The Adirondacks region is one of the most idyllic family vacation spots around. The enormous, pristine natural setting features numerous lakes and quaint towns sprinkled across gorgeous mountains. Visitors find the best of outdoor adventures as well as family fun attractions. My family stayed in Schroon Lake, a cute lake town that's a little more laid-back than nearby Lake George and centrally located to explore the region. We visited all the family-friendly attractions to pick the best things to recommend.
Of course, you could spend all your time hiking, boating, and enjoying whatever outdoor activities your family likes. There are tons of outfitters that will help you do those things so I only made a few recommendations for those types of activities. The below list is the best of the best for other family fun attractions in the Adirondacks. We really enjoyed Fort Ticonderoga, the Wild Center, and the Adirondack Museum, but if I had to pick just one must-do it would definitely be Ausable Chasm. The gorge is just phenomenally beautiful, and we really enjoyed walking and boating through it.
Find more family vacation ideas in our Adirondacks, Catskills & Hudson Valley Family Travel Guide.
Because the Adirondacks are so big the list is lumped into places that are convenient to visit if you were staying in or near Lake Placid and places that are convenient if you are staying near Lake George or the central Adirondacks region. Here’s our big guide to the best things to do in the Adirondacks with kids.
Wild Walk at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake. Photo by the author.
Lake Placid Area
1. Wild Center - Part natural history museum, part nature center, the Wild Center is a full day of fun with loads of exhibits, animal encounters and the new Wild Walk, an elevated path in the treetops where kids can experience what it’s like to be part of nature themselves.
2. North Star Underground Railroad Museum - At Ausable Chasm you can pop in here to learn how runaway slaves made their way to freedom.
3. Adirondack Carousel - Search for the lady bugs painted on all the hand-carved animals on this historic carousel in Saranac Lake.
4. Paul Smith’s College Visitors' Interpretation Center - Stroller-friendly paths and a butterfly house make this a fun place to hike for those with little ones.
Stunning views await as you float through Ausable Chasm. Photo by the author.
5. Ausable Chasm - Hike or float through the Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks. Totally stunning!
6. Adirondack Scenic Railroad - Leaving from Utica or Old Forge (Thendara) you can ride round trip on historic rails and enjoy sweeping views. Check out the special rides, including the Polar Express, or river and rail kayaking combo excursions. (NOTE: The railroad is not able to provide rides from Lake Placid at this time due to a dispute with the state.)
7. Lake Placid Village Beach - Right downtown you can swim or rent kayaks or paddle boards. There’s also a playground.
8. Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway - If you can’t hike to the summit, you can drive this scenic road to view the gorgeous views.
9. High Falls Gorge - An easy half hour stroll on pathways and bridges earns you a spectacular waterfall view.
The Summer Jumping Series at the Lake Placid Olympic Jumping Complex. Photo courtesy of the center.
10. Olympic Center - Visit the Olympic Museum and skate on the same ice world champions have.
11. Gore Mountain - Great skiing in the winter turns into summer and fall fun when you’ll find disc golf, hiking and biking trails, gondola rides, mini golf and adventure village with bungee, rock climbing and inflatables.
12. Frozen Delights - No vacation is complete without ice cream. Find homemade flavors and ice cream treats at Emma’s Lake Placid Creamery or stop by the classic drive-in Mountain Mist Custard in Saranac Lake.
13. Tail o’ the Pup - Enjoy tasty BBQ at outdoor picnic tables. Play equipment allows grown-ups to enjoy their meals and margaritas a little longer.
14. Liquids and Solids at the Handlebar - Locally sourced ingredients expertly put together.
15. North Woods Hotel - While there are plenty of choices of accommodations in Lake Placid, we enjoyed the newly updated rooms right on the main strip in downtown Lake Placid.
See more of the best stuff to do in Lake Placid with kids.
Paddle boarding on Schroon Lake. Photo by the author.
Lake George Area
16. Adirondack Museum - Worth a full day, you’ll learn all about life in the Adirondacks at this fun interactive indoor-outdoor museum.
17. Fort Ticonderoga - Musket and cannon firings, fife and drums, and other daily programs bring history to life at this 18th century star fort. You can also explore the gardens, orchards and corn maze on site. The restaurant is good too.
18. Waterslide World - 12 Acres of liquid fun perfect for kids from tots on up.
19. Seagle Music Colony - This cherished cultural institution is kind of like the Tanglewood of the Adirondacks. Look for kid friendly performances like The Music Man or a children’s opera of Jack and the Beanstalk that the whole family will enjoy.
20. Mt. Severance Family Friendly Hike - This easy 1.2 mile hike offers great views.
21. Boating - Whether you want to rent a boat or just take a lake cruise, you can’t leave the Adirondacks without getting out on the water.
22. Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom - Six Flags amusement park. ‘Nuff said.
Go zipping through the forest at Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course.
23. Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course - Challenge yourself at this treetop adventure course offering trails for all ages and experience levels.
24. Enchanted Forest Family Fun Park - Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers, enjoy kiddie rides in a shaded park.
25. Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf - Putt your way through caves, coves and waterfalls.
26. Glen Falls Drive-In - Old school drive-in movies make vacation memories.
27. Adirondack Jellystone Park - Camp, rent a cabin or just get a day pass to enjoy the water slides and pools, train rides, mini golf, inflatables and more.
28. Sticks and Stones Bistro - Good pizzas and doughy pretzels come out of the wood fired oven, but the salads and entrees are just as enjoyable. Just south of Schroon Lake, Sticks and Stones offers a lovely setting and outdoor seating, but it’s a popular spot, so you might want to make a reservation.
29. Pitkin’s Restaurant - This old school cafe in Schroon Lake offers great pulled pork sandwiches and other homemade fare.
30. Pizza Jerks - Decent pizza in Lake George and they’ll deliver to your hotel room. There are a few video games in the restaurant if the kids need a distraction.
Find more family friendly fun in Lake George.
Top image: Rope spider web at the Wild Center. Photo courtesy of the center.