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In February, Lake Placid, N.Y., celebrates the 25th anniversary
of the Olympic games that launched the shouted query, “Do you believe in miracles?” into the ranks of history’s great sports clichés. But glory fades, and Olympic history is full of towns that wake up a month after closing ceremonies with nothing but a world-class ski jump and too many hotel rooms. Lake Placid’s advantage is that it has always been a thriving summer community, and it learned how to survive the Olympics back in 1932. Today, Lake Placid-15 minutes from the slopes of Whiteface-doesn’t even have a mist of an Olympic hangover. Instead, it’s that rare Eastern ski town that possesses amenities comparable to the loftiest Western resort.
The 1932 games can be thanked for the winterization of the elegant Mirror Lake Inn ($190-$825; 518-523-2544; mirrorlakeinn.com). It hosted the Norwegian athletes and coaches, and if the inn was as luxurious back then as it is today, that explains the Norwegians’ impressive medal count. The Mirror Lake has plenty of quiet places in which to ponder that connection: a mahogany-paneled reading room, a world-class spa downstairs and any of the inn’s rooms, which combine Edwardian elegance with better bandwidth. Convene your own team of athletes over dinner in the Averil Conwell Dining Room, where the view of Mirror Lake competes for your attention with the prosciutto-wrapped swordfish and roasted rack of wild boar.
At the other end of Main Street’s lively retail and restaurant row you’ll hit the adapted chalet of the Golden Arrow Hotel ($99-$379; 800-582-5540; golden-arrow.com). It’s a Best Western blessed with an extraordinary setting, hard by the southwestern shore of Mirror Lake. The best views in town, however, can be had from the Lake Placid Resort ($69-$369; 877-570-5891; lpresort.com), a Holiday Inn property occupying the high ground across Main from the Golden Arrow.
For something funkier, try the Mt. Van Hoevenberg B&B ($60-$150; 518-523-9572; adklodging.com), located four miles east of town past the MacKenzie-Intervale Ski Jumping Complex. Its cabins, set in a semicircle off Route 73, are as trim and cozy as you might require after a day at Whiteface or a few hours testing your cross-country acumen at the nearby Verizon Sports Complex. As the sun settles over the bobsled track on Mt. Van Hoevenberg, fire up the outdoor sauna and dream your own dreams of Olympic glory.
Carnivores of all types will be perfectly happy with the duck quesadilla at the Brown Dog Café & Wine Bar (518-523-3036) at the northern end of Main Street. It’s a deli, and they’ll be happy to fix you a ham-and-cheese, but try the Simba: chicken breast, pancetta, field greens, tomato and ranch dressing on rosemary-olive oil sourdough. And unlike most delis, the Brown Dog offers not one but three suitable pinot noirs.
Across Main Street, the Great Adirondack Steak & Seafood Company (518-523-1629) has a way with stuffed lobster and shrimp scampi that’ll make you forget you’re a couple hundred miles from salt water. Nicola’s (518-523-4430), which moved to a new location this season, offers Greek and Italian dishes-including an exemplary penne Bolognese. Just around the lake, the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery (518-523-3813) serves up exceptional pub fare and acclaimed craft beers.
If you’re staying at the Golden Arrow, you don’t even have to go outdoors to get to Goldberries (518-523-1799), a rambling restaurant in the Bavarian complex of shops adjacent to the hotel. The décor ranges from antique ski gear to Adirondack art, and the rear dining room is an excellent breakfast aerie.