The Great Camp era in the Adirondacks of upstate New York began more than a century ago, when America’s most notable families of the time (think Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, etc.) built huge lodges to enjoy the great outdoors and plenty of socializing. And while these properties still maintain their distinct, historic charm, modern families are discovering the appeal is as timeless as ever.
To find the best places to stay in the Adirondacks, we did a deep dive into each of our favorite property’s unique charms to help you determine the best fit for your trip.
Parents, put The Point Resort on your kid-free travel bucket list. The resort, which was built by the Rockefellers 100 years ago, doesn’t allow children, which means adults can feel more at ease to enjoy this iconic step back in time. We love it especially for groups of couples traveling together, because it feels like an adult summer camp!
The rustic yet luxurious cabin-style rooms give a firm sense of place and leave no doubt you’re in the midst of a historic Adirondack lodge-style resort. There are only 11 guest rooms here, each uniquely designed with period antiques. All feature wood-burning fireplaces and outdoor sitting areas with views of Saranac Lake.
And while the rooms may have a log cabin feel, the cuisine is incredibly elevated. Cocktail attire is expected at some evening meals, and menus are crafted to meet the preferences and interests of guests. Even lunch is typically a three-course affair with wine pairings.
We recommend taking a close look at the activities offered, as they vary greatly from season to season. For lovers of fall foliage, The Point exceeds expectations for its incredible autumnal beauty. Snowshoeing, ice skating and cross-country skiing are popular in winter. Boating, watersports, croquet and tennis can all be enjoyed in the warmer months. Lakeside campfires with cocktails served warm or cold are the perfect end to each active day no matter what time of year you visit.
With a motto like “stay where the world can’t find you,” the appeal of a getaway at Lake Kora has never been clearer. Because of Ciao Bambino’s affiliation with Virtuoso, a luxury travel network, our travel advisors can offer our clients access to this spectacular lakefront property. With 16 bedrooms, it is perfect for that multi-family milestone birthday, anniversary, family reunion or other special occasion you’ve been dreaming about planning.
During the same Gilded Age era when The Point was being built by the Rockfellers, the property at Lake Kora was being developed on 1,000 unspoiled acres of Adirondack forest. Many of its original aspects have been maintained, including the antique bowling lanes and the 20-foot dining table. Yet present-day visitors will be glad to know that wifi is now available, and an indulgent spa was added. Lake Kora is only available for bookings from July through October, when you can enjoy kayaking, canoeing, hiking, fishing, mountain biking, tennis and more.
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Because it can only be booked for exclusive use and on an all-inclusive basis (all farm-to-table meals, non-alcoholic beverages, sports equipment and facilities), your group will have full run of the property. Not only does this alleviate any concerns about privacy or crowds, but costs will be clear upfront. Even the three private lakes are for each client’s exclusive use. You truly won’t see anyone beyond the staff and the group you arrive with.
Guests can stay in a series of cabins and cottages, but the hub of activity centers around the lake and the main lodge, where there are also six bedrooms. Meals are customized for each group booking by a resident chef, who prepares farm-to-table cuisine for guests, including freshly baked bread and the daily fish catch. Picnic lunches, evening cocktail hours and nightly s’mores by the lakeside fire are also culinary highlights.
Not quite as intimate as the properties listed above, but not quite as large as the resorts mentioned below, Lake Placid Lodge is the only property on our list situated right on Lake Placid itself. The gorgeous covered wraparound porch overlooking the lake is a strong focal point, and it accentuates the classic feel of this lodge.
Children under 12 are not allowed to stay in the main lodge, but they are welcome in the adjacent lakeside buildings (one-bedroom suites) and private cabins, which many families find more comfortable anyway.
A plethora of activities are organized year-round. If you visit in the summer, do not miss an evening boat tour around the lake on the property’s iconic 35-foot mahogany Hacker-Craft boat. Families also enjoy being in close proximity to all the attractions in and around Lake Placid, including the Olympic venues, yet still fully immersed in the serene environment of the lodge. In winter, the property is only a 30-minute drive from Whiteface Mountain, convenient for downhill skiing.
With several onsite restaurants, there are dining options for every taste. Farm-to-table seasonal cuisine is a priority here, and a private dining experience in the wine cellar is a wonderful splurge.
Situated within walking distance of the village of Lake Placid, and with gorgeous views of Adirondack Park from most of its spacious suites, Whiteface Lodge is among the best properties for families in the region. The icing on the cake is that it features one of the top resort spas in the U.S. What’s not to like? Indeed, families of all shapes and sizes have discovered this gem and are glad they did.
There are dedicated daily children’s activities and more indoor amenities than most properties in the Adirondacks (like a bowling alley, movie theater and game room). This means every member of the family stays busy and content no matter the weather. Paddlers love the Canoe Club in the summer, skaters enjoy the dedicated ice rink in winter and the heated indoor and outdoor pools are open year-round.
The fantastic choices continue into the accommodations and dining options. Room configurations range from one- bedroom suites to the enormous presidential suite that overlooks the entire property. With several restaurants, there are both casual and upscale choices plus a fun ice cream parlor that kids adore. You can see why we consider this property the ultimate family crowd-pleaser.
For families wishing to enjoy the Adirondacks at a more value-oriented price point, without sacrificing resort amenities and activities, The Sagamore fits the bill. Situated on Lake George, it is the largest of the resorts on our list.
For accommodations, there is truly something for each family, no matter your group size. From rooms in the historic main building, to six-bedroom standalone rental homes, to condos with full kitchens, this property can accommodate most budgets and wish lists.
Dining choices are equally plentiful, with more than seven venues to choose from, though some are only open seasonally. Families love the convenience of the poolside bar, serving light meals and drinks right on the pool deck, which overlooks beautiful Lake George.
In addition to the countless onsite activities, guests at The Sagamore enjoy being near all the hustle and bustle of Lake George, which considers itself America’s oldest vacation destination and is one of the main tourist locations in the region.
A vacation in the Adirondacks is a throwback to another time, and while we may no longer be firmly planted in the Gilded Age, a getaway to any of these lodges and resorts is still every bit as desirable for families as it was in its heyday.
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This is a challenging time for our clients given the uncertainty around the spread of coronavirus, particularly for those with near-term travel plans in impacted areas. We’re working with our suppliers on being flexible with their booking conditions, and enabling families to postpone travel to a later date without a penalty, when possible. Likewise, given the unpredictability around destinations that may be impacted in the future, we’re helping clients planning new trips and understand ways that they can protect themselves until the situation improves. We are ready to help our clients work through questions and concerns.