My three favorite places in the world are my aunt’s house in Teaneck, NJ; Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada; and Norowal Marina in Bolton Landing, NY. Quite the eclectic mix, I know. The first two are my favorites for obvious reasons—I have family in Jersey, and Banff has some of the most beautiful views in North America. Norowal, though, I love because of what it stands for. Going there means I have a whole week of Lake George island camping fun in store. It means my dad will launch our 1989 Four Winns boat—so full of camping gear that I have to wedge myself into a seat—and we’ll jet off to Juanita Island, without a worry in the world (except for that one time he forgot to put the plug in the bottom of the boat).
Of course, we’ll have to return to shore at least a few times during our vacation, to pick up ice at Stewart’s, coffee at Bolton Beans and pizza at Palazzo’s; to play tennis at Rogers Park; and to poke around the shops in Downtown Bolton Landing: Happy Jacks, Indian Tepee Gift Shop and Lakeview Antiques. For a tourist destination, Bolton Landing is pleasantly un-touristy. Compared to the loud, crowded, mini-golf-course-every-quarter-mile, souvenir-shops-everywhere vibe of Lake George Village, just 15 minutes to the south, Bolton Landing is a professional relaxer’s paradise. The visitors walk slowly, there’s room to put your towel down on the beach and, then, of course, there’s The Sagamore Resort.
A far cry from the not-so-luxurious accommodations of Juanita (though the island does boast a composting toilet and platforms on which to set up your tent), The Sagamore is the crown jewel of Bolton Landing. Even if you’re not fortunate enough to stay there, it’s a rite of passage to at least go there for an unforgettable dinner on the edge of the lake or enjoy a blueberry mojito on the resort’s terrace.
And after you’re done basking in the serenity of a mansion in the best town on an island on the Queen of American Lakes, you’ve got to check out Norowal Marina—it has a cooler full of ice cream sandwiches and a cute dog that hangs out in the shade of its open-air office. The employees wear Crocs, and if you’re lucky, you’ll see a family of ducks swimming by the docks, looking for handouts. It’s nothing too fancy, but Norowal Marina is my version of paradise.