Donnelly’s Soft Ice Cream

Ice Cream Parlor
legendary
Worth driving from anywhere!
Save

For Christmas of 2016, my mom gave me a book titled A Taste of Upstate New York, by Chuck D’Imperio. In it, Mr. D’Imperio travels across New York State in search of regional foods and traditions. When I read his piece about Donnelly’s Soft Ice Cream, I knew I had to go there. It’s a tiny (and I mean TINY), summer-only (Memorial Day to Labor Day), cash-only ice cream stand that serves one flavor combination per day. It is run by the fourth generation of the same family and has been a Saranac Lake staple since 1953. While the dairy farm that was once on the land behind the shop is long gone, the high-quality ice cream that has had generations of families lining up for the past 65 years keeps on churning. Locals know that summer has truly arrived when Donnelly’s opens for the season.

Maybe five or six people can fit inside at one time and the only seating is a pair of small red wooden benches in front. Other than that, customers can eat in their cars or standing in the parking lot and taking in the amazing view of Whiteface Mountain off in the distance. Enter through the door on the right and exit through the door on the left. In between is some of the best ice cream I’ve had in a while. The ice cream machine bought in 1953 continues to dole out out what I can only describe as “sweet creamy moo” (a phrase I borrowed from fellow Roadfooder Wanderingjew). The one flavor per day is, as the sign says, ALWAYS TWISTED WITH VANILLA. The black raspberry-vanilla twist cone I had on my visit was transcendent, like tasting my childhood, bringing me back to Friday nights with my family and the local ice cream stands of my youth.

Donnelly’s also offers milkshakes and ice cream by the dish and pint and it carries a pretty good selection of milk, cheeses, and other dairy products from Hood, Cabot, Heluva Good, and Crowley, brands. There is a small roadside stand serving a great Michigan-style hot dog (a local specialty) just a few miles down the road and would make for a great prelude to a cone at Donnelly’s. But I can confidently say that Donnelly’s is a destination-worthy place all by itself.

What to Eat
Donnelly’s Soft Ice Cream, Black Raspberry-Vanila Twist Cone
Black Raspberry-Vanila Twist Cone
Must-Try
I've had a lot of twist cones in my day but never one that looked like this.
Directions and Hours
closed now
Sunday11am - 9pm
Monday11am - 9pm
Tuesday11am - 9pm
Wednesday11am - 9pm
Thursday11am - 9pm
Friday11am - 9pm
Saturday11am - 9pm
Information
Price
$
Seasons
Summer
Meals Served
Dessert
Credit Cards Accepted
No
Alcohol Served
No
Outdoor Seating
No
Website

Other Nearby Restaurants

  • Myer’s Bagels

    Burlington, Vermont

    Authentic Montreal-style bagels come hot from Myer’s wood-fired oven starting at 4am. For bread-lovers of any persuasion, Myer’s is a best Burlington eatery.

  • Ronnie’s Michigan Stand

    Morrisonville, New York

    Ronnie’s is a long time hot dog stand/drive-in that has been slinging Michigan-style hot dogs in the greater Plattsburgh area since 1959.

  • Noon Mark Diner

    Keene Valley, New York

    Homemade breads, soups, pies & Michigans (a local hot dog) make this a must-stop while traveling through the Adirondack Park in New York’s North Country.

  • McSweeney’s

    Plattsburgh, New York

    With old-time car-hop service as well as indoor seats, McSweeney’s serves the unique Plattsburgh-area chili-topped hot dog known as a Michigan.

  • Parkway Diner

    South Burlington, Vermont

    Vermont’s Worcester Lunch Car Company #839 (The Parkway Diner) serves four-star diner fare, including the best hot turkey sandwich and extraordinary hamburgers.

  • Papa Pete’s Snack Bar

    North Hero, Vermont

    Papa Pete’s is a tiny summertime snack shack known for hand-fashioned burgers, weekend BBQ, and the unique local chili dog known as a Michigan.