Sweet treats and relaxed adventures
The Town of Jay is many things. It's big, for one thing, covering more than 68 square miles. It's made up of mountains, rolling fields, and charming hamlets. It's home to artists, bakers, farmers, and a slew of cows and goats. It's where you can buy a painting and a cookie at the same shop, where history comes to life, where music fills the air, and where you need to spend a day this summer. It's time to savor a day full of the relaxed charm of a scenic, sublime part of the Adirondacks. Here are some of our tips on places to go and things to do that will make your day in Jay a memorable one.
Where to eat
When you're in Jay, do yourself a favor and do not skip breakfast! Instead, head to the Adirondack Mountain Coffee Cafe in Upper Jay. The food is great and the setting is awesome! The cafe is inside what was once the entrance building of a charming, utterly sweet, totally beloved amusement park called Land of Make Believe, designed and built by local legend Arto Monaco. Here, the owners roast flavorful coffee and offer hearty, home cooked food. Whether you’re an angler or just a fan, try the Fisherman’s Platter: it's a very hearty helping (for two or three!) of a full trout, eggs, toast, and home fries! If trout isn’t your thing, don’t worry: there are fluffy pancakes galore, deep-fried French toast, hash, and freshly baked cider donuts.
The Ice Jam Inn is a local favorite, known for great flavor and a welcoming atmosphere along the Ausable River. The southern heat of the Crosby, Stills & Nashville sandwich has a lot of fans, so if you like a bit of a kick to your meal, this is the option to choose. Every dish, whether it’s a bacon-tastic burger or a gloriously healthy salad, is made with care and with incredibly fresh local ingredients. The chef at the Ice Jam Inn works with local producers to source creamy cheeses, crisp veggies, and even locally raised meat.
What to do
In the heart of Jay, a charming bit of history crosses the East Branch Ausable River. The Jay Covered Bridge, a can’t-miss scenic spot, is the very last bridge of its kind in Upstate New York! Originally built in 1857 and carefully refurbished and restored over the years, the bridge is a quaint stop for anyone visiting the area. Now closed off to all motorized vehicles, the bridge and surrounding park are a beautiful spot to take photos, enjoy the scenery, dip your toes in the water, or enjoy a picnic!
When you dine in the Town of Jay, or in the Whiteface Region as a whole, you’re treated to great flavors and ingredients so fresh you’ll think the garden or dairy is just out the back door. You’re not really wrong.
On a broad plain near Au Sable Forks lies Asgaard Farm, the former home of the American painter Rockwell Kent, who was so enamored of the scenery that he often painted it. Today, Asgaard is renowned for its herd of goats and handcrafted goat’s milk products. Stop by to meet the “kids” and stock up at the charming farm store. The caramels are dreamy, just like the amazing landscape. Bonus: Asgaard has overnight options, too!
Just a short ride away, Sugar House Creamery, perched on a hillside overlooking the river valley, is another delightful, visitor-friendly stop. Here, a family with a passion for high-quality, sustainable food has created a farmstead with a herd of sweet Brown Swiss cows and a creamery that puts out some of the best cheese in the Adirondacks. The farm store is always full of treats from Sugar House and other local small farms. Find jams and jellies, fresh bread, meat, and so much more. Be sure to stop and say hello to the cows!
Where to shop
In a cheerful historic building conveniently located on Route 9N in Jay, the Jay Craft Center is a can't-miss stop for art and shopping. Owner Cheri Cross and her family have been creating pottery here, as well as providing a venue for other talented local artists, for over thirty years. Beautiful pottery, hand-thrown, glazed, and even stamped with ferns or other nature-inspired designs, shares space with paintings, photographs, glassware, and much more.
The artistic community in the area is strong and artists and shop owners are friends and colleagues, not competitors. Just around the corner from the Jay Craft Center, on the slope looking down over the Ausable River valley, Young's Studio and Gallery is known for exceptional pottery handcrafted by owner Sue Young, as well as jewelry and more by local artists. Fiber artists and knitters will be enchanted by the shop’s array of natural fiber yarn, knitting kits, and artistic accessories.
Whenever I’m on vacation, I love to look for antique and thrift shops. I’d much rather have an older, interesting something to take home as a souvenir. I find old treasures have more character than new. In Au Sable Forks, Arts & Antiques is a delightful shop to poke around in. One of the joys of thrift shopping is that you never know what you’ll find! Arts & Antiques always has an intriguing array of items, from oil lamps and glassware to estate jewelry and fishing creels. The owner, Susan Cassevaugh, is a painter, so there is also an impressive display of work by Adirondack artists.
If a day in Jay hasn’t totally tired you out, watch the calendar for special events. The Tahawus Cultural Center and Ausable Theater in Au Sable Forks both offer special events, including gallery shows, live music, dance, and other unique offerings, such as yoga classes. Down the road in Upper Jay, the Recovery Lounge (punnily named because it’s in an old upholstery factory) is an Adirondack staple for excellent arts programs, from live music and dance to plays and workshops.
However you choose to spend your time in the Town of Jay (you can, of course, simply enjoy the scenery!), we're sure you'll find that this won't be your last visit. Enjoy the local hospitality and bountiful activities!