In honor of National Ice Cream Day, we’ve combined two of our greatest loves (travel & icy treats) to bring you a list of ice cream spots across the nation (and Canada) that are worth traveling to this summer. Trust us, you’ll want to bring your camera.
- Ice & Vice. An experimental ice cream shop that pushes the boundaries on flavors and what constitutes a “cone.” Customers regularly walk away with cones stacked with multiple scoops, donuts, marshmallows, and pie. Try the classic “Tea Dance” (tea leaf, lemon charcoal, & salted caramel).
- Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream. Morgenstern’s focuses on using quality ingredients to craft up intensely-flavored small batch ice creams. So while every flavor is worth a try, we recommend the Black Coconut Ash (salty-sweet and so dark it will stain your clothes—be warned).
- Tipsy Scoop. Tipsy scoop combines ice cream with alcohol for incredible results. Each flavor is inspired by popular cocktails (like Mango Margarita Sorbet or Maple Bacon Bourbon). If you can’t decide, get a flight ($11 for four small scoops)!
- Little Damage. Little Damage is a vegan-friendly soft serve spot in Downtown LA. Flavors rotate every few weeks but always include the Insta-favorite “Dark Cinns” (black activated-charcoal ice cream that tastes like cinnamon) and “Unicorn Tears” (blue-colored cake batter ice cream). Plus, you get a free topping & there’s a photo booth—what more could you want?
- Magpie’s Softserve. Another soft serve spot whose owners describe it as “a chef-y Dairy Queen.” Flavors change daily (many of them vegan) and plenty of homemade toppings to choose from. We like the Corn Almond vegan ice cream with chocolate-covered honeycomb to top.
- Milkjam Creamery. You’ll have a hard time picking just one flavor (Waka Flocka Flakes or Cashew Ousside?) which is why it’s amazing that you can get all of them (toppings included) on one platter. You’ll want to bring some friends.
- Uji Time. A brand-new ice cream shop in Japantown (an expansion from the original Berkeley location), Uji Time serves Japanese fusion desserts. The Taiyaki Cone (fish-shaped cone made to order filled with Japanese-style ice cream) is not to be missed.
- Garden Creamery. What started as a food truck has now expanded to include a brick & mortar store in the Mission. We particularly like the Hawaiian-influenced Butter Mochi Toasted Sesame ice cream. Come on a Saturday for a chimney cone (i.e. cone made of chimney cake).
- Sweet Jesus. A soft serve parlor & espresso bar (for when you need a caffeine-rush to accompany your sugar high) that piles on the toppings. Try the Red Rapture (vanilla soft serve coated in red velvet cake, raspberry purée and meringue crumble).
- Hay Elotes. While Hay Elotes doesn’t technically serve ice cream, their Mexican-style desserts are just as good and much harder to find in the states. Don’t leave without getting the Mango Hill: slushie made of mango purée and stacked high with fresh strawberries & a drizzle of chili sauce.
- Cauldron Ice Cream. Cauldron (in Santa Ana) serves ice cream that practically begs you to take a picture of it. Their liquid nitrogen ice cream comes in fun flavors like H20 Rose (dusted with a coast of rose sugar) and Sun, Moon & Stars (blend of oolong, jasmine & green teas). Get it served in puffle cone.
- Disneyland. Because there’s not much better than a fresh Dole whip at the happiest place on earth.
- Cow Tipping Creamery. A little outside Dallas, Cow Tipping Creamery serves up “stackers,” that is, sundaes made with alternating layers of homemade toppings, baked goods, and soft serve. Might we recommend the “It’s Your Birthday” (funfetti cake chunks, birthday cake crumble, rainbow sprinkles, and white chocolate sauce)?
- Ice Cream Wasted. While none of the flavors have dairy, they all have a secret ingredient…booze. Make a reservation (there are no walk-ins) to have a tasting of these 21+ flavors. Each month has a different theme with new innovative toppings.
- Frankie & Jo’s. Traditional ice cream lovers might cringe when they hear plant-based ice cream but they’ll be converted by trying any of this new Seattle ice cream shop’s unique flavors. Go all out and get the Ginger Turmeric Chai (made with a coconut-milk base)—all the deliciousness of ice cream with a little less guilt.
- I-CE-NY Atlanta. Thai smashed (or rolled) ice cream has taken the world by storm. Head to the new Atlanta location of I-CE-NY to try it out for yourself. Make your own combination of try the popular Mango Sticky Rice. Plus, it’s almost just as fun to watch your ice cream creation being made.
- BomboBar. A walk-up window on the side of Bar Siena, BomboBar serves up housemade gelato during the summer. A must are the Bomboloni milkshakes—our fave is the Macha Made in Heaven—as they’re served with plenty of whipped cream and topped with a Bombolone (holeless Italian doughnut).
- Cone Gourmet Ice Cream. Each of Cone’s flavors come packed with taste and a lot of creativity. Favorites include the Netflix and Chill (popcorn ice cream with M&Ms) and the Cookie Monster (vanilla ice cream dyed blue with cookie dough, oreos & chips ahoy inside).
- The DoughCone. Track down this food truck to get a handmade churro-esque cone stuffed with ice cream and unlimited toppings.
- 720 Sweets. 720 serves up locally-sourced & unique twists on classic desserts. Their classic soft serve is a must as it comes over dry ice (tasty and beautiful).
- Rain or Shine. Fresh, local ingredients go into every Rain or Shine flavor. Come in on Tuesday for a “taco” (taco-shaped waffle cone to hold your ice cream + a free topping).
- Blackbird Doughnuts. This doughnut shop expanded to offering ice cream doughnuts sandwiches: wedges of soft serve nestled between two halves of their delicious cake doughnuts. Pick any doughnut flavor and add chocolate, vanilla, strawberry or swirl ice cream to it.
- Lighthouse Ice Cream & Yogurt. With Ocean Beach to back your ice cream shots, you’ll never get a bad pic. Do yourself a favor and get the hot waffle ice cream sandwich (yes, hot). Cash only.
If you need more, check out last year’s list.
What did we miss?