I've spent most summers in the Adirondacks, a beautiful park of mountains and lakes in northeastern New York that runs from just north of Albany all the way to the Canada border. Summers include hazy lake days and gorgeous sunsets, fantastically vivid and crips autumns, and winter wonderlands where you can ski at a number of resorts.
And a summer without Lake George really isn't a summer worth having, in my opinion. There aren't too many towns along the lake, but the one we often go to is Bolton Landing. This little town is what I'd recommend for anyone coming to Lake George for the first time. It's above the bustle of Lake George Village (which unfortunately is super touristy) is home to the famous Sagamore Hotel, and over the past couple years has had several new places pop up.
Follow the Bear or Beans...
Bears Cup truly has some of the best bagels north of NYC, great coffee, and pastries that are fantastic. (Get the cinnamon roll - it is actually the best pastry I've ever had...and I've had a lot 😉 )
Bolton Beans will offer you a quintessential diner experience, fueling you with french toast, pancakes, egg scrambles, and all the hot breakfast favorites you could ask for!
Stroll the main street
Bolton does still cater to tourists who venture past the Village, but in a less hectic way. Pop into the shops that line the streets, promising swim coverups, silly knick-knacks, and Adirondack decor.
Trees — if you're looking for decor and gorgeous photography books of the area (filled with historic gems of information!)
Lakeview Antiques — an antiquers dream shop, and a fun place to wander around.
Happy Jacks — a hodgepodge of meme-ified cards and games, swim accessories, and random gifts you didn't know you needed (a great place to go and giggle at things)
Or explore the history of the area at Bolton Historical Museum.
And if you're here on a Friday, walk through the parking lot directly behind Town Hall and explore the Farmers Market open 9am-2pm. The Market includes vendors from the area with fresh baked goods, farm produce, and even live music!
Whether you want to hit the beach, rent a boat to go on the lake, or do something more adventurous like hiking or the adventure course at Adirondack Extreme, Bolton is a great landing spot.
Enjoy the Evening
First, head to American Oak Distillery Tasting Room for a cocktail or tasting flight of American whiskey and bourbon brewed just over the hill from Bolton.
Then, walk down the block to Bolton Landing Brewing - a great spot for a relaxed, no-fuss meal and decent beer. The staff will happily point you in the direction of their favorite beer, and their ever-changing food menu is inventive and so good!
If you're looking for a less casual dining experience, head for Cate's Italian Garden. This is a place we would go at least once a summer, waiting for the chance to have their delicious white pizza, calamari, and pasta — one of those great Italian-American restaurants that for my family is such a comfort to us. *Book your reservation well in advance - it is a popular spot and for good reason.
Sadly, I have found there to be few quality restaurants that overlook the water. The Sagamore Hotel has several restaurants to choose from, but they now charge a parking fee (even if you are a dinner guest — and one wonders if overnight guests are forced to pay this too!) which was enough for us to decide against a dinner there.
However, if you do stay at The Sagamore, or willing to look past their $20 parking fee — it is quite the place to visit. The Sagamore was originally built in 1883, the sort of classic Victorian Hotel that you'd see on a tv show or movie. A grand place where high society from New York would flock to in the summers.
Regardless of where you stay or eat, Bolton is just a great little town to visit while you're along Lake George!