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The Lake Placid Olympic Museum: A Great Overview of an Iconic Sporting Event

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Did you know that the small New York village of Lake Placid was the host city for two Winter Olympics?

That’s right, this quaint community in the Adirondacks hosted the world during the 1932 Winter Olympics and again for the 1980 Winter Olympics. In fact, one of the most well-known American Olympic victories occurred here when the U.S. hockey team defeated the Russians in 1980 in what has become known as the Miracle on Ice.

If you want to learn more about these events or just want to see some really cool pieces of sports history, make time to visit the Lake Placid Olympic Museum

Displays inside the remodeled Lake Placid Olympic Museum in New York
The Lake Placid Olympic Museum offers a fabulous look into the two Winter Olympics held in town.

The Lake Placid Olympic Museum is located in the Olympic Center, right next to the 1980 ice hockey rink (but more on that later). The museum first opened to the public in 1994, but underwent a large renovation in recent years, finally reopening to the public in December 2022.

Over the years, I’ve visited the museum three times: 2019, 2021, and 2023. This has given me the chance to see the museum in three different settings before, during, and after the most recent renovations.

Door that serves at the entrance to the Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum in the Adirondacks.
The entrance to the museum.

The renovation not only expanded the museum’s size but also added some really great new displays, including some that are interactive. So, if you visited the museum before December 2022, it’s definitely worth checking out this spot again.

The entrance to the Lake Placid Olympic Museum is located in Miracle Plaza on the first floor of the building and at the far end of it if coming from the downtown area. This plaza is named because it’s right next to the area where the 1980 ice hockey tournament was held and where the very well-known Miracle on Ice happened. 

The 1980 Miracle on Ice area in Lake Placid NY
Take a few minutes to see the 1980 Olympic Ice Arena.

This arena is typically open to the public during business hours, so make sure to take a minute to pop your head in before or after your visit to the museum to have a look inside. It looks remarkably similar to how it would have looked in 1980.

Just note that this arena may be closed at any time for events, so plan accordingly.

The museum itself is quite large and does an excellent job covering not only the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, but also the Winter Olympics in general with a lot of great information, artifacts, medals, and torches.

Displays inside the Lake Placid Olympic Museum in Lake Placid, NY
There is a ton to see in the museum.

There is a lot of signage here, and the items on display are all very well covered. You could certainly spend a lot of time here if you took the time to read all of the signs.

I really enjoyed how the museum highlighted both the larger and the smaller sports that were contested during the games, and the museum does a great job showcasing items related to the various sports.

Display of items related to the 1980 Men's Ice Hockey Team at the Lake Placid Olympic Museum in New York
There is a great display about the 1980 Men’s Ice Hockey Team.

For me, one of the major highlights was the display highlighting the United States Men’s hockey team from the 1980 Winter Olympics. The display features one of the original goals from the game, as well as game-used memorabilia worn by various players.

There is also a small theater nearby that, when I was visiting, was playing a documentary about the Miracle on Ice. I’m not sure if the videos in the theater rotate or not, but definitely take a few minutes to enjoy the video in this space to learn about the 1980 Winter Olympics.

In addition to all the great displays in the museum, there are also some fun interactive elements. Most of these are designed for kids but adults may enjoy some of them as well.

Kids sitting in a bobsled at the Lake Placid Olympic Museum in Essex County NY
Take a pretend ride in a bobsled!

Probably my family’s favorite was the bobsled. While this was stationary in the ground, a video screen in front of it showed a first-person view of going down the Lake Placid bobsled track, and it’s a lot of fun to sit and pretend you are traveling down the track.

Another fun spot is the viewer where you can get a first-person view of what it’s like to go down the large ski jumps. Of course, if the ski jump interests you, you can visit the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex, which is located just outside of town.

Figure skating equipment on display at the Lake Placid Olympic Museum in the Adirondacks.
If you love the Olympics, you won’t be bored at this museum.

Overall, while I enjoyed my pre-renovation visits to the Lake Placid Olympic Museum, I was very impressed at the quality of the new museum that was completed in late 2022. It takes what was already a fantastic museum and turns it into a can’t-miss spot when exploring Essex County, NY.

So, whether you love history, sports, or just learning about new things, I highly recommend a visit to the Lake Placid Olympic Museum.

Looking for more things to do nearby? Check out the best breweries in Lake Placid, High Falls Gorge, and the Wild Center.

Lake Placid Olympic Museum

Hours: Daily: 10a-5p

Cost: Adults: $15, Children: $12

Website: LakePlacidOlympicMuseum.org

Address: 2634 Main St
Lake Placid, NY 12946

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