We just returned from a wonderful weekend in Lake Placid and we are so excited to share some of our adventures. Up first was a highlight of the trip: our visit to the Adirondack Experience, the Museum on Blue Mountain Lake in Blue Mountain Lake, New York. Located about 60 miles south of Lake Placid, the Adirondack Experience includes indoor and outdoor exhibits, hiking trails, and tons of interactive workshops and activities and is worthy of a day long visit.
The museum “showcases the history of the Adirondack Park and collects, preserves, and exhibits the objects used by Adirondacks over the centuries”. Opened in August of 1957 with just a few exhibits and buildings, the museum has since expanded to 24 exhibition buildings and galleries spread out over 120 acres on the edge of Blue Mountain Lake. We LOVED our visit- the exhibits are fun and engaging, the buildings are modern and clean, and the staff was welcoming and genuinely excited to share their knowledge with us. We could easily see our family becoming members of the museum if only we lived closer!
The complex is typically open from Memorial Day weekend through mid-October, but will close October 3rd for the 2021 season.
Information on admission fees here, which includes free admission for children age 5 and under, and active and retired military. All admission tickets are valid for two consecutive days. Compared to the pricing of many living history museums we have visited, we found pricing a great value.
The main exhibition buildings are all handicap accessible and strollers are allowed.
Sensory Bags are available at the admission desk at no charge, and include noise cancelling headphones, communication cards, lanyards, and a variety of fidget and stress tools.
Plenty of free parking is located adjacent to the Visitor Center, including electric vehicle charging stations.
Restrooms are conveniently located in many of the buildings, including the Visitor Center, Living in the Adirondacks Building, the Lake View Café, the Potter Education Center, and across from the Boats and Boating building.
The Lake View Café is open from 11am-4pm and serves a variety of hot and cold sandwiches (gluten free options available), salads, salads, fruit, snacks, and drinks. The views from the outdoor patio are beautiful; indoor dining is available. Guests are also welcome to bring their own food and picnic in many of the outdoor picnic areas.
Check here for a calendar of special events, including hikes, fairs, and festivals.
Plan on at least four hours to explore the main exhibits, or take your time and spend the day seeing all the exhibition spaces, hike the trail, and boat out on the lake.
30 Things to Do at the Adirondack Experience:
1. Guess the size of Water Witch, a sloop built in 1900 and designed for racing. The boat is one of over 50 on display throughout the complex, and one of over 200 in the museum’s collection. Hint: It’s over 30 feet long!
2. Follow the timeline of the evolution of the museum and answer trivia questions about the collection.
3. Shop in the beautiful gift shop, filled house wares, children’s toys and gifts, apparel, and books.
Life in the Adirondacks:
4. Watch the 10-minute introductory film.
5. Climb aboard an 1890 Pullman, the Louisville and Nashville “Oriental”, and walk the entire length of the train car. Check out the sitting parlors, bathroom, kitchen, and sleeping areas.
6. Learn about the tools needed for jobs like “sugaring”, basket weaving, mining, and logging.
7. Sit inside a guide boat and follow the video instructions to row the boat, using the oars.
8. Take a test on the interactive touch screen to find out how easily you could “rough it in the woods.”
9. Peek inside the log cabin of Anne Labastille, a local scientists and writer, and then build your own replica log cabin with wooden logs.
10. Recreate a mine blast by loading “dynamite” and detonating the plunger, go digging for garnets, and “move” the electronic logs in “River Drive.”
Minnow Pond Trail Head and ADKX Boathouse:
11. Hike the ¾ mile trail down to Minnow Pond and the ADKX Boathouse.
12. Take a guide boat out on the pond (for ages 6+; included in admission fee). Rowboats and vintage canoes are also available for rent. Note: The Boathouse closes September 1st.
Work in the Woods: Logging in the Adirondacks:
13. Stamps your own souvenir on a “tree cookie.”
14. Learn about the sprinkler wagon used in the 1890s, which carried up to 40 barrels of water.
15. Follow a day in the life of a logger and discover what they ate, how they did laundry, what they did for fun, and what activity they did SILENTLY every single day.
16. Guess which objects on display are equivalent to a cord of wood.
17. Climb the 28 steps to the top of the Whiteface Mountain Fire Tower, which was built in 1919.
Woods and Water:
18. Count the number of fishing rods and reels on display.
19. Measure your height on the leveling rod.
20. See just how old the oldest pairs of skies and snowshoes are (hint: they go back TWO centuries)
21. Pretend to go to school in the 1907 one room Reising Schoolhouse (check out the recess games!). Toddlers can even swing on the old fashioned swings
22. Sweep the floor of the kids’ cabin.
23. Pick an apple from the orchard trees outside the schoolhouse.
Boillot Art Galleries:
24. Light up the huge topography map of the Adirondacks region.
25. Walk through the rotating art exhibits. The 2021 season features exhibits Curious Creatures: Taxidermy in the Adirondacks, and a From Wilderness to Warfront: the Adirondacks and World War II exhibit. Count the rabbits in the village school and the kittens at the wedding in the taxidermy exhibit.
The Carry Pavillion:
26. Ring the bell and hop on board a 1901 H.K. Porter Company steam engine and passenger car.
27. Feed the rainbow trout in the pond.
Boats and Boating in the Adirondacks:
28. Learn the various parts of a boat.
29. Compare the difference between dozens of canoes, speedboats, and rowboats on display.
30. Key an eye out for the Boat Builder in Residence working on building a wooden guide boat (the Adirondack term for a double ended rowing boat with elliptical bottom, usually 15-16 feet long).
For more fun spots that showcase maritime history and boats, check out this post and for adventures at living history museums on the East Coast, check out this post. And follow along on our adventures on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Disclaimer: My family was hosted by ROOST Lake Placid, which included a media pass to the Adirondack Experience. All opinions expressed are my own.