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Craft beer, a pretty restaurant, and amazing pizza and pasta

Wilmington has some great new things going on, and with summer right around the corner the timing could not be better. During the summer months I love to take the gondola ride up Whiteface Mountain to take in the views from the top. My family and I will always stay in town for dinner after this experience, so I decided I needed to go check out some of the new businesses for myself. Taste test. I was so happy that I did.

My first stop was ADK Pizza and Pasta. This is brand new, by a few weeks — a really pretty blue building right on the corner of Springfield and Route 86. I drove by so many times during the construction, wondering what was going in there. As soon as the sign went up my excitement built. I love pizza. There are great pizza restaurants all around the Adirondacks, so I was anxious to learn what would make this one different. First off, it is a very nice sit-down restaurant with a full-service staff. You can also do take out, but tonight we ate in. It's a beautiful little space with nice music, television, and even craft beer.

The Whiteface Region always surprises me with its craft beer because a lot of little towns don't find this an important factor. But if you are trying to attract the mountain crowd this better be on your menu. There it was: local craft beer. Points with me for sure. I ordered a pizza; they only come in one size, which is great for me because I always enjoy leftover pizza. My husband ordered the Penne Con Salsiccia. We were both very happy with our choices. I am a bit of a "crust" snob and this might be one of the best I have had. Thin, but not too thin. You know, you can eat a lot more when it isn't all crust. I think I had four slices.

Cute bears carved out of wood

Right outside the ADK Pizza and Pasta Co. there are these amazing carved wooden bears, owls, and other Adirondack animals. These little guys carrying lanterns and wearing overalls would look great on my front porch. I wasn't prepared to take one home, but you should be. I can always go back.


Coffee shop must stop!

A great new coffee shop called The Bear's Den Coffee and Gifts is a cozy spot right next door to ADK Pizza and Pasta. This shop serves gourmet coffees, cappuccinos, and espressos starting really early — 5:30 a.m. daily. You can also get pastries and unique gifts by local artisans. I love places like this — eclectic and warm on chilly mountain mornings. This is the kind of stop that eveyone heads to when the sun rises, or before.

It's relaxing to sit in the the big chairs, which I am 99% sure came from The Cellar, an old German style hangout in Lake Placid. It's very cool to see these chairs get new life. There is also a cool coffee bar in case you are not quite ready to face the world so early. Drink up and read the paper, you can take your time here. Whether you are taking advantage of some of the really cool new mountain biking trails in the region, or going down the road to the bike pump track, this will be a great start to your day.

The Adirondack Wildlife Refuge

This really unique spot in Wilmington is located one mile from Whiteface Mountain. Basically, ill or harmed animals are brought here to be treated before they are released back into their natural habitat. There are owls, coyotes, wolves, bald eagles, bobcats, and more depending on what needs assistance. Some of these animals will live here if they cannot be released due to health reasons that would prevent them from surviving in the wild. They are used for educational purposes.

When you head down the dirt road to the visitor area, you can park and walk in. The friendly and knowledgeable staff will greet you and give the lowdown of information you need. They offer classes, talks, and tours on all of their animals and their mission — there's also a one-mile interpretive trail that's packed with information.

The refuge is a great learning experience for young and old alike. I have seen many impressive demonstrations from this group, and I highly recommend seeing the refuge for yourself, as well as catching them when they do public presentations and seminars out in the community. Since the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge is a nonprofit that survives on donations, leave something in the jar by the front so this great family can continue to help animals in need.

Next time you come to the Whiteface Region, make sure you go check out the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge, eat a great dinner, and start your day off right with great coffee and local company. Just a merry reminder: Santa's Workshop is open all summer long, and as always, it's a must visit.

This week in other ADK stories:

Stargazers welcome

Placid’s perfect pars

Chesterfield for fun & history

5 fabulous spring hikes

Low elevation, big views

Schroon Lake is summer ready!

Great golf deserves great eats


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