Can’t Get Enough of the Sweet Stuff: 25 Must-Visit Ice Cream Shops Across the Country

stack of books

Mmm, ice cream. Much more than just a summer treat, many Americans crave this sugary dessert year round.

In their quest for ice cream, it’s no wonder these consumers might look for less conventional choices like artisanal specialty shops that make their own ice cream with unique, seasonal flavors. Hungry? We’ve found 25 such shops for anyone with a sweet tooth.



eCreamery knows its stuff about ice cream. Abby Jordan and Becky App opened the Omaha shop in 2007. Live way outside of the Midwest? You can still get your fix. Just go online, where you can customize your ice cream order your way, from the ice cream flavors to the mix-ins right down to the name.


Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

The mission at Jeni’s is to unite people through ice cream. That’s a message we can all get behind. Grab a spoon for creative flavors like goat cheese with red cherries, Thai curry pumpkin and sweet potato éclair. They have scoop shops in Missouri, California, Illinois and Ohio, but the Jeni’s team also encourages others to make their own ice cream at home with official cookbooks.



Marketer Andy Satinsky and his pastry chef wife Jennifer put their heads together to open Weckerly’s in Philadelphia. The micro creamery churns out an ever-changing roster of flavors that’s switched out almost daily. The Satinskys support nearby artisans and farmers, sourcing local ingredients all year long to make some of the most interesting ice cream on the block.


Big Gay Ice Cream

Also in Philly and New York is the famous Big Gay Ice Cream. Founded by Bryan Petroff and Douglas Quint, the duo began their business driving an ice cream truck. Eventually, demand was so high they bought a shop, and then several more. If you’re craving soft serve, this is the place to get it.


Betty Rae’s Ice Cream

Once the owners of Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream, couple Mary and David saw their respective careers take them in other directions. They eventually reconvened and Betty Rae’s in Kansas City was born. Adults can appreciate the boozy milkshakes, like a rum and coke float and the Buffalo Sweat (which combines vanilla bean ice cream with oatmeal cream stout from Tallgrass Brewery). For everyone else, there’s creative ice cream sandwiches and customizable sundaes.

ice cream with sprinkles up close


Gunther’s Ice Cream

Just look for Jugglin’ Joe in Sacramento and you’ve found Gunther’s Ice Cream! That giant neon sign is just one part of what makes this old-school ice creamery (it was founded in 1940) such a fun experience. The rest is because of the ice cream varieties, like Swiss orange chip, butter pecan, black raspberry marble and other specialty flavors.


Il Laboratorio del Gelato

Don’t let the name fool you; Il Laboratorio del Gelato is in Manhattan, not Italy. Part café, part lab, the team here has made small-batch ice creams since 2002. Make sure you plan to stay for a while when you visit, because you’ll have to pore over 200 varieties. You can even watch your ice cream being made through the big café window.


Amy’s Ice Creams

With froyo, fruit ices and ice cream, Austin residents and tourists alike flock to Amy’s Ice Creams. Since 1984, the shop has built up its roster of flavors, which now tops out at 350 and counting. Only seven of those have permanent spots on the menu: white chocolate, coffee, sweet cream, dark chocolate, vanilla, Belgian chocolate and Mexican vanilla.


Salt & Straw

There’s a reason Portland’s Salt & Straw has received accolades from Bon Appetit Magazine, the Wall Street Journal and food TV personality Andrew Zimmern: the artisanal quality, combined with the enthusiastic staff and café foods (like coffee from local roasters and even pies) make this shop a winner. The flavors vary by shop and season, but some classics are freckled woodblock chocolate, strawberry honey balsamic with black pepper and pear and blue cheese.


Little Man Ice Cream

Beckoning back to a bygone era is Little Man Ice Cream in Denver. Paul Tamburello opened the shop in 2008, and since then, he’s been busy dishing out nearly 1.9 million scoops of the sweet stuff. Their menu is practically never the same twice, which gives Denverites even more reason to keep coming back. Some flavors to expect are salted Oreo, espresso fudge, buttermilk cupcake and crème fraiche. There are vegan ice creams available too.

man holding soft serve


Gelato Fiasco

Another ice cream shop with ties to Italy located in the US (Maine, specifically) is Gelato Fiasco. Bruno Tropeano and Joshua Davis decided to start the shop after noticing the lack of gelato in their neighborhood. Today, there’s no shortage of the dessert; the team has somehow invented 1,500 varieties! No matter what ice cream flavor you prefer, you can certainly find it here.



A little ice cream shop with some big recognition, Toscanini’s in Cambridge, Massachusetts received the Best of Boston 2014 award as well as mentions from Food & Wine, The New York Times, The Huffington Post and ABC News. So what’s all the fuss about? Toscanini’s offers catering services, has its own onsite bakery and sells teas and coffees. Of course, then there’s the main event: the ice cream. Can’t choose from more than 30 flavors? Ask for a free sample or two!


Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream

Since 2008, the Van Leeuwen name went from a small yellow ice cream truck to a Greenpoint, Brooklyn shop. Their ice cream bases aren’t kept a secret and are actually incredibly simple: just mix egg yolks, cane sugar, cream and milk. That said, Van Leeuwen’s ice creams are so sought after they wrote a cookbook with more than 100 recipes.


Kippy’s Ice Cream Shop

No matter the ice cream flavor, all the ice cream at Kippy’s is non-dairy and organic, making it a healthier treat almost anyone can eat. This Venice, California shop is big on healthy living, making all its ice cream with just unheated raw honey and coconut cream. Craving a sorbet? Instead of the sticky, sugary variety, Kippy’s staff uses fruit for color and flavor.


Big Dipper Ice Cream

In Helena and Missoula, Montana, residents look out for the Big Dipper Ice Cream truck. Between the truck and the store, it’s no wonder Big Dipper has been featured on Yahoo! News, USA Today and once had its team on Good Morning America. They have specialty and seasonal flavors available throughout the year, and there are also permanent favorites like Mexican chocolate, black licorice, green tea and El Salvador coffee.

ice cream in bowls


Bonnie Brae Ice Cream Shop

Since 1986, Richard and Kerry have managed the Bonnie Brae Ice Cream Shop in Denver. The shop champions the diabetes research organization JDRF and the antitrypsin deficiency organization Alpha-1 Foundation. Choose from rotating yummy flavors like spumoni, deep dish apple pie, Bushmill’s Irish cream and bear claw.


High Road Ice Cream & Sorbet

Designing the packaging, making the ice cream and shipping it out to shops in nearby Marietta: High Road Ice Cream & Sorbet does it all. As an award-winning cookbook author, CEO Keith Schroeder is a big part of the store’s success. Want to learn how he does it? Their website has a page of info for budding chefs and ice cream makers who want to know more about the process.


Mitchell’s Ice Cream

Long-term friends Mike and Pete decided to open a Cleveland ice cream shop together, calling it Mitchell’s. They specialize in pies and cakes, fruit smoothies, malts and milkshakes, sorbets, froyo and of course, ice cream. Some of their items are kosher and vegan. What kind of flavors can visitors expect? These change frequently, but a few examples are peanut butter chocolate chunk, toasted pistachio and dark roast coffee with South American coffee beans.


Carmela Ice Cream Co.

Locavores will gravitate towards Pasadena’s Carmela Ice Cream Co. since ingredients come straight from local farmers and all dairy products are organic. Factors like store location, availability and time of year all determine the menu. Carmela’s offers catering and ice cream making classes.


McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream

With a rich history dating back to 1949, McConnell’s is a long-term favorite for many Santa Barbara residents. What makes their ice creams so fine? Avoiding the use of additives, fillers, preservatives and stabilizers; using fresh crumbles, coffees, candies and jams; getting organic ingredients from nearby farms; and aging and pasteurizing all cream and milk that goes into the ice cream.

sorbet up close


Wanderlust Creamery

Travel a lot? If so, you must visit Wanderlust Creamery in LA, which serves “artisanal ice cream inspired by travel.” So what does this mean exactly? The flavors are like a world tour for the taste buds. Try the Earl Gray from Great Britain with sea salt, bergamot olive oil and a black tea ice cream base. Then go all the way to the Caribbean with the Smoked Chocolate, which features Trinidad beans and Grand Cru dark chocolate.


OddFellows Ice Cream Co.

Are you too far outside of LA but want to taste some universal ice cream flavors? In New York, OddFellows Ice Cream Co. just started its OddFellows Passport Program. Not only can you taste some fun, regional flavors, but you can also stamp your passport to get freebies! How’s that for an incentive to eat ice cream?


Smitten Ice Cream

What drives the team at Smitten Ice Cream in San Francisco? An unmitigated love for ice cream. Their passion for this frozen dessert has led them to deliver locally around the Bay Area and create some unique flavors. Make sure to try the maple brown sugar pumpkin, nectarines and cream or lemon gingersnap when they’re available.


Blue Marble Ice Cream

In trendy Brooklyn, Blue Marble churns out ice cream that’s always organic. Jennie and Alexis, the founders, opened the store in 2007 to give Brooklynites a healthier ice cream. The women also started the nonprofit Blue Marble Dreams, where they work with underprivileged women and introduce ice cream to other countries.


Graeter’s Ice Cream

For nearly 150 years, the Graeter’s name has been synonymous with quality ice cream. No wonder you can find their products on store shelves in New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. They sell sorbet, gelato, low glycemic desserts and plenty of ice creams, including seasonal varieties and their Signature Chip flavors, which are packed with bittersweet gourmet chocolate chips.

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