Photo Credit: Courtesy The Parlour
Order your ice cream dockside at this charming shop on the edge of Lake Guntersville, then pick it up by boat. Whether it's served in cups or homemade waffle cones, the ice cream -- in homemade flavors like key lime or banana cream -- will make you want to run back for seconds.
This Fairbanks company churns out small-batch ice cream (only 40 quarts at a time, a drop in the bucket compared to most commercial operations!) made with local ingredients like wild Alaska blueberries and cranberries. There aren’t enough cows in Alaska to meet Hot Licks’ dairy demands, so they pick up the slack with milk from Oregon.
Paletas, or Mexican-style popsicles, are a surefire way to beat the heat in Arizona. Scottsdale’s Paletas Betty makes its own from-scratch flavors like limon (key lime pie), amanecer (pineapple with bursts of raspberry), nuez (roasted pecan), and fresa con crema (strawberry and cream), all made with fresh fruit and spices.
The Purple Cow
The Purple Cow is a full-service restaurant, but Little Rock locals love to stop by just for the ice cream, like the signature purple vanilla flavor. Adults, take note: you can sneak a shot of amaretto, bourbon, Irish cream, or other tasty liquor into your shake if you need a little pick-me-up.
LAUREN FRANSSEN SHIMEK
Fans of the Pixar movie Up will recognize Fenton’s façade at a glance: It’s got a cameo in the final scenes of the film, no doubt because it happens to be down the street from the Oakland studio. Hardworking animators and Bay Area ice cream lovers alike appreciate the oversized, generous sundaes.
“Hot food and cold shakes” is the motto at this family spot in Empire, but the real deal is the hot, homemade pie, in flavors like mountainberry or deep-dish apple. Slices are served with a melting scoop of vanilla ice cream. Don’t need a whole slice? Try the rhubarb sundae.
You can’t exactly major in ice cream at the University of Connecticut, but if you study at the school’s College of Agriculture, you can make it a part of your curriculum. At the Dairy Bar, students scoop up more than 24 flavors daily, like the "Jonathan Supreme," a chocolate-peanut concoction named after the school’s husky dog mascot.
Since 1998, the cows at Woodside Farm Creamery in Hockessin have been providing fresh milk for even fresher ice cream, churned right on the farm. A scoop of orange blossom honey or chocolate thunder ice cream in an idyllic country setting hits the spot.
Miami Heat basketball player Chris Bosh is such a big fan of this cool Miami Beach shop that he created his own flavor, the Chris Bosh Frieze Frenzy, to benefit his Team Tomorrow foundation. A scoop of peanut butter ice cream studded with peanut pieces, chocolate chips and fudge, it’s a tall order even for those who aren’t 6’11”.
A traditional ice cream parlour gets a little Hollywood flavor at Leopold’s, courtesy of movie producer Stratton Leopold, who mixes film with the family business, and songwriter Johnny Mercer. Mercer grew up down the street from the original location and loved Leopold’s Tutti-Frutti flavor—still made today.
As befits an ice cream company on a tropical island, Bubbie’s offers up something a little more exotic than your everyday vanilla and chocolate: cool rounds of mochi, the Japanese specialty of ice cream wrapped in sweetened rice dough. Traditional island flavors like guava, mango and lychee make them extra-special.
Instant gratification gets even easier at Reed’s Dairy, which offers drive-through ice cream pickup at its dairy store in Idaho Falls. Grab a cone or a pint of Mint Cookie, Chocolate Moose, or any one of the day’s handmade flavors, without leaving your car.
Give your taste buds something they never knew they wanted at Black Dog Gelato, a charming shop with two Chicago locations offering unexpectedly satisfying combinations like goat cheese cashew caramel, Mexican hot chocolate, or whiskey-spiked gelato pops with a milk chocolate shell.
Sometimes the simple things really are the best, as this Jewell, Iowa, ice cream shop proves. Out of more than 30 flavors, vanilla ice cream remains their top seller, and gets even sweeter when you add a drizzle of homemade hot fudge.
Buyer beware: At Sylas & Maddy’s in Lawrence, even a small scoop might be more than you bargained for. (They also offer a kid’s size for ice cream lovers of any age who just want a little taste.) Off-the-beaten-path flavors like cotton candy and oatmeal raisin rule; tell them your idea for a new, crazy flavor and they just might put it on the menu.
Kentucky pride is on the menu at Chaney’s, which celebrates its state heritage with seasonal flavors like mint julep ice cream, made with Maker’s Mark bourbon. The Chaneys also sell Kentucky-made crafts and foods in the Barn, along with milk from the farm’s acclaimed Jersey cows.
Kleinpeter ice cream, found in freezer cases throughout Louisiana, comes from fresh milk from the family farm just outside Baton Rouge. Southern favorites are reflected in ice cream flavors like Banana Pudding, Sweet Potato Pie, and Honey Pecan Vanilla, made with Bergeron pecans.
You’ll find Round Top served at Maine icons like Moody’s Diner and Red’s Eats, but to get the full range of flavors, the no-frills shop in Damariscotta is the only place to go. Try a scoop of Eagle Tracks, their take on the famous Moose Tracks flavor, made with chunks of Oreos, Reese’s peanut butter cups and vanilla ice cream.
The colors of the Maryland flag inspire the signature Maryland Madness flavor at this dairy farm, featuring lemon yellow ice cream with a red raspberry swirl, and both dark chocolate chips and white chocolate chips. It’s never been more delicious to be patriotic.
From its simple neon sign to the swiveling stools at the small counter, Four Seas plays up its small-town New England charm. 24 flavors are always on tap, and the peppermint stick and mint chip (both bright pink!), as well as the lemon crisp with bits of tart lemon candy, are longtime favorites.
In Traverse City, home of the National Cherry Festival, the tangy red fruit is tops. No surprise, then, that Moomers’ Cherries Moobilee flavor is consistently one of the creamery’s top sellers. Other cow-themed treats include the “Cow Pie” ice cream sandwich and the Udder Delight brownie sundae.
Minnesota couple Lara Hammel and Jeff Somers picked the brains of Italian experts to learn the secrets of traditional gelato making, then brought their knowledge back to their home state to open Izzy’s. With fresh, local ingredients like Wild Country maple syrup, it’s the perfect combination of homegrown and exotic.
Pints of Sweet Magnolia ice cream disappear from local freezer cases in Mississippi faster than you can say “brrrrr!” Owner Hugh Baltrop mixes up sweet spins on traditional Southern flavors like lemon sweet tea sorbet and banana moon pie gelato as well as classics like pistachio and vanilla bean.
The quaint ice cream shop with its red-and-white striped awnings has been a Jefferson City hangout for more than 80 years. Families still show up for time-tested flavors of hand-dipped ice cream, and heaping-high portions of banana splits.
Montana folks know that if you’re talking about ice cream in their state, there is only one place that stands hoof and mane above the rest, and that’s Missoula’s Big Dipper. Come at dusk and enjoy your scoop of huckleberry ice cream under the big blue sky.
While it’s always a treat to enjoy one of eCreamery’s signature flavors at the flagship Omaha ice cream parlor, it might be even more fun to create a flavor all your own: The company lets you pick your ice cream and mix-ins and ship personalized pints to friends and family across the country. Make mine malted milk with butter brickle, please!
When the action on the Vegas Strip gets a little too hot for your liking, head over to Sweet Addiction for a wholesome cool-down. Homemade cookies like oatmeal butterscotch and snickerdoodle combine with more than 25 flavors of Thrifty ice cream for stellar ice cream sandwiches.
Serving the summer resort town of Wolfeboro from a shed only slightly bigger than a walk-in closet means there’s often a line outside the tiny spot, but the roster of cool treats, from black raspberry frozen yogurt to butter pecan, is worth the wait. Sit by Lake Winnepesaukee for a cone with a view.
Stroll around Princeton’s historic Palmer Square with a cup of The Bent Spoon’s seasonal, small-batch ice cream in your hand. Mix and match flavors like Meyer lemon mascarpone, coconut, and New Jersey maple pecan, but grab your favorite while it’s in the case—it might not be there the next day.
In the town of Arrroyo Seco, a snowball’s throw away from the famous Taos Ski Valley resort, Taos Cow has provided another way for nature lovers, ski bums, and other visitors to chill out for more than 20 years. All-natural ice creams like fresh strawberry and cherry ristra (with roasted pine nuts and dark chocolate chunks) still hit the spot.
Il Laboratorio del Gelato
The founder of the famous Ciao Bello Gelato returns to his roots at Il Laboratorio del Gelato, a “lab” on New York City’s Lower East Side where customers can try one of the artisanal flavors of ice creams and sorbets churning that day, from vanilla saffron to green apple.
Ahoy! When in Durham, it’s ok to pick up a Drunken Sailor—one of the popular and amusingly named sundaes at The Parlour. Two scoops of salted butter caramel cream are topped with crushed potato chips, chocolate covered pretzels, and dark chocolate sauce that will get you drunk with happiness, or at least give you a sugar high.
Before there was the Dairy Queen Blizzard, there was the Whirl-A-Whip: a machine that blended ice cream and toppings into creamy confections. The last of its kind can be found at Dakota Drug in Stanley, an old-time soda fountain that still churns out frosty Whirl-A-Whips for nostalgia-minded visitors.
Each of the 100 flavors of Rosati’s frozen custard is made a single batch at a time, every day—meaning there’s new custard coming out of the freezer almost hourly at each of the company’s three Ohio locations. The flavors available are always changing, but each bite is guaranteed to be rich, creamy, and cold.
When in Oklahoma City, you won’t be able to miss (or resist) the bright yellow truck dripping with neon-pink “ice cream” rivulets. Named after a sweet, ice-cream loving dog, the truck has loads of fans who are rabid about following the Roxy truck around town for strawberries and cream, mint chip, and more.
Salt & Straw
If it’s from Portland, you can bet on the fact that it’s local, sustainable and also downright delicious. All these qualities apply to Salt & Straw. Owners Kim and Tyler Malek come up with increasingly creative ice cream flavors like smoked hefewiezen, fermented pear and fudge, and freckled Woodblock chocolate.
A chalkboard showcasing nearly 100 mix-in possibilities for your custom ice cream greets you when entering Oh Yeah!, “Pittsburgh's most eccentric haven for ice cream, coffee and waffle enthusiasts.” Pick from choices like goat cheese, lavender or Cap’n Crunch and they’ll be blended at high speed into your favorite flavor of ice cream.
Gray’s Ice Cream
Since 1923, Gray’s has been making and serving ice cream out of the same historic spot at Four Corners in Tiverton. Though they’ve recently expanded to two more locations in the Ocean State, they’re still freezing their own flavors from the house where Annie Gray first sold her vanilla, chocolate and coffee ice creams.
Eating ice cream on the beach is a rite of passage for nearly every American, so it’s no wonder the Sugar Shack in Myrtle Beach does brisk business during the summer season. What’s a little more unexpected is the live music the shop hosts every week, turning an ice cream outing into a real party.
SDSU Dairy Bar
The legendary cookies n’ cream ice cream flavor was invented on the South Dakota State University campus by dairy science students Joe Leedom and Joe Van Treeck in 1979. While you can most certainly get a scoop of vanilla ice cream flecked with cookies at the dairy bar, you can also try one of three variations: chocolate, mint or strawberry.
Pied Piper Creamery
If you walk up to owner Jenny Piper and yell, “Trailer Trash!” she won’t be offended. After all, it’s her ice cream parlor’s most popular flavor: homemade vanilla ice cream stuffed with chunks of Oreo, Twix, Butterfinger, Nestle Crunch, Snickers, and some M&Ms and Reese’s Pieces thrown in for good measure.
Amy’s Ice Creams
Though it now has locations in San Antonio and Houston, the heart of Amy’s Ice Creams is still in Austin, where owner Amy Simmons originally opened up shop in 1984. Texans rave about the richly flavored ice creams like Mexican vanilla and the fresh, cool fruit ices in a rainbow of tastes.
Aggie Ice Cream
Ice cream has been made on the Utah State campus for more than 100 years, though the Food Science department has a shiny new ice cream parlor for scooping and serving flavors like Aggie Blue Mint and Bull Tracks. The university will even ship ice cream to alums craving their favorite collegiate treat.
Although one of the country’s most famous ice-cream-making duos comes from Vermont, there are a few smaller operations making quality scoops in the Green Mountain State. Birchgrove Baking in Montpelier specializes in wedding cakes, but also serves homemade ice cream and homemade caramel sauce made with Vermont Cabot butter.
Carl’s Frozen Custard
The jaunty neon ice cream cone and bright script atop this retro roadside stand lets you think back to the good old days (or what you imagined them to be like). Old-fashioned malts, simple sundaes drizzled with hot fudge and butterscotch, and thick custard shakes are the draw for Virginia lovers of frozen treats.
It’s not just a clever name: Owner Molly Moon presides over a mini-chain of ice cream shops in the Seattle area, all serving handmade ice cream made with fresh, local ingredients like Stumptown coffee and honey from the Olympic mountains. (She’s also been known to throw a little bacon into her ice cream for good measure.)
Ice cream has been a passion project for owner Ellen Beal ever since her college days in Boston, when she subsisted on the stuff. She's since put her obsession to good use, and has been making the same high-quality ice cream she fell in love with for more than 15 years in her hometown of Charleston.
Kelley Country Creamery
In America’s Dairyland, cows are a dime a dozen, and the Kelley family has been putting their milk to excellent use for generations. Though a simple cone of butterscotch ice cream is oh so satisfying, customers really love the Moo Luau, a decadent banana split.
Chugwater Soda Fountain
As the oldest operating soda fountain in Wyoming, Chugwater serves up a lot of history with its malts, shakes and sundaes. Say hi to Wendall if you visit—he’s the mounted elk on the wall, and he's been there since 1947. A town petition keeps Wendall in the soda fountain in perpetuity.