There is no wrong season to eat ice cream, but it really hits the spot in summer. On a sweltering day, a cup or cone of that creamy, dreamy treat will cool you off and boost your mood. Everything's better with ice cream, especially if you add sprinkles, whipped cream and a cherry on top.
Luckily, every state in America has good ice cream. That means The Daily Meal had a lot of research to do to narrow the list down to the absolute best spot to get it in your state. We scoured tons of online reviews, social media posts and word-of-mouth tips until we found the absolute best place to grab a scoop, sundae, shake or other frozen treat nationwide.
Whether you’re in Texas or Maine, Alaska or Wisconsin, we have found ice cream stands, shops, creameries, dairy farms and more that are scooping up the creamiest, tastiest homemade ice cream — no matter the weather. Read on to discover the best ice cream stand in every state.
Open May through August, Hot Licks uses local ingredients as well as dairy cream from an Oregon dairy to create their flavors. There is currently a shortage of dairy cows in this American state, but Hot Licks still manages to serve the best and freshest quality ice cream in Alaska with cool flavors like Aurora Borealis, a vanilla ice cream swirled with Alaskan blueberry and cranberry puree.
Originally founded by a husband and wife in 1950, this California staple is now sold in grocery stores nationwide. Its flagship store still stands on State Street in Santa Barbara’s downtown, but many new McConnell’s shops have popped up all over the country serving their decadent and fresh flavors like chocolate covered strawberries and Turkish coffee.
Little Man Ice Cream is designed to look like you’re going in to an enormous 28-foot-tall milk bottle to get your ice cream, which comes in tasty flavors such as cheesecake brownie and strawberry balsamic. Since opening in 2008, this Denver, Colorado, shop has run a Scoop for Scoop program that matches each order with a donation of rice and beans to developing countries around the world.
Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlour and Restaurant has a massive menu of food and treats as well as one of the largest collections of rural American memorabilia. Customers come by this Florida ice cream parlor for the classic desserts such as turtle sundaes and banana splits and to take in all the kitschy goodness.
Locals and visitors to Hawaii always make it a point to stop by Lappert’s, which has locations across the islands. There are Hawaiian-inspired flavors such as Kona coffee, Hawaiian sea salt caramel and macadamia nut, but there are also world-inspired flavors such as Costa Rican plantain cajeta, Mexican chocolate cinnamon swirl and Philippine macapuno peach sorbet.
Goody's Soda Fountain & Candy Store/Yelp
From Chicago to the suburbs, everybody knows Margie’s Candies is the place to go for ice cream in Illinois. This nostalgic neighborhood staple has remained Chicago’s best since 1921 and is famed for its sundaes, which are served with homemade hot fudge or other sauces separate so you can drizzle it fresh yourself. If you bring enough friends along, you can try to tackle the "World's Largest Sundae" made with a half gallon of ice cream.
BRICS stands for “Broad Ripple Ice Cream Station.” This iconic Indiana ice cream spot is co-owned by a relative of Kurt Vonnegut and is located inside the historic Monon Railway Station. They have a list of over 40 ice cream flavors, such as amaretto cherry and yellow cake batter. They can also make any scoop, sundae, shake or other treat vegan using vegan gelato.
Whitey's Ice Cream/Yelp
For 85 years, Whitey’s in Bettendorf, Iowa, has been dishing out what they claim is “the best ice cream in the Midwest.” Customers can choose from flavors like bubble gum, banana graham, coffee toffee and white chocolate raspberry. The also offer cookie ice cream sandwiches and Bostons, which are malts or shakes with a sundae on top.
College Hill Creamery/Yelp
The creamery specialties at Creole Creamery in New Orleans set this ice cream stand apart from everything else in Louisiana. Their Skyscraper is an enormous concoction made with cookies and cream, chocolate and vanilla ice creams layered with caramel, hot fudge and crushed Oreos served with whipped cream, sprinkles, a cherry and a wafer. Plus they also serve something called a Tchoupitoulas made with eight scoops and eight toppings. You can share it, but if you can finish it on your own, you earn a spot in their hall of fame.
A big favorite among students at Johns Hopkins University, Maryland's The Charmery has tons of flavors, including cool ones like baklava, black sesame, buttermilk and cornbread, and butternut squash and clove. They serve fun color-changing “magic” spoons and have menu items like Turtle Soup, made from melted chocolate ice cream.
Mary Ann C./Yelp
This family-run Massachusetts dairy farm serves homemade ice cream and frozen yogurt made from the milk from their 375 cows. Richardson's has traditional flavors like chocolate and vanilla as well as fun ones like matcha green tea, Snickers and Blue Crunchasaurus. They also have a driving range, mini-golf courses and batting cages for an afternoon of fun.
Everyone in Minnesota is obsessed with Izzy’s because every scoop of ice cream gets a mini "Izzy-sized" scoop of a different flavor on top. So that means if you order a scoop of bananas Foster, you can top it off with a tiny scoop of Guinness, dulce de leche, strawberry cheesecake or marshmallow. Or, if you're really indecisive, you can order a Dizzy Izzy, which is five mini scoops in a cup or in the shop's house-made malted waffle cone.
Area 51 Ice Cream is just as mysterious as its name. Their small-batch flavors are made with fresh ingredients from Mississippi farmers markets, so menu items change often. Flavors include classics like cookies and cream and bourbon butter pecan as well as more experimental flavors such as coconut brown sugar and green tea latte.
Ted Drewes Frozen Custard is not only the most famous custard in St. Louis but it's also American icon. This family-owned frozen custard business opened a location along Route 66 in Missouri in 1941. Enjoy a classic sundae or concrete (a thick custard mixed with toppings) in a variety of rich, creamy flavors.
Big Dipper Ice Cream has a following for its high-quality, creamy-textured ice creams in tasty flavors. Although you can expect a line at this Montana spot, especially on warm spring and summer nights, the treats are worth the wait. Flavors include huckleberry, white mint Oreo, cardamom, green tea and bananas Foster.
If the sweet smells of homemade waffle cones don't lure you into Nebraska's Ivanna Cone, perhaps its ice creams made with a rich 14 percent butterfat sweet cream vanilla base will. Who could resist funky flavors like pecan pie, balsamic pear fig and chicken and waffles? If classic is more your speed, their Dutch chocolate is a local favorite.
New York City transplant Steve Cordes' ice cream shop serves the best scoops in Nevada. After managing a Staten Island soda shop for 12 years, Cordes opened his own place in Fernley where the ice cream is made on site in flavors such as brownie batter, pistachio and black raspberry, which you can get topped with classic hot fudge.
When Ample Hills first opened in New York in 2011, they didn't expect to be so popular — they sold out of all their ice cream in four days. Since then, Ample Hills has solidified its reputation as a Brooklyn hipster ice cream paradise. They use hormone-free milk and cream from grass-fed cows and organic cane sugar. They even pasteurize on site. Their indulgent flavors include peppermint patty, Mexican hot chocolate and ooey gooey butter cake in a pretzel, chocolate chip or M&M cone.
Come hungry when you visit Durham's The Parlour because this North Carolina ice cream shop has both hard and soft ice creams and decadent sweet ice cream treats like brownie sundaes and cookie ice cream sandwiches. Flavors include fresh mint, basil ricotta and Vietnamese coffee, and they always have vegan options such as mango chile sorbet.
North Dakota’s last creamery, Pride Dairy has been making ice cream since 1940. Today, they still produce and serve almost two dozen flavors, including cookies and cream, maple nut and rhubarb strawberry. They also have a version of Madagascar vanilla based on the ice cream recipe Thomas Jefferson once made for diplomats.
Mitchell’s Ice Cream focuses on tasty small-batch ice cream made of milk from local grass-fed Ohio dairy cows and fresh, ethically sourced seasonal ingredients. Mitchell’s uses rainwater harvesting systems, water conservation, skylights, waste heat and solar panels in their stores and kitchens. In their Cleveland flagship store, located in an old silent movie theater, you can even watch employees make ice cream and take tours of the kitchen.
Braum's Ice Cream & Dairy Store is based in Tuttle, Oklahoma, you can find a Braum’s in almost every city in the state. But for someplace with a more local touch, head to Roxy's in OKC. What started out as a food truck named for the owners’ dog grew into four brick-and-mortar locations that still feature photos of their namesake pup. Roxy's offers unique flavors, like graham cracker and German chocolate, that can be made into fresh-baked cookie sandwiches, floats and sundaes.
"A balanced diet is an ice cream sandwich in each hand" is the motto at Ruby Jewel. While Portland's Salt & Straw ice cream is famous for its unique flavors like pear and blue cheese, Ruby Jewel is where to get Oregon’s best ice cream sandwiches. It has fun flavors like Fluffernutter, Irish cream and honey lavender, which can be sandwiched between different kinds of cookies such as double chocolate, chocolate chip, snickerdoodle and more.
Fox Meadows Creamery and Country Market/Yelp
You might've heard of farm-to-table, but what about cow-to-cone? That's the philosophy at Fox Meadows Creamery, an ice cream shop and country store located on a dairy farm in Ephrata, Pennsylvania. Enjoy flavors such as Nutella, honeyed lavender, birthday cake and salted caramel pretzel on their own, in homemade waffle cones or in an ooey gooey baked fox. This signature treat is a shell of brownie or chocolate chip cookie filled with a scoop of ice cream.
Sweet Cream Company’s flavors are so good, they don’t even offer toppings. Their website claims that this is to enable the “flavor of the ice cream itself to shine.” This South Carolina shop's dazzling ice cream flavors include French toast, popcorn, toasted marshmallow, Cherry Coke and lemon poppy seed. They also offer sorbet in flavors like sweet tea, plum fennel and watermelon mint.
The Southern food destination of Tennessee is known for its hot fried chicken, but if you need something to cool down with after a fiery meal, look no further than the Pied Piper Creamery in East Nashville. Owner Jenny Piper crafts unique flavors with punny names like a sweet potato flavor called I Yam What I Yam. One of the most popular flavors is Trailer Trash — vanilla ice cream with Oreos, Twix, Butterfingers, Reese’s Pieces, Nestle Crunch, Snickers and M&M’s with optional cheese curls. If you can't decide on a flavor, opt for a four-scoop sampler.
Amy's Ice Cream is an Austin institution with a menu of more than 350 flavors in rotation, proving everything truly is bigger in Texas. Start with a base flavor like Mexican vanilla, peach cobbler or coffee and then add "crush'n" toppings to be mixed in or choose a quirky treat off the menu. Funky seasonal flavors have clever names like All Thai’d Up, After Dinner Mint and Batter Up, just to name a few.
Since 1975, Island Creamery has been offering cool treats that pair perfectly with a day at the beach on Virginia's Chincoteague Island. This family business serves delicious fresh ice cream made with local milk and ingredients. Special flavors include pineapple upside-down cake, cherries jubilee and birthday cake. They also have vegan options made with coconut milk.
Mallard’s ice cream is made in salt-ice churns that can make five gallons of ice cream in about an hour. This technique delivers super-fresh, high-quality, tasty ice cream in more than 600 sweet, rotating flavors. This Washington shop uses its rotating menu to experiment with unique flavors such as cardamom, turmeric, coriander, frankincense, yerba mate and sesame tahini alongside classic favorites like vanilla and chocolate. There are also nondairy options such as rhubarb and basil lime sorbet.
This beloved Georgetown spot serves up house-made ice creams and frozen yogurts with dozens of flavors, including cake batter, bubble gum and cinnamon. You can also customize your cup or cone with plenty of toppings and blend-ins. Thomas Sweet is popular with everyone from college students to Washington, D.C., government officials, including former President Barack Obama, so you never know who you might run into.
Wisconsin is known for dairy, and Kopp’s is no exception. Just follow the line of cow sculptures leading into this retro-style restaurant for rich creamy custard scoops, shakes, splits and sundaes with rotating flavors like tiramisu, butterscotch, pumpkin cheesecake, lemon raspberry shortbread and maple syrup pancakes.
Moo’s Gourmet in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, makes natural and organic hand-churned ice cream in traditional flavors like mint chip and rum raisin as well as exciting departures like chai tea and prickly pear. Their standout, however, is their wild huckleberry flavor, which locals and visitors alike rave about. Fans might say it's right up there with the world's 50 best ice cream parlors.
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