When my kids and I head out on an adventure and travel to new places we always make a checklist of things we would like to do and see. The Whiteface Region has so much to offer in outdoor adventures that you could stay for days and not see some of the real gems of the area!
So, as a local, I thought I'd help you out and put together a tried-and-true sample checklist to help you plan your winter trip to the beautiful Adirondack mountains.
Whiteface Mountain is an obvious choice — and a good one! Make sure you get out on the slopes and enjoy a day of skiing or snowboarding at this famous Olympic mountain. Whether you're a skier or not, we recommend taking a ride up the mountain in the heated gondola — don't forget your camera — you'll want to capture some of the most outstanding views in the region.
When you're ready to come down the hill and explore more of the area, check out a few of our other favorite family-friendly, must-see spots!
The first experience on our checklist is High Falls Gorge. Taking a walk in this winter wonderland is extremely beautiful. Fresh air puts everyone in the right state of mind. There are 22 acres full of bridges, walkways, and waterfalls to explore. This is a nature park different from any other in the area. In the winter months you can strap on snowshoes (available onsite) and take a self-guided tour on the well-groomed walkways. The four waterfalls will freeze up during the winter creating masterpieces by Mother Nature. Bring your camera, you'll want to capture the magic. The best part about bringing the children here is that they are safe to roam around a little. There are spots set up for you to take in the view, as they burn off some energy and enjoy a little freedom.
Whether you prefer a groomed trail or fresh powder, there are dozens of trails in the Whiteface Region to explore. The kids will love this and snowshoeing comes pretty naturally to children. Many of our easier trails are located just off of Route 86 between Whiteface Mountain and Wilmington.
If you are traveling with teenagers and feeling really athletic and outdoorsy, you can tackle the toll road to the castle on top of Whiteface Mountain for some spectacular views — and great exercise. We don't recommend this adventure for families with small children as they may not be able to do this 10.5 mile round-trip trek — unless you're towing them in a sled! Save the easier trails to do with them.
The Adirondack Wildlife Refuge is a very special place located just one mile from Whiteface Mountain, along the West Branch of the Ausable River. This is a must for your check list if you are hoping for one-of-a-kind experiences and memories to take with you. You'll find the refuge to be a natural setting featuring hiking trails, beautiful animals, and educational spaces. The animals here are injured or abandoned, and the owners, Wendy and Steve, take great care of them. It's their mission to educate, and they do an amazing job at it. You can see hawks, owls, falcons, wolves, turkeys, and even bears. There are hiking trails to take to see these beautiful animals and learn about their habitats. Although the animals are behind fences, the kids really love being up close to them. And, you definitely feel closer than you would in a zoo-like setting; the staff here have done an awesome job of making it feel intimate.
We always love to find a hidden gem in the places we visit. It may sound strange, but The Little Supermarket in Wilmington is just that — a gem. I am always amazed at the array of products available at this one-stop-shop. You can get some of the best soups here, along with huge sandwiches made fresh to order by very friendly people. But... the best part of this gem is the toy aisle! On our first visit we were certainly surprised at how many unique toys were here. There's one whole aisle in the back of the store that has wooden trains, dolls, books, and so much more. They are different than the standard grocery store toys, and even if we are in the metropolis of Lake Placid, my kids will still want to head over to the supermarket with the "good toys."
We all know that traveling with little ones can be exhausting — for the parents and for the kids. A great meal at the end of the day is a must do. It is important that the place has a nice kids menu and welcoming atmosphere for children. There is a really cozy spot in the lower level of the Hungry Trout, called R.F. McDougall's. Enjoy a roaring fire, tasty chocolate milk or hot chocolate for the kids, and as a bonus, a nice wine and craft beer list for you. Everyone can be happy here. They have coloring activities for the little ones, and the TV is usually tuned to ski programs showcasing skiers from the area and beautiful Whiteface Mountain. Sit back and enjoy a tasty meal after your day of exploring. You deserve it! Everyone is happy and your checklist is complete.