This July will be National Ice Cream Month, and you could celebrate by buying a pint of your favorite Ben and Jerry’s flavor, visiting your local Dairy Queen, or even making your own ice cream. But none of those really seem special enough to honor everyone’s favorite frozen treat.
Instead, take a month long road trip around the country to try the 31 best local creameries you have to visit to enjoy (as determined by food critics, Yelp, and Trip Advisor). Or just visit the two or three that are closest to you. Whatever you do, make sure to put a trip to these these creameries on your bucket list because they don’t ship or sell their pints in stores.
Our journey begins in Virginia with a popular creamery named after the owner’s ice-cream loving chocolate lab. They pride themselves on constantly brainstorming new innovative flavors like their Poncho Verde, an avocado based ice cream with strawberries, lime, and jalapeños.
This east coast gem produces extra rich ice cream by using 17% butterfat cream from Lancaster cows, but the fun doesn’t stop at the ice cream base. Using local fruits and homemade cookie dough, they take their decadent ice cream to a whole new level.
After leaving Virginia, we make our way up to Maryland, but the true inspiration for this ice cream comes from Italy. Owner Victor Barlow grew up in Scotland, where he lived above an Italian ice cream parlor. Using the parlor’s secret recipe and ingredients imported from Italy, Barlow creates delicious flavors like Mexican vanilla, tiramisu, and mascarpone.
This Delaware creamery takes fresh to a whole new level by using the milk from their own cows to make their ice cream. And it wouldn’t be a farm if they didn’t have bacon. Their bacon ice cream is so popular that it was featured on Unwrapped.
New York brings us a more modern and sophisticated ice cream parlor. Nicholas Morgenstern, a classically trained pastry chef, has worked in well-known kitchens such as Gramercy Tavern, but he now uses his knowledge of food to serve made-to-order whip cream and off-the-cuff toppings like sweet potato and Fernet biscuits.
But the true magic is how Morgenstern makes eggless, low-sugar, low-butterfat ice cream into delicious and decadent flavors like honey vanilla, Szechuan peppercorn chocolate, and Vietnamese coffee.
If you’re looking for a more laid-back ice cream joint in New York, then take a trip to Martha’s Dandee Creme. This 60-year-old soft serve joint has gained national attention for its immense popularity.
Their rotating menu of 36 flavors, including strawberry, salted caramel, creme de menthe, and marble cake, attracts people from all around. They regularly have a line of over 500 people, but with eight windows for ice cream orders, they move quickly.
In Rhode Island, we discover what happens when one family dedicates itself to making the frozen desserts possible. With the help of his wife, children, siblings, and nephews, owner Chris makes 45 different flavors of ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet, and sorbet.
The first of several Massachusetts creameries, Four Seas serves their extra smooth and thick ice cream from a small, white cottage on main street. The 70-year old joint has had plenty of time to perfect all of their different flavors, but their signature item is their Fresh Peach and Coconut ice cream.
Located on a 300-year old family farm, this creamery began as a small ice cream stand in 1952. Their long history reflects in their old-fashioned style and flavors. They are known for making simple and classic flavors, like strawberry, but doing them better than anyone else around.
Our final Massachusetts favorite has something for both the sugar addicts and the health nuts. Not only do they make creamy and decadent ice cream, but they also serve a variety of fruit and vegetable juices.
But most know them for their homemade waffle cones, which you can reportedly smell from a mile away. With so many delicious options, it’s not wonder the line always wraps around the block.
In an ironic twist, New Hampshire brings us back to the old fashioned ice cream parlor. The owner, retired doctor Lewis Palosky, makes extra thick ice cream from all natural flavors. Although he sticks with traditional flavors such as black raspberry and french vanilla, there’s nothing ordinary about the intense and rich taste of the ice cream.
Although named for their hand-dipped candies, this Chicago favorite is known for their decadent sundaes. This 90-year-old creamery is still making all-natural homemade ice cream from family recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation, so it’s no surprise that it attracts all sorts of famous musicians, actors, and athletes.
Go and try their ice cream, and you might even get to meet your favorite food-loving celebrity.
As we travel in to Ohio, we find another old-fashioned chocolatier that has made a name for itself in the ice cream industry. They serve year-round and seasonal flavors of both sherbet and ice cream, and they even offer a few sugar-free options.
Although vanilla remains their best seller, other popular flavors include lime sherbet, toffee caramel crunch, moose tracks, and mint chocolate chip.
In Minnesota, you’ll find a creamery that gives a new meaning to the word “fresh.” To make their rotating menu of 20 ice cream and sorbet flavors, they get organic cream from Crystal Ball Farms in WI, organic grains and seeds from the Whole Grain Milling Company in MN, and butter from Rochdale Farms in WI.
Their local ingredients makes the seasonal flavors extra delicious, but their signature item is Sea Salt and Caramel with praline pecans.
As you drive through Montanna, be sure to stop at one of Big Dipper’s storefronts or track down their roaming ice cream truck. You can keep it classic with chocolate and vanilla, try their signature Huckleberry ice cream, or take a walk on the wild side with flavors like El Salvador Coffee or licorice.
This Washington creamery flavors their ice cream with ingredients local as possible. They even make purchase Thin Mints from Washington Girl Scouts to make their ‘Scout’ Mint ice cream. But their most popular item actually contains no fruit at all. The Theo Chocolate is dark chocolate ice cream made from melted Theo Chocolate bars.
The first of many California ice cream joints, Ici Ice strikes the perfect balance between old-fashioned and modern. Every day, pastry chef Mary Canales serves 11 different flavors inspired by available ingredients and her own creativity. The flavors can be both classic, like root beer, or gourmet, like brandied cherry.
Around the nations, people are screaming in delight for Screamin’ Mimi’s homemade ice cream, sorbet, hot fudge, caramel sauce, whipped cream and waffle cones. You may want to try one of their popular seasonal flavors made with local ingredients, but be sure to get their signature flavor Mimi’s Mud, espresso ice cream mixed with cookies, chocolate & homemade fudge.
This Southern California beachside gelato joint offers far more than patio seating with a good view. Their all-natural and organic gelato comes in popular traditional flavors, such as hazelnut, dark chocolate sorbet, Meyer lemon, and even pineapple sorbet.
Customers also seem to love their more inventive flavors such as kibana (kiwi and banana), charcoal vanilla and Mediterraneo (a hazelnut/almond/pistachio mix).
This creamery takes every Southern California stereotype and packs it into one cup of ice cream. They use organic dairy and farmer’s market produce to make a rotating menu of seasonal flavors such as brown butter sage, lavender honey, and Meyer lemon olive oil. Of course, they still have year round favorites like salted caramel.
Once you’re bored of all that organic and natural stuff, make your way over to Anaheim where you’ll find an ice cream joint that’s more fun than Disneyland itself. They serve over 40 flavors of gelato, soft serve, yogurt, and ice cream from self-serve dispensers on the wall.
They also offer a long line of toppings, macaroons, ice cream sandwiches, crepes, and bubble tea. It truly is the most magical place on earth.
Leave it to Las Vegas to take decadence to a whole new level. Although named after the popular French pancake, Tasty Crepes serves all kinds of desserts including chocolate covered cake bites, bubble tea, and ice cream.
If you’re having trouble choosing, don’t worry too much because you can get several of their offerings mixed together into one giant dessert. Nothing makes ice cream better than serving it in a crepe. Warning: be prepared for big portions.
Make your way over to Arizona to get the best Hawaiian shaved ice you can find on the mainland. With flavors flown in directly from Hawaii and handmade syrups, you can trust you’re getting the real deal.
Regulars love getting the Honeymoon flavored ice over ice cream, with a snow cap sauce on top, but more health-conscious customers will enjoy their pitaya (dragon fruit) bowls. Similar to the popular acai, these smoothie bowls are topped with granola, fruit, chia seeds, or agave nectar.
Unsurprisingly, you’ll find the best hipster creamery in Denver, CO. Although they offer vanilla and chocolate, this 100 percent wind-powered ice cream shop constantly creates new flavors such as oatmeal stout, strawberry balsamic, and baklava. They even offer vegan options. Be sure to check their website before you visit because their menu changes daily.
Travel up to Nebraska to get a taste of true premium ice cream made from their family recipe. They use local 18% butterfat milk and eggs to make their ice cream super creamy and rich, and their gourmet ingredients, such as real bourbon vanilla and dutch chocolate give their ice cream superior flavor.
They also offer vegan coconut milk ice cream, sherbet, and no sugar added ice cream made with blue agave.
Texas brings us ice cream made from Texan beer, but their Shiner Block Ice Cream is only one of 350+ daily rotating flavors. They also have a standard menu of seven variations of the classic vanilla and chocolate and a variety of mix-ins and toppings.
People are drawn in to this gelato joint for its rustic white decor and chalkboard menus, but they stay for the unique and decadent flavors. Popular flavors include the tangy but delicious goat cheese gelato and the Cassatta, dark chocolate with candied orange peels.
Like most things in New Orleans, Creole Creamery is as much about the experience as it is the ice cream itself. You could indulge in one of their classic banana splits, grab a flavor off their rotating menu, or try their signature Creole Cream Cheese ice cream, made with local curdled cream cheese.
But if you truly want to enjoy New Orleans decadence try their Tchoupitoulas Challenge: in one sitting you have to eat eight scoops of ice cream garnished with eight toppings, whipped cream, wafers, and cherries.
The long drive to Florida will be worth the effort to try the best creamery in America, according to Trip Advisor. Reviewers love that they can indulge on the homemade ice cream while enjoying a picturesque view of the ocean. Popular items include their rum-raisin flavor, banana splits, and Brazilian coffee.
We end our trip in Miami where these beach regulars have found a way to make a healthier version of ice cream’s extra-decadent cousin, gelato. They serve sugar-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free options, but they appeal to more than just the diet-conscious. Popular flavors include hazelnut, pumpkin, and avocado.
A Local Favorite
End your trip in your own hometown. Try a local ice cream parlor that you’ve never gone to before. The rules are that the parlor has to make their own ice cream parlor and can’t be a chain. A local favorite will be the perfect way to end your 31 day long celebration of National Ice Cream Month.