Introduction: Old Forge, New York is a small hamlet in the Adirondack Mountains on NYS route 28. It’s quaint atmosphere, brilliant landscapes, and abundance of family fun attractions make it the perfect destination for a weekend getaway or week long family vacation. Old Forge is home to New York’s largest water park, surrounded by the Adirondack Mountains offering hiking options for all hiker abilities, scenic train rides, shopping, and water sports. Find out why an Old Forge Summer is a must do!
Some Top Attractions for Experiencing an Old Forge Summer
Get Wet at Water Safari
Water Safari is New York’s largest water park situated in the small Adirondack village of Old Forge and is likely one of the reasons this destination is so popular. Water Safari is home to over 50 rides and attractions, 32 of them being heated water rides. There is something for everyone, with rides appropriate for toddlers all the way through to adults.
Perhaps some of the most notable rides are the Shadow, a large water slide at the front of the park, Cascade Falls, a family friendly water slide with a large tube for up to 4 people, the Curse of the Silverback, and new additions for the 2020 summer season, Killermanjaro’s Revenge, Mamba Strike, and the Serengeti Stamped . Aside from the water rides you will find a selection of classic amusement park dry rides, including the Tilt-O-Whirl, Scrambler, a train ride, and bumper cars. You will also find a family circus show being performed in the park a couple times a day. This tends to change every few years, giving repeat visitors new experiences. Water Safari is also home to a storybook village that the young ones will love running through and seeing their favorite fairy tales come to life. Be sure to stop at the Candy Shop a classic favorite. An Old Forge summer experience would not be complete without a visit to Water Safari.
Available through Water Safari are stay and play packages with the nearby Old Forge Camping Resort and Water’s Edge Inn if you are planning on staying for more than a day. These packages will cover lodging and access to the park.
Get Ready for Some Family Adventure at Calypso’s Cove
Calypso’s Cove, located next door to Water Safari, is the perfect place to spend the evening after a long day at Water Safari or even for a full day of fun. Calypso’s Cove is home to a zipline, go-karts, bumper boats, batting cages, mini golf, a rock climbing wall, and an arcade. You can purchase tickets to enjoy the attractions, with one ticket being $6 with discounts for purchasing more tickets.
Calypso’s Cove also offers food and drink. Be sure to try their classic boardwalk fries, walk away tacos, and jumbo chicken wings. You can find family pizza and wing specials daily and food and fun packages offering pizza, drinks, one attraction ticket and 10 arcade tokens (for $11.99 a person). Desserts are plentiful as well. Be sure to try the funnel cake fries or cookie pie.
You can get discounted prices at Calypso’s Cover with a Stay N’ Play Package for Water Safari as well so you can make a complete family vacation out of it or just visit for a day.
Experience an Old Forge Lake Cruise
Explore the beauty of the Adirondacks from the water with an Old Forge Lake Cruise. The Old Forge Lake Cruise company offers a variety of different cruises, including sightseeing cruises and fireworks cruises. The company also offers a rail and cruise combination package, with a rail ride leaving from the Utica, NY station and taking visitors out to the Thendara Station, where they will then enjoy a Old Forge Lake cruise.
The sightseeing cruise is a two hour long cruise that takes visitors through the first four lakes along the Fulton Chain. A snack bar is available on board for drinks and snacks. The fireworks cruise is available for the July 4th fireworks display over the Old Forge Pond. The Old Forge Lake Cruise company also offers charter services for larger groups if you are looking to rent for a private cruise.
See the Beauty of the Area Aboard Adirondack Scenic Railroad
The Adirondack Scenic Railroad is a scenic railroad company that spans from the Utica NY station to Lake Placid. Visitors have many options to choose from leaving from the Utica Station or Thendara Station in Old Forge. Visitors coming from the Utica area can take the scenic ride through forests and over rivers to Old Forge, NY where they can then spend the day exploring Old Forge, shopping, or enjoying the family friendly attractions.
From the Thendara Station in Old Forge visitors can choose from a number of scenic rides through the Adirondacks, including trips to Otter Lake and Big Moose. There are options to add on stops at for lunch along the routes or to choose a box lunch or bring your own. The Adirondack Scenic Railroad company also offers themed rides, including a two hour haunted excursion, pumpkin train, princess and super hero train, and santa train.
Another newer attraction that the Adirondack Scenic Railroad Company offers is rail bike adventures. You and your travel party can hop on to one of the rail bikes, which offer seating for up to four people, and explore the Adirondacks at your own pace along the 6 mile long trail. This attraction does require that the riders be somewhat physically fit and able to ride a standard bike. The attraction is family friendly and children of all ages are allowed to ride. Although a newer attraction, the Adirondack railbikes are quickly becoming a must do for those hoping to experience an Old Forge Summer.
Ride the McCauley Mountain Scenic Chairlift
McCauley Mountain is located just outside of Old Forge and offers hiking trails for those up for the challenge or the McCauley Mountain Scenic Chairlift for those wishing to enjoy great Adirondack views without the hike. While riding the chairlift you will be presented with views of the Fulton Chain Lakes and in the distance will be able to see some of the Adirondack High Peaks. On the clearest days Whiteface Mountain and Mount Marcy (the highest peak in NYS) may be visible. The chairlift is expensive at just $6 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-16, and free for children under 6. In addition to summer rides, the chairlift is also open for rides during the fall, giving you a front row seat to the spectacular fall foliage of the Adirondacks.
Go For a Hike
Surrounding Old Forge you will find an abundance of hiking options. Old Forge is within driving distance of family friendly hikes, beginning level hikes, and advanced level hikes. Escape into nature for a day and experience the outdoors, make your way to the top of one of the mountains, enjoy a picnic lunch, and take in the stunning views of the surrounding Adirondack Mountain region all around you. If you are visiting the area for a couple days or more, a hike is a must do to experience an OId Forge summer.
Bald Mountain is a great hike for beginners and family hikes. Bald Mountain is just a 6 minute drive outside of Old Forge. The hike to the summit is just under a mile, making it a 2 mile round trip. The trail can get quite steep, but the hike is short is distance so it is doable by most. At the top you will catch some beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and there is a fire tower sitting at the top that you can climb when open.
Rocky Mountain is another great family friendly hike, located just 15 minutes outside of Old Forge. The Rocky Mountain Trail is a one mile out and back trail. The trail is fairly steep for the duration, but at only half a mile out it is easily completed. At the top you will get wonderful views of Fourth Lake and Inlet.
While out hiking be sure to follow the Leave No Trace Guidelines
Hit the Water for Some Fun (and Challenging) Water Sports
The Adirondack River Outfitters Adventures is a must visit attraction for water sports in Old Forge. The ARO Adventures offer white water rafting trips for those looking to experience adventure along the Moose River. The journey is 13 miles long and includes many big drops (waterfalls) and takes about 3-4 hours. While anyone over 18 can join, previous experience is recommended. (This is not a kid friendly attraction!). The river is at its peak in the Spring time and settles down during the summer months.
If you are looking for a more family friendly experience the Mountainman Outdoor Supply Company offers canoe rentals, kayak rentals, and SUP rentals with kids rentals available. Rentals are available from half days to multi day trips and range in price from $20 to $450. If you are looking for a more relaxing experience, this may be a good fit for you and the family! Whichever you choose, be sure to add a water activity to your must do list for an Old Forge summer.
Take a Walk on the Wild Side
While this attraction is a little bit of a drive from Old Forge (an hour and a half), it will be well worth it. The Wild Center is located in Tupper Lake, NY and is home to a series of trails and bridges that wind through treetops, a giant spider web visitors can climb across, a giant eagle’s nest, and of course those great Adirondack views! Outside you will find 115 acres worth of trails to explore as well as the Wild Walk, the series of trails along the tree tops.
Aside from the outdoor adventure trail, the Wild Center also offers a museum full of interactive exhibits. Exhibits include Planet Adirondack, the Flammer Theater, and a number of different animal and plant species in the Hall of the Adirondacks. Inside the Big Wolf Great Hall you and the family can experience close up animal encounters with porcupines, owls, snakes, and more. The Wild Center is another must do when experiencing an Old Forge Summer.
Get Your Taste on at the Fulton Chain Craft Brewery
If you are looking for an adult friendly attraction, be sure to check out Old Forge’s local brewery, the Fulton Chain Craft Brewery. Although very new (opened in 2014), the brewery is becoming a local favorite. The tap room will allow you to try ten different beers made with local ingredients, giving the visitor a unique Adirondack experience. Have a look at their full list of beers if you need convincing on why you should visit! The brewery is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 11pm.
Wander the Streets of Old Forge
The section of Route 28 that runs through Old Forge is filled with quaint, unique locally owned shops where you can find some great souvenirs to take home. Also along the main street you will find some entertainment options and some great food!
The Candy Cottage is a great little candy shop with an old fashioned set up. You will find a number of different freshly baked treats and fudge along with aisles full of your favorite candies. Outside the shop you will find an old fashioned horse the kids can ride for a quarter. Souvenir Village is a must stop shop if looking for some imprinted Old Forge items to take home with you. Wandering the streets of Old Forge is a must when experiencing an Old Forge summer.
The Strand Theater is located along Route 28 a short distance from Water Safari. The Strand Theater is an old fashioned theater that still shows movies and offers a unique experience. If it is a rainy day and you are looking for something indoors to do be sure to check it out! Note that they do not accept cards, but there is an ATM within the building for cash withdrawals.
A personal favorite for food is the Pied Piper, a fast food and ice cream shop that also features a souvenir shop. The Pied Piper is home to the gummy bear flurry, a favorite of mine and my daughter’s. Grab a bite to eat and sit down by the lake to enjoy. Be careful though, some friendly ducks may make their way up to you looking for a bite.
Complete list of Old Forge Shops