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George Reigns: Six Reasons to Dive into The Queen of American Lakes

  1. Lake George Local flotation devices – photo by Mitch Pengra
    Local flotation devices – photo by Mitch Pengra  
  2. Family kayak attack – photo by Francey Pengra
    Family kayak attack – photo by Francey Pengra  
  3.  Chipmunks are nuts for Bolton Landing! – photo by Amy Pengra
    Chipmunks are nuts for Bolton Landing! – photo by Amy Pengra  
  4. Relaxation, Adirondack style – photo by Amy Pengra
    Relaxation, Adirondack style – photo by Amy Pengra  

Lately, the name George means one thing: Royal Baby. But this crown jewel is Lake George, Queen of American Lakes in the Adirondacks, boasting 32-miles of natural beauty. For someone who grew up in Texas, traveling to upstate New York for vacation would seem like an odd destination. But a tradition of summer gatherings provided time to experience the lake and its waterside town, Bolton Landing.

Whether you visit from near or far, Lake George offers a boatload of regal benefits over thousands of other waterways in the U.S.

Six Reasons to Go George:

1. The Water

Lake George is the largest in the Adirondacks and one of the cleanest and coldest (hello, spring-fed glacial water!) lakes in the country. I love splashing in, on and around via various modes: kayak, water skis, paddleboard, and any boat that moves me. You’ll see an assortment: sail, ski, speed and steamboats, pontoons, yachts and classic wooden floaters. In fact, Hacker-Craft, one of the most famous mahogany boat makers, calls Lake George home. If you’re a fan of these Gatsby-esque beauties, don’t miss the showroom in Silver Bay.

When I was a kid, learning to water ski meant swallowing gallons of lake water and freezing my bones until I finally stood for 10 seconds. Thanks to Chic’s Marina and other instruction in the area, today’s rookies enjoy a better first-timer experience with the same thrilling payoff: riding the wake. Chic’s also answers the call for boat, wave-runner and Jet Ski rentals, parasailing and more.

If paddleboards, kayaks and canoes are more your speed, head to Lake George Kayak Company. Their boathouse is accessible by car or boat in one of the most stunning structures on the water. They offer rentals as well as lessons and a two-story paddle-shop stocked with outdoor gear.

Tired of paddling? Let Lake George Steamboat Company’s hefty steamers do the work. Their authentic ships, The Mohican (the classic), The Lac du Saint Sacrement (the largest) and The Minne-Ha-Ha (the most fun to say) offer an array of tours. I hadn’t cruised in ages until recently boarding The Mohican, a stately triple-decker host complete with drinks and snacks.

Vacation often means lounging and Lake George delivers endless horizontal options. Many properties provide lakefront access, but if your camp seeks sandy shores, hit Bolton’s free public beaches. ($5 daily parking fees required in both Roger Memorial and Veterans Memorial Parks).

The Mohican steamboat – photo by Amy Pengra
The Mohican steamboat – photo by Amy Pengra
 Even in stormy weather, Lake George reigns – photo by Amy Pengra
Even in stormy weather, Lake George reigns – photo by Amy Pengra
Hacker Crafting. Photo by Amy Pengra.
Hacker Crafting. Photo by Amy Pengra.

2. Offshore Adventure

Feeling Waterlogged? You’ll have no problem finding dry excitement off the lake. For kid-friendly amusements head to Fun World the oldest arcade in the area (with new and classic games) or swing by Lumberjack Pass Mini Golf. Both attractions are home to nearby Lake George Village, a bustling town packed with nostalgic shops and eateries.

Horseback riding is another popular way to wander Bolton’s foothills. If you don’t ride, but enjoy ponies and wagering, head 45 minutes south to Saratoga.

3. The Mountains

Even after years of visits, I never tire of the Adirondacks’ quilted emerald slopes angled around the glistening water. The forested shorelines are enough to sate any weary traveler. But if you’ve got the energy and crave trails, by George, they’ve got them! Hikes and climbs abound for all ages and abilities.

Need to sit for a spell? Pull up an Adirondack (we just call them chairs), lean back and enjoy the view. For the outdoorsy sorts, there are countless camping options.

Beyond camping, another tasty tradition happens in these hills: maple sugaring to produce some of the best syrup in the country. Tap the sap of Bixby’s Best – it’s homemade in Bolton. Stop by Dave’s Market for some sweet stash or order this sticky goodness online.

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