Labor Day weekend is the unofficial end of summer and we all know it (sorry, September 22). The kids are headed back to school and of course, all the inevitable symptoms of fall start to creep in: changing leaves, cooler mornings and the closing up of your favorite local ice cream spots.
I’m going to cut to the chase because time is not on our side. You’ll thank us later for this list to reference so you can make one final visit your #1 summer treat spot before we brave the next three, terrible seasons and dream about a nice cone of soft serve.
Jumpin’ Jacks Drive In, Scotia
CLOSED FOR THE SEASON
Hate to break it to you, but this local staple celebrated their last day on Sunday, September 3. If you’re a real fan, I hope you already knew this and got your final creamin’ in. This one has been on my list to visit for as long as I’ve lived in the Capital Region and somehow I have never been. Well, there’s always next year!
Martha’s Dandee Cream, Queensbury
MONDAY, OCTOBER 9
Phew, a little pick-me-up after the disappointment of Jumpin’ Jacks. Martha’s Dandee Cream, directly across from the Six Flags Great Escape amusement park in Queensbury is open until Monday, October 9. This place gets a lot of well-deserved hype for having a million soft-serve flavors and the AS SEEN ON THE TODAY SHOW sign easily spotted from the entrance. My photo above is of one of the arguably best flavors, Banana Chocolate (you just have to try it, forget how it sounds).
Pirate’s Hide Out, Waterford
TODAY, SEPTEMBER 4
Pirate’s Hide Out might be my personal favorite on this list, so if your LDW plans are a little light today, go there ASAP because it’s the very last day for it. My recommendation is just plain ol’ vanilla soft serve with toasted coconut topping. I’m drooling just thinking about it and will probably see you there later.
Guptill’s Coney Express, Cohoes
NOVEMBER –DATE TBD
You might know Guptill’s from your drives up and down Route 9 or from the well, slightly obnoxious commercials boasting the best ice cream in the world and the wa-wa-water cannons from the indoor roller skating rink adjoined to the ice cream shop. Luckily you still have plenty of time to visit Guptill’s as they’re open until November (no specific date yet). It might even be snowing by the time you make your final trip there.
The Country Drive-In, Clifton Park
Or as Clifton Park natives call it, “The Umbrella Place.” On a busy road with a terrible parking lot, the Country Drive-In is a south side CP staple just off Exit 8. If you’re not standing in the ice cream line, you’re ordering from the food menu full of chicken sandwiches, fried clams, lobster rolls and of course the mini hot dogs. You’ve still got a little bit of time for an afternoon lunch or early dinner there before October 1.
Dan’s Minature Golf, Ballston Lake
This spot is a little bit of a hidden gem that has survived the massive construction development that’s happened at Exit 11 due to an influx of people moving into town for jobs just a little north at Global Foundries. Closing soon, September 5!
If this list seems a little short and I forgot someone’s hometown favorites, don’t sue me. I had to make a lot of phone calls to find out the dates for each, and some of the top spots I didn’t hear back from, so closing date is TBD until they hit me up with an answer.
The Snowman, Troy
CLOSING DATE TBD
Kurver Kreme, Albany
CLOSING DATE TBD
JJ’s Snack Bar, Ballston Spa
CLOSING DATE TBD
And to end this on a good note and remind us that we won’t be deprived of ice cream once the summer season ends, I must remind us all of the GOAT of reliable ice cream:
Stewart’s Shops, Basically Everywhere
ALWAYS OPEN, BABY!
After you get over the soft-serve blues, Stewart’s will be here for you, serving some of the best ice cream in upstate New York all year long. When you had your wisdom teeth out and all you needed was a good milkshake, Stewart’s was there. After a sports victory or on a special holiday like St. Patty’s or Mother’s Day, Stewart’s is there for a coupon and a phaaaat scoop of one of their signature hard ice cream flavors.
Don’t forget the OG of ice cream spots in the 518 to fulfill your desires all winter long, and hit up the other seasonal favorites before you’re wishing you did.
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