Many of us have been chasing down the ice cream truck since we were kids. Why do we love ice cream — and its counterparts gelato, frozen yogurt, sorbet, sherbet, frozen custard, and ices — so much? Perhaps because nothing captures pure joy and innocence like a dripping ice cream cone on a summer day. And at these 12 legendary ice cream parlors, the ice cream is the best you’ll find, anywhere in America.
In order to assemble our ranking, we consulted our larger list of the World’s 35 Best Ice Cream Parlors. Our ice cream picks were selected based on five criteria: We looked at critical acclaim (any awards or recognition an ice cream shop has been given); the quality of ingredients (where they are sourced from and whether they are organic, local, etc.); originality (innovative approaches to making and serving ice cream); exceptional service (customer service that goes above and beyond); and customer experience (based on online reviews).
However, despite all those criteria, what constitutes the best ice cream, like most “best” things, varies from person to person. Nevertheless, none of these 12 ice cream parlors will disappoint you. While some of the parlors on this list are decidedly old-fashioned in the best way possible, others are a bit more whimsical. How well an ice cream parlor mixes nostalgia with creativity? That’s what makes it exceptional.
Think we missed out on a time-honored ice cream parlor or celebrated newcomer? We’re always on the lookout for new places and undiscovered gems that deserve to be celebrated, so write us a note by tweeting @thedailymeal or comment with places we should be aware of below.
Additional reporting by Nikkitha Bakshani, Matt Sulem, Haley Willard, and Erica Rivera.