Blog Post: Lake George
When I first started working at Roohan Realty, a real estate firm in upstate New York, it was the summer. So many of my first blog posts were about summer activities. This guide to a well-known lake in the area was one of my first. I co-wrote this with another employee at Roohan Realty.
A Beginner’s Guide to Lake George
6 Easy Ways to Enjoy Lake George
Historic Lake George is a gem of upstate New York. Regarded as the “Queen of American Lakes,” it stretches over 32 miles in length from Lake George Village in Warren County to Ticonderoga, NY. Over 200 feet deep in some places, Lake George contains more than 170 islands (some you can camp on) and is 1-3 miles wide. Its natural beauty is matched by its deep historical significance as a Native American territory and hunting ground, and strategic site during the French & Indian and Revolutionary Wars.
As one of the cleanest lakes in the country, Lake George is a popular destination and outdoor hotspot. The Lake itself, the village of Lake George, and the surrounding region offer a wide variety of fun things to do. We’ve put together a list of 6 things you can do this Spring and Summer to explore this famous lake.
1. Be A Beach Bum
The largest and most well known beach on Lake George is Million Dollar Beach, and it didn’t get that name on accident! This beautiful sandy beach has plenty of room for the whole family to sprawl out in the sun and enjoy a million dollar view of the Lake. The pleasant water is kept safe by trained lifeguards (usually on duty from 10 a.m. until 6:30 p.m.), and there are changing rooms on site for your convenience. A beach volleyball court, picnic areas and a free boat launch are all available to the public here as well. Located on Beach Road in Lake George, it’s only about 5-10 minutes off of I-87 Exit 15 and within walking distance to Lake George Village. Parking is $10 a car and $4 for motorcycles.
If you want a less crowded beach experience or have small children, the lesser known Usher’s Park Beach is perfect for you. This quiet beach has a picnic area, tennis courts, playground and restroom. The small beach, lifeguards on duty (9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.), and tobacco free policymake it a safe spot for little ones. Usher’s Park Beach is located on the southeastern side of the lake about 5 minutes from the Village on Route 9L, across from George’s Restaurant. GPS: 3857 New York 9L, Lake George, NY 12845.
Shepard’s Park Beach is located right in the heart of the village and includes a sandy beach, playground and amphitheater. It also hosts the Lake George Arts Projects’ extremely popular (and free!) summer concert series on Wednesday evenings July through August – rain or shine. See the 2016 calendar online or call (518) 668-2616 for info.
“The Summer Series is phenomenal and impacts the whole regional music scene. Bands play a Shepard Park show once and suddenly they have a Capital District following. This series is sophisticated, fun and consistently excellent. It’s hard to imagine summer in Lake George without it!”
– Sara Craig, Executive Director, Caffe Lena
Saratoga Springs, NY
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, there are so many beaches, swimming holes and pools in the Lake George region – find many more on VisitLakeGeorge.com
2. Dive In
When “lake” is in the name of a place, you can be sure there are great water sports available, and there’s no shortage of them on the “Queen of American Lakes.” Here’s a list of some of the water-oriented recreation available to get you started:
Tubing & Rafting
The Lake George Steamboat Company has paddle wheel cruises, family-friendly cruises, champagne brunch cruises, moonlight and fireworks cruises, lake tours and many more. 57 Beach Road, Lake George, NY 12845 (adjacent to Million Dollar Beach). Shoreline Cruises offers sightseeing cruises that depart right from the heart of Lake George village.
GROUPON: $33 for a two-hour sightseeing cruise for two or $65 for four
Other water activities on Lake George:
- Boat rentals: When it comes to boat rentals, there’s no shortage of options on Lake George. Speed boats, pontoon boats, canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, and wake boards all offer unique ways to explore the lake…take your pick! Find a rental
- Fishing: Whether you’re with family or friends, boat or no boat, there are lots of ways to fish on Lake George. Just be sure to purchase a license if you’re over 16 (info and purchase locations here).
- Scuba diving
- Waterskiing or wakeboarding
3. Walk on the Wild Side
Do you like obstacle courses? How about 1.5 miles of obstacle courses, wobbly bridges, and zip lines all in the tree tops? Traverse from tree to tree with varying levels of difficulty and heights– just don’t look down! Challenge yourself at the Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course this Summer! They are very popular, so we recommend calling ahead to schedule a reservation! See schedule and prices
Looking for more thrills? Just a few miles South of Lake George you’ll find The Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom, a Six Flags theme park. As you can expect from any Six Flags park, The Great Escape has tons of rollercoasters and rides (including a new virtual reality rollercoaster) and a water park with slides, lazy river, wave pool, spraygrounds, freefall drops and more. On rainy days, the Great Escape Lodge and Indoor Water Park right across the street are another alternative for family fun. Get tickets
If you’re looking for more low-key fun, try out The Fun Spot (roller rink, laser tag, go karts, mini golf), Adventure Family Fun Center (arcade, go karts, rock climbing wall, bumper cars, paintball), Waterslide World, and miniature golf.
4. Step Back In Time
The Adirondack Region is rich in history and culture, and Lake George has lots of ways to combine education with recreation whether you’re a history buff or just looking for something to do:
Fort William Henry
Museum, reenactments, military demos, self-guided tours, ghost tours
Lake George Historical Association
Museum, private tours, lectures, events
Mohican Trail Self-Guided Historical Tour (Lake George area on page 48)
200 mile, self-guided driving tour spanning Warren, Washington, Saratoga, and nearby counties stopping at 17th-19th century archeological and military sites, monuments, forts and historical houses from the French and Indian and Revolutionary Wars. Pick up booklets at Fort William Henry and Saratoga National Historical Park.
Active during 2 wars, this 18th-century fort features reenactments, gardens & a weapons collection.
5. Hike or Bike the Beautiful Southern Basin
Hugged by mountains, Lake George boasts countless hiking trails, bike paths, parks and preserves for all ages and skill levels. VisitLakeGeorge.com has a comprehensive list you can filter by location with links to maps, websites and more.
Buck Mountain is a popular 10 mile trail only 10 miles from Lake George village with beautiful views from the summit. Moderate skill level
6. Shopping & Dining
From casual country stores to artisan boutiques to brand name factory outlets, there all sorts of shopping and dining venues in and around Lake George.
The Factory Outlets of Lake George are located a few miles outside the village of Lake George, but are easily accessible from I-87 Exit 20. The “Million Dollar Half Mile” consists of 5 shopping malls:
- The Outlets at Lake George East – Coach, Harry & David, Polo and more…
- The Outlets at Lake George West – Adidas, Lindt, Skechers and more…
- French Mountain Commons – Banana Republic, GAP, Nine West, Sunglass Hut, J. Crew and more…
- The Log Jam Outlet Center – DKNY, Guess, Brooks Brothers and more…
- The Adirondack Outlet Mall – Corningware, Rockport, LL Bean, Under Armour and more…
Lake George Village is the downtown area at the southern tip of the lake. The main strip (Rout 9N/Canada Street) and side streets are lined with shops: souvenir/t-shirt shops, sweets shops, ice cream creameries, Adirondack Winery, Lake George Olive Oil Company, jewelry stores, a Harley Davidson dealer (Lake George hosts Americade – the world’s largest multi-brand motorcycle touring rally – each year), and grocery/convenience stores to name a few. View a Google map of village shops
As for restaurants, choose from: American, Asian Fusion, Mexican, Sushi, Italian, Indian, Irish, Turkish, Mediterranean, pub fare, seafood, BBQ, steakhouses, hibachi grills, burger joints, pizza parlors, diners, brunch spots, and cafes. See village restaurants and reviews on Yelp.
If you’re willing to venture outside of Lake George Village, here are some nearby favorites:
The Lone Bull Pancake & Steak House is about a 7 minute drive from Lake George Village if you follow Route 9N north along the west side of the lake towards Bolton Landing. It has a rustic feel and is great for groups and families. Really, really good pancakes/french toast…bacon…home fries. One reviewer said, “…a very generous, well above-average breakfast: mountains of fluffy eggs, platters of steaming pancakes, sidecars of sizzling bacon. …I know of no better breakfast on the lake, and possibly the region. For serious.”
Tips: Avoid peak brunch hours as it’s a popular place and there can be waits/parking can get tight. Also, you can’t be seated until everyone in your party is present so keep that in mind if you’re in a group.
The Silo is in nearby Queensbury, almost directly off I-87 Exit 19, about 15 minutes from Lake George. They serve breakfast all day (open daily 7am – 3pm)! This place also gets busy, but if you do have a short wait to be seated, you can walk around their 2 story country store and browse bakery items, gifts, jams and spreads, jewelry, clothing, and furniture. If you’ve got a big day planned, their protein-packed omelets are massive and you can choose one of theirs or create your own. If you’re schedule is more relaxed (and maybe have time to squeeze in a nap later), their Belgium Waffles are out of this world. 10% off coupons here
Sammy D’s Cafe is located in the Adirondack Outlet Mall (near Corningware, LL Bean outlets), but they’re definitely “not your average mall fare!” Everything is homemade and made to order, including their bread, which is baked in house. They roast their own meats, use fresh vegetables, and provide vegetarian and gluten free options. Try their buffalo chicken wrap, greek salad with balsamic pesto dressing, or their fan favorite Dacks sandwich (Roast beef, bacon, spinach, caramelized onions, sauteed button mushrooms, swiss cheese + russian). View menu
Poopie Di Manno’s is a hidden local gem located in the nearby town of Glens Falls (20 minutes from Lake George) serving breakfast and lunch. Again, this is a busy place, so opt to be a little earlier or later than peak times to avoid a wait. Their breakfast favorites include tasty breakfast sandwiches, homemade hash, french toast and omelets. For lunch, people rave about their fresh soups (daily specials), their “famous” burgers, and their hot and cold sandwiches “full of meat.” View menu
The Blue Water Manor is located on the west side of the lake, about 15 minutes north of the Village if you follow Route 9N towards Bolton Landing. The location is spectacular – it’s a short drive from town but far enough to feel secluded and private. The property is steep and hugged by lush natural landscaping and mature trees, with small cottages around the the restaurant, which is a big old historic house with huge porches for outdoor seating and sweeping views of the lake. Perfect for happy hour, and they occasionally have live entertainment. Tip: The driveway between 9N and the tavern is a little steep and there are some small steps getting around the restaurant so just be careful. Map/Directions
The Sans Souci is a bar/restaurant on the east side of Lake George, located on the peninsula hamlet of Cleverdale (about 15 minutes from Lake George Village). Located in a residential neighborhood of lakefront homes, the Sans has been a local staple for over 100 years and is always buzzing with residents and vacationers renting nearby homes and camps. This place has a very casual vibe, a full bar, some outdoor seating, offers takeout, and is great for groups and families. It’s usually loud and busy, but very friendly, and also a great place to learn a little about the lake – many of the regulars are lifelong residents with invaluable knowledge and stories. Try their Cleverdale Wings, hand tossed pizzas, and homemade chips. Map/Directions
–Nice Dinner Out–
Bistro Le Roux has almost 200 rave reviews online about their Modern American fare with Gluten Free and Vegetarian dishes. Sample entrees include New Zealand Rack of Lamb, Calamari and Andouille Risotto, and Cabernet Braised Short Ribs (view menu). Bistro Le Roux is located on the east side of Lake George on Route 149 at the intersection of Bay Road.
Tips: Reservations are recommended, call (518) 798-2982. They also offer a half-plates to suit lighter appetites. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Bistro Tallulah is tucked away in the downtown area of nearby Glens Falls, about 20 minutes from Lake George. Their menu is a creative blend of cuisines with Spanish, French and New Orleans influences, featuring entrees like Artichoke, Chorizo and Seafood Cioppino, Mussels and Frites, and Pancetta Braised Organic Chicken. Dishes may be ordered as full or small plates. One reviewer said, “The hangar steak is the reason I eat meat again after 10 years of abstaining.”Closed Sundays and Mondays. View menu
The Log Jam Restaurant is located just off I-87 Exit 20 in the Log Jam Outlet Center (map/directions) and is a favorite among locals. It has a cozy Adirondack ambiance with lots of dark wood, exposed beams, mood lighting, and a big wood-burning fireplace that warms the bar area during cooler months. They have a robust selection of entrees, but are probably best known for their steaks. Good for couples, groups, kids. Can get loud! Be sure to try their crabmeat stuffed mushroom appetizer, delicious! View menu
We hope this Lake George guide was helpful, and if you liked this post, you might be interested in our Beginners Guide to Saratoga Lake.