This is the third article of the Sports Fan Travel Guide series. In the first article, we covered the best destinations for baseball fans. The second article highlighted must-see locations for football fans.
The Soviet Union led three to two going into the third period. Coming off five gold medals in the last six Winter Olympic Games, they were heavily favored that day in Lake Placid, New York.
Then, the youngest team in the tournament pulled off what is called the ‘Miracle on Ice’ and defeated them four to three. The United States clinched the gold in the next round, beating Finland.
Hockey has always had a big following and this moment in hockey was a defining time in American culture. It united the country during what was still a very tense Cold War.
The sport continues to define itself as a major part of the U.S. culture. The best way to explore the history of hockey and get the full experience is by visiting these destinations:
The NHL Store (New York City)
This store is worth the visit for any diehard fans. The NHL Store hosts a lot of awesome events, like Q&A sessions with players and celebrities. It’s also the home of NHL Live broadcasts and the world’s largest composite stick sculpture.
Since its opening in 2007, it’s become a New York City staple for hockey fans. Yes, it is touristy but it’s worth every second. Keep an eye out for special events, like Stanley Cup appearances and player meetings.
If you want to work in sports retail and you’re a hockey fan, look no further. The NHL Store offers several career opportunities through Adidas, the company that is contracted as the official league-licensed outerwear. Start in lower levels as a retail store associate or use your management experience to lead the team.
U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame (Eveleth, Minnesota)
Just a few hours north of Minneapolis, you can find this national treasure. It was established in 1973 in an effort to preserve the history of hockey in the U.S. while recognizing the best of the best.
It is often called the ‘National Shrine of American Hockey,’ honoring over 170 members and four teams who drove the success of the sport in American culture. The museum features the ‘Great Wall of Fame,’ which includes historical displays from amateur to pro levels, video presentations, and interactive experiences.
Visitors can also test their skills on the rink or relive the 1980 Olympic Team’s stunning victory. It’s the perfect place if you want to better understand America’s proud hockey heritage.
Their mission is simple: “To provide the United States with a shrine to American hockey that reflects the honor, dignity, and pride of the legends that it represents.” If you’re passionate about the history of hockey in America and want to contribute to preserving the legacy of the greats, keep your eyes open for career or volunteer opportunities.
The Hockey Hall of Fame (Toronto)
After being originally established in 1943, the Hockey Hall of Fame moved to its permanent location in Toronto. This happened after the NHL withdrew support of the International Hockey Hall of Fame in Kingston, Ontario.
The International Hockey Hall has since been renamed the Original Hockey Hall of Fame, and it now focuses on the history of hockey, emphasizing the role people from Kingston had in it.
The Hockey Hall of Fame is home to some awesome features and exhibits, like the following:
- The Honda NHL Zone – this is where some of the coolest memorabilia is kept, like Wayne Gretzky’s stick, Bobby Orr’s infamous knee brace, and the Stanley Cup Championship Ring Display.
- Upper Deck Collectors’ Corner – the perfect way to pay tribute to collecting hockey memorabilia is by displaying the best of the best. Displays here focus on collectibles like trading cards, lunchboxes, coins, and much more.
- Esso Great Hall & NHL Trophies – the highlight of any hockey fan’s trip, this area holds biographical sketches and portraits of each hall of fame member and is also home to all major NHL trophies, including the Stanley Cup.
- Via Rail Stanley Cup Destinations – as part of the NHL Zone, this section displays artifacts and rosters of nine dynasties that dominated the league.
These are just a few of the many awesome displays to see. It can be overwhelming, so prepare to pace yourself.
There are several opportunities here, such as internships, volunteering, and part and full-time employment. No matter where you want to work in sports, whether it’s sales, marketing, or management, you can find opportunities in the Hockey Hall of Fame. But be ready to move — these positions fill up fast.
Lake Placid Olympic Center (Lake Placid, NY)
Home to the Miracle On Ice, this 7,700-seat rink brings you back in time. Visit where Al Michaels asked audiences worldwide, “Do you believe in miracles?”
This sports complex, which also was home to the 1932 Winter Olympics, is still used for numerous events, including figure skating, conventions, and conferences. It offers four ice surfaces, a conference center, and the Lake Placid Olympic Museum.
At the museum, you can learn about how this small mountain town hosted the Olympics twice. Explore some exhibits and get a close-up look at commemorative medals, posters, and equipment from the 1932 Olympics.
The company Whiteface Mountain staffs the Lake Placid Olympic Center. They hire for seasonal positions that are mostly entry-level, including lift attendants, maintenance, and tubing attendants. They also staff for other roles within the center, like the sports development department or the conference center.
No matter how big of a fan you are, you are bound to learn a lot about the history of hockey at these destinations. You don’t have to work in sports to understand the appeal of hockey. Attend your hometown’s NHL games to take part in one of the most unique, exciting fan experiences you will ever witness.