This week I find myself in quiet Plattsburgh on the Adirondack Coast (which is home to a whopping 600 miles of shoreline). The historic little town is a quick ferry jaunt across Lake Champlain from the coffee shops and art galleries of Burlington, Vermont. The locals and their signage call this area of upstate New York the ‘North Country’.
I decided to take the scenic Amtrak Adirondack train directly from New York City’s Penn Station, through the Hudson Valley and alongside the shores of Lake Champlain. The ride even includes a free talk by National Park Service volunteers in the train’s cafe car, who provide information about the surrounding landscape, point out historic landmarks, and answer questions. It certainly beat a trek to the airport and being harassed by the TSA.
Folks often roadtrip the surrounding area, past hilly cornfields in-between cute antique shops and farmer’s markets along backroads and highways, or to see the changing of fall leaves.
And francophiles can even get a bit of a fix because of Plattsburgh’s proximity to Québec, Canada.
A highlight is taking a stroll down the city’s Riverwalk with fantastic views of Lake Champlain, Plattsburgh Bay, the historic center of town and the Saranac River.
Outdoorsy types abound here and one can’t turn around without bumping into various recreational vehicles: boats, campers, jet skis, ATVs… Scuba diving enthusiasts can even check out less fortunate steamboats and schooners of the past. Eight shipwrecks — some of them 100 years-old are part of a public trust thanks to the Lake Champlain Underwater Historic Preserve.
It’s not often we see a monumental statue of a 16th Century Frenchman in the States, but in Plattsburgh it’s a centerpiece of the downtown area and a culminating point on the Riverwalk.
And Americans are taught all about Civil War battles, but tend to be less familiar with us continuing to war with the British — decades after US independence — during the War of 1812. Lovers of under-dog war reenactments can catch a week of Battle of Plattsburgh flashbacks each September.
All in all it’s a pretty great little town far away from the hustle of the big city and full of opportunity to get up and close to nature, as well as history.
All photos by Kim Mance.
Kim Mance is Galavanting’s editor-in-chief and host of web tv like Galavanting.tv. She’s based in Brooklyn, NY and has blogged for places like Condé Nast Traveler Marie Claire,
Travel + Leisure, Huffington Post, and Babble. Kim is also host of the popular TBEX conferences in North America & Europe.
She’s @kimmance on Twitter.