People at Water Safari Park, Old Forge, New York. Image credit Mahmoud Suhail via Shutterstock

7 Coolest Towns in The Adirondack Mountains for a Summer Vacation in 2024

Unless there was ever any doubt, a summer vacation in the Adirondack Mountains is cool. Ranked one of Condé Nast Traveler’s Best Places to Go in 2024, the region in New York that was once synonymous with family vacations in the station wagon playing car bingo, is now a go-to destination for travelers from all over the world. With a variety of ecosystems to choose from—forests, rivers, and mountains—there is a summer vacation to be discovered by anyone who enjoys spending time in nature, surrounded by 46 stunning mountain peaks just waiting to be summited.


Wooden boat docks floating on the choppy water of Fourth Lake, located near the town of Inlet, New York.
Wooden boat docks floating on the choppy water of Fourth Lake, located near the town of Inlet, New York.

Located in the tiny town of Inlet, with a population of around 360 residents, the Woods Inn has gone through many incarnations in its odd 130-year history. Today, it is a charming inn with a rustic vibe, antique furniture, and modern amenities. The Inn has various lodging options, as well as a restaurant, a tavern, and a game room, and is the perfect basecamp for a summer vacation in 2024.

For outdoor enthusiasts, the trailhead to Black Bear Mountain is less than one mile from town. While the hike is steep in parts, the view of the lake below from the top is worth the effort. It can be hiked in a loop, or hikers can use a shorter out-and-back trail, perfect for vacationing families. From the same trailhead, hikers can access Rocky Mountain, a one-mile hike perfect at sunrise or sunset. For more gentle and shorter hikes, Fern Park offers plenty of options on its 20 miles of trails. After a hike, head to Screamen Eagle, a small local pub featuring over 50 beers on tap, pizza, and drunken Buffalo wings.

Spend time on the water with a daily or weekly kayak, canoe, or paddle board rental from Inlet Marina. In no time, paddlers will be on the Fulton Chain of Lakes. On the shores of Fourth Lake, Arrowhead Park has a beach for swimming, picnic tables, hibachis, a playground, and more. From July to August 2024, the town hosts the "Sunsets by the Lake" Concert Series every Saturday night.

Schroon Lake

Sunset over Schroon Lake in the Adirondacks, New York.
Sunset over Schroon Lake in the Adirondacks, New York.

Schroon Lake was established around 1800 as a French colony and has grown into a year-round destination with quaint country shops, restaurants, antiques and collectible shops, and churches. The town sits on the edge of the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area, a 46,283-acre region with plenty of outdoor activities, like hiking, paddling, and wildlife spotting. A hike up Pharoah Mountain, with a challenging gain of 2,557 feet, offers the highest viewpoint with sweeping views of Pharaoh Lake, Vermont's Green Mountains, and Lake Champlain from the top. The nearby out-and-back Crane Pond trail is easier at 1.7 miles, with plenty to see along the way.

For music lovers, the Seagle Festival, a premiere opera and musical theater that has been bringing music to the Adirondacks since 1915, celebrates its 109th anniversary this summer with performances from June to August 2024. Plan to stay at a lakeside resort in the region, like The Lodge at Schroon Lake, and enjoy the outdoors, family time, and great food. Set on 36 acres on the west shore of Lake Schroon, the lodge features 116 rooms, 32 of which are pet-friendly, including hotel rooms, standalone cabins and chalets, and fun glamping sites.


A wooden lean to at the eastern shore campground at copperas pond in wilmington new york.
A wooden lean-to at the Eastern Shore Campground at Copperas Pond in Wilmington, New York.

Wilmington is in the heart of the Adirondacks and offers a variety of outdoor activities and attractions to keep families busy on vacation in 2024. Spend an hour or half a day at High Falls Gorge and see four majestic waterfalls cascade into a deep crevice carved a billion years ago in a breathtaking 30-minute walk. One mile away, Whiteface Mountain, while primarily known as a ski resort, is open during the summer of 2024. Visitors can take the Cloudsplitter Gondola Ride from the base of the mountain to the peak of Little Whiteface. Play disc golf, mountain bike, and hike, or sign up for a 90-minute guided nature hike.

Another activity that is sure to please families on vacation with small children is a visit to the North Pole, New York, home of Santa’s Workshop, where they can visit Santa’s House, the Reindeer Barn, the Toy Shop, and more. After a day of hiking and sightseeing, check into a room at the Hungry Trout Resort, a four-season destination on the Ausable River.

Tupper Lake

Families playing together in the spider web's center, a section of THE WILD WALK,
Families play together in the spider web's center, a section of the Wild Walk, Tupper Lake, New York. Image credit Theresa Lauria via Shutterstock

Tupper Lake is within the boundaries of Adirondack Park and, along with nearby Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, make up what is known as the Tri-Lakes area. The town is named after the 9-mile-long lake of the same name. Attractions in Tupper Lake include two unique and inspiring natural science centers—The Adirondack Sky Center & Observatory and The Wild Center—where visitors can learn about the region through live exhibits, multi-media shows, and hands-on experiences. The Wild Center also has trails and guided canoe trips on a nearby river that runs by the Center’s campus.

If an outdoor Adirondack adventure in Tupper Lake is part of the summer vacation plan, Raquette River Outfitters offers canoe and kayak rentals, camping gear, route planning, guided day hikes, and overnight trips. After a hike, stop by dog-friendly Raquette River Brewing for a craft beer from the taps and a snack from one of the trucks parked in their food truck alley. The taproom also presents live music on Friday and Saturday nights all summer long. For French-Canadian-influenced comfort dishes, craft cocktails, and a cozy ambiance, head over to the Woodshed on Park.

Long Lake

Hoss's general store in Long Lake, New York.
Hoss's general store in Long Lake, New York. Image credit Michael LaMonica via Shutterstock

The town of Long Lake is also named for the 14-mile body of water that flows for 14 miles through the geographic center of the Adirondack Park. The Long Lake Town Beach is the hub of the community and a refreshing way to cool off while watching float planes take off and land nearby. A popular activity with visitors is to book a scenic 20-minute seaplane ride with Helms Aero Service to see Long Lake and the surrounding Adirondack area from the air.

The sandy beach has two swimming docks with restaurants within walking distance and kayak, canoe, SUP, and motorboat rentals. Across the street is the historic Adirondack Hotel, built in the 1850s, whose Lake Street Café & Taproom is a great spot to grab a bite to eat and people-watch overlooking the lake.

For an overnight summer getaway, check out the Paddler’s Rest, which offers complimentary canoes and kayaks, a private sand beach, a game room, and firepits. Choose from a motel room, a cozy cabin, or the historic Houghton House, built in the 1800s by the son of Mitchell Sabattis, the legendary Adirondack guide Native American leader of the 19th century. Many wilderness areas in Long Lake honor him with his name, including the Sabattis Bog—a birder’s paradise—where Palm Warblers and Lincoln's Sparrows can often be heard singing.

Lake Luzerne

White water rafting company, Adirondacks New York, Lake Luzerne, New York.
White water rafting company, Adirondacks, New York, Lake Luzerne, New York. Image credit Michael LaMonica via Shutterstock

In Lake Luzerne, make Huttopia the base camp for daily adventures in the region. Huttopia is camping, but better. Sleep under the Adirondack stars in a unique wood frame and canvas tent inspired by French-Canadian trappers. Each tent has electricity, real beds, bathrooms, showers, camp kitchens, and more. But don’t sleep in too late because there is too much to see and do in Lake Luzerne.

Start the day with a 2-hour round-trip lazy river-tubing adventure with Tubby Tubes River Co. Suitable for ages two and older; the trips include certified river guides, a buttermilk tube, a life jacket, and shuttle service to and from the river. Let the adventure continue with a visit to the Adirondack Adventure Center and enjoy white water rafting down the Sacandaga River or ziplining through the forest canopy. After a busy day, slow things down with a one-hour trail ride through the Adirondacks with Mountain View Rocking B Ranch.

For classic roadside dining Adirondack-style, have lunch or dinner at the Long Horn Restaurant & Pub, where kids can choose from the children’s menu, and dogs are welcome on the patio. Or drop by The Hitching Post Tavern for a cheese-focused meal paired with great US beers and wines. Cheese is also available to take home, along with gourmet goodies, pottery, cheese boards, knives, jams, jellies, and pretty much anything that goes well with cheese.

Old Forge

Basin Stream of the Water Safari Park with people swimming, Old Forge, New York.
Basin Stream of the Water Safari Park with people swimming, Old Forge, New York. Image credit Mahmoud Suhail via Shutterstock

Old Forge is on the Fulton Chain of Lakes, a series of interconnected lakes and waterways that boast scenic beauty and excellent boating opportunities at every turn. Mountainman Outdoor Supply Company, on the shoreline of the meandering Moose River in Old Forge, has everything to get vacationers on the river quickly. Mountainman OSC also sponsors the 2024 Paddle Fest from May 17th to 19th.

Another way to enjoy the scenery around Old Forge is to book a ticket on the Adirondack Railroad, which offers many different scenic excursions departing Thendara Station near Old Forge, like the Adirondack Dinner Train Series, where riders can enjoy a hand-crafted dinner and train ride from Thendara Station to the Stillwater Causeway in Beaver River.

Enjoy the vibrant arts scene in Old Forge with a visit to the View Arts Center, a community hub that sponsors events throughout the summer of 2024, like the EcoArts Festival, the 15th Annual Ice Cream Social, and the 3-day Plein Air Paint Out '24 on August 21 to August 24, 2024. For overnight stays in the Old Forge area, look no further than The Lakes Old Forge, a luxury cottage colony, to indulge in swimming, hiking, boating, or simply relaxing in a stunning waterfront oasis.

Seven cool towns in the Adirondack Mountains invite couples, families, and solo travelers for summer getaways in 2024. With rustic inns, charming country shops, and cozy accommodations, these towns are serene retreats for relaxation and outdoor adventures. From lakeside dining and scenic hikes to cultural festivals and educational experiences, each town provides quality time spent alone, with a loved one, or with the whole family. Whether enjoying lazy river tubing, exploring nature trails, or savoring local cuisine, visitors can create memories amidst the breathtaking landscapes of the Adirondacks.

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