June 2015

Best of the Adirondacks 2015

Adirondack Life readers' choice awards

illustrations by Brucie Rosch

You, our trusted readers, have spoken. Thousands of you submitted ballots for your favorite beer, bakery, burger, tourist attraction, golf course, spa, cheesemaker—you name it—within the Blue Line. Read on for your park picks.

Café Sarah
260 Main Street, North Creek
(518) 251-5959
Craving a maple-glazed cinnamon sticky bun? Pumpkin gingerbread? Blueberry scones? Scrumptious pies and tarts and cakes? Two-time winner Café Sarah has got the goods to satisfy your sweetest dreams.
Runner-up: Cake Placid, Lake Placid

272 Main Street, North Creek
(518) 251-5533
A former IGA skillfully repurposed into a classy yet cozy wine bar, this place has an exceptional craft beer list, terrific wines by the glass or bottle and an ambitious roster of live music year-round.
Runner-up: Basil & Wick’s, North Creek

The Tumble Inn
875 Route 9, Schroon Lake
(518) 532-7605
This beaming yellow landmark charms guests with its wraparound porch and homey vibe. And the food doesn’t hurt, either—heaping breakfasts with locally sourced produce and meats from Oscar’s Smoke House, in Warrensburg, helped it win this category for a second year.
Runner-up: Inn at the Bridge, Northville

Hornbeck Boats
131 Trout Brook Road, Olmstedville
(518) 251-2764
It’s not hard to guess that Peter Hornbeck’s canoes are the most popular in the park—you can’t paddle very far into Adirondack waters without spotting at least one of his ultralight Lost Pond fleet, the straw-color pack boats with that familiar red stripe.
Runner-up: Placid Boatworks, Lake Placid

Walt’s Diner
3047 Main Street, Old Forge
(315) 369-2582
This classic small-town diner dishes up quality and quantity in delicious oversize omelets, tender pancakes that drape over the plates, and fluffy french toast.
Runner-up: Blue Moon Cafe, Saranac Lake

Turtle Island Café
3790 Main Street, Willsboro
(518) 963-7417
Winner for a second year in a row, this Champlain Valley favorite’s All-American Cheeseburger is made from locally sourced beef, Cabot cheddar and your choice of toppings, all stacked on a homemade sourdough roll.
Runner-up: The Tavern, Eagle Bay

tie: Fish Creek
4523 Route 30, Saranac Lake
(518) 891-4560
Old Forge Camping Resort
3347 State Route 28, Old Forge
(315) 369-6011
What these two favorite getaways have in common is their splashy, family-friendly vibe. State operated Fish Creek has more than 300 sites hugging inviting ponds plus access to miles of canoeing nirvana. Old Forge Camping Resort offers paddle-boating and swimming on private Lake Serene and a walking trail to the Enchanted Forest Water Safari. It’s a win-win for summertime fun.
Runner-up: Rogers Rock, Hague

Barkeater Chocolates
3235 Route 28, North Creek
(518) 251-4438
Downhill Darksider bars (dark chocolate with sea salt); Adirondack Adventure bark with fruit, nuts and seeds; and hand-crafted truffles stuffed with imaginative fillings have earned Barkeater Chocolates a passionate following.
Runner-up: Adirondack Chocolates, Lake Placid & Wilmington

Casual Dining
Basil & Wick’s
3195 Route 28, North Creek
(518) 251-3100
The old Basil & Wick’s was a rowdy roadhouse with outlaw overtones; the new incarnation is a log cabin that does dinner in a family-friendly way. Finger food—bleu cheese crisps or pulled pork in wonton wrappers or duck wings—is tasty; hearty entrées include eggplant manicotti, pork osso bucco, rustic meat loaf with mashed potatoes, sesame soy ahi tuna and more.
Runner-up: Lisa G’s, Lake Placid

Nettle Meadow Farm
484 South Johnsburg Road, Thurman
(518) 623-3372
Triple creme Kunik buttons, mold-ripened Nettle Peaks pyramids, and tubs of garlic, maple, horseradish and other flavor-infused chèvres­ are just a sampling of the award-winning artisanal cheese made in this historic farmstead from goat, sheep and cow milk.
Runner-up: Sugar House Creamery, Upper Jay

Strand Theatre
Main Street, Old Forge
(315) 369-2792
Forget Lemonheads: where else can you get a pint of Ben & Jerry’s at the concession stand and then settle in for a Hollywood blockbuster? The Strand, with its Art Deco entrance, has four screens, a handsome husky to greet you in the lobby and a packed schedule all year.
Runner-up: Palace Theatre, Lake Placid

Liquids and Solids at the Handlebar
6115 Sentinel Road, Lake Placid
(518) 837-5012
Mixologist and Liquids and Solids co-owner Keegan Konkoski wins best cocktails for the second year. Devotees belly-up for her cilantro daiquiris and other more-is-more concoctions, which may contain anything from saffron syrup to smoked pineapple.
Runner-up: Basil & Wick’s, North Creek

Dartbrook Lodge
2835 Route 73, Keene
(518) 576-9080
A riot of wildflowers surrounds the seven cabins stretching alongside Dart Brook, all furnished by local artisans. The charm is in the details—slate rainshowers, locally made soaps, rustic chairs on wide porches—at this
tastefully twiggy getaway.
Runner-up: Silver Bay YMCA, Silver Bay

Noon Mark Diner
Route 73, Keene Valley
(518) 576-4499
This cozy diner’s a longtime establishment for hungry hikers looking for a home-cooked meal. But say “Noon Mark” and most folks think of the place’s famous pies—more than 40 flavors, all made from scratch and now available for mail order.
Runner-up: Walt’s Diner, Old Forge

Farmers’ Market
Marcy Airfield, Route 73
On Sundays, from mid-June through mid-October, growers, artisans, artists and activists set up shop on Marcy Field, against a backdrop of High Peaks panoramas. Locals and visitors alike congregate to shop, chitchat and marvel at
the regional bounty.
Runner-up: Old Forge

Saranac Lake Winter Carnival
With wacky competitions, a boisterous parade and an iconic ice palace, this early February party has been bringing smiles to frostbitten faces for 118 years.
Runner-up: Waynestock, North Creek

Fine Dining
272 Main Street, North Creek
(518) 251-5533
Don’t expect a slab of prime rib here, but delicious small plates that reflect the seasons and tour the globe: Moroccan-spiced lamb chops, Marcona almonds and olives, gnocchi with brandy cream sauce, fried brussels sprouts, Catalan spinach, Korean barbecued chicken along with the best steak frites this side of Montreal.
Runner-up: Five Corners Cafe, Old Forge

Golf Course
Ticonderoga Country Club
609 Route 9N, Ticonderoga
(518) 585-2801
Ti’s 18-hole course has rolling greens criss-crossed by Trout Brook—the view from the clubhouse is spectacular. But this is historic turf, too, land trod by Rogers’ Rangers during the French and Indian War’s brutal Battle on Snowshoes.
Runner-up: Thendara Golf Club

Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa
77 Mirror Lake Drive, Lake Placid
(518) 523-2544
Classy in all the right ways, this Lake Placid mainstay anchors Main Street and overlooks Mirror Lake, with gorgeous mountain views. Think polished wood, Adirondack-inspired rooms, an on-site restaurant, bistro and pub (see Outdoor Dining), plus an award-winning spa (see Spa).
Runner-up: The Sagamore Resort, Bolton Landing

Ice Cream
Donnelly’s Ice Cream
1556 Route 86, Saranac Lake
Once again, Donnelly’s soft-serve—just one flavor per day, twisted with vanilla—won our readers’ poll by a landslide. Whether you’re visiting or living full-time in the Adirondacks, a cone from this roadside mecca is a summertime necessity.
Runner-up: Stewart’s Shops, multiple locations

Lake Placid Pub & Brewery
813 Mirror Lake Drive, Lake Placid
(518) 523-3813
Lake Placid Pub & Brewery’s
Chris Ericson and his team have been crafting delicious beer for 18 years. Though Ubu Ale’s their hit—in stores and on taps all over the East—the suds from this lakeside hops spot keep getting better. Later this year look for an additional LPP&B brewery/tasting room/restaurant on Cascade Road, in Lake Placid.
Runner-up: Paradox Brewery, Schroon Lake

The Adirondack Museum
Routes 28N & 30, Blue Mountain Lake (518) 352-7311
A visit to the Adirondacks is never the same twice, and neither is a stop at the Adirondack Museum’s beautiful campus. A changing lineup of demonstrations and exhibits—this year, the wonderful world of Upper Jay theme park creator Arto Monaco and the past and present of Adirondack camping—rubs up against old favorites like hermit Noah John Rondeau’s cabin and a climbable fire tower.
Runner-up: The Wild Center, Tupper Lake

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—and, for the second year, it’s our readers’ pick for catching stunning performances.
Runner-up: Smoke Signals, Lake Placid

Outdoor Dining
The Cottage
77 Mirror Lake Drive, Lake Placid
(518) 302-3045
In winter you can skate to this popular Mirror Lake pub; in summer you can paddle there. Whenever and however you come, expect pretty waterside views from the deck, plus extensive drink menus—Build Your Own Bloody Mary—and delicious fare, from flatbread pizzas to chili in a bread bowl.
Runners-up: Daikers Inn, Old Forge; Tail o’ the Pup, Ray Brook

The Mountaineer
1866 Route 73, Keene Valley
(518) 576-2281
More than a place to buy outdoor equipment, this is a High Peaks hub for hikers, skiers, climbers or anyone who appreciates a good adventure. Staff are as knowledgeable as they come—on days off skiing slides or hanging from cliffs—and they put on popular events, like the Adirondack International Mountainfest.
Runner-up: Beaver Brook Outfitters, Wevertown

Silver Bay YMCA Conference and Family Retreat Center
87 Silver Bay Road, Silver Bay
(518) 543-8833
For more than a century this beloved resort has been offering peaceful wilderness getaways with a variety of lodging options—cottages, dorm-style rooms, a historic inn—on a 700-acre playground nestled next to Lake George.
Runner-up: The Sagamore Resort, Bolton Landing

Rustic Store
Dartbrook Rustic Goods
Routes 73 and 9N, Keene
(518) 576-4360
Inside this Adirondackana emporium you’ll find hand-crafted furniture, antique accessories and a hint of woodsmoke in the air—the perfect atmosphere to browse for a conversation piece for your homespun cabin or trick out the Great Camp of your dreams.
Runner-up: Hoss’s Country Store, Long Lake

Izzy’s Market & Deli
282 Main Street, North Creek
(518) 251-3000
Boxcar Willie, Caboose and Excited Train Guy are just a few of the creative, well-endowed sandwiches made to order in this bright and spacious storefront a short walk from the Saratoga & North Creek Railway depot. Home-baked bread, rolls and bagels are the perfect platforms for the meat, cheese, smoked salmon and veggie fillings.
Runner-up: Simply Gourmet, Lake Placid

Ski Center
Gore Mountain
793 Peaceful Valley Road,
North Creek
(518) 251-5026
You can ski or ride on nine sides of four peaks at New York’s largest downhill area. Stats are truly impressive: the 107 trails are served by 14 lifts plus a gondola, and the vertical drop is more than 2,500 feet. Numbers don’t tell the whole story, though. This is a terrific hill for kids and adults of all abilities.
Runner-up: Whiteface Mountain, Wilmington

Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa
77 Mirror Lake Drive, Lake Placid
(518) 302-3010
According to our readers this spa wins again as the ultimate destination for self-indulgence, with its tension-releasing, face-glowing, relaxation-inducing treatments, from seaweed body wraps to Reiki to heated river stone therapy.
Runner-up: Whiteface Lodge, Lake Placid

Tourist Attraction
The Wild Center
45 Museum Drive, Tupper Lake
(518) 359-7800
Before or after you hike, bike, paddle or just leisurely explore a slice of the park’s six million acres, a visit to this world-class natural history museum is a must. State-of-the-art ex­hibits, animal encounters and interpretive trails will add another layer of wonder to your Adirondack experience.
Runner-up: Enchanted Forest Water Safari, Old Forge

Write-in Category
Your superlative suggestions were all over the Adirondack map, though a few collected multiple shout-outs. Charles Grover Woodworks (518-636-6772,, of Long Lake, earned some love for his “Best Adirondack Chair.” And there were nods for “Best Art Studio” ( Caroline Ramersdorfer and John Van Alstine, Wells, 518-924-9204,, and “Best Art Center” ( View, Old Forge, 315-369-6411, A slice of the voters were disappointed in the lack of a “Best Pizza” category and others called for a “Best Swimming Hole.” But the real crowd favorite was the Adirondack Dog House (315-369-2476,, in Old Forge, for “Best Hot Dog.”

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