The sixth edition of The Adirondack Book is a treasure trove for visitors to the North Country, with information about 1,300 hotels, restaurants, stores, recreational opportunities and other attractions.
Authors Annie Stoltie and Elizabeth Folwell, both editors at Adirondack Life, write well, often with wit, and are objective in their evaluations. They tell you the positives and negatives of a place and let you make up your own mind.
The Adirondack Book opens with a historical overview, “The People’s Park.” If you’re planning a trip to the Adirondacks, the authors suggest that you bring “your love of mystery and your capacity for wonder, for nothing is exactly as it seems here and a taste for contradictions can only sweeten your encounter with a park bigger than the state of Vermont.” They emphasize that the Adirondack Park has something for every interest, in every price range.
The next chapter discusses transportation to and within the Adirondacks. The automobile is the best way to get around. There isn’t much mass transit in the Park, but the authors also provide information on buses, trains and air travel.
As in the previous edition, the book includes a chapter on two “Gateway Cities” just south of the Adirondacks— Saratoga Springs and Glens Falls. The authors then plunge into the Adirondacks proper, with chapters on “Lodging,” “Restaurants and Food Purveyors,” “Culture,” “Recreation,” and “Shopping.” In each chapter, the amenities are grouped by geographic region: Lake George and the Southeast Adirondacks; Champlain Valley; High Peaks and Northern Adirondacks; Northwest Lakes, and the Central and Southwestern Adirondacks.
Readers have a lot choose from. The food chapter, for example, contains short reviews of more than 70 restaurants, plus briefer mentions of dozens of other eateries. Every taste is catered to. If you’re an angler, you might enjoy a meal at Willsboro’s Sportsman’s Dinette. If you prefer places off the beaten track, check out the Big Moose Station. If you like an eclectic menu, try the Eat-N-Meet Grill in Saranac Lake.
I read the restaurant chapter after eating a large meal with two friends. I may have been stuffed to the gills, but this book made me want to get in the car and drive north for a hearty meal.
Likewise, I got a vicarious thrill reading about high-end lodgings such as the Mirror Lake Inn, the Point on Upper Saranac Lake and the Sagamore on Lake George. The Adirondack Book lets you experience these places without maxing out the credit card. Of course, the book contains plenty of lodging options for those who don’t want to bust their budget, such as campgrounds, hostels, roadside cabins, small motels and B&Bs.
Most people who visit the Adirondacks are seeking recreation, and Stoltie and Folwell won’t disappoint them. Their recreation chapter covers just about everything you can do under the sun, including hiking, fishing, rock climbing, cross-country skiing, hunting, canoeing, whitewater rafting and snowmobiling. There’s even a section on one of my favorite Adirondack pastimes, miniature golf. The authors note that it probably was invented in Lake George, which they describe as “the Pebble Beach of Adirondack miniature golf.”
Short sidebars on various topics are scattered throughout the book. Topics in the recreation chapter include mountain-bike ethics, low-impact camping, hypothermia, giardia and tips on dealing with bears, blackflies and ticks.
In a chapter titled “Information: Nuts Bolts, and Free Advice,” you’ll find lots of additional resources—books, phone numbers, maps, magazines, TV stations, organizations. The last chapter, “If Time Is Short,” offers suggestions on where to stay, where to eat and what cultural attractions to visit if you have only a day or two.
The book also contains an index and helpful appendices that categorize lodgings and restaurants by price, from very inexpensive to very expensive. Another appendix categorizes the restaurants by cuisine.
Last spring, after 30 years of visiting the Adirondacks, I discovered the stunning view of the High Peaks from the Olympic Center in downtown Lake Placid. Stoltie and Folwell describe the same view in The Adirondack Book. With these co-authors as your guides, you won’t have to wait 30 years to discover all the Adirondacks has to offer.