Lake Placid: A Mountain Town With a Special History

When you think about Lake Placid, your first thought might be: Olympics! But this small town has a vibrant history that includes so much more!

The popularity of the Adirondack region as a destination soared in the late 1800s when the nation's most wealthy and influential citizens built their Adirondack Great Camps here. The social elite would "vacate" the stifling summer heat of northeast cities for the cool Adirondack air. Yes, this is the origin of the word – it's where vacations began.

Competitive sports stage

Lake Placid's winter sports history began with Melvil Dewey, who refused to listen to skeptics, extending the Lake Placid Club's season through the winter of 1904-05. By 1914, Dewey had garnered the support of the community as he succeeded in creating the country's first winter resort. Quickly successful, Lake Placid has been part of the competitive world sports stage since the 1920s and it's still going strong!

Lake Placid hosted both the 1932 and the 1980 Olympic Winter Games and still hosts world-class sporting events every year. The village and the surrounding area are rich in Olympic history. To learn more, be sure to visit the Lake Placid Olympic Museum downtown at the Olympic Center.

A vintage black and white image of people skating on a frozen lake.

Hotels, movie stars, and the First Lady of Radio

Over the years, Lake Placid has seen faces and buildings come and go but they all leave a special mark. From elaborate hotels to an actual opera house, Olympian Jack Shea to the American superstar singer Kate Smith, whose voice was known to everyone in the mid-20th century, all have their place in our history. This charming village has been mentioned in a Cary Grant movie as a great place to fall in love, made notorious in a more recent, croc-tastic film, and even seen movies filmed here, going as far back as 1926.

Today, you can learn about the people — famous and less so, but no less important — who have made Lake Placid distinctively fascinating at the Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society Museum, which is housed in a former railroad depot.

An old postcard shows Lake Placid, NY's Main Street, complete with 1920s-era automobiles.

Lake Placid today

The area continues to beckon visitors year-round; to shop on the charming Main Street, to enjoy a variety of performance arts, and to sample area dining fare. As you stroll around Mirror Lake or travel farther afield, you'll find historic sites and treasures all around you. What are you waiting for? Let's explore!

Results for "Explore Historic Lake Placid"

1980 Lake Placid - XIII Olympic Games
Main Street, Lake Placid
(518) 523-2445

The legacy of the 1980 Games has been preserved, and its heritage upheld here in Lake Placid, NY!

Lake Placid Olympic Museum
2634 Main Street, Lake Placid
(518) 302-5326

Explore the legacy of the Olympic Games with exciting exhibits, including video highlights, athletes' uniforms and equipment, a collection of Olympic torches, mascots, the first gold medal ever awarded, and more!

John Brown Farm State Historic Site
John Brown Road, Lake Placid
(518) 523-3900

Tour the last home and burial site of the famed abolitionist. The home provides a glimpse of life in the 19th century and shares fascinating information about Brown and his mission to abolish the practice of slavery.

1932 Lake Placid - III Olympic Games
Main Street, Lake Placid
(518) 523-2445

The year was 1932.

Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society/Museum
242 Station Street, Lake Placid
(518) 523-1608

The Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society has operated The History Museum in the historic Lake Placid Railroad Station since 1967. The Museum reveals the rich and unique history of the Village of Lake Placid and the Town of North Elba. Exhibits in...

History s'Peaks

Looking for a new adventure that will let you explore the Adirondacks and learn cool things? Get in on the latest challenge! New in 2021, History s'Peaks is an Adirondack museum challenge in the High Peaks region.

The Wild Center

Three years running, The Wild Center was named the People's Choice top attraction in the Adirondacks by the readers of Adirondack Life. To top it all off, The Wild Center's Wild Walk, a trail across the treetops, has opened to rave reviews. It's all...

Fort Ticonderoga
102 Fort Ti Road, Ticonderoga
(518) 585-2821

Spend the day, discover the beauty, and experience the history! Every day is an event at Fort Ticonderoga and every year is a new experience. It is the only site in America that tells a new story each year through dynamic historical interpretation and...

Libraries of Essex County
8256 River St, Elizabethtown

The Libraries of Essex County are rich with information about the Adirondacks, the history of the communities and genealogy. AuSable Forks/Ausable Forks Free Library 9 Church Ln, Au Sable Forks, NY 12912 518-647-5596 Crown Point/Hammond Library of...

Adirondack Experience, The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake
9097 Route 30, Blue Mountain Lake
(518) 352-7311
Adirondack History Museum
7590 Court Street, Elizabethtown
(518) 873-6466
Saranac Laboratory Museum and Gift Shop
89 Church St, Saranac Lake
(518) 891-4606