What are the Best US Ice Cream Shops?

SeanCone2 My brother Sean wants to head over the the US to visit ice cream shops, and he would love your suggestions as to which ice cream shops he should visit.

(Could he manage 100 shops in 7 days?)

He will definitely be going to New York, so suggestions in the New York area especially welcome, but where else should he go?

What are the unmissable US ice cream shops at the moment?

Please leave comments with your suggestions!

48 thoughts on “What are the Best US Ice Cream Shops?

  1. hello Kieran – if he’s in the DC metro area at all, the Dairy Godmother in the Delray part of Alexandria, VA is awesome (frozen custard). Then in DC itself (Foggy Bottom), there’s Cone E Island. I think I like the inventive shop names as much as the ice cream!

  2. If he gets as far as San Francisco, he should check out Humphrey Slocombe in the Mission District – try their Secret Breakfast flavour (bourbon & cornflakes). Have heard that Bi-rite creamery in SF is also worth a try, though I didn’t manage to make it there when I was in SF, so I’m not sure how it compares.

  3. In the area north of Boston, would recommend:

    Benson’s in West Boxford, great use of the local berries in ice cream.

    Richardson’s in Middleton, very good ice cream along with other diversions [mini-golf driving range etc.].

    Will add more when get a chance..

  4. My personal favorite is Herrell’s–they have a store in Cambridge MA as well as Northampton. Amazing hot fudge, their chocolate pudding ice cream is to die for, and they make their own chocolate whipped cream! But everything is fantastic.

  5. Scoops
    712 N Heliotrope Dr.
    Los Angeles, CA 90029
    (323) 906-2649
    Mon-Sat 12pm-10pm

    i have had their vegan ice cream and it’s amazing.

    also, Gerenser’s in New Hope, PA used to be really good. i haven’t been there in years, but i still count their african violet ice cream as a favorite.

  6. You have to check out the Music Man in Lavallette, New Jersey. The ice cream is GREAT and the staff entertains you while you eat. It’s really fun and the singing is excellent. It’s got an old-fashioned feel and the experience really takes you back to an ice cream shop from the past.

  7. If you’re visiting ice cream shops, Boston is not to be missed! It’s oft said Boston has the highest ice cream consumption per capita in the U.S., and while I don’t know if it’s true, it certainly seems plausible. This link lists several options:

    I would give special shoutouts to Herrell’s for supposedly inventing the smoosh-in, Christina’s for the most innovative flavors, and J.P. Licks for the best overall shop–they have baked goods and good coffee in addition to excellent ice cream.

    If he’s heading to Philadelphia at all, I have to rec http://capogirogelato.com/. Amazing gelato in fantastic flavors. A colleague and I sought it out on a business trip, and ended up going back every day we were in town.

  8. If you make it to the midwest, you have to stop at Ted Drewes frozen custard shop in St. Louis. It was a staple for me while growing up and has been around for more than 75 years. It’s on the old Route 66. Try the concrete!


    P.S. Love your blog and loved your ice cream. From a fan in North Carolina

  9. Thirding the recommendation for Bi-Rite Creamery in San Francisco–from someone who’s actually BEEN there, many times. I’ve had Humphrey Slocombe, and it’s good, with some fun/unusual flavors, but scoop-for-scoop Bi-Rite can’t be beat for quality. Of course, if you’re going to go to the trouble to go to San Francisco just for the ice cream, you may as well hit both! Also notable is Mitchell’s–which is a much more traditional style than Bi-Rite and HS. Though “traditional” depends on where you grew up, as some of their best flavors are tropical or South Asian. [The Ube, baby coconut, has a HUGE fan base, and I think they also have a durian flavor?] Bombay Ice Cream has many of the flavors you’d expect from an American shop but they really excel–not surprisingly–in typical Indian types of frozen desserts. [http://www.bombayicecream.com/menu.htm ]

  10. In addition to the places in NYC already mentioned, I’d recommend:
    _Lula’s Sweet Apothecary for fantastic vegan ice cream
    _Screme Gelato, an Israeli chain that boasts of 5,000 flavors
    _Eddie’s Sweet Shop in Queens, a 100-year-old soda shop with homemade ice cream
    _Chinatown Ice Cream Factory and Sundaes & Cones, which both have really exciting flavors

    For a complete guide, check out http://www.scooponcones.com, launching in Sept!

  11. Ralph’s Italian Ices (yes they have ice cream. There are several locations, though the Port Richmond location on Staten Island is the original and still the best)
    Egger’s Ice Cream Parlor
    does frozen yogurt count? Pinkberry
    definitely Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, they’ve currently got durian ice cream
    Alphabet Scoops is another interesting one; it’s run by Father’s Heart ministries and is staffed by underprivileged kids in their job training program

    The U.S. is BIG, and much more spread out than you realize. I’ll be very surprised if you manage to visit 100 ice cream shops in 7 days, even in New York City where we have both a high density of ice cream shops and reasonably efficient public transportation. (You do NOT want to rent a car in Manhattan, though it might help for Staten Island.)

    Laura from Ice Cream Forum could help plan your route in New York City or even accompany you so you don’t get lost!

  12. You have to head to the greater Boston area, New England ice cream is fantastic! Try out a few of these:

    Christina’s Homemade Ice Cream: 1255 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA? – (617) 492-7021?
    Bedford Farms: 68 Thoreau St, Concord, MA? – (978) 341-0000
    Lizzy’s: 367 Moody St., Waltham, MA? – (781) 893-6677
    Kimball Farm: 400 Littleton Rd, Westford, MA? – (978) 486-3891
    Toscanini: 899 Main St, Cambridge, MA? – (617) 491-5877
    Richardson’s: 156 S Main St, Middleton, MA? – (978) 774-5450
    JP Licks: 659 Centre St, Jamaica Plain, MA? – (617) 524-6740
    The Chilly Cow (Frozen Custard!!!!): 451 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA? – (781) 648-4360

  13. I can’t believe someone already mentioned one of my favorites! I have to agree with Nancy about Hoffman’s Ice Cream in New Jersey. If he goes to the one in Point Pleasant he can go a few miles down the road to another favorite, Sundaes on Rte. 88 also Point Pleasant.

  14. New York ice cream? Blah! If you want real ice cream, head to dairy country – Wisconsin! I recommend Pine River Dairy in Manitowoc. 25 cent scoops of the best creamy ice cream you have ever tried in the most picturesque country setting you can imagine. Perhaps you’ll get inspiration for a new cheddar cheese ice cream to serve in Dingle?

  15. I second Capogiro in Philadelphia, as well as Franklin Fountain and Bassetts (Reading Terminal Market). If you have more time in the area to go out of the city, Goodnoe’s is a must.
    Good luck!

  16. Since everyone else has gone all over the map, I’ll add my two cents to the pot.

    Young’s Jersey Dairy makes all of their ice cream from scratch at their farm, utilizing their own herd. Yellow Springs, OH.


    I second the Grater’s recommendation. It began out of Cincinnati, OH. The ones with the chocolate chunks are the ones you want to try here – that is the best part.


    Aglamesis out of Cincinnati, OH is also wonderful. Their fruit flavors are the best of their choices. Served up in one of the few authentic ice cream parlors left.


    Yagoot (also out of Cincinnati, OH) has some delicious greek yogurt based frozen yogurt that is tart and tangy, and perfect with the fresh fruits that you can get mixed in.


  17. Now this is why I love the Internet. You ask, and you get answers! Thanks so much everyone who commented, and please feel free to add more! I’m getting the feeling Sean will have to do a guest blog post with what he finds. I’m jealous already.

  18. Molly Moon’s in Seattle is a big up-and-comer in the ice cream world (especially mine, since they’ve opened a shop a few blocks from my pad).

    Two stores: one in Wallingford, one in Capitol Hill.

    Also good on the local scene: Old School Custard, also on Capitol Hill.

    And I’ll second recommendations for Toscanini’s in Cambridge (MA) and BiRite & Bombay Creamery in San Francisco. All top-notch!

  19. In Hadley, MA; gets it fame from an almond asparagus flavor, but it’s real claim to fame are the cows next door and the creamy creaminess of the ice cream.

    In Palo Alto, CA (just outside of SF, home of Stanford U) there is the famous Rick’s Ice Cream. Enough said- it’s truly incredible. And creative in the true NorCal vein.

    As for Los Angeles (I don’t know if he’s coming all the way out here anyhow), the crowd generally leans towards more slimming fare like Pinkberry and Menchie’s. With UCLA students there is the longstanding Diddy Riese tradition, an inexpensive yet quite good ice cream sandwich concoction. However, I’m not sure if they even make their own ice cream (gasp!). Fosselman’s is absolutely delicious, and has been around for nearly a century. It is consistently voted best ice cream in L.A. Other top-notch ice cream or gelato shops include: Gelato Bar (top notch quality, handmade, great flavors, Gail Silverton); Scoops (unusual, yet delicious fare- very granola-y); and Carmela Ice Cream (beautiful, organic, and fresh flavors). Finally, Mashti Malone’s is probably the weirdest and most wonderful of all LA ice cream joints, but you’ll have to find that out for yourself (lots of Middle Eastern flavors!).


    Scoops Ice Cream
    712 N Heliotrope Dr
    Los Angeles, CA 90029
    (323) 906-2649





  20. I’m not adding anything new here, but I definitely concur that a trip to Ohio is in order.

    Graeter’s is amazing — they still use the old French pot method to make all their ice cream, so it has a density you just can’t get from more mass-produced ice cream. The Blackberry Chip and Coconut Chip are my faves.

    Jeni’s (in Columbus) — here, the star is “flavor.” Jeni’s incredibly inventive flavors (like the Thai Chili – peanut butter ice cream with coconut milk and a dash of cayenne – and Chocolate Stout) will knock your socks off.


  21. In Chicago try:

    The Original Rainbow Cone
    9233 S. Western Avenue, in the Beverly neighborhood

    Rainbow is family owned and a neighborhood and city tradition. It is a great summer treat.

  22. You should go here when in Chicago….The Beatles stopped there when they came to Chicago! I went there and it was the bomb…very retro..

    Margie’s Candies

    Neighborhoods: Bucktown, Logan Square
    1960 N Western Ave
    (between Armitage Ave & Milwaukee Ave)
    Chicago, IL 60647


    (773) 384-1035

  23. Dolcezza in Washington DC is a must. All local ingredients are used and they produce the stuff on-site. Very creative and inventive flavors and a super cute shop.

  24. Massachusetts eats more ice cream per capita than any other state in the US! It is a must stop. A few of the best:

    Christina’s in Cambridge
    Farfars in Duxbury (Danish style)
    Kimball’s Farm
    JP Licks
    The Chilly Cow in Arlington (fromzen custard)
    Toscanini’s in Cambridge

  25. ASTOUNDINGLY GOOD ice cream: Bluebird Homemade Ice Cream and Tea Room in Seattle (by 12th St. and Pike St.) in Washington State. The proprietor, Josh, uses only the purest, locally sourced ingredients. After tasting his Stumptown Coffee ice cream, I won’t have any other. (Sad because I live 3000 miles away on the east coast of the USA, … Bluebird is on the west coast.) For this flavor, he uses the “Hairbender Blend” coffee beans from Stumptown Coffee Roasters, a micro-roaster a couple blocks away from Bluebird. Bluebird also has STOUT FLAVORED ICE CREAM using product from the Elysian Brewery Restaurant and microbrewery next door. Elysian has astoundingly good food and SEVERAL ooutrageously good brews on tap, that IMHO rival some of the memorable brews I’ve had in Europe. Bluebird is making Night Owl Pumpkin Ale ice cream today for Elyssian’s Fall Festival. Bluebird’s all-star line up also includes Chocolate Pudding Ice Cream, Snickerdoodle, Peanut Butter (best I’ve ever tasted!), vegan Coconut Chocolate Chip Mint, and Grapefruit Ginger Mint Sorbet. If you think about it, when you fly the great circle route, Seattle is really close to Ireland! Go for it!

  26. they have been mentioned but a touch more commentary:

    a) Humphrey Slocombe (SF)
    1 – secret breakfast is the killer flavor
    2 – try the iberico ham flavor if it’s in that day
    3 – every once in awhile, they have foie gras

    b) Bi-Rite
    1 – the ginger ice cream, hidden these days under the counter for some odd reason, is by far the best

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