Best of the Adirondacks 2017
Winners of our Readers' Choice Awards
Here in the Adirondacks, we like to keep it simple. That’s certainly true of our Best Burger winner, The Tavern, in Eagle Bay, with its two dining options: hamburger or cheeseburger. What this beloved roadhouse lacks in variety, it makes up for in lip-smacking quality—and a made-to-order attitude. You can even get your burger topped with Hofmann’s German-style franks.
Many of our readers’ favorite bites reflect the simpler things in life: home-style cooking at Walt’s Diner, in Old Forge; slices served up at Screamen Eagle, Inlet’s go-to pizza-and-beer joint; the pub fare on tap at Big Tupper Brewing, in Tupper Lake; or the joys of a fish fry at Daikers, overlooking Fourth Lake. For five-star plates there’s Five Corners Cafe, in Old Forge, winner of Best Fine Dining thanks to earthy offerings like caramelized Brussels sprouts in a warm maple vinaigrette or rainbow trout with local sweet corn, roasted red peppers and fingerling potatoes. And the 46 varieties of sandwiches at Lake Placid’s Simply Gourmet were voted, well, simply the best.
Summer isn’t summer without a velvety twist cone from Donnelly’s, in Saranac Lake, or a luscious homemade gelato from Northern Lights Creamery (an Inlet institution that lost the ice-cream category by only a whisker). And many trips to the High Peaks region include a visit to the Candy Man, in Wilmington, now known as Adirondack Chocolates with a second location in Lake Placid. But it would also be a mistake to miss out on the Donut Shop, in Eagle Bay (serving up our readers’ favorite fry cakes), or Mary’s White Pine Bakery, in Inlet, where fans line up early to get the best baked goodies fresh from the oven.
Liquids & Solids at the Handlebar, in Lake Placid, is still the undefeated champion of the Adirondack cocktail, gaining lifelong fans with creative sips like The Vanilla Cat, a concoction of tequila, blood orange, ginger, chocolate bitters and vanilla chili syrup. Meanwhile, a newcomer has taken the microbrewery category: Fulton Chain Craft Brewery, in Old Forge, has been winning hearts and minds since 2014 with an impressive lineup of locally sourced suds. But our readers’ favorite spot to enjoy both cocktails and beer—and music and food—is Old Forge’s Daikers, which has been doing a rollicking year-round business for 60 years.
Whether it’s thrills on the lake or the trail, the slope or the links, this six-million-acre playground has something for everyone. To score a great game of golf, our readers suggest the Donald Ross–designed Thendara Golf Club. You can gear up for a day on the water at Wilmington’s Hungry Trout Fly Shop, a favorite outfitter stationed on the bite-rich Ausable River. And we hear Placid Boatworks, two-time winner of Best Boatbuilder, crafts the best canoes. Although Lake Placid’s renowned Olympic Mountain got the top nod for downhill delights, this year McCauley Mountain, Old Forge’s hometown hill, almost knocked it from its pedestal.
Adirondack culture is hard to define. Maybe it’s a mouthful of campfire coffee set to the soundtrack of crackling logs. Or a shanty full of anglers swapping fish stories. It can also be the top-shelf works at the annual Adirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolors at Old Forge’s View, or a rustic furniture installation at the Adirondack Museum, in Blue Mountain Lake. Rustic style is a beloved part of our region’s past as well as its present, with favorite shops like Keene’s Dartbrook Rustic Goods stuffed to the rafters with Adirondackana. But in large part, Adirondack culture is the culture of fun: checking out a band at a rehabbed speakeasy, climbing onto a frozen sculpture in the shadow of Saranac Lake’s iconic ice palace, or taking on the 280-foot Killermanjaro at Old Forge’s Water Safari.
Some folks like the Adirondack experience to be up close and personal—morning mist blanketing the breakfast table, a bear brushing past the tent after midnight—others would rather enjoy the view from an elegantly appointed room. Whether you prefer the pampering of the Mirror Lake Inn, in Lake Placid, a bunking-with-wildlife adventure at the Old Forge Camping Resort, or anything in between, our readers have picked just the place.