A Rite of Passage

Old Forge, New York is full of good old-fashioned family fun

By Bonnie Siegler

As a teenager growing up in Central New York, a rite of passage was spending a weekend of fun and frolicking in Old Forge, New York. Yet, even before that demarcation in maturation, my family and family friends would travel to this hamlet, found in the town of Webb, for outdoor activities, eating, and just spending quality time together.

While times have changed over the past decades, Old Forge has miraculously remained the same. There’s still the Candy Cottage where, for a few dollars, I could get homemade fudge, my favourite Sky Bar candy, ice cream, or cotton candy. The Pied Piper, where we’d sit out on picnic tables with burgers and fries, still commands an energetic vibe from the many tourists. As one of the western access communities of Adirondack Park, there’s still the launch pad for visitors who take a one-day relaxing day trip to Eagle Bay, Big Moose, and Stillwater. From here, many peaks can be seen—including McCauley Mountain, a bustling ski resort for Central New York enthusiasts.

Bald Mountain is popular for those who like a little challenge—climb to the peak for the great views from atop. Not an outdoor enthusiast, I sat out on both skiing and hiking—then and now.

On my recent visit to Old Forge, I went into the View Arts Center to see what was happening that weekend. Yoga, pottery lessons, golf lessons, and other arts and crafts lessons were in abundance, although I chose to peruse the art on display.

I also opted for a visit to The Goodsell Museum, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, and browsed the half-dozen rooms with various exhibits, photos, and artifacts of what it was like to live in the Adirondacks before it was abandoned in 1803.

Now it was a toss-up for lunch—the choice was between Billy’s Restaurant or Frankie’s Taste of Italy, both of which are known for their Italian cuisine. My husband and I decided to scrap both ideas and dine at Five Corners Café, famous for its American-style meals and vegan options. I enjoyed a grilled shrimp and fennel salad, while my husband had pan-seared rainbow trout.

Once we were back in the refreshing mountain air, I decided it was time to visit one of my favourite childhood attractions, The Enchanted Forest. As a little girl, I was greeted there by Snow White and her dwarfs and could take a spin on the teacup ride. However, times have changed for this section of Old Forge: this attraction has morphed into New York’s largest water park, now boasting 50 rides and attractions. I chose to stay on land to do a little shopping and greet the storybook characters.

When the day was done, we grabbed some barbecue take out from Mountainside Bar and Grill and headed to our small rental by the lake, where we finished off a pristine day with a crackling campfire and s’mores. One thing’s for sure: years later, all the magic and wonder of Old Forge is still intact. VM