George Reigns: Six Reasons to Dive into The Queen of American Lakes
Local flotation devices – photo by Mitch Pengra
Local flotation devices – photo by Mitch Pengra
The Mohican steamboat – photo by Amy Pengra
Hacker Crafting. Photo by Amy Pengra.
Even in stormy weather, Lake George reigns – photo by Amy Pengra
Family kayak attack – photo by Francey Pengra
Chipmunks are nuts for Bolton Landing! – 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).
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.
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.
4. Art and History
In addition to Lake George’s natural beauty, visitors can browse local galleries or the famed Hyde Collection in Glens Falls. The newest Georgia O’Keefe exhibit highlights a series of paintings inspired by the artist’s time in Lake George. History buffs will enjoy exploring local heritage at The Bolton Historical Museum as well as regional folklore at Fort William Henry.
Bolton overflows with interesting shops dotted along Lake Shore Drive. Start with the timeless Indian Teepee, which arrests the senses with packed, pine-scented shelves of moccasins, birch ornaments, candy cigarettes and anything you can adorn with tiny antlers. Next up is Black Bass Antiques. I know zilch about fishing and less about taxidermy, but I can tackle this evolving collection (vintage postcards, books, nautical collectibles and more) for days. Next Summer is a new strip staple for unique maritime gifts and LG-themed pottery, linens and jewelry. Finally, Happy Jack’s is my happy place for hilarious greeting cards, t-shirts, books, and stocking stuffers. Their adjacent toy store fulfills imaginations but also empties wallets, so plan ahead.
6. Sundry Sleeps & Eats
From luxury resorts to modest cabins, you’re sure to find a suitable dock. The Sagamore is one of the most beautiful properties brimming with local history. If you’re on a budget, however, opt for a bite on the lakefront grounds instead of an overnight—you’ll feel full and fancy without drowning your paycheck. Two other restful options include Canoe Island Lodge, Porter’s Cottages and Treasure Cove.
When it comes to grub, choices run the gamut. Start the day at Bolton Beans with shots of caffeine and a protein-packed omelet to fuel your recreation. For lunch hit the deck at The Algonquin where great food and lake views are plentiful. Or snag a shady spot at Frank’s Snack Bar where I’ve downed countless hamburgers and soft serve cones (with sprinkles!). When dinner beckons, head to Warrensburg for The Gristmill’s wide menu of local fare on the Schroon River.
For these reasons and many more, you can forget the baby prince. Lake George is the only royalty you need.
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