Herb Reisenfeld - checking inn

The Adirondack Mountains are home to the largest publicly protected national area in the contiguous United States – larger than Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon put together. It is comprised of 6 million acres of mountains, lakes and historical places located in New York State, offering a variety of one-of-a-kind adventures and opportunities, for every traveler. Our group just returned from a 10-day journey which started in Montreal and included both the Adirondack area and the Hudson Valley, ending in New York City.

Starting in Montreal, the largest French speaking city in North America, we could feel the pride of their French history versus the English who came later. We explored the cultural capital of Canada and its beautiful parks, prodigious universities and one of the largest underground networks in the world. Our stop in quaint, historical Old Montreal treated us to cobblestone streets, architecture from the 1600s, and horse-drawn buggies; as well as, many wonderful restaurants and shops. 

After passing through U.S. Customs, we were in nearby New York State for our first stop in Lake Placid. This beautiful lakefront town is famous for hosting two Winter Olympics – 1932 and 1980. It was also the site of the legendary Miracle on Ice, when the U.S. hockey team defeated the Russians. 

Lake Placid still hosts winter competitions each year including all types of skiing events and ice hockey. We visited the training complex and watched as teens and even young kids honed their skills toward their own Olympic dreams. 

Nearby was the homestead of John Brown, the abolitionist who raided the arsenal at Harpers Ferry prior to the start of the Civil War and was hanged. His grave site is within view of the giant ski jump towers. 

And, adorning the shores of Lake Placid are where residents and vacationers dwell in what they locally call “cabins.” Believe me these aren’t cabins, but multi-million-dollar homes with huge boat houses. 

Our next stop was at Lake George. On the way we stopped at the Adirondack Experience on Blue Mountain Lake. The museum offers an interactive experience of life in the Adirondacks over several centuries. They have a wonderful display of boats, early homes and a fantastic collection of artifacts, giving guests a chance to explore the magic and appeal of this magnificent area. When we arrived at Bolton Landing, on the shores of a private island at Lake George, we were met by stunning scenery and the gorgeous, stately Sagamore Hotel where we stayed the night. 

Moving along and traveling south through the rolling countryside, we arrived for a short visit in the resort town of Saratoga Springs, New York. The summer racing season was on going at one of America’s most famous race tracks. Saratoga Springs is a beautiful town with many parks, a historical battlefield from the “war of Independence,” and many other interesting attractions. 

We then continued on to our next stop at the Olana State Historical Site, the former home, studio and designed landscape of Hudson River School painter Frederic Edwin Church. This unique house that he built contains much of the exotic objects collected on his world travels, as well as 40 paintings by the artist and his contemporaries. 

Our final destination of the day was the Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, N.Y. Set in a Victorian castle high above the Hudson Valley, this unique all-inclusive resort is celebrating its 150th year. The stay was nothing short of a wonderful experience, as whether you want to relax on an Adirondack porch chair, play a round of golf, horseback ride, visit the spa, take a hike or even enjoy a fabulous barbecue dinner above the scenic lake; there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Nearby in Hyde Park, N.Y. we visited Springwood, the home, library and visitors center of Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was born there in 1882 and deeded it and the land to the National Park Service in 1943. The house is interesting with original furnishings, pieces from Roosevelt’s collection of paintings, and specimens from his boyhood collection of birds. But the highlight is the presidential library which contains so much history from this four-term president including his desk, his car and thousands of letters, documents. You could spend days discovering the details. This was one of the high points of the trip.

Our next amazing visits were to two different Hudson Valley locations: West Point U.S. Military Academy and Sleepy Hollow. West Point is perched on the western bank with a fantastic view of the Hudson River. The oldest of the country’s five federal service academies, the grounds are full of history from the multitude of graduates who became generals like Grant, Lee, McArthur, Eisenhower, and so many more. Seeing the young men and women on campus, striving so hard to become officers and leaders, makes you feel even more patriotic for our great country. This is a special place which I highly recommend to visit. 

Our last stop prior to moving onward to New York City was in the charming town of Sleepy Hollow, famous for the Washington Irving legend. Here we visited Kykuit, the Rockefeller Estate. This estate was built by John D. Rockefeller and passed down through four generations of their family. This magnificent house and gardens now is part of a National Trust for Historic Preservation and is open for touring to the public. There are art galleries, gardens, furnishings and beautiful views of the Hudson River from this beautiful home which is still home to the Rockefeller family who often visit.

Our 10-day tour ended in New York City with an emotional visit to Ground Zero, where we met a retired detective who was there on 9/11 and gave us her personal experience of that terrible day in our history.

We all treasured the beauty of the Adirondacks and Hudson Valley with its mountains, lakes, historic villages and so much to see and experience. I didn’t mention the meals, but all along the way we had a great variety of culinary delights, designed to add just a few pounds. However, thankfully, we got in a lot of activities along the way and soon shed what we so enjoyed.

I highly recommend visiting this area which is next to the Catskill Mountain area and across the Hudson Valley from the Berkshires of western Massachusetts. Travel the backroads of America!

If you have any travel questions for Herb Reisenfeld, The American Israelite’s travel columnist, please send them to travel@americanisraelite.com

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