June 2014

Best of the Adirondacks 2014

Adirondack Life readers’ choice awards

Blue Moon Cafe, in Saranac Lake, was singled out for Best Breakfast. Photograph by Laura Carbone

When you want to know where to go, what to do, what to eat or drink or buy in the Adirondack Park, it helps to get recommendations from a friend—even better, thousands of them. We asked our readers to vote for their favorite bakery, boatbuilder, campground, cocktail, golf course, outfitter, resort, and the list goes on. The following are their picks for the best in the Blue Line.


Turtle Island Café
3790 Main Street, Willsboro
(518) 963-7417.
The All-American Cheeseburger at this Champlain Valley mainstay is made from locally sourced beef, Cabot cheddar and your choice of toppings, all stacked on a sourdough roll baked on the premises.
Runner-up: The Tavern, Eagle Bay

Little Italy
23 Main Street, Saranac Lake
(518) 891-9000
146 Park Street, Tupper Lake
(518) 359-7177
Locals and visitors flock to these New York–style pizza joints for consistently delicious slices of pie and a full menu of Italian specialties.
Runner-up: Screamen Eagle, Inlet

Simply Gourmet/Big Mountain Deli and Crêperie
1983 Saranac Avenue/2475 Main Street, Lake Placid
(518) 523-3111/3222.
Put on your thinking cap when you enter these popular delis—not only will you have to decide which of 46 sandwiches (one for each of the High Peaks) to order, you’ll have your choice of fresh-baked breads, including gluten-free options.
Runner-up: Lakeview Deli, Saranac Lake

Blue Moon Cafe
55 Main Street, Saranac Lake
(518) 891-1310.
It’s not often you find a neighborhood spot with a spread like Blue Moon’s: start with a mug of small-batch roasted coffee, then choose from specialties such as the house-cured smoked salmon plate, the Irish scramble with corned beef and cafe taters, or a “Tupper” (tall) stack of pancakes.
Runner-up: Chair 6, Lake Placid

Fine Dining
Café Adirondack
8015 Route 9, Pottersville
(518) 494-5800.
Not Adirondack but “coastal Southern”
cuisine is the specialty of this restaurant. The owners, transplants from Myrtle Beach, serve up generous portions of steak and seafood, including what may be the only she-crab soup within the Blue Line. Be sure to make reservations, especially on summer weekends.
Runner-up: The Owl at Twilight, Olmsted­ville

Outdoor Dining
The Cottage
77 Mirror Lake Drive, Lake Placid
(518) 302-3045.
It’s all about the view at this Mirror Lake mecca. The pub-style menu includes flatbread pizzas, jerk chicken, chili in a bread bowl, plus build-your-own Bloody Marys.
Runners-up: Lisa G’s, Lake Placid; Tail o’ the Pup, Ray Brook

Ice Cream
Donnelly’s Ice Cream
1556 Route 86, Saranac Lake
One voter commented, “Really, you have to ask?” True, it wasn’t surprising that this summer hot spot was the runaway winner. Though the cows are long gone from this former dairy farm, whatever the folks at Donnelly’s are doing to make their soft-serve—just one flavor per day, twisted with vanilla—so delicious is working.
Runner-up: Stewart’s Shops, multiple locations

Café Sarah
260 Main Street, North Creek
(518) 251-5959.
Cake Placid
2051 Saranac Avenue, Lake Placid
(518) 523-9866.
As this split decision goes to show, when it comes to sweets, one is never enough. You’ll have just as hard a time choosing from the dizzying array of delights at either bakery. At Café Sarah, will it be fluffy coconut macaroons or buttery blueberry scones, crisp biscotti studded with hazelnuts or strawberry-rhubarb pie? And at Cake Placid, 50 varieties of cupcakes, from salted caramel to mint chocolate chip, are just the beginning.
Runner-up: Dogwood Bread Company, Wadhams

Liquids & Solids at the Handlebar
6115 Sentinel Road, Lake Placid. (518) 837-5012.
Keegan Konkoski, co-owner and mixologist, makes her drinks stiff and surprising. Whether you try a cilantro daiquiri with spiced rum and mango or a Maple &
Spice—bourbon with maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and lemon and apple juices—the liquids are solid choices.
Runner-up: The Cottage, Lake Placid

Lake Placid Pub & Brewery
813 Mirror Lake Drive, Lake Placid
(518) 523-3813.
These are exciting times on the Adirondack craft beer scene, with upstarts opening all over the park in the last year (including the runner-up in this category). But so far, none matches the popularity of Chris Ericson’s signature brews at Lake Placid Pub & Brewery—especially Ubu, an English-style strong ale named for a patron’s dog.
Runner-up: Paradox Brewery, Schroon Lake

Casual Dining
Lisa G’s
6125 Sentinel Road, Lake Placid
(518) 523-2093.
Perky proprietor Lisa G. has hit on a winning combination of hearty, crowd-pleasing fare, welcoming service and affordable prices—plus a pooch-friendly deck overlooking the Chubb River. Wings, a daily burger special and pizzas with novel combinations of toppings are all popular choices.
Runner-up: Downhill Grill, Saranac Lake

Lake Placid Pub & Brewery
813 Mirror Lake Drive, Lake Placid
(518) 523-3813.
Great beer brewed on the premises (see the Beer category) isn’t a prerequisite for becoming a well-loved hangout, but it’s a good start. Add to that three floors, two decks, traditional pub grub and a lively, informal atmosphere, and you’ve got the perfect après-ski, -hike or -whatever spot.
Runner-up: barVino, North Creek


Music Venue
Seagle Music Colony
999 Charley Hill Road, Schroon Lake
(518) 532-7875.
Since the 1920s this cluster of studios, dorms and a performance space up on Charley Hill has been an extraordinary teaching center for opera and musical theater. Seagle offers six shows and dozens of performances every summer, including the popular Sunday Vespers concerts.
Runner-up: The Waterhole, Saranac Lake

Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa
77 Mirror Lake Drive, Lake Placid
(518) 302-3010.
Even locals feel like they’re on vacation when they step into the tranquility of Mirror Lake Inn’s spa. Relax in the whirl­pool or sauna before or after your treatment, whether it’s a heated river stone massage, a maple sugar body scrub or the Ultimate Pampering package.
Runner-up: River Rock Salon, Lake Placid

Golf Course
Cronin’s Golf Resort
Golf Course Road, Warrensburg
(518) 623-9336.
Well-maintained greens, Hudson River and mountain views and a friendly, unpretentious vibe make this 18-hole, par-70 course a champion in voters’ eyes. The 19th hole is an Adirondack-style clubhouse with a bar and outdoor deck, plus casual fare.
Runner-up: The Inlet Golf Club, Inlet

Tourist Attraction
The Wild Center
45 Museum Drive, Tupper Lake
(518) 359-7800.
Some voters wrote in variations of “the whole Adirondack Park” or “the woods and waters” in this category. Point taken. But before or after you explore these six million acres, a visit to this world-class natural history museum is a must for all ages. State-of-the-art ex­hibits, animal encounters and interpretive trails teach about the Adirondack environment in a compelling way.
Runner-up: Whiteface Mountain, Wilmington

Palace Theater
2430 Main Street, Lake Placid
(518) 523-9271
The small, independent theaters of the Adirondack Park are community treasures, which is why fundraising efforts to help them make necessary digital upgrades have been largely successful. At the Palace, where the goal has been nearly met, you can still enjoy a blockbuster plus popcorn or candy for under $10.
Runner-up: The Strand, Old Forge

The Adirondack Museum
Routes 28N & 30, Blue Mountain Lake
(518) 352-7311.
If it’s an important piece of the Adirondack story, you’ll find it at the venerable Adirondack Museum. Check out hermit Noah John Rondeau’s cabin, transplanted from “Cold River City”; amble through an opulent Great Camp–era Pullman car; or see a craftsperson build a guideboat. The grounds, with views of Blue Mountain Lake, are worth a visit in themselves.
Runner-up: The Wild Center, Tupper Lake

Ski Center
Whiteface Mountain
5021 Route 86, Wilmington
(518) 946-2223.
The highest ski mountain in the East is also tops with our voters, though fellow Olym­pic Regional Development Authority–run Gore was close behind. With 87 trails—a third of which are expert-level—11 lifts, terrain parks, kids’ campus and natural glades, there’s room for everyone.
Runner-up: Gore Mountain, North Creek


Upscale Resale Vintage Furnishings
24 Broadway, Saranac Lake
(518) 891-4979
You never know what you’ll find in this packed-to-the-gills emporium run by Den­ny Ford. What the store lacks in organization it more than makes up for in variety and the thrill of the hunt. Patient and savvy seekers can unearth treasures for a steal.
Runner-up: Miller Art & Frame, Warrensburg

Bike Shop
Placid Planet Bicycles
2242 Saranac Avenue, Lake Placid
(518) 523-4128.
From Cervélo triathlon models and Kona Kahuna mountain bikes to starter cycles for toddlers, this full-service shop has it all: repairs, rentals and even free advice for great country rides and all-terrain routes.
Runner-up: Pedals & Petals, Inlet

The Hungry Trout Fly Shop
5239 Route 86, Wilmington
(518) 946-2217.
Outside the fly shop is a chalkboard listing Ausable River conditions; just read to match the hatch. Great gear selection, the requisite trout flies, plus expert guides have earned this place national accolades too.
Runner-up: The Mountaineer, Keene Valley

Hornbeck Boats
131 Trout Brook Road, Olmstedville
(518) 251-2764.
If you’ve ever seen a straw-color pack boat with a red stripe you’ve spotted a Hornbeck Lost Pond canoe, the ubiquitous and ultralight watercraft that makes remote lakes and rivers accessible. But 71-year-old Peter Hornbeck isn’t content to rest on his laurels: he’s constantly innovating. His latest is a “New Tricks” line of solo and tandem boats.
Runner-up: Placid Boatworks, Lake Placid

Rustic/Adirondackana Store
Hoss’s Country Corner
1142 Main Street, Long Lake
(518) 624-2481.
General store only begins to describe this landmark opened by John and Lorrie Hosley 40 years ago. The store’s books, baskets, blankets, moccasins, camping gear, toys, food, handcrafted gifts and music all pay homage to the Adirondack Park.
Runner-up: Dartbrook Rustic Goods, Keene

Adirondack Chocolates (formerly the Candy Man)
5680 Route 86, Wilmington and 61 Main Street, Lake Placid
(800) 232-4626.
You can watch all the classics being made at the Wilmington mother ship: dark- and milk-chocolate nuts, chews, marzipan, almond buttercrunch, turtles, fudge and bark. Chocolate-covered pretzels and Oreos have passionate devotees.
Runner-up: Barkeater Chocolates, North Creek


Lodging for Families
Covewood Lodge
120 Covewood Lodge Drive, Eagle Bay (315) 357-3041.
From late June through Labor Day there are daily activities just for kids to give parents a vacation too: guided hikes, nature crafts, cookouts, scavenger hunts, frog races—even the Covewood Olympics.
Runner-up: The Waldheim, Big Moose Lake

Romantic Lodging
Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa
77 Mirror Lake Drive, Lake Placid
(518) 523-2544.
Elegant guest rooms, three restaurants (see the Outdoor Dining category), a popular spa (see the Spa category), cozy library with crackling fire, and all-inclusive getaway packages make this classy Lake Placid resort a couples’ all-season paradise.
Runner-up: Lake Placid Lodge, Lake Placid

Fish Creek Pond
4523 Route 30, Saranac Lake
(518) 891-4560.
A lot of folks answered this one with some version of “I’ll never tell.” But the majority pointed to the obvious, the most visited campground in the park. The place draws more than 100,000 guests a year, so you’ll probably get to know your neighbors—but since almost every site hugs the shore, you’re pretty much guaranteed a waterfront spread for only $22 a night.
Runner-up: Buck Pond, Onchiota

Tumble Inn
875 Route 9, Schroon Lake
(518) 351-5020.
Just south of downtown Schroon Lake this carefully restored 1870s farmhouse has lovely guest rooms named for the four seasons plus the Frontier Room when families need more space. Breakfasts feature locally sourced produce, baked goods, and meats from Oscar’s Smoke House, in Warrensburg.
Runner-up: Schroon Lake Bed & Breakfast, Schroon Lake

The Sagamore Resort
110 Sagamore Road, Bolton Landing
(518) 644-9400.
Sprawling across Green Island on Lake George, this grand resort has it all: stately beauty, extraordinary views and endless amenities. There’s plenty on campus: hotel rooms, suites, lodges and lofts; spa; half a dozen restaurants; climbing wall and putt-putt course; fleet of watercraft and much more.
Runner-up: Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa, Lake Placid

Covewood Lodge
120 Covewood Lodge Drive, Eagle Bay
(315) 357-3041.
When was the last time you stayed at a place that has a rumpus room? Or one that proudly proclaims no cell phone reception or TV? Covewood’s timeless appeal means that families—see the Lodging for Families category—return for a week or two to the log-sided housekeeping cabins every summer, generation after generation.
Runner-up: The Waldheim, Big Moose Lake

Tags: , , , , ,