Seriously: start planning for the next Lake Placid Holiday Village Stroll. It’s in December each year and we just returned from the 10th installment — of which we loved every minute.
So consider this your perfect planning tool for where to stay, eat and play for next year’s Holiday Village Stroll in Lake Placid. (If it seems like way too far ahead to plan, consider spending some time this summer in Lake Placid first, which we also strongly recommend.)
Best hotel for the Holiday Village Stroll
You’d be hard-pressed to stay more central than Hotel North Woods for Lake Placid’s Holiday Stroll. It’s a family-friendly boutique hotel that’s smack-dab between two restaurants and set right in the middle of Main Street. (Of course the downtown strip is called Main Street, right!?)
Hotel North Woods is a comfortable place to rest your heads and provides easy walking access to just about everything I’m going to list below. And that means you’re gonna park your car and leave it there — avoiding trying to make your way to Main Street with everyone else who wants to see Santa arrive on the local fire truck (yes, this happens…more on that shortly). It means you avoid trying to find public parking along with the cost, too.
Our room was very clean and the one-bedroom suites are affordable and spacious enough that our family of four was easily accommodated. Big B and I had our own room with a king bed and the kids were in the main living space on a good-sized pullout sofa. There was even a big dresser where we could unpack everything, which is often lacking in hotels these days.
A coffeemaker and a couple of the awesome Hotel North Woods mugs along with both coffee and hot chocolate K-cups meant we could all come in and warm ourselves mid-afternoon on the days we were almost entirely outdoors. (For reals — buy a couple of the mugs before you leave. I’ve used mine every day since we got home!)
Restaurants near the Holiday Village Stroll
We love eating in Lake Placid because the food is good everywhere. So you can try new spots for every meal risk-free. During this visit, we enjoyed these restaurants:
$$ | Must-try dishes:
Start with the crab and corn fritters before moving on to “Chicken. Fried, that is.” (No, seriously, that’s what it’s called — and it was the standout dish during our entire visit. Including the grits its on, and I’ve never liked grits before this. I might consider the five-hour drive just to come back for this fried chicken.)
$$ | Must-try dishes:
The Brussels sprouts salad is a warm, glazed hug in your mouth — perfect for colder nights. Then get ready for the ultimate in comfort-food with chili in a bread bowl, covered in thick sour cream.
$ | Must-try dishes:
The blueberry pancakes are fluffy, huge and flooded with berries. If you’re looking for something a bit different, the Crawfish Benny is an excellent twist on a classic. But its the High Peaks Sausage & Gravy that will leave you wanting three more mornings in Lake Placid just so you can have it again and again (and again).
$$ | Must-try dishes:
Begin with the duck confit quesadilla, which is loaded with shredded duck meat and big enough for two adults and two kids to share. The lobster mac & cheese is one of those meals I’d probably get out of my PJs on a Friday night to indulge in. But the real star of the show here was a cherry-infused old fashioned, which was so good it was hard to stop at one. (Yes, I am fully aware the latter is not a dish. But it deserved to be mentioned.)
Note: this restaurant doesn’t take reservations and can get quite busy; without a solid hostess there to keep it all organized, you might find yourself wondering if you’ll ever be seated — so arrive early to avoid potential frustration.
$ | Must-try dishes:
If you’re exceptionally hungry and really love traditional Bavarian pretzels, The Hasselhoff is served with a pretzel that appears to be on steroids. It’s fresh and enormous and filled with classic breakfast items like home fries and scrambled eggs. Even more noteworthy — but far less a spectacle — is the Wright Peak, a pretzel bread-based French toast drunk with a hazelnut liqueur glaze.
Around the Lake Coffee (2517 Main St.)
$ | Must-try dishes:
Not a dish, but get the mocha. SO FLIPPIN’ GOOD. About the price of Starbucks but with much more artisan flair.
$ | Must-try dishes:
Very well-priced for the quality and quantity of food. And if you don’t have the apple strudel before you die, you will die in vain. Truth.
Holiday Village Stroll activities
Boy, did we pack in some action! There’s no way we could have gotten to everything we did if we weren’t already staying downtown because we essentially woke up each day, put on our Energizer Bunny ears and WENT FOR IT. The best part? So many of the activities during the Holiday Stroll in Lake Placid are F-R-E-E.
Ugly Sweater Party
I love a good dress-up party and it was so fun going as a family to The Cottage in our get-up!
Little did we know that dinner would lead to a night full of shenanigans with a bunch of strangers! The table next to us — a group of about 15 men, women and kids — were party animals and orchestrated a full parade around the resto-bar before an all-out contest for the best Ugly Christmas Sweater in the joint. Somehow, I won second place and was rewarded with a mini bottle of Veuve champagne. HELLO!
There was a musician onstage for most of our night, and just after dinner he invited any kids who wanted to come up and play with him. He busted out tambourines, washboards, a triangle and other easy-to-play instruments and had about five kids up there with him — including Miss Q. She ended up having such a blast that she stayed for at least 12 songs.
We hung out with our neighbouring table and had so many laughs that it was past 10 p.m. before we’d even looked at our watches once. For kids who are usually in bed by 7 p.m. this was a big night for the kids, and they were excited to get to hang out with so many grownups.
Cost? FREE, baby. Provided you bought at least a drink. Because…it’s a bar.
Breakfast with Santa
Hotel North Woods’ breakfast restaurant, The Cabin Grill, hosted breakfast with Santa. For the price of a regular breakfast, each child in your party received a ticket to go meet and spend time with Santa. The hotel had created a gorgeous backdrop, perfect for Insta-worthy photos.
You gotta eat anyway, right? So this is, in my opinion, the best way to get your kid front and centre with the Big Man without standing in line. Or worse, standing in line outside in the cold.
Holiday Story Time
This gives you a great excuse to duck into The Mirror Lake Inn, which has no less than seven different Christmas trees decorated in its various rooms — a sight to behold on their own. Better yet, story time started with a sing-a-long (for which Miss Q volunteered with gusto) and The Grinch himself made an appearance for a reading of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. It was packed, though, so plan to arrive a good 15 minutes early if you’d like to have a seat and get your kiddo right up front. Cost? FREE.
Want to make a bracelet? Go for it. An ornament for the tree? No problem. A ripped-up-construction-paper wreath? Do it here. There were at least six craft stations going and kids didn’t have to wait long to find an opening at the tables. Cost? FREE.
And if you wanted to grab a beer to carry around while your kids are crafting, a Yeungling tall boy was going for the grand sum of $2. (Yeah, sure, $2 in U.S. money equates to approximately $8 million Canadian but what a steal!). Oh, and it was a mere 50 cents for a bag of pretzels to go with it.
Holiday Greeting Card-making
The hubs and I have what I can only imagine is a very creative greeting card patiently waiting for us on our tree, thanks to Miss Q. This centre is in the cutest public library you ever did see — what at one time must have been a quaint home in Lake Placid, backing on to Mirror Lake. Cost? FREE.
Head down to Mid’s Park right in the centre of town to see Santa arrive by fire truck. If you haven’t had breakfast with him already and your kiddos are dying to sit on the Big Guy’s knee and tell him all their wanton secrets, have one parent get in line while the other stands roadside with the kids watching him pull up. The line was long but manageable, especially if you divide and conquer. Cost? FREE.
One of the mews in the downtown core that houses shopping, restaurants and a coffee shop puts on a soup and chili competition alongside food stalls down two sides of the place. We tried some delicious soups, chili, pickled things and fermented apple sauce, yummy cheese and sweets galore. Cost? FREE. (Well, unless you count the maple butter I bought for $10.)
Yule Log Hunt + Parade
This was so awesome! There’s a tradition that extends beyond Lake Placid that involves searching for a hidden yule log, which is used to start a fire for the community (or something like that — it was chilly and noisy and my brain didn’t fully take in all of the pertinent information). In any case, children wear capes as they would have many moons ago, provided by the organizers, and everyone goes off in search of said log.
It took less time than we expected, with one young girl finding the yule log in about seven minutes. And, as tradition goes, the finder gets to ride the log down the street — behind a police escort, followed by the townsfolk who partook in the hunt. Cost? FREE.
Miss Q happened to be standing near the finder and as she hopped onto the log-on-wheels, someone motioned for Q to jump on, too. It took a nano-second of convincing and off she went. It all happened so fast that I didn’t even get a clear picture:
Christmas Tree Lighting
The yule log parade goes directly to the annual tree-lighting ceremony, which is accompanied by a local choir. Christmas magic at its best. Cost? FREE.
Gingerbread House Decorating
OK, so full disclosure: I don’t have any fancy pics of lovely gingerbread houses because this activity didn’t go quite as planned. Cost? The price of your breakfast.
Take in the views
Lake Placid is an adorable town and the views across Mirror Lake are spectacular. Cost? FREE.
At the end of the weekend, we still hadn’t made it to everything. Next year, we’re determined to fit in the ice skating party, a visit to the Maker’s Market, holiday movie at the most adorable little local theatre you’ve ever seen, and dressing up like Santa to score a free lift ticket at Whiteface ski resort. We might even try to do the Jingle Bell Run. MIGHT.
Overall, Miss Q was definitely more into the activities than The K Man, so I’d recommend the bulk of the hands-on activities for the nine and younger set. However, my 10 year old did enjoy the Ugly Christmas Sweater party, all of the musicians, the food competition, the Yule Log Hunt and the tree lighting…and of course eating at all of the restaurants.
Don’t forget skiing in Lake Placid!
I mean, what’s winter in Lake Placid without a little time on the slopes? Arrive on the Thursday night and spend your Friday skiing (or boarding) before the Holiday Village Stroll kicks off. We went to Titus Mountain Family Ski Center last winter and we’re heading back to Lake Placid for a whole weekend of Whiteface Mountain adventures in a couple of months, so we wanted to try out Gore Mountain this time around.
It’s about an hour-and-a-half drive from Lake Placid, but — WOW! — what a beautiful drive it is: a tree-lined, easy two-lane highway driving with snow-capped rocks for nearly the entire time. Even the kids agreed that it went by quickly because there was so much to look at along the way.
And the views only get better once you’re on the mountain:
We had an amazing family lesson (a first for us) with Jerry, who’s been a ski instructor at Gore since the ’70s. He upped The K Man’s ski game in the first 15 minutes and helped me smooth out my turns.
The snow at Gore was very good considering it was so early in the season. We really need to go back to give a full assessment of the skiing because only about 25 per cent of the runs were open and it was our kids’ first day of the season so they didn’t want to go any higher than the gondola took us. But the green run down from the gondola (Ruby’s Run) is simply beautiful and has really nice terrain variation.
DISCLAIMER: ROOST ADK hosted many components of our stay to facilitate this post. We did, however, pump quite a bit of our own money into the Lake Placid economy, and all opinions and ideas are my own.