16 Top-Rated Things to Do in Lake George, NY

Written by Meagan Drillinger
Updated Dec 28, 2023
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When it comes to Upstate New York getaways, few are as popular or offer as many things to do as Lake George. This sparkling jewel of a lake sits within the Adirondack Park in Upstate New York.

Lake George in the Fall
Lake George in the Fall

In the 18th century, Lake George became the site of Fort William Henry, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region. Its purpose was to protect the lake and guard British interests against the French from the north. The fort is still standing and serves as a step back in time to Lake George's colonial days.

Today, Lake George is one of the most popular vacation destinations for New Yorkers and those in the Northeast. Travelers are drawn to the rugged, wild Adirondack mountains, which is the largest protected natural area in the lower 48 of the United States.

Lake George is a massive draw for family travelers, packed with soft and hard adventures, like hiking and biking trails, zipline courses, skiing in the winter, discount shopping, and museums. Whether it's summer on the lake, a scenic byway drive in leaf-peeping season, or a winter snuggle at a five-star resort, discover the best things to do in Lake George.

1. Get Out on the Lake

Aerial view of Lake George
Aerial view of Lake George

It goes without saying that the highlight of visiting the Lake George region is, in fact, Lake George. It's one of the gems of Upstate New York's Adirondack Park and stretches for 32 miles. Since it's the namesake of the destination, it's no surprise that so many of the area's attractions are all about the lake itself.

Summer is the high season for Lake George, and boating is the main draw. Even on hot sunny days, the summer weather feels refreshing thanks to the breezes; it's slightly cooler by the water than just a few miles away over the hills. However, keep in mind that strong winds can whip up in the afternoon. Think about getting your boat or kayak back to shore before it's too gusty.

Whether you're an experienced boater or just getting used to your sea legs, Lake George has a variety of boating opportunities. Start with Brodie's Lakeside, where you can rent a speedboat or a pontoon.

If it's a workout you're after, Lake George Kayak Company rents out kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards.

You can even scuba dive in the waters of Lake George by booking a dive charter at Halfmoon Marine Services.

2. Drive Prospect Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway

View of the Adirondack High Peaks from Prospect Mountain
View of the Adirondack High Peaks from Prospect Mountain

This 5.5-mile stretch of scenic highway opens up to spectacular views of Lake George and the surrounding Adirondack Mountains. The seasonal highway is open from May through Veterans' Day in November.

The highway winds its way up the 2,030-foot summit of Prospect Mountain. From the peak, you are rewarded with views that stretch 100 miles, as far as Vermont's Green Mountains and New Hampshire's White Mountains. On a clear day, you can even see across the border into Canada.

At the top of Prospect Mountain, you'll find the remains of the Prospect Mountain Cable Incline Railway. It was built at the end of the 19th century as a way to shuttle well-heeled visitors to the top of the mountain. At that time, it was the longest cable railroad in the world.

3. Hit the Hundreds of Miles of Trails

Trail in Lake George
Trail in Lake George

If you're in good shape, you can hike up Prospect Mountain on foot. The hike is only about three miles round trip, but it's steep, so definitely expect a workout.

But Lake George and the surrounding mountains are veined with hundreds of miles of trails, which scale many of the lush, verdant Adirondack peaks that surround the lake.

Buck Mountain is a challenging three-mile hike (one way) that affords spectacular views.

For something less difficult, Sleeping Beauty Mountain is far more moderate, though the length is seven miles round trip.

Serious hikers can attempt The Lake George 12ster, a series of hiking challenges that involve summiting 12 peaks.

Cyclists have plenty of trails to call their own in Lake George. Start with the Warren County Bikeway, which links Lake George to Glen Falls. From Glen Falls, there are several other bike routes that branch out.

The winter season blankets upstate New York in fresh powder, which makes Lake George a prime area for skiers. Gore Mountain is the closest peak to Lake George, with 110 trails across four peaks.

4. Visit the Village of Bolton Landing

Aerial view of Bolton Landing, New York
Aerial view of Bolton Landing, New York |majicphotos / Shutterstock.com

What the tiny village of Bolton Landing lacks in size, it makes up for in charm. The quaint downtown, dating back to 1799, brims with small boutiques, ice-cream shops, restaurants, and cafes. And it's all just steps away from the lakefront.

Start at the Bolton Visitor Center, which provides plenty of tourist information. Across the street, the Bolton Historical Museum presents the history of boating on Lake George. Next to the museum is Rogers Park, a waterfront green space where you can picnic, relax, and sunbathe.

5. Picnic by the Lake

Hague Town Beach Park
Hague Town Beach Park | Photo Copyright: Lisa Alexander

Plan ahead and pack your picnic basket or backpack. Picnicking is a quintessential summertime experience at Lake George. There's nothing quite like enjoying a gourmet spread, on a sunny day while listening to the lake's gentle waves.

You can choose from a variety of picnic spots next to Lake George, including lakeside parks and beaches. Some top-choice picnic spots are the Hague Town Beach Park in The Hague and Veteran's Memorial Park in Bolton Landing.

6. Enjoy a Steamboat Cruise

Steamboat on Lake George
Steamboat on Lake George

Take in the beautiful Lake George scenery from the comfort of an old-fashioned-style steamboat. Sightseeing cruises have been a tradition on Lake George since the mid-1800s.

The Lake George Steamboat Company sails day cruises, as well as brunch, luncheon, and dinner cruises. Some of the company's boats are historic vessels.

The Lake George Waterfront Cruises company offers historic sightseeing cruises aboard a vessel designed to resemble a 19th-century touring ship.

7. Try the Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course

Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course
Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course | Emily Jahn / photo modified

Adventure awaits high in the treetops above Bolton Landing on the western shores of Lake George. The Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course is a tree-top challenge obstacle course with six elevated adventures to choose from.

The six aerial courses include 60 tree-top obstacles, zip lines, Tarzan jumps, rope swings, cable bridges, slides, nets, and ladders. In fact, the course is one of the largest aerial parks in the United States.

This family-friendly activity is designed for adults and kids aged nine years and up. It's an excellent bonding activity for families and friends who want to spend a challenging day out in nature together. Reservations are required, and the park is open in all weather.

Address: 35 Westwood Forest Lane, Bolton Landing, New York

8. Discover Shelving Rock Falls

Shelving Rock Falls
Shelving Rock Falls

On the east side of Lake George, you'll discover Shelving Rock Falls. This thundering natural spectacle is a 50-foot cascade of plunging Adirondack water, which leaps and slides down a tiered rock face.

Fortunately, it's not much of a challenge to get to the falls. It's accessible by car, but also by boat into Log Bay and then allowing a quick 15-minute walk.

Of course, you can up the intensity level with a climb to the top of Shelving Rock Mountain. The trailhead for the hike is just past the Shelving Rock Falls trailhead. The hike itself isn't particularly hard, but it's a solid 3.5-mile round trip.

9. Get an Adrenaline Fix Whitewater Rafting

Rafting on the Hudson River
Rafting on the Hudson River | LEONARDO DASILVA / photo modified

Adrenaline junkies will get their fix chasing the rapids along the rivers of the Adirondack Mountains near Lake George. In fact, whitewater rafting is one of the most intense activities you can do in this part of New York State.

Thousands of people descend each summer to test their skills along the Hudson and Sacandaga Rivers, which offer everything from mild and mellow to heart-pumping rapids.

The Hudson River, while wide and calm closer to New York City, rages and rips in Upstate New York. This requires rafters to master class II-V rapids. The runs are created from snowmelt, which results in churning rapids and plunging pools.

For something calmer, the Sacandaga River is ideal for beginners. Rafting companies in the area will take travelers on a four-mile ride down the slow-moving class I-II rapids. Rafting trips depart from the town of Hadley which is a 20-minute drive from Lake George Village

10. Discover Colonial History at Fort William Henry

Fort William Henry
Fort William Henry

Step back in time to New York State during the British colonial era. Fort William Henry was constructed in 1757 as an outpost in the wilderness to help protect the British colonies from the French invaders from Montreal and beyond.

Today, you can roam around the historic fort on a guided tour. The guided tours include a visit to the site's museum. You can also watch live military demonstrations, which are presented several times daily.

The staff at Fort William Henry dresses in traditional garb and plays the part of British colonists, who are there to answer your questions about life on Lake George in the 1750s.

Address: 48 Canada Street, Lake George, New York

11. Bask on Million Dollar Beach

Million Dollar Beach
Million Dollar Beach

On warm summer days, Million Dollar Beach draws crowds. The downside is the limited space to spread out on the beach while sunbathing. The upside is the lively summer vacation vibe.

The beach is part of Lake George Beach State Park, located in a sheltered cove at the southern basin of the lake near the Lake George Battleground Campground and a short walk from the Village of Lake George's commercial center.

You need to drive from most hotels in the Village of Lake George to Million Dollar Beach. However, a few hotels, such as the Quality Inn, The Harbor, and the Tiki Resort, are within walking distance (15- to 20-minute walk).

The largest and most-visited of Lake George's beaches, the sweeping stretch of sand is clean and well-maintained, with showers, bathrooms, and locker rooms. During the summer season, lifeguard supervision is provided. The beach even has a full-time, public boat launch.

You could easily spend an entire day at Million Dollar Beach, whether you bring your own picnic lunch or buy food from the nearby concessions. The picnic areas even have their own grills, which are open to the public.

Million Dollar Beach is open from the end of May through Labor Day. Hours are 10am until 6pm. Access to the beach is free of charge, except that you must pay to use the parking lot. Street parking is available nearby, but this is metered parking (you need to use a machine to pay the parking fee, in advance, for a specific amount of time).

12. Attend Summertime Festivals

Outdoor Concert at Shepard Park Amphitheater
Outdoor Concert at Shepard Park Amphitheater | Photo Copyright: Lisa Alexander

Besides boating, swimming, and sunbathing, summertime brings festivals and outdoor performances to Lake George.

Some popular cultural events are the Jazz at the Lake festival and the Summer Concert Series, held in the Village of Lake George at Shepard Park Amphitheater. Bring a blanket and relax on the spacious tiered seating, set in a shady grove overlooking the lake.

The Sembich museum's open-air theater hosts a classy summer festival with a variety of cultural offerings. The festival includes a series of opera performances, music concerts (classical, jazz, and tango), and film screenings.

The Lake George Music Festival takes place in mid-August at the For William Henry's Carriage House. This festival includes professional orchestra performances.

In early September, you can attend a car show in the Village of Lake George: the Adirondack Nationals presents hotrods, muscle cars, and other classic vintage automobiles.

13. Explore The Sagamore Resort

The Sagamore Resort
The Sagamore Resort

No trip to Lake George is complete without a stop at the luxurious Sagamore Resort, which is constantly rated as one of the top resorts in the Northeast. If you've got a little extra money to burn, it's absolutely worth the splurge.

The Sagamore Resort opened in the late 19th century on a secluded 70-acre island. It was attractive for well-heeled families, celebrities, and dignitaries, all of whom were drawn to the shimmering lake views. Today there is an 18-hole Donald Ross-designed golf course that brings in a fair share of travelers.

You can stay in the historic hotel or in lakeside lodges, or choose from the two-story suites and individually decorated condominiums. If you simply want to check out the property, the restaurants are next level, as is the spa.

Address: 110 Sagamore Road, Bolton Landing, New York

14. Camp on Lake George

Lake George at night
Lake George at night

Adventurous travelers who want to reconnect with nature can't do better than camping at Lake George. Surrounded by the towering Adirondack Mountains, there are few better places in New York State to sleep under the stars.

The Lake George Camping Village has something for every type of camper, from secluded campsites tucked in the trees to cabins and RV hookups.

If RV camping is more your speed, the Lake George RV Park has campsites, as well as an array of on-site amenities including trolley shuttles, picnic tables, a fitness center, tennis courts, pickleball courts, outdoor swimming pools, children's playgrounds, an aquatic park with a waterslide, ice cream parlor, summertime bonfires, and live entertainment.

Do you prefer glamping? Camp Orenda, less than an hour from Lake George, has six canvas tents decked out with queen-size beds, down comforters, and even hot showers and flush toilets.

The Department of Environmental Conservation offers campgrounds on three islands of Lake George: Glen Island, Long Island, and Narrow Islands. You can only get to these campgrounds by boat. You can also camp on Flirtation Island, which is part of Rogers Rock Campground.

15. Shop at the Factory Outlets

The Outlets at Lake George
The Outlets at Lake George | dennizn / Shutterstock.com

When in Lake George, why not do a little discount shopping? Lake George is famous for its vast number of factory outlets that sell A-list, brand-name apparel and goods at a fraction of the cost.

The outlets are open year-round and are all within a short distance from each other, so it's easy to tailor a shopping trip length based on what you're in the mood for.

The two most popular options are The Outlets at Lake George and Adirondack Outlet Mall. Brand names to look for include everyone from Vera Bradley and Michael Kors to Adidas and COACH. The Outlets at Lake George are on either side of Highway 9, while the Adirondack Outlet Mall has more than 50 stores indoors.

16. Discover the House of Frankenstein Wax Museum

If you're visiting Lake George in the warmer months, you'll have to reserve time to get spooked at the House of Frankenstein Wax Museum. A sensory experience, the haunted house features a series of lifelike wax and animatronic statues.

The self-guided museum tour has more than 50 exhibits that start with a greeting from none other than Frankenstein's monster. It may look kitschy, but do not be fooled – the scares are certainly for real, and this house is definitely not suitable for children. Inside you'll find everything from pop culture creepsters, Freddy & Jason, to the spirits and ghouls of the history books. You may recognize The Hunchback of Notre Dame or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, as well as Jack the Ripper and Burke and Hare.

House of Frankenstein opened in the 1970s and has been frightening Lake George visitors ever since. Be forewarned that there are many scares that jump out at you, so if you frighten easily, you may want to skip this local attraction.

The local legend closes in the winter, but opens usually in April every year for another season of screams and scares.

Address: 213 Canada Street, Lake George, New York

Official site: https://frankensteinwaxmuseum.com/

Where to Stay in Lake George for Sightseeing

Being one of the premier vacation getaways in Upstate New York leaves visitors to Lake George spoilt for choice with accommodations. From five-star luxury to vintage retro, campgrounds, and everything in between, Lake George offers the perfect stay for everyone.

  • Fort William Henry Hotel & Conference Center is a year-round resort with three buildings to choose from: the upscale Grand Hotel, the more modest Premium East Wing, and the Standard West Motel. All accommodations have access to an indoor pool with a sauna and Jacuzzi, Olympic-sized outdoor pool, shopping, and three restaurants.
  • Bayside Resort Lake George is a family-friendly resort that offers beautiful vistas from The View Restaurant. Be sure to book a table at sunset. Sunday Brunch on the Bay is also a fan favorite. Property amenities include a pool and beach area.
  • The Tiki Resort: For something a bit offbeat, check out this Polynesian-themed property, which features themed shows in July and August. The Tiki does Polynesian barbecues and has both indoor and outdoor pools.

Lake George, NY - Climate Chart

Average minimum and maximum temperatures for Lake George, NY in °C
-1 -12 2 -11 7 -6 15 1 22 7 26 12 28 14 27 13 23 9 16 3 8 -2 2 -8
Average monthly precipitation totals for Lake George, NY in mm.
89 66 94 95 112 106 107 109 103 92 103 88
Average monthly snowfall totals for Lake George, NY in cm.
47 37 28 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 10 47
Average minimum and maximum temperatures for Lake George, NY in °F
31 10 35 12 45 22 59 33 71 45 79 53 83 58 81 56 73 48 61 37 47 29 35 17
Average monthly precipitation totals for Lake George, NY in inches.
3.5 2.6 3.7 3.7 4.4 4.2 4.2 4.3 4.1 3.6 4.1 3.5
Average monthly snowfall totals for Lake George, NY in inches.
19 15 11 2.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 4.0 19