One of the best things about the Adirondacks is how spread out most things are. One can take a beautiful ride on winding roads, soaking in the views of lakes and mountains, catching glimpses of wildlife along the way.
But sometimes you don’t want to spend all day in the car. For families that would like a day of fun while avoiding a lot of windshield time, Speculator has plenty to offer - all while leaving the car in park.
Whether your family has little ones or anyone with difficulty getting around, the following itinerary is perfect for all abilities. The stops can pretty much be seen from one another and there are sidewalks along the way, making this a great way to stretch your legs. Just park at the large parking lot at the town park and start your day of fun.
The Adirondacks has a long history of unique roadside attractions, from the nearby “Pig Rock” to the former Frontier Town western-themed amusement park. Well, that tradition lives on with the miniature Route 66, located right behind the town park.
The park is home to a small playground, a large pavilion, and a hiking trail, but the main attraction is the collection of miniaturized buildings from classic small-town America. The Historical Society of Lake Pleasant and Speculator now oversees the buildings, which are each the size of a large shed.
From the post office to the church to the old school gas station, the small buildings represent the memories of traveling the famed Route 66. Those memories belong to John and Hester Van-Buiten, who began building the scene as a thank you to the community. John and his family have been vacationing in Speculator since 1928, and the couple drove the original Route 66 on their honeymoon in 1948.
With a paved path and low windows, the buildings are easy to look into for everyone. The ice cream store is decorated with Coke glasses, the general store advertises “Ice Cold Root Beer,” and the Chevron gas pump looks like it could still be used. Parents will be tickled to see the well-thought out interiors, grandparents will remember the good old days, and kids can explore the little village on their own.
Sacandaga River hiking trail
Right behind Route 66 is the Sacandaga River Community Park hiking trail, which is a great place for people of all abilities to explore the woods. Consisting of long stretches of boardwalk and packed gravel and earth, the trail is easy to follow but still offers a few loops to explore.
As far as community attractions are concerned, the hiking trail is hard to beat. With excellent interpretive signs along the way, you can learn about the wetland and upland plants, the history of the area, and facts about wildlife. So take in a view of the Sacandaga River and just enjoy a peaceful stroll through nature and let the kids explore.
With all this sightseeing, you must have built up an appetite! Luckily, just a short walk (or drive) up the road brings one to Common Grounds, right behind the Speculator Department Store. Common Grounds, as the name suggests, is a fantastic place for breakfast, but their lunch menu is just as good!
With a big deck and covered, screened-in outdoor seating, Common Grounds has something for every taste.
And just as good as their food is the gift shop inside! With a huge selection of kids books and Adirondack clothing and gifts, Common Grounds is a must-shop destination. Pick up a new story for kids to read on the ride home, snuggle up in a new sweatshirt around the campfire, or grab a pound of fresh-ground coffee for the morning.
Of course, no summer adventure is complete without ice cream. Right on the main drag, Speculator Creamery is the kind of place where kids leave happy, full, and dirty and parents say things like “That was way too big, but man, was it good.”
With dozens of flavors of both soft serve and hard ice cream, and sundae options galore, the Creamery is the perfect way to end a day in downtown Speculator.
Rest of the day
If your crew is up for still more adventure, don’t worry, there’s plenty to be had! Head back to the car at the town park and change into bathing suits for a swim at the town beach across the street. Or you can check out the dozens of more remote hiking trails, paddle a quiet lake, or shop and make plans for dinner.