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Donnelly’s Ice Cream is the Cherry on Top of Summer

posted by Teresa Farrell at 2022-07-03 20:44:00


Some of the best soft ice cream you’ll ever find is hiding right in plain sight in the northern Adirondacks. Just outside of the village of Saranac Lake, Donnelly’s ice cream stand is small, and it looks unassuming—you might drive right past it if you didn’t know better, except that from Memorial Day through Labor Day, the parking lot is often packed with cars, and a line of people that sometimes wraps around the adjacent barn.
 
 
There’s a reason for that. By all accounts, the ice cream here is second to none, in or out of the Adirondack park. Donnelly’s slogan, “The Best in the Adirondacks Since 1953,” is to be taken seriously—so seriously, in fact, that it’s become the stuff of legend, with people making the pilgrimage to this soft serve stand from throughout Upstate New York and even around the country each year, and some admittedly driving hours each way to grab a taste of their favorite flavor.

 
A family business that’s been going strong for nearly 70 years, Donnelly’s keeps it simple: they offer one flavor per day, usually twisted with vanilla (a few times a week, their specialty flavors may be twisted together—like chocolate and peanut butter, or peach and raspberry). As they say, “you pick the size, we pick the flavor”—but once you get a taste, you’ll likely be asking for a large. Enjoy it while taking in the beautiful Adirondack mountain views that surround this roadside stand for a quintessential Adirondack summer experience.

 
And, if the flavor of the day isn’t your favorite, you’ll probably have a couple of options. At the end of the day, whatever ice cream remains is packaged and put into the freezer, so you can pick up a pint, a quart, or a half gallon of a previous day’s flavor instead, if there are any left. Some folks have even been known to pack coolers full of ice simply to transport some of the famous ice cream home.

 
What makes this ice cream inspire this type of dedication from thousands of people who have made Donnelly’s a staple of their summer traditions? The two-part secret is simple. First, fresh milk and cream from the on-site farm, Crystal Springs Dairy, which the Donnelly family has owned for two generations, goes into homemade ice cream made fresh each morning, and the ingredients are always the best of the best—no imitation flavors to be found here.
 
 
The second secret is a surprise to many: Donnelly’s still uses the same unique, antique machine that has been churning out an average of 80,000 ice cream cones per year since owner Pete Donnelly’s sisters brought it home from a dairy expo on a whim in 1953. The company that produced the machine has since gone out of business, but Donnelly’s is still going strong—and their many fans hope it’ll stay that way for at least another 70 years.
Donnelly’s is located at 1556 State Route 86 in Saranac Lake, and their weekly flavors are typically posted on their Facebook Page, Donnelly’s Ice Cream.

 
PHOTO CREDITS
Parking lot with crowd photo credit Donnelly’s Ice Cream
Donnelly’s sign and stand photo credit Donnelly’s Ice Cream
Donnelly's Ice Cream with a view photo credit Teresa Farrell
Peach melba cone photo credit Donnelly’s Ice Cream
1953 sign photo credit Donnelly’s Ice Cream
Rainbow over parking lot photo credit Donnelly’s Ice Cream

 
posted at: 2022-07-03 20:44:00, last updated: 2022-07-10 07:17:36

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