What to expect when you’re expecting tourists

Lake Placid officials talk outlook, construction

Visitors pack the sidewalk of Main Street, Lake Placid, as construction workers dig up the road last week. (Enterprise photo — Andy Flynn)

LAKE PLACID — School is out, and Lake Placid may be in for another busy summer season this year as tourism officials project a continuation of last year’s rubber-tire travel trend.

Lake Placid is almost always busy in the summer. The village and town of North Elba host a variety of large-scale sporting events; it’s in close proximity to the High Peaks Wilderness, popular with hikers; and its Main Street is walkable with a variety of businesses and restaurants. It’s also been a popular vacation destination for generations. Last year, it was unclear if the usual influx of tourists in the summer would still come because of the coronavirus pandemic, and also because the Canadian border was closed to nonessential travel. But in part because Lake Placid is easy for many New Yorkers to drive to, the season was as busy as ever.

Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism CEO Jim McKenna said on a call with local officials and business owners Wednesday that he expects that trend to continue this year.

“Looking at where we’re going or trying to project where we’re going this year, we think the trends in 2020 will continue,” he said.

Party sizes and length of stays are up, he said, and outdoor activities continue to be among the biggest reasons people choose to visit here.

McKenna added that tourism was “up considerably” over 2020 and even 2019 in January through April of this year.

In years past, business in Lake Placid would slow for a few weeks in the spring, so much so that some business owners would close up shop and go on vacation. Recently, though, after years of trying to market the area as a year-round destination, Lake Placid has stayed relatively busy even in traditionally slow periods.

Looking toward the summer, McKenna said hotel owners are reporting high occupancy numbers, signs are pointing to automobile travel continuing to top out over air travel, and lots of Northeast travelers will be looking at mountain resorts for getaways.

“People are saying bookings are happening; certain times they’re looking at peak occupancy,” he said.

“We think it will be busy and it will carry through to the fall at this point,” he added.


As residents know well, there are many large-scale construction projects happening around Lake Placid right now. There’s the village’s Main Street reconstruction, a multi-year project; the renovation of the historic Hotel North Woods, which includes a facade update that has brought more construction crews and vehicles onto Main Street; state Department of Transportation repaving of state Route 86 between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid; plus the state Olympic Regional Development Authority’s ongoing overhaul of the Olympic Speedskating Oval and the Olympic Center, both on Main Street.

Most of this work is being done in anticipation of the 2023 Winter World University Games.

The village is expecting to see its contracted construction company, Kubricky Construction, repave what’s been torn up on Main Street and move construction off the street for July and the beginning of August. Crews will be working on installing a bioretention basin and a new Redi-Rock retaining wall at the lower parking lot across from NBT Bank, temporarily displacing about 20 parking spaces; then installing a bioretention basin near the intersection of Main Street and Olympic Drive, temporarily displacing about 50 spaces in the large municipal lot, according to Mayor Art Devlin. Work will also continue at the Saranac Avenue intersection, displacing seven permit parking spaces.

A new shuttle, operated by Essex County, will start running between the old train station on Station Street to Main Street on Thursday, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. to start. The Placid Xpress will be able to transport people from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., according to Devlin.

By opening up parking at the old train station and starting shuttle service, the village hopes to allow construction crews to move their vehicles off of Main Street, opening up parking spaces on the street to visitors, while also replacing spaces that will be displaced by construction work.

The county is working on an app that travelers will be able to download to find out where the shuttles are at any given time, Devlin said on the call.

The entrance to the upper NBT lot from Marcy Hill will remain open, according to Highway Superintendent Brad Hathaway. The village has asked that the public bathroom in the lower municipal lot be open for as long as possible until construction crews have to block off access.

Construction at the Olympic Center and the Olympic Speedskating Oval will continue this summer, according to State Olympic Regional Development Authority Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Communications Scott Christiansen. The USA Rink at the OC remains open to the public in the meantime, with parking at the Shipman Youth Center. The Olympic Museum, temporarily relocated to the Conference Center, is open free of charge this summer.

ORDA Director of Sport Paul Wylie said they’re looking at a late fall reopening of the 1932 and 1980 rinks.

The Mountain Pass Lodge, Cliffside Coaster and mountain biking are open at the Olympic Sports Complex at Mount Van Hoevenberg, as is the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway, the elevator to the top of the ski jumps and the Skyride gondola at the Olympic Jumping Complex.

Steve Vance, director of sales at the Hotel North Woods, said the hotel — which will be renamed the Grand Adirondack Hotel — is looking at a fall opening.

“We’re making great progress with the hotel,” he said. “A lot of the mechanicals are done, and we’re working on the aesthetics.”


Lake Placid’s big annual sporting events are expected to return this year. The Lake Placid Horse Shows kick off the season on Tuesday, followed by the Lake Placid Ironman triathlon on July 25, the Lake Placid Summit Classic lacrosse tournament in August and the Lake Placid Marathon and Half in September.

Lake Placid’s annual Fourth of July celebration will return this year with the usual fireworks display set to music from the Adirondack 105 radio station, according to ROOST Event Coordinator Bethany Valenze. The Fourth of July parade lineup will start at 4:30 p.m. on Parkside Drive by the post office. The parade will start at 5 p.m. and travel from the post office to the High Peaks Resort.

“We’re still looking for participants for the parade,” she said. “If you or a group are interested, send me an email.”

Valenze can be reached at bethany@roostadk.com or 518-621-3662.


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