How to Have the Best Adirondack Vacation Ever!

Anyone who has spent time in Hamilton County knows this is a special place. People and nature coexist in a wonderfully Adirondack way. Between the small towns and big outdoors, it’s not hard to see why this corner of the world is a beloved destination for travelers and residents alike. Whether you’re here for a long time or short while, it’s easy to fall in love with this place.

I recently spent the day with some new friends outside of Indian Lake. We hiked, we birded, we shared laughs and smiles. One member of our outfit was visiting the Adirondacks for the very first time. Sometimes I lose sight of how truly magnificent this place is because I live here. I see it all every single day. After I got home, I realized how refreshing it was to revisit familiar places with new people and to see the wonder in their eyes gazing upon a remote lake for the first time.

A canoe points toward an Adirondack pond surrounded by a forested shoreline.
Canoeing into Wakely Pond is a delight.

Make your own bucket list 

Anyone else a “list person”? I sure am. With that in mind, I’ve compiled the “top 8” things to keep in mind when visiting Hamilton County for the first time in summer. 

1. Embrace history

There is no way to unpack all the area's history in a few sentences; there’s a lot! From Great Camps to great museums, opportunities to experience historical landmarks and displays are virtually limitless. Even while hiking you can discover regional stories or visit fire towers. My recommendation: don’t try to absorb it all at once. There's time for more than one vacation!

The rustic main lodge of Great Camp Sagamore with red Adirondack chair out front.
The rustic main lodge of Great Camp Sagamore.

2. Go with the flow

This is something everyone suggests when traveling to new places. “Go with the flow; don’t rigidly stick to a schedule.” In Hamilton County, this takes a new meaning. The county’s waterfalls can’t be beat and their “flow” should not be missed. For a casual outing, there are roadside falls. For the more experienced hiker, there are options farther into the backcountry. It doesn’t have to be a challenge to see Hamilton County’s waterfalls, but it can be! No, not like that: take the Hamilton County Waterfall Challenge to earn a patch!

Two hikers stand at the base of a waterfall.

3. Be ready for once-in-a-lifetime adventures

Trying something new is one of the best parts of any vacation. Of course, the wild lands that make up much of the county offer all sorts of adventures, but perhaps one of the most memorable is whitewater rafting. Join a crew and raft down the Hudson River (yes, the same Hudson River that flows downstream to NYC). Whitewater rafting is a unique way to really immerse yourself in nature. When not on a raft, wherever you go, be on the lookout for moose! These creatures are elusive; there are people who live in the Adirondacks and have not seen a moose. Seeing one in-person is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

4. Change your perspective

In the central Adirondacks, there are a lot of ways to experience the big outdoors, and not in the typical ways. Hop on a seaplane in Long Lake, and take a ride over an endless forested landscape. We can stand beneath a huge tree at Cathedral Pines, but being above the trees and mountains gives a whole new perspective on how wild and big this place really is.

A green, summery view from above of Long Lake, mountains, and summer trees.

5. Let us guide you

Don’t worry - you don’t have to do it all alone. There are TONS of knowledgeable people here who can help you navigate your way through the area. From naturalist walks to outfitters, we’ve got you covered. Even if you prefer to venture out solo, ask around for advice. Where’s the best place to kayak for beginners? What is a mellow hiking trail? Many shops have guidebooks and maps!

6. Fuel up

And I don’t mean gas. I’m talking about food. You want to make sure you have enough energy for all the canoeing or biking you’re going to do! This is not an exhaustive list, but some “can’t miss” dining options are:

Chef Darrell's Mountain Diner, a metallic grey and blue building with a freshly landscaped front.

7. Do your part

There is something special about Hamilton County and the Adirondacks. By taking a proactive stewardship role and practicing Leave No Trace ethics you can help ensure that the forests, waterways, and communities of the Adirondacks remain beautiful and unique for generations to come. Want to learn more? Visit

A colorful, yellow mushroom on the brown forest floor.

8. Don’t forget to bring home a souvenir!

Rustic furniture? An Adirondack gift? Something from Hoss’s? There are plenty of shops waiting with your perfect gift. Just be mindful to not bring home a souvenir from nature! Part of doing your part and loving your ADK is leaving plants, rocks, and historical items as you find them so others can enjoy them. Remember, photos are great souvenirs, too!

A couple outside a rustic shop surrounded by Adirondack greenery.

Ready for your trip now?

For me, the best part of the Adirondacks is being able to wake up in the morning and have endless options right outside my door. If you’re ready to discover your wild side, book a room (or campsite!) today. Even if this is your first visit to Hamilton County, I promise you won’t want it to be your last!

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