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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 Responses to “What are the Best US Ice Cream Shops?”

  1. August 28th, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    David says:

    Hi Guys, a short list for the trip…
    Grom in New York
    Pitango Gelato ~ Washington, DC ~
    Dolcezza Gelato ~ Washington, DC ~
    Jennie’s ~ Ohio
    And last but not least O’Gelato in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

    Just a few to get you started. Keep spinnin~ Cheers~David Maple / Executive Gelato-ologist for O’Gelato

  2. August 28th, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Elizabeth says:

    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!

  3. August 28th, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Daily Spud says:

    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.

  4. August 28th, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    K says:
    Two locations in Brooklyn. Really fantastic.

  5. August 28th, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Séamus says:

    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..

  6. August 28th, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    debbiemet says:

    The Mexican home made ice cream shop, La Michoacana, at
    231 E. State Street, Kennett Square, PA.

    Their avocado ice cream is especially fab, but it’s all wonderful.

  7. August 28th, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Jen says:

    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.

  8. August 28th, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Jen says:

    Oops–forgot the Web site!

  9. August 28th, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Nancy says:

    Hoffman’s Ice Cream in Spring Lake, NJ (or Point Pleasant, NJ). Next town over (Belmar, NJ) has Strollo’s. Excellent italian ice. Also, very nice area to visit since both stores are in beach towns.

    Finally, Graeter’s, which has many midwest (originates out of Ohio) and southern locations. Graeter’s is famous and I believe they ship, as well.

    Hope he has fun!

  10. August 28th, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    Sandra says:

    A bit further afield – but should you ever decide to do a global tour of ice cream parlours i would recommend

    Very sweet and custardy, ridiculously large portions and possibly the rudest staff in the entire world. But quite delicious and an oasis of peace and normality in the madness of Kingston.

  11. August 28th, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    ren says:

    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.

  12. August 28th, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    Kristen says:

    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.

  13. August 28th, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    KristaM says:

    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 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.

  14. August 28th, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    ethan says:

    The Bent Spoon in Princeton, NJ. Interesting, seasonal flavors using local ingredients.

  15. August 28th, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    Carl Haynes says:

    Bay area
    Agree on Humphry Slocombe:

    also have not tried Bi-Rite but it does get raves

    also in berkeley:


  16. August 28th, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    Kenmare Derek says:

    If you’re in New York, you must check out Laboratorio Del Gelato in Nolita.

  17. August 28th, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    Jay says:

    Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, but try to visit when it’s not overrun by tourists. :-)

    In SF, Bombay Ice Cream is unique:

    I might not travel specifically to NC for it, but my local favorite is Goodberry’s Custard. They use all natural ingredients (important to me), and it’s really yummy:

  18. August 29th, 2009 at 12:07 am

    Elizabeth says:

    The Grand Ole Creamery in St. Paul, MN is amazing!

  19. August 29th, 2009 at 1:27 am

    Pam says:

    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

  20. August 29th, 2009 at 3:45 am

    Jinxie says:

    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. [ ]

  21. August 29th, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    Kieran says:

    Wow, guys! That’s great. Thanks so much, and keep them coming!!!

  22. August 29th, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    scooponcones says:

    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, launching in Sept!

  23. August 29th, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    Ice Cream Forum says:

    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!

  24. August 30th, 2009 at 1:30 am

    Jodi says:

    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

  25. August 30th, 2009 at 2:36 am

    Bethany says:

    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.

  26. August 30th, 2009 at 4:33 am

    Phyllis says:

    Beth Marie’s Ice Cream Parlor, on the square in Denton, Texas. Not to be missed!

  27. August 30th, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Dan says:

    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?

  28. August 31st, 2009 at 3:09 am

    Gina says:

    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!

  29. August 31st, 2009 at 8:26 am

    Robert Fecher says:

    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.

  30. August 31st, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Kieran says:

    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.

  31. August 31st, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Spike says:

    I’m seconding a few of the boston people- Christina’s and Lizzy’s in Cambridge

  32. September 1st, 2009 at 7:54 am

    jen in SF says:

    Hi Kieran –
    Three Twins in SF (also in Napa & Santa Rafael) has been getting good press ( – I haven’t had a chance to stop by, but I can vouch for Bi-Rite & Humphry Slocombe.

  33. September 1st, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Christina Brosnan says:

    Coldstone because it is so inventive in the way they create their icecream concoctions right in front of you as if they were creating a masterpiece. Really cool stuff!

  34. September 1st, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Chelci says:

    If you make it all the way to Arizona, the Sugar Bowl is practically a landmark. It’s in the center of “Old Town” Scottsdale and has been serving sugary concoctions since 1958.

  35. September 1st, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Dave Z. says:

    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!

  36. September 2nd, 2009 at 5:30 am

    Nancy (n.o.e.) says:

    Have you seen this article in the New York Times about ice cream shops? (I’ve enjoyed churning up your recipes in lieu of being close enough to sample your ice cream myself)

  37. September 2nd, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Brid says:

    From todays New York times this might help –

  38. September 2nd, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Carol says:

    Why not try The Chinatown ice cream factory in NYC. Not too sure how the unusal flavours would go down in the Magic Kingdom.

    Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
    65 Bayard Street
    New York, NY 10013

  39. September 4th, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Alexandra says:

    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

  40. September 7th, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Wendy says:

    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.


  41. September 7th, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Mary King says:

    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.

  42. September 10th, 2009 at 6:34 am

    RoadsideDinerlover says:

    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

  43. September 10th, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    johnny says:

    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.

  44. September 12th, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Megan says:

    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

  45. October 10th, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    critter says:

    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!

  46. October 10th, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    Ice Cream Ireland » Blog Archive » O Brother, Where Art Thou? says:

    [...] time ago, I asked you, dear readers, for the best ice cream shops in the US. I have never received so many comments and suggestions, and I thank you for [...]

  47. October 10th, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    Shannon says:

    Amy’s in Austin

  48. October 15th, 2009 at 6:12 am

    ChuckEats says:

    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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Kieran Murphy is a director of Murphys Ice Cream living in Dingle, Co. Kerry, Ireland.

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Murphys Ice Cream has shops in Dingle, Killarney and Dublin 2 (Wicklow Street).