding on the Toboggan Chute in the center of town. Sadly, the ice conditions were unsafe when we were there and the chute was closed.
We purchased the Olympic Sites Passport for $32. This covered admission to the Olympic Museum, Jumping Complex, Sports Complex, Whiteface Gondola ride, and skating on the Olympic speed skating oval. With the passport, there was a 20% discount on the Bobsled Experience, so overall the Passports were really a good value for us.
For a trip that started with low expectations, it was one of our most memorable and fun vacations.
Outside the “Miracle on Ice” rink.