I adore Lake George, and I know a number of people who have relatives with a home there who enjoy visiting. But most people who have spent a weekend in Lake George Village say the same thing: “it’s too busy,” “it feels too commercialized,” or “it doesn’t feel like the Adirondacks.” If you’re looking for lots of restaurant choices, mini-golf, the House of Frankenstein, para-sailing and horse-and-buggy rides, then Lake George Village would be a fantastic place to spend the weekend. If you want a break from the “busy-ness,” or if you want to enjoy those activities and retreat to a quieter place for the evening, then stay further up the lake in Bolton Landing.
Most experts in the area know that Bolton Landing is home to to the historic Sagamore Resort, which is a family-friendly, luxurious resort with an ideal location. We have stayed there during professional conferences, and it is amazing, no doubt. But if you can’t or don’t want to spend big bucks on lodging, don’t turn away from Bolton Landing.
There are a number of places to stay in or near Bolton Landing, including rental homes. One of my favorite sites for finding affordable hotel rooms (and many of their rooms offer free cancellation by a certain date) is Booking.com. For rental homes, you can check out VRBO and AirBnB, but I would highly recommend Adirondack “By Owner,” which is my favorite site for finding affordable Adirondack rental properties. There are plenty of restaurants in Bolton Landing, so if you don’t feel like cooking, you’ll have plenty of options.
Once you have found your place to stay, what is there to do in little Bolton Landing? Plenty! First, Lake George is the most obvious source of entertainment. Bolton Landing is a great place from which to kayak or canoe because it’s a somewhat quieter part of the lake (at least north of the Sagamore is quieter than south). Kayak and canoe rentals are easy to come by if you just drive along Lake Shore Drive. From Bolton Landing, it’s easier to reach several of the islands than it would be if you started from the southern end of the lake, so kayaking is fun and rewarding.
Motor boat rentals are also easy to find, though more expensive than kayaks or canoes. On such a big lake, it can be helpful to have a motor boat because you can see so much more. Just be sure to pick up a lake map and a guide to the buoy symbols so you obey all of the wake restrictions and avoid bumping your boat on a giant rock (that would ruin your day, for sure!).
Swimming in the lake is only for those who don’t mind cooler water, but I find it much more refreshing on a hot day than a heated pool. The water is also beautiful and clean, so it’s highly enjoyable to take a dip in the water. There is a public beach at Rogers Park (4922 Lake Shore Drive) and at Veterans Memorial Park (5034 Lake Shore Drive), both of which have restrooms, picnic facilities and other sporting facilities. The grocery store Tops is right in town, along with a couple of delis, at which you can pick up sandwiches for a picnic.
Horseback riding facilities are available throughout the region, but close to Bolton Landing you’ll find Saddle Up Stables. They offer riding options for all age levels.
There are several hikes in the area, and you can pick up local hiking guides in a couple of the stores in Bolton Landing. I don’t enjoy spending tons of money on stuff I don’t need, which means I’m not really a big shopper (especially on vacation). However, I do enjoy the shops in Bolton Landing, and we always return to a few favorites. If you’re looking for restrooms while you’re shopping, the Bolton Town Hall has public restrooms around the back of the building. The Indian Tepee Gift Shop (shown below) is right in the heart of Bolton Landing and has souvenirs for just about any person of any taste crammed into a very tight space, but their prices tend to be reasonable and my kids love the place.
I’m also a big fan of Trees Adirondack Gifts and Books. There are some gorgeous Adirondack photographs available in the back of the store, as well as maps and other Adirondack art interspersed among books on local history, as well as great books for the beach.
My kids adore Happy Jack’s Kids, which is an awesome toy store with hands-on, non-electronic toys that are lots of fun and inspire creativity. Right next door is the Happy Jack’s Surf Shop, which has beach-themed clothes. Just up the street, you’ll find their sister store Mrs. Whizzy Fizz Popp’s, which has a giant Adirondack chair out front so you can’t miss it.
There aren’t many true candy stores around anymore, so my kids especially enjoy popping into this one, and the fudge is delicious.
Those are just a few highlights, so stroll along and you’ll find many more options with clothing and home decor. If shopping isn’t your top priority, it can provide some entertainment if you end up with a rainy day. Although I haven’t ever visited the Sembrich Opera Museum & Music Venue, I’ve heard it’s great, and once my kids are old enough, it’s on my list. A few years ago on a rainy day, we visited the Bolton Landing Historical Museum, which is small but worth checking out.
If you’re willing to venture a little further, I highly recommend driving one hour north on Route 9N to visit Fort Ticonderoga, which played an important role in the Revolutionary War and features a living history experience (with actors playing the role of soldiers) and hands-on exhibits.
This is really only a brief description of the options if you stay in Bolton Landing, but whether you come for the day, weekend, or longer, you will definitely enjoy your stay!