Main Street, North Creek: Not Just for Day Trippers
By Peter Menzies
Monday, March 24, 2014
Rather than heading to Vermont or Lake Placid, a family of skiers with a summer home in Bolton Landing decided to spend a long winter weekend in North Creek. They discovered that the once sleepy hamlet is not just a detour on the way to Gore, it’s a destination in itself.
I like skiing and I love trains. My wife loves cozy inns, great meals and unique shopping. My kids love skiing, indulge my passion for trains, and like to eat burgers and pizza three times a day on average. North Creek has all of this in abundance and was the perfect setting for a long weekend getaway.
North Creek, home to Gore Mountain and arguably some of the best skiing in the East is also the northern terminus of The Saratoga & North Creek Railway. Over the past decade the village has developed into a quaint and sophisticated destination for skiers, shoppers and adventurers.
On Friday evening we checked into two adjoining rooms at the Copperfield Inn. It’s a perfect home base for a weekend away. The rooms are big, comfortable and nicely decorated, the staff is lovely, and we settled in quickly after wrestling an entire luggage trolley full of ski gear, winter clothing, and birthday presents for our 14 year old into our rooms.
Dinner at Trapper’s Pub on the ground floor of the inn was a perfect way to start the weekend. It’s cozy place, with a great rustic log cabin interior. While waiting for a table, we sat on the couch in front of the fireplace, had a beer and gazed up at an enormous stuffed moose that had been felled by Teddy Roosevelt about a century ago. Cool. Dinner consisted of burgers, fries, wings, and salads – typical bar food, but done well.
On Saturday morning, we slept a little later than we usually would since there’s a free shuttle to the mountain. Gore could have used two feet of fresh powder, but despite the lack of natural snow, the conditions were good, and there was plenty of terrain to ski.
We were back at Trappers again on Saturday evening. I ate every appetizer on the menu and then had a salad so I could pretend that I was eating light. We lolled around in our chairs, stuffed, happy and relaxed. The staff arranged for a birthday cake for our son at the end of our meal and the whole room – including the house band sang to him. It was a great end to full, fun day.
On Sunday, we headed back to Gore in the morning. A fresh coat of snow improved the conditions. After a half dozen runs, we left the big mountain and headed over to the ski bowl. We try to spend an afternoon there a few times every winter. Bring a picnic lunch, rev up the outdoor fireplace at the yurt and spend the afternoon relaxing by the fire, hanging with friends and taking a few runs here and there. If you haven’t been, go. It’s perfect for families. Compared to Gore, it’s small, but the terrain can be diverse and challenging. Last year we skied the glades all day after a 2-foot dump. There are cross-country trails, snowshoeing and a tubing park as well. My kids love it – there is a half pipe and a ski cross course that they can ride for hours. We like to think of it as our secret spot because there are never any crowds.
After we wrapped up the skiing, we spent the late afternoon browsing and buying at a few of the cute shops in town. Clothing, gifts, books, Adirondack furniture, and an awesome hardware store made us want to buy more than we need. While the shopping was underway I got distracted by the gorgeous vintage trains idling across the street. The Ski Train runs from Saratoga to North Creek weekends, and then connects to the mountain with a shuttle. It appeals to non-skiers as well — Saturday’s trip was a Winnie the Pooh adventure in honor of A.A. Milne’s birthday. I vowed to try it some day.
Sunday evening started with fireworks, a torch light parade down the mountain. We watched from the confines of the Tannery pub with a group of old friends. Afterward, the kids stayed in, watched the football playoffs and ate take-out from Pete’s Ah. It’s a North-country gem — really a perfect pizzeria. Smoky, friendly with video games and awesome food.
Kids settled, and hungry for something new, we walked up the street to Bar Vino. By far, this is the hippest spot in the Adirondacks. We started at the long bar up front and had a drink from the extensive beer list. We waited to sample from their carefully curated and affordable wine selection at dinner. Again, we opted to try a few small plates rather than go the traditional salad/entrée way. A gorgeous cheese plate started things off, followed by glazed chicken wings, and frites with a spicy aioli that I still crave.
On Monday morning we chipped the ice off the truck, grabbed a cup of coffee from Stewarts and made the painful trip back to reality after a wonderfully active, but relaxing weekend in North Creek.