The tiny village of Lake Placid, tucked away in the High Peaks region of New York’s Adirondack Mountains, has witnessed some of the greatest moments — and miracles — in Olympic history.
When it hosted in 1932, 16-year-old figure skater Sonja Heine took the gold while local hero, speed skater Jack Shea, took home two. Then, in 1980, it was Eric Heiden’s World and Olympic-record smashing road to capturing five gold medals in Speed Skating and the USA’s victory in Ice Hockey that proved miraculous.
You can experience the rich Olympic history of Lake Placid in just one weekend!
What to do
1.) Experience the magic of the “Miracle on Ice”
Located in the Olympic Center, this rink hosted one of the greatest moments in sports history — when the United States defeated the then-Soviet Union in the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics before eventually going on to capture the gold. You can enter for free, and on weekends, check out the youth hockey tournaments. Throughout the year, you can catch international figure skating performances and competitions featuring some of the world’s most well-known skaters.
2.) Tour the Lake Placid Olympic Museum
Located in the lower-level of the Olympic Center, this hardware-packed museum walks visitors through Winter Olympic history and is a great way to begin your Olympic experience at Lake Placid. You’ll learn the story of both the 1932 and 1980 Lake Placid games, see the evolution of ice skates and bobsleds, and check out Olympic torches used for past games.
3.) Skate on the Olympic Speed Skating Oval
It was on this outdoor speed-skating oval that Eric Heiden won five Olympic gold medals — and you can skate here, too! Skates are available for rental, or bring your own. It’s quite a humbling experience knowing how many speed-skating greats shared this ice!
4.) Ski Whiteface
With 86 runs, 11 lifts, and several mountainside restaurants, there’s no shortage of challenging and relaxing things to do at Whiteface Resort. It was here that the Alpine ski events were held in the 1980 games.
5.) Ski the miles of Nordic Trails
The skis are available for rent and the trails open for exploration at the Mt. Van Hoevenburg Olympic Sports Complex Nordic Ski Center. Full-day and half-day passes available.
6.) Try your hand at Bobsled
This track, located at the Olympic Sports Complex at Mt. Van Hoevenberg, is the only bobsled/skeleton/luge track east of the Rocky Mountains and is host to this year’s World Championships in Bobsled and Skeleton. Visitors can take a ride around the track on their vehicle of choice — Bobsled or Skeleton. Expect to pay a bit more for this one-of-a-kind adventure.
7.) Attempt the Ski Jump
Ok, so maybe don’t attempt the ski jump. Just stop by and look at it. Seriously, do you see how high that thing is?! If you want to experience the height, but not the jump, you can take an elevator to the top and return the same way.
How to make it happen
If you’re wanting to visit all of the sites above, the Olympic sites passport is definitely the way to go. For just $29 USD, you’ll receive admission to most of the sites above, as well as tours, lift passes, and additional discounts. If you think you’ll only make it to a few, pay individual admission and rental at each place. Many of the venues are within walking distance of one another, and a shuttle is available to transfer you to locations further from the town center. Before you leave, top off your adventure with an Ubu Ale from the Lake Placid Brewery. It’s quite possibly the best beer we’ve ever had on tap. After a weekend full of activity — you’ve earned it!
Have you ever visited an Olympic Park or Sports Complex? If so, where? We’d love to hear about your experience!