LAKE GEORGE, NEW YORK
When our readers told us what they loved about Lake George, the area's gorgeous Adirondack setting topped every list. And while stretches of shoreline do remain undeveloped, the 32-mile lake is home to five family-friendly communities. "There are great restaurants, theme parks, balloon flights, local festivals, and a rich historical heritage," says longtime visitor Deborah McFadden of Wilton, Connecticut, citing such regional attractions as Fort Ticonderoga and Whitehall, birthplace of the U.S. Navy. "It seems that we always run out of time before we finish our list of things we want to do." (800-365-1050; visitlakegeorge.com)
FAVORITE LAKE TOWN: In Lake George Village, the region's bustling hub (800-705-0059; lakegeorgechamber.com), you can hop a trolley to dozens of kid-friendly hot spots, including arcades and mini-golf courses (the McFaddens like the two Pirate's Cove courses), or simply stroll the lakefront, taking in the view and, in summer, impromptu street performances. After dark, there are free band concerts and weekly fireworks.
GREAT HIKING DESTINATION: Lake George offers hiking trails for every age and ability. For Deborah McFadden and her 8-year-old son, Joey, the best hiking is found on Buck Mountain (adk.org). The views are spectacular, says Deborah, but it's the trailside blueberries that give Joey the biggest thrill. "One time we filled a whole water bottle with them!" he says.
BEST WAY TO SEE THE LAKE: There's plenty of aquatic fun on Lake George, including swimming, waterskiing, snorkeling, and parasailing. But for the Curcios of Schwenksville, Pennsylvania, nothing beats sightseeing by boat. "It's a perfect way to take in the scenery," says mom Kimberly. Boat rentals are available, or check out the Lake George Steamboat Company (800-553-2628; lakegeorgesteamboat.com), which offers everything from a short hop to a full circuit. And if a day on the water should spark your appetite, you can satisfy it on a leisurely dinner cruise.
BEST ICE CREAM: The McGraths of Climax, New York, can't pass up the giant cones at Martha's Dandee Cream (518-793-0372)in nearby Queensbury.