Centuries ago, New York City’s elite (Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Astors, and Morgans) escaped to the Adirondacks where they built ‘Great Camps’ — elaborate, made-from-timber lakefront homes to escape the summertime heat. The gilded set arrived in style: via private railway cars, bringing an entourage of family and friends to share in their memory-making vacations. While only a handful of these “Great Camps” still exist (The Point, Saranac Lake; Lake Kora, Raquette Lake), the concept of escaping to a beautiful mountain home is still very much in style. Among our favorite Adirondacks airbnbs:
Tree House, Remsen
(Accommodates 4 guests)
An 80-foot suspension bridge and 50-foot waterfall are the hallmark features of this dreamy two-story, two-bedroom, one-bath tree house. Built by the local Amish, the treehouse showcases an entire wall of glass overlooking the waterfall and woods (in the main bedroom), a wood-burning fireplace, and Edison light fixtures. There’s a fun ‘bunk room,’ perfect for kids; while the main bedroom comes with French doors, the wall of glass, high ceilings, and a floating king size bed. We also love the romantic bathroom, with its spacious tiled shower for two, complete with two rain heads and hand-held sprayers, and a 1920-style black crystal chandelier.
While there: Enjoy the entire property; guests have access to both the lake and sledding hill. For a romantic night out, dine at Beardslee Castle, just outside Little Falls. The restaurant is housed in a once (reportedly) haunted castle.
The Albedor, Inlet
(Accommodates: 30 guests)
Built in 1928 for wealthy New York City publisher, Colonel E.A. Simmons and his wife, Ida, this original waterfront Great Camp is set on 17 private wooded acres, and comes complete with its own boat house, outdoor fire pit, volleyball and tennis courts. During the ‘camp’s’ construction, over five tons of dynamite were reportedly used to break the rocks and cliffs to create the main house; along with over 588 tons of stone and 407,000 board feet of lumber. The stunning mansion spans three floors; the great room (with its massive fireplace), dining room, and gourmet kitchen are on the main level, along with a beautiful outdoor stone patio overlooking the lake. The home’s 14 bedrooms (and 12.5 bathrooms) are located on the second and third floors.
While there: The boathouse has four slips that can accommodate any type of boat (there is a boat launch nearby). Kayaks and canoes are also available for guests’ use.
River Road Loj, Lake Placid
(Accommodates 10 guests)
This four-bedroom, 3.5-bath lodge-style log home sits high on a hilltop, on a quiet road used by Olympic athletes for training runs. Spanning three levels, the house offers a modern-rustic Adirondack vibe: log-post bed frames, white birch and cedar bark trim, a wood-burning fireplace with stone hearth, and massive ceilings. The primary bedroom features a king bed, walkout balcony with views of Whiteface Mountain, a walk-in tile shower and deep soaking tub. Relax on the decks, covered porches and balconies; while perusing a collection of books, maps and essays on the Adirondacks.
While there: Fish on Ausable River (one minute away), visit the Olympic ski jumps (three minutes), Lake Placid (five minutes), Whiteface Mountain ski area (nine minutes, and High Peaks trailheads (ten minutes).
Birch Falls Spa Cabin, Remsen
(Accommodates 2 guests)
Couples will never want to leave this intimate, romantic one-bedroom, one-bath cabin. Designed by J.Lynn Designs Durham, of Connecticut, the vibe is a blend of mid-century modern, modern-rustic, and contemporary. The cabin is super elegant and we love the deep-soaking bathtub, with a view of the forest. But our favorite feature is the 18-foot indoor waterfall and massage therapist who arrives daily for massage treatments.
While there: Guests will need to drive their own vehicle (4WD in winter) to the cabin, as there is no taxi or uber service available.
The Boathouse on Fourth Lake, Old Forge
(Accommodates: 4 guests)
For the ultimate lake immersion, dock into the historic (1916) three-bedroom, one-bathroom boathouse. Located directly on Fourth Lake (with two boat slips beneath it), the house has been renovated and modernized, while still maintaining its authentic Adirondacks vibe. All three bedrooms overlook the water, as does the kitchen, living room, and porch. We love the open-concept, gourmet kitchen, hardwood floors, outdoor waterfront fire pit and traditional Adirondack ‘lean to.’
While there: BYOB (bring your own boat), rent one from the local marina, or simply choose from the kayaks, water toys and canoe provided at the boathouse. Prepare a leisurely meal in the kitchen (or venture into town); afterward, toast s’mores over the waterfront fire pit.
Birch Tree Camp, Johnsburg
(Accommodates: 8 guests)
Located on 15 acres of unspoiled wilderness — lakes, rivers, hiking trails and historical sites — in the heart of the Adirondacks, this four-bedroom, two-bath home is beautifully curated with antiques inspired by nature. The outdoor space is equally inviting with its hammock and rocking chairs by the garden, hummingbird feeders, patio with dining table, outdoor fireplace withAdirondack chairs, and fire pit with lounge seating surrounded by wildflowers and pine trees.
While there: Marvel at the sunset overlooking the mountains, bundle up with s’mores by the bonfire, stargaze, or sway in the hammock surrounded by hummingbirds. There are also grapevines on the property. In season (late August/early September), guests are welcome to pick the delicious sweet grapes.
Camp Stillwaters, Saranac Lake
(Accommodates: 10 guests)
Located directly on Saranac Lake, this four-bedroom, four-bathroom home offers a quintessentially authentic Adirondacks experience. The great room features cathedral ceilings, massive logs (and yes, taxidermy); while bedrooms come with private baths and decks overlooking the water. There is also an outdoor firepit, lean-to, and sauna.
While there: Explore the property’s connecting 24 miles of waterfront including Lower Saranac Lake, Middle Saranac Lake, Kiwassa Lake, and Lake Flower. If visiting in winter, four-wheel-drive is necessary.
Castle Cottage, Bolton
(Accommodates: 6 guests)
If a castle stay sounds dreamy, look no further than this two-bedroom, one-bathroom, mini stone castle on Lake George. Featuring a neutral color palette, tiled floors and truly stunning grounds, the fairytale standout is the lake-to-mountain view. Perfect for a romantic weekend or even honeymoon; the setting is also conducive to a small wedding. Castle Gatehouse and the larger Highlands Castle are also on property, making it possible to rent the entire kingdom and sleep up to 21.
While there: Venture into ‘downtown’ (three minutes away) for gourmet restaurants, boutiques, hiking, swimming, and lake water adventures: kayaking, canoeing, water tubing, boat rentals and scenic boat tours.