Sagamore Island in Bolton Landing, New York. Editorial credit: majicphotos /

2024's Most Beautiful Small Towns in the Adirondack Mountains

The upstate New York region of the Adirondack Mountains is one of the most popular destinations in the Empire. Characterized by a beautiful landscape of mountains, lush forests, lakes, rivers, and waterfalls, it is a must-visit slice of the Empire State in 2024. The charming mountain towns, where natural beauty meets civilization, offer a refreshing escape from the city at any time of the year.

In between the lures of nature, visitors can encounter diverse histories and artsy attractions. Fort Ticonderoga is a real relic from the mid-18th century, in a lively atmosphere of historic reenactments, boat cruises, and farm-to-fork dining. Discover why Lake George, both the Queen of the Lakes and one of the further Adirondack towns from the Big Apple, has been a vacation paradise for over two centuries.

Bolton Landing

The Sagamore Resort in Bolton Landing, New York
The Sagamore Resort in Bolton Landing, New York. Editorial credit: dorengo5 /

For over two hundred years, generations of families have proclaimed Bolton Landing a beautiful paradise along the Northwest Bay's crystalline waters of Lake George. Home to just over 400, this sheltered Adirondack town stays quaint and serene in comparison to the most popular lake's namesake town. Attracting world-weary travelers, writers, artists, and musicians seek out the pure wonder of the lake and its surrounding natural attractions, including State Park trails for wildlife hikes, ranging from arduously rewarding to easily scenic, like at Up Yonda Farm, Environmental Education Center.

The Lake George Narrows offers quick access to boating, water skiing, and parasailing, as well as the beautiful islets, like Green Island, just a minute's drive from the mainland. From Rogers Park with a marina to the Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course, don't miss the Bolton Landing Brewing Company to celebrate a fulfilling day. Visitors can notch it up on a hot-air balloon ride for a memorable 2024 experience of the jaw-dropping mountain scenery or splurge on a stay at the Highlands Castle, a must-see regardless. The waterfront Sembrich is a museum and opera hall along woodland grounds for strolls.


United Church of Christ, Elizabethtown, New York
United Church of Christ, Elizabethtown, New York. Image credit: Mwanner via Wikimedia Commons.

Nestled at the foot of Hurricane Mountain in the Adirondacks, Elizabethtown is an adventurous town of around 600 whose picturesque beauty has long been a destination for artists, freelancers, and photographers. The Boquet River hugging through the heart is spectacular for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing, along with strolls and picnics. Offering an escape out of the ordinary into extraordinary—the unspoiled natural beauty—the Adinordacks change dress according to the season.

Traversed for miles by well-maintained trails, the leaf peepers can hunt along gold-platted slopes with silver waterfall strikes that bring out a cry of joy as if striking a diamond mound. This is the best time to visit, along with the refreshing breath of spring, to follow the rushing creek via Iron Mountain Trailhead just south. The Deer's Head Inn is a popular stay, while the Adirondack History Museum offers insights to learn about what you have seen or are yet to experience.

Lake George

A beautiful fall day at Lake George, New York
A beautiful fall day at Lake George, New York. Editorial credit: Joice Brinkerhoff /

Lake George is the most popular town with attractions for every taste along the crystalline waters of the eponymous lake, aka the "Queen of the American Lakes." Flaunting its 109 miles of shoreline and over 300 islets, the breathtaking waters are surrounded by the postcard wilderness of the Adirondacks, like the well-trotted Prospect Mountain Hiking Trail. From pontoon boats to canoeing, central Shepard Park is a family favorite, with a beach, playground, and summer concerts at the on-site amphitheater. Originally built in 1755, Fort William Henry, a legendary British fort, was featured in "The Last of the Mohicans."

Staying busy with hotels, cabins, and campsites, there are plenty of shopping and dining options after all the fun, like Cafe Vero or the Lagoon. Next door, the monster-themed House of Frankenstein Wax Museum features wax and animatronic figures with scary special effects. From swimming and sunbathing to fishing or a classic paddleboat ride, kayak rentals are available to get out into, in Jefferson's words, "without comparison, the most beautiful water I ever saw." Next to Funa'rama Fun Park, Lake George Mystery Spot is a famed lookout from a circular platform said to defy the law of acoustics.

Saranac Lake

aerial view of Saranac Lake New York in the Adirondack Mountains during the fall.
Aerial view of Saranac Lake, New York, in fall.

Established around tuberculosis sanatoriums in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this small town is slightly less popular than nearby Lake Placid. Full of sunny moments along the sparkling water bodies—Lake Colby, Flower, and the namesake lake—it is the perfect Adirondacks destination to hit up this summer for every taste of traveler. Whether you're hitting the Baker Mountain Trailhead for a life-affirming nature walk or slicing the glassy waters with a kayak, the Adirondack Carousel is a historic site with landscape paintings and hand-crafted animals.

Having welcomed many artists since visitors can take in the local works and various venues like NorthWind Fine Arts Gallery. From waterfall chasing to a farmer's market, all against breathtaking mountain views, downtown is a laid-back place to hunt with a camera along the preserved architecture, locally owned shops, and cafés, like the Left Bank Cafe for coffee or a bite to eat on the river. Along the Saranac River just south, visitors can canoe right downtown or all the way up to Maine.


Aerial view of Fort Ticonderoga, New York.
Aerial view of Fort Ticonderoga, New York.

Ticonderoga is a lovely mountain town between two spectacular lakes, the long and skinny George and Champlain, stretching all the way from Canada. Located at the border with Vermont, it attracts relic hunters, photographers, and your everyday mountain enthusiast and lakeside lounger. Built in 1755, the Revolutionary War-era Fort Ticonderoga will satisfy every traveler's craving for picturesque views. The surrounding area brims with experiences in a lively atmosphere, including actor reenactments, museum tours, and educational opportunities.

Steps away, visitors can enjoy the beautiful King's Garden on a stroll or a boat cruise for scenery from a different perspective. Home to just under 3,500, it is easy to find an uncrowded slice of nature, and no summer 2024 escape is complete without some beachy time at Black Point Beach. Visit in the spring or fall for the fullest spectacle along the Lachute River Walk Trail, with a picnic from Marinelli's Meats & Italian Market. Montcalm Street, Ticonderoga's heartline, features farm-to-fork dining and shops for gifts like the ornate 1888 building, Hancock House, and Lonergan's Antiques.


The beautiful Lake Algonquin in Wells, New York
The beautiful Lake Algonquin in Wells, New York.

Christened after Joshua Wells, an early settler and first mill owner in the area, Wells is the tiny, beating heart of Adirondack Park, surrounded by its iconic scenery—tranquil lakes with lush forests and peaks peeking through. The outdoorsy enjoy riverfront strolls and picnics among endless hiking opportunities along the wildlife viewing trails. Home to under 600 people, Wells is a perfect summertime retreat for unspoiled and uncrowded lakeside fun with anything but a resort vibe.

Taking up the whole east side of Lake Algonquin, aquatic-minded visitors can also enjoy a float down the Sacandaga River. Auger Falls is a quick hike from the trailhead to a serene waterfall with rocky ledges against natural splendor. Wells' adorable downtown, with tiny businesses like Torts Twist, an ice cream store, and Wells Edge Country Store, feels slightly removed from society. Sacandaga River Sculpture Park offers an interesting use of stone and metal, as well as a gallery and a shop on site.

From skiing to fall foliage and beachside recreation, the Adirondacks is a playground for adventurers, serenity seekers, and generations of families. Saranac Lake is home to the historic Adirondack Carousel, where historic architecture paints the quaint downtown against breathtaking mountain scenery.

Ticonderoga is nestled in between two spectacular lakes, the long and skinny George and Champlain. Taking up the entire side of Lake Algonquin, Wells has a reputation for unspoiled lakeside fun and the serene Auger Falls with rocky ledges against natural splendor.

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