North America

Get a Winter Olympic experience without heading to Russia

  • The Bobsled Experience at Lake Placid.

    The Bobsled Experience at Lake Placid.  (ORDA/Dave Schmidt)

  • View from the top at the Lake Placid Olympic Jumping Complex.

    View from the top at the Lake Placid Olympic Jumping Complex.  (ORDA/Dave Schmidt)

  • Opening Ceremony at the 1980 Winter Olympic games.

    Opening Ceremony at the 1980 Winter Olympic games.  (Lake Placid Olympic Museum)

With the 2014 Winter Olympics just around the corner, you may be feeling the Sochi spirit but can’t afford the trip to Russia.

Lake Placid in upstate New York is a little closer to home and, as the host of 1932 and 1980 Winter Games, has history and activities to offer the most rabid of Olympic fans.

Many of the old facilities still serve as training grounds for future Olympians, so you might even catch a glimpse of the next skiing superstar.

“Lake Placid is the only place in the northeastern United States that a guest can have a true Olympic experience,” says Jon Lundin, a spokesman for Whiteface Lake Placid. “People are just in awe when they come here, knowing this is where some of their favorite athletes skated or skied year ago.”

Here are some reasons Lake Placid is such an iconic winter destination year after year.

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Olympic history comes home

Guests at Whiteface Mountain can take an Olympics Center tour, featuring the legendary ice hockey rink where the “Miracle on Ice” U.S. team defeated the “unbeatable” Soviet Union and went on to win the Gold Medal in 1980. Lake Placid is also home to the last outdoor speed skating rink ever used in an Olympics. Today, it’s open for all visitors, so lace up your skates and take a spin around this historical ice track.

 The Center also houses a museum devoted entirely to the spirit of the Olympics where fans can see the first ever gold medal awarded at the Winter Games, gaze at torches used in both Winter and Summer Games, and view sketches of emerging sports fashions through the years.

 High flyers and speed demons at Lake Placid

 Ever wondered how ski jumpers perform those gravity-defying aerial stunts? Head over to the Olympic Jumping Complex for an insider’s look at this sky-high ramp apparatus. Olympic hopefuls still practice at this Lake Placid park, and it’s a thrill just to see what these athletes face during training.

 If you’re in the need for some serious speed, what could be better than a supercharged bobsled run? Reaching speeds up to 65 mph, the Bobsled Experience at Lake Placid gives guests a rare opportunity to run with the big boys. A professional driver and brakeman take adventurous riders down the actual track the Olympians used.

 “Most of the visitors have never been on a bobsled before,” explains Lundin. “Everything goes by so fast, so quickly, they can’t believe it. But once they go on a second run – that definitely seals the deal. You just get hooked on the rush.” Brave participants will be handsomely rewarded with collectable memorabilia and membership in the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. The Bobsled Experience is a must-do for any Olympic thrill seeker.

 Spectator sports for the whole family

 Sometimes it’s better to step back and watch the pros take center stage. Skating fanatics will go gaga over the Holiday Festival on Ice. Prepare to be dazzled as former Olympians like Kurt Browning and Joannie Rochette perform holiday-themed routines at the Olympic Center rink. The show is one night only, on Dec. 28.

 So whether you’re a skier, snowboarder, skater, part-time bobsled racer or just an avid spectator, there’s something for any Olympics enthusiast to enjoy all winter long at Lake Placid.

Just save enough time to get in all your new favorite activities.