The closest American city to Montréal, Plattsburgh (city and town) has a population of just over 31,000.
The area was the site of a native indigenous village at the time of Samuel de Champlain's 1609 Lake Champlain valley expedition. The French settled in the area during the «coureur des bois» fur trade era of the mid-to-late 17th century. A historically French area, Plattsburgh later fell under English and finally American control.
Located on the western shore of Lake Champlain, Plattsburgh is separated by the lake from Burlington, Vermont to the east. It is the primary city serving the vast Adirondack Park region, as development within the park boundary is strictly limited outside the few existing villages (such as Saranac Lake and Lake Placid).
Plattsburgh has a long military history. The city, founded in 1785, is home to a War of 1812 museum; it was the site of the Revolutionary War's Battle of Valcour Island and the War of 1812's Battle of Plattsburgh. In 1915, the Preparedness Movement established the first of the "Plattsburgh camps", volunteer pre-enlistment training grounds for prospective future Army officers. During the Cold War, Plattsburgh Air Force Base (PAFB) was the Strategic Air Command's primary wing on the US East Coast; its sheltered location in the Champlain Valley was protected by the rain shadow of the Adirondack Mountains. The 556 Strategic Missile Squadron, activated at Plattsburgh AFB in 1961 and armed with a dozen Atlas liquid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missiles, disbanded in 1965. The Air Force base closed in 1995.
The former base, one of four military bases in the United States large enough for a Space Shuttle landing, now serves as a small civilian airport.
- 1 Plattsburgh International Airport (PBG IATA) (about 10 minutes away from the town center). A regional airport with flights to and from Boston and various places in Florida.
- Burlington International Airport (BTV IATA) is a much larger airport in nearby Burlington, with flights to and from Baltimore. Newark, Cleveland, New York City, Orlando, Detroit, Washington DC, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Charlotte. It is about 70 minutes away.
- Trudeau International Airport (YUL IATA) is a major airport in nearby Montreal, Canada, with flights worldwide. It is about 80 minutes away.
Plattsburgh is served by one daily Amtrak train northbound from New York City and one southbound from Montreal on the Adirondack route. Both northbound and southbound trains depart early to mid-afternoon.
- 2 Amtrak, Bridge and Dock Sts, toll-free: . Plattsburgh Station is on Lake Champlain, about 1/4 mile from downtown. Building with heated waiting room, no ticket office. Trains are subject to delay at the Canadian border. Tickets should be reserved in advance, so that they may be picked up on the train.
- 3 Greyhound, Mountain Mart, 7155 Route 9, ☏ . 5AM-midnight daily, 5AM-7PM Christmas Eve. Greyhound or Trailways run to Montreal, Potsdam, Albany and New York City. Fares are slightly more expensive than those for the train.
Plattsburgh is separated from Burlington (Vermont) by Lake Champlain. To avoid a lengthy detour south to Crown Point or north to Champlain and Rouses Point on the Canadian border, most traffic to Burlington crosses by ferry.
- Lake Champlain Ferries. Car and passenger ferry service connects Plattsburgh and Grand Isle, Vermont 24 hours a day, year-round. Crossing time is about 12 minutes.
There are several marinas for those cruising on small craft:
- Clinton County Public Transit (CCPT)'s fleet of 16 buses provides transportation to and from the City of Plattsburgh by way of AuSable, Champlain/Rouses Point, Clayburg, Ellenburg, and Lyon Mountain. Service is provided within the city between Clinton Community College, SUNY Plattsburgh, Downtown Plattsburgh, and various stores and plazas along Cornelia Street (Route 3).
Within the city of Plattsburgh, taxis operate on a zone system. A law requires rates conspicuously posted in every taxicab; a trip cross-town should cost no more than $7.75. Cabs are not generally available for hail on the streets, except downtown on weekend nights, so must be called:
- City Taxi, 269 Margaret St., ☏ .
- Macey Taxi, 227 Wallace Hill Rd., ☏ . .
- Easy Ride Taxi, 227 Wallace Hill Rd., ☏ .
A taxi to the Canadian border should cost no more than ten times the cross-town rate (so $77.50). In 2017, state investigators have reported incidents of taxi companies overcharging refugees attempting to escape from the US to Canada, with the worst fares in the $200-300 range. This is illegal.
Plattsburgh bills itself as a "two state, two nation, do-it-all destination" on Lake Champlain with several historical and art museums, a famous sandy beach, marinas and a downtown dining and entertainment district.
- 1 Battle of Plattsburgh Interpretive Center, War of 1812 Museum, 31 Washington Rd, ☏ , fax: . W-Sa 10AM-3PM.
- 2 Champlain Valley Transportation Museum, 12 Museum Way, ☏ , fax: . A historic automotive and transportation museum on old Plattsburgh Air Force Base built to document the Lozier Motor Company.
- Clyde A. Lewis Air Park. At former air force base entrance, a small park with aircraft on display.
- Clinton County Historical Museum, 98 Ohio Avenue, ☏ . W-Sa 10AM-3PM. Museum and book shop. Local history.
- 3 Kent-Delord House Museum, 17 Cumberland Ave, ☏ . June-early Oct: Tu-Sa 11AM-3PM. Guided tour of historic house, free admission to active military, Canadian currency accepted at par. $5/adult, $3/student.
Plattsburgh State CollegeEdit
There are two SUNY member colleges in the Plattsburgh area; the four-year Plattsburgh State College in the city and the two-year Clinton Community College at Bluff Point.
4 Plattsburgh State College, 101 Broad St., ☏ . Opened 1890 as the Plattsburgh Normal and Training School, a two-year teachers' college destroyed by fire in 1929 and rebuilt in 1932. As a charter member of the State University of New York (established 1948), SUNY Plattsburgh changed from a two-year institution to a four-year, public liberal arts college. It has about 6000 students. Visitors may attend athletic events, concerts, guest speaker presentations, forums on current events and poetry readings.
- 5 Plattsburgh State Art Museum, Myers Fine Art Building, ☏ . The Rockwell Kent Gallery (established 1989) owns 34 paintings created by Rockwell Kent between 1900 and 1965, as well as a large collection of prints, drawings, dinnerware, books, design art, photographs, bookplates, archives and personal items from his travels and life at Asgaard Farm near Ausable Forks. The Nina Winkel Sculpture Court represents 45 years of artistry by the late Nina Winkel in works of terracotta, stone, bronze and copper.
- Hartman Theatre, Myers Fine Art Building, ☏ . Plattsburgh's Department of Theatre presents a half-dozen productions annually, a mix of modern and classic works. Tickets $3-15. ,
- Northcountry Planetarium, Beaumont Hall, ☏ , fax: . 360-degree multimedia sky theatre for live, interactive programs and automated productions depicting realistic night skies, virtual journeys through our solar system and distant deep space phenomena.
- The Barracks Golf Course, 24 Golf Course Rd, ☏ . 18 holes, near former air force base, catering and banquet/event space for parties and weddings. $20-32/player.
- 1 Cumberland Bay State Park, 152 Cumberland Head Rd, ☏ . Early May-Columbus Day. A clean, well-maintained beach for day use on the Cumberland Head peninsula on the western shore of Lake Champlain. Picnic tables and grills, camping, playground and playing fields.
- Strand Centre for the Arts, 23 Brinkerhoff St, ☏ . Tu 10AM-5PM, W-F 10AM-6PM. Art gallery, classes and exhibitions. Strand Centre Theatre box office (25 Brinkerhoff Street, +1 518-563-1604 ext. 105) opens at 11AM.
Plattsburgh serves a regional market; to the many tiny villages in the Adirondacks with only a few small, local independent merchants, the Champlain Centre is the closest major mall.
As a cross-border shopping destination for Canadians, Plattsburgh's fortunes tend to be cyclical. When the Canadian dollar is strong, the Montréal community eagerly seek out cheaper prices in the US; when exchange rates are unfavourable, Canadians stay home en masse. Tightened passport restrictions in the post-9/11 era have also weakened cross-border demand. A few stores (such as Target, KMart and JC Penney) do not exist over the border in Canada and some grocery items (such as milk and yoghurt) are less expensive stateside.
Price Chopper, Hannaford, Yando's Big M (South End), North Country Food Co-Op (Downtown), and Wal-Mart are possible destinations for grocery shopping.
Michigan red hots are a local favorite similar to a chili dog but seasoned differently. Recipes are prized and closely guarded. A red hot consists of a steamed hot dog on a steamed bun covered with a ground beef sauce. It may be served with or without raw chopped onions ("Buried" onions served beneath the meat sauce is traditional.)
- [dead link] Bazzanos Pizza, 5041 S Catherine St, ☏ . This local pizzeria serves a very tasty pie. Service is quick and the place is very clean. Other menu items include pasta, wings and burgers. A large plain pizza is around $12.
- Claire and Carl's, 4727 State Route 9, ☏ . This local chain has several branches and has been serving up Michigan Red Hots for decades. Inexpensive.
- Gus Red Hots, 3 Cumberland Head Rd, ☏ . Gus Red Hots has stood in the same locations for dozens and dozens of years. It famously serves Michigan Red Hots but also has a complete traditional American diner menu. Inexpenisve.
- Karma Indian Cuisine, 334 Cornelia St, ☏ . Plattsburgh's only Indian restaurant is nicely appointed and relaxing. The service can be quite slow and somewhat inattentive at times; however, the food is very tasty and well done. Northern and southern Indian dishes, several vegetarian selections, lunch buffet six days a week and all day Sunday. $10-15/main course.
- McSweeney's Red Hots, 535 N Margaret St, ☏ . McSweeney's stands in stark contrast to many of Plattsburgh's storied, decades old hot dog stands. It has been in existence only a few years but has won a large following and local acceptance with its delicious dogs. A limited diner menu of burgers and wings is also available. Be sure to try the hand cut fries with gravy. Inexpensive.
- Quiche et Crèpe, 5139 Us Ave, ☏ . Quiches and crèpes are the specialty at this restaurant owned and operated by a local French couple. Fresh soups, salads and sandwiches, excellent food. Inexpensive.
- Price Chopper, 19 Centre Dr, ☏ . Grocer with a large, fresh and well-tended salad bar, and a hot prepared food section. Diners make their own plates and pay by weight. A seafood counter will steam or fry selections while you wait.
- 1 Elfs Farm Winery and Cider Mill, 7411 State Route 9, ☏ . Tu-Su 11AM-6PM. Elfs Farm is a winery and cider mill that produces amazing grape and fruit wines. They also press fresh apple cider during the apple season. Stop in and check out their tasting room. They offer a three dollar wine tasting and you get to keep the glass when you leave.
- 2 Irises, 20-22 City Hall Pl, ☏ . A beautiful cafe and wine bar in downtown Plattsburgh.
Hotels are clustered along I-87, with little to no accommodation available downtown.
- Plattsburgh Public Library, 19 Oak St, ☏ , fax: . M F Sa 9AM-5PM, Tu-Th 9AM-8PM. City library with public Wi-fi hotspot - no user name or password is required. Public use computers are reserved for cardholders.
|Routes through Plattsburgh|
|Montreal ← Rouses Point ←||N S||→ Westport → Albany (Rensselaer)|
|Montreal ← Champlain ←||N S||→ Westport → Albany|
|Watertown ← Saranac Lake ←||W E||→ END|
|END ←||W E||→ ferry → becomes → Grand Isle/South Hero|