5. Lake Placid
Perhaps the most recognizable spot in the Adirondacks and North Country, Lake Placid is a village of just 2,300 people that makes up the Tri-Lakes Region with Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake. Lake Placid hosted both the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, as well as the 1972 and 2023 Winter Universiades.
Lake Placid was first developed for iron ore mining, and abolitionist John Brown purchased land in nearby North Elba after hearing about the philanthropy of resident Gerrit Smith. Brown was buried on his farm, near where a “Freed Slave Utopian Experiment” of Timbuctoo was established. By 1921 Lake Placid had a ski jump and speed skating venue, attracting international attention and ultimately that of the Olympics committee. The village is especially remembered as the site of the Miracle on Ice, when American college students and amateurs upset the Soviet national ice hockey team.
In addition to the John Brown Farm and Gravesite, the Mount Van Hoevenberg Olympic Bobsled Run is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Skiing is popular at nearby Whiteface Mountain, while fly fishing attracts visitors to Ausable River. The Lake Placid Olympic Museum takes an in-depth look into the two Winter Olympics in the village, and ice skating is popular at the complex. Downtown Lake Placid is quite touristy, but popular restaurants along Main Street include Generations, Salt of the Earth Bistro, Dancing Bears Restaurant, and Smoke Signals.