The area was first settled in 1819; a dam and sawmill were built in 1827, a school was built in 1838, and the first local hotel opened in 1849. Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau arrived in 1876, believing the cold, clear mountain air to be helpful in the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis; his Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium was established in 1884. The Trudeau Institute, an independent medical research organisation established in 1964, is a successor to Dr. Trudeau's 1884 Saranac Laboratory for the Study of Tuberculosis. Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau, the doctor's great-grandson, grew up in Saranac Lake and maintains connections there.
Hundreds of "cure cottages", private residences with large, glassed-in porches where patients could benefit from the clear mountain air, were constructed in this era. The 1944 introduction of antibiotic drug streptomycin largely supplanted prior treatments for tuberculosis by the 1950s; the buildings were re-purposed, with sixty-three of those still extant in Saranac Lake listed on the US National Register of Historic Places.
The "great camps of the Adirondack Mountains", elaborate summer homes for the wealthy, became common in the region near the end of the 19th century as rail travel placed upstate vacation areas such as the Adirondacks and the Thousand Islands within easy reach for New York City's well-heeled elites.
Five thousand people live in the village. North Country Community College, a two-year public college established in Saranac Lake in 1967, has 1500 students, 143 permanent and 300 adjunct faculty. Paul Smith's College, a private four-year college in the adjacent hamlet of Paul Smiths NY, was established in 1946 and now has a thousand students.
- 1 Adirondack Regional Airport (SLK IATA). Cape Air provides Essential Air Service flights twice daily from Boston.
Saranac Lake is within the Adirondack park and relatively isolated; there are no Interstate highways in the immediate area.
- From Lake Placid, take NY 86 seven miles (11km) northwest.
- From Plattsburgh and I-87, take NY 3 (the highway through the park to I-81/Watertown) some fifty miles (80km) southwest.
One quality of Saranac Lake is lack of heavy vehicle traffic. Walking is the perfect way to explore the town.
There is bus service twice daily to Lake Placid.
- Robert Louis Stevenson Memorial Cottage, 11 Stevenson Ln, ☏ . Robert Louis Stevenson, author of 'Treasure Island' and 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde', spent the winter of 1887-88 here writing 'The Master of Ballantrae.' The cottage has been carefully preserved. (July 1-Sept 15, open every day except Monday.)
- Visitor Interpretive Center and Wildlife Sanctuary, 8023 State Route 30, Paul Smiths (at Paul Smiths College), ☏ .
- There is a small, but nice, museum in the basement of the Saranac Lake Free Library.
- During the winter, there is a grand castle of ice located on Lake Flower.
- Saranac Laboratory Museum, 89 Church St., ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Tues-Sat 10AM-4PM, Thurs 10AM-7PM. The Saranac Laboratory, established by Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau in 1894, was the first laboratory in the United States for the study of tuberculosis. It is now operated by Historic Saranac Lake as a museum describing the history of Dr. Trudeau's work on tuberculosis. Rotating exhibits, regular summer walking tours of historic sites. $5/adult.
- Pendragon Theatre, 15 Brandy Brook Ave, ☏ , fax: . Live theatre.
- Saranac Lake River Walk, 1 Main St, ☏ . A 1.5 mile multi-use path follows the Saranac River from the police station and village hall through the downtown. Paul Smith's Electric Light and Power and Railroad Company Building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, stands next to the dam that created Lake Flower and a small power house. Across Mail Street is River Park, which has a band stand, the Saranac Lake Bears and boats for a tour of the lake. The path then winds through downtown from 15 Broadway through Woodruff Street to a supermarket at 156 Church St.
- Water Sports
- Lake Colby has a nice beach and places to picnic in the grass near the water.
- Adirondack Massage Therapy (massage cruises), 449 Lake St, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Seasonal boat tours and massage cruises are available on a 24-ft pontoon boat for up to 7 passengers. Year round massages are available in studio office or via house call. Boat tours are also available near the Farmer's Markets on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
- Winter Carnival, ☏ (Chamber of Commerce). One of the nation's oldest winter carnivals, held annually since 1897. Ten days, starting first weekend in February.
- First Night Saranac Lake, New Years Eve, fireworks and festival of the arts.
- Daffest, spring daffodil festival, late April/early May (two weekends)
- 4th of July Celebrations, a week of celebration with a July 4 kids' parade down Main Street, fireworks near Lake Flower.
- Can-Am Rugby Tournament, end July/first week in August.
- Plein Air Festival, landscape painting and art festival, mid-August.
- Canoe Classic - 90 Miler, three-day race from Old Forge to Saranac Lake, weekend after Labour Day.
- Artist at Work Studio Tour, tours of artists' studios on the last Saturday of July, August, September.
- Cycle Adirondacks, the first fully supported road-bike tour of the Adirondack Park, late August.
- The Community Store, 97 Main St, ☏ . 9:30-5:30 daily, Sunday 10–3. Locally-owned department store (clothing, housewares, craft supplies, books)
Saranac Lake has several very pleasant Art Shops. It also has book stores (one new, one used) and a fine Army Surplus store. Next door, is a beautiful Native American shop. For healthy, organic food, herbs, and peaceful atmosphere, try Noris. There are some antique stores, but if you want a real adventure, search through The Gold Mine.
- Fiddlehead Bistro, 33 Broadway, ☏ . Farm-to-table dining
- DJ's Rustic Restaurant, 151 Broadway, ☏ . Diner, burgers, breakfast and brunch
- Downhill Grill, 74 Main St, ☏ . 11AM–10PM daily, Sunday 12–9PM. One of a pair (the original is in Lake Placid)
- Nori's Village Market, 138 Church Street, ☏ . 8AM-7PM weekdays, 9AM-5PM weekends. Organic, vegan food, bulk and wholesale food, grab-and-go deli
- Asian Buffet, 542 Lake Flower Ave, ☏ . 11AM-10PM. Hibachi and sushi.
- China Jade, 65 Main St, ☏ . Take-out and sit-in.
- Number One, 4 Bloomingdale Ave, ☏ . Chinese
Bakery and desserts
- Donnelly's Ice Cream, 1556 State Route 86, ☏ . Open summers only.
- Lake Flour Bakery, 23 River St, ☏ .
- Mountain Mist Custard, 260 Lake Flower Ave. On the edge of Lake Flower, with another location in Lake Placid. Seasonal.
- Origin Coffee, 77 Main Street, ☏ . Popular new coffee shop in the heart of the village
- Blue Moon Café, 55 Main St, ☏ . 7AM-9PM. Wine and cheese, tapas, breakfast, lunch, free wi-fi, Cold River Coffee Company.
- Left Bank Café, 36 Broadway, ☏ . Limited hours outside high season
Pizza and Italian
- La Bella Ristorante, 564 Lake Flower Ave, ☏ . Italian
- Little Italy Pizzeria, 27 Main St, ☏ .
- Owl's Nest Pizza Parlour, 51 Main St, ☏ . locally highly-rated pizza
- Lakeview Deli, 137 River St, ☏ , fax: . Sandwich shop
- Jreck Subs, 57 Broadway, ☏ . Regional hot/cold submarine sandwich chain
- Belvadere Restaurant, 102 Bloomingdale Ave, ☏ . 11:30AM–1:30PM and 5–8:30PM weekdays except Monday, 5–8:30PM weekends. Italian restaurant and bar, cash only.
- Grizle T's, 53 Main St, ☏ .
- Red Fox Bar Restaurant, 5034 NY-3, ☏ . Steaks, pasta, seafood, chicken, can accommodate events for up to 100 people.
- Rusty Nail, 90 Broadway, ☏ . Seems like a rough joint, but is usually cool.
- Waterhole, 48 Main St, ☏ . Waterhole #3 is a favourite of motorcyclists and has live music most weekends.
- Ampersand Bay Resort, 31 Bayside Dr, ☏ . Lakeside retreat and boat club, seasonal (May-Oct), 21 suites and cottages on 28 acres.
- Gauthiers Saranac Lake Inn and Hotel, 488 Lake Flower Ave, ☏ , toll-free: . Established 1923, lakefront rooms and suites, wi-fi, USB device chargers, some rooms have microwave, refrigerator, DVD player. $80.
- Hotel Saranac, 100 Main Street, toll-free: . Established in the 1920s, this historic hotel has undergone a $30 million restoration. Hotel has a ballroom, and a Great Hall with a ceiling modeled after the Davanzati Palace of Florence Italy. There are 86 guest rooms. Hotel Saranac has two restaurants: The Campfire for moderately upscale dining and The Great Hall Bar for pub-like fare.
- Lake Flower Inn, 234 Lake Flower Ave, ☏ , toll-free: . Inn with outdoor pool overlooking Lake Flower, wi-fi, private docks and a canoe; a quaint, clean, pretty hideaway. No restaurant on site. $80-160.
- Mountain Lake Inn, 487 Lake Flower Ave, ☏ , fax: . Best Western lakeview hotel, free wi-fi, McKenzie's Grille restaurant, only indoor pool in town. $130.
- The Point, 222 Beaverwood Rd, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . Resort with log mansions, pub, terrace, Great Hall dining room. Member, Relais and Chateaux.
- Adirondack Motel, 248 Lake Flower Ave, ☏ , toll-free: . Lakefront motel with cottages and efficiency suites. Boat rentals $125-360/day. $150-225 (high season).
- Amanda's Village Motel, 185 River St, ☏ . Across from park and public boat launch.
- Saranac Inn, 125 County Road 46, ☏ . Ten-room motel on the grounds of an eighteen hole, par 72 golf course. Greens fee (including cart) is $70.
B&B and guesthouses
- Doctors Inn, 304 Trudeau Rd, ☏ . Traditional guest house, coffee and tea, no meal service. Refrigerators in-room. A three-bedroom chalet at 700 Bartlett Carry Road, Upper Saranac Lake may be rented from the same proprietors in high season.
- Porcupine Inn, 350 Park Ave, ☏ . Full breakfast, outdoor hot tub.
- Saranac Lake Free Library, 109 Main Street, ☏ , fax: . Wi-fi and public use computers.
|Routes through Saranac Lake|
|Watertown ← Tupper Lake ←||W E||→ Plattsburgh → END|
|END ← Jct N S ←||W E||→ Lake Placid → Jay|