How We Used to Vacation
In the decades before reliable air transportation, many towns in New York and New Jersey were extremely popular tourist destinations for people looking to get away from the hectic life of New York City. During the summer months thousands of tourists crammed the beaches of Long Island and New Jersey seaside towns looking to cool off and have fun. New Jersey boardwalks sprang up along the long coastline, which further encouraged tourists to come and have fun playing games, swimming and lounging in the sun. Of course the popularity of such destinations was also part of their downside. For those tourists looking for a quiet, secluded vacation, the Catskill and Adirondack mountains of upstate New York, were the ideal alternative. Lake George’s popularity has always spring from its idyllic settings, clean environment and proximity to New York City and Albany.
Lake George is located about two hundred miles north of New York City, halfway up the Hudson River toward Quebec. The town has historic importance. During the French and Indian War French General Montcalme captured Fort William Henry from the British after a protracted siege. As is famously depicted in James Fennimore Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans the French offered generous terms of surrender to the British, which the vanquished readily accepted. Their retreating column, however, was attacked by native Americans who were angered over the lack of payment and spoils promised them by the French for their part in the victory. The original fort was destroyed by the French but has been rebuilt at the southern tip of Lake George. The wooden replica is a powerful reminder of the days when upstate New York was a place of danger and adventure in a fight to the death between three peoples.
Lake George is a slong, slender lake left behind by the glaciers that once scoured the New York countryside during the Ice Age. The Lake is about thirty miles long and drains northward into Lake Champlain. The Lake is ringed by Adirondacks, low heavily wooded mountains. Today Lake George Village has taken much of the charm of a New Jersey Boardwalk. The village, located on the southern tip of the lake is the busiest town on the long slender lake. Lake George village has many arcades, night clubs, restaurants, amusement parks and miniature golf courses. Following route 9A along the western shore of Lake George, leads through many small scenic towns filled with their own restaurants, antique shops and small boutiques. The further north one travels, however, the smaller the towns become until at the northern end of Lake George the countryside is quite rural and empty. The eastern shore of Lake George is predominantly residential with little of interest to visitors.
There is so much to do on Lake George. During the summer months the town enjoys its busiest tourist season. In addition to the arcades and amusement parks, there is an excellent selection of fine dining and bars and clubs. DJ’s club on route 9 is perhaps the busiest club in town. There are DJs, dance floors, indoor and outdoor bars and excellent bar food from the grill. Another night option is a Lake George night cruise. The cruises run for about two hours, serve drinks and are quite popular with tourists.
During the summer there are also many recreation options to round out any vacation. There are many campgrounds located around the lake. There are also plenty of white water rafting options that follow the twists and turns of the Hudson. During the winter months there is also plenty of skiing such as at Gore Mountain, located in the nearby town of North Creek. Hiking in the Adirondacks is one of Lake George’s premiere attractions. Hiking trails are located throughout the countryside. One excellent alternative, however, is to visit Mount Chimney, located about forty miles from the lake. At Mount Chimney the adventurous traveler will find, after a long, arduous uphill hike, a network of caves bored into the mountain. Some of the caves extend dozens of feet into the earth. This can be quite dangerous, however, so don’t go alone and be sure to bring lamps and rope.
There is an outstanding array of accommodations on Lake George. Sun Castle Resorts, located on route 9A about a mile north of the village contains villas and townhouses complete with excellent views of the lake, fireplaces, living rooms and full kitchens. During the summertime these accommodations get pricey and are reserved quickly, however, an outstanding idea is to rent a villa for a fall vacation timed when the leaves turn colors. A typical villa rents in October for $200 dollars per day, which is quite reasonable if you gather a large group of people. There are also many smaller lodges and hotels for visitors with pools, restaurants and views of the lake. New York Travellodge, located on route 9 just south of the town is just such an accommodation. The rooms are spacious with comfortable foam beds, television, and a swimming pool. They even take dogs.
I have taken many vacations to Lake George. During my childhood my family did not have the money to travel around the country or the world, so visiting upstate New York is one of my fondest memories. Since college I have returned to the lake time and time again with friends and girlfriends for fun or romantic getaways. I never tire of visiting this jewel of upstate New York. If you have never been to Lake George, you should make a point of going. It is fun and inexpensive.