The 9 Best Places To Eat Ice Cream In The US
Summer is the best excuse to eat ice cream in shameless volumes.
This year, you can mark the season with bicycle-churned scoops in L.A., cones filled with Thomas Jefferson’s recipe at Mount Rushmore, and a blindfolded tasting gamble in Vegas. Here are nine great places worthy of screaming for more ice cream this summer.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota
The Scoop: You know that Thomas Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence, but what you didn’t read in history books is that he also wrote the first known ice cream recipe in the country. Yes, Jefferson’s official handwritten recipe for the vanilla treat he served guests at Monticello during his presidency is actually kept in the Library of Congress. To make the ice cream, Pride Dairy carefully researched the ingredients, even using vanilla beans from Madagascar just as Jefferson did. The only difference between 2013’s scoops and those eaten in the 1800s is that today’s eggs are pasteurized.
Don’t Miss: Your chance to pose, ice cream in hand, with a poster that features Jefferson’s portrait and his handwritten recipe. Find “TJ’s Ice Cream” at the Memorial Team Ice Cream stand just inside the main entrance to the park’s dining room.
Velvet Ice Cream’s Ye Olde Mill, Utica, Ohio
Why Go: This Ohio ice cream maker is celebrating National Ice Cream Month with cheap treats and events on the farm.
The Scoop: A perennial favorite on America’s ice cream-factory circuit, Velvet Ice Cream is throwing a month-long party in honor of National Ice Cream Month and the company’s 99th birthday. Get 99-cent cones on July 6 and buy-one-get-one-free sundaes on July 15. Check out the events calendarfor the full lineup, which includes clowns, magicians, dog shows, and live music. Free public tours run on weekdays from May through October and let you sample ice cream as it comes off the line.
Don’t Miss: All the fun on this 20-acre property, which includes an authentic 1800s mill. After a treat in the old-fashioned ice cream parlor, visit the Milling Museum or the Ice Cream Museum. Kids love playing on the playground and feeding ducks in the pond.
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin
Why Go: On your way to the Wisconsin Dells or the North Woods, you can relish college life and campus-made ice cream on the Memorial Union‘s sunny terrace overlooking Lake Mendota.
The Scoop: Produced on campus with milk from UW-Madison’s dairy herd, Babcock Dairy Ice Cream(named after Stephen Moulton Babcock, a pivotal UW-Madison researcher in the department of Agricultural Chemistry) is sold in the student union and the Babcock Hall Dairy Store at student-budget prices. Indulging in it is a longtime tradition among visiting alumni. Tour the dairy plant and learn how the program turns out the treat that’s frequently voted the best ice cream in Madison byMadison Magazine.
Don’t Miss: Two other university creameries for tasty ice cream and visits with dairy cows. Watch ice cream being made through the UConn Dairy Bar‘s observation window. Choose from 100-plus flavors at Penn State’s Berkey Creamery or register for the renowned seven-day cow-to-cone Ice Cream Short Course, taken by the who’s who of ice cream makers in America.
Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium, Bar Harbor, Maine
Why Go: Where else but Maine can you get ice cream with real chunks of fresh lobster and claim bragging rights for eating lobster for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert?
The Scoop: In Bar Harbor, it’s a novelty to lick lobster ice cream as you stroll the public dock, watching lobstermen check traps. Initially, the unique variety was invented because Ben & Bill’swanted to prove to customers that they made their own ice cream. Then it took off. Now the butter-flavored ice cream with meat from a local lobster pound is one of the emporium’s best sellers.
Don’t Miss: More ways to love lobster. The 66th annual Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland runs July 31–August 4. Stop in at one of the state’s seasonal lobster shacks or get your fill of lobster rolls on the waterfront at Thurston’s Lobster Pound near Acadia National Park.
Shell Island, Panama City Beach, Florida
The Scoop: Local tour companies shuttle visitors to the pristine barrier island, popular for shell collecting, snorkeling, and dolphin spotting. But there aren’t any concession stands here. So on scorching afternoons, when you’re miles away from any store and you hear the tinkling ice cream boat’s music, you get as giddy as you did when you were a kid. It’s nirvana when Jim Purcell floats his boat right up to yours and pulls cold treats from his generator-chilled onboard freezers.
Don’t Miss: The boat’s Blue Bell Ice Cream treats, Screwballs, push-up pops, and other traditional ice cream-truck novelties on a stick.
Peddler’s Creamery, Los Angeles, California
Why Go: You can spin your own batch of artisan ice cream on the Schwinn bikes at Peddler’s Creamery, a new shop that just opened this spring in downtown L.A.
The Scoop: Leave it to Los Angeles to serve up artisan, organic ice cream (with nondairy flavors, too) that’s churned by pedal power and served in biodegradable cups or homemade vegan waffle cones. That’s green enough to make your triple scoop of salted caramel, cardamom, and Mexican chocolate taste guilt-free. More reason to indulge: Five percent of profits goes to social and environmental causes. Watch the turning gears make the ice cream or stay home and have your order delivered by bike.
Don’t Miss: The annual ice cream-eating challenge at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour in nearby Brea, California, on July 21, National Ice Cream Day. It’s a street festival with rides, games, prizes, and entertainment.
Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Trail, Maryland
Why Go: Farm-hopping for ice cream in Maryland takes you through gorgeous parts of the state, from the Chesapeake Bay to the Appalachian Mountains.
The Scoop: Stretching 290 miles, Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Trail connects eight dairy farms that are dishing out fresh scoops all summer. Travel the entire length and stamp your Ice Cream Trail Passport to get a free copy of the cookbook Dishing Up Maryland. Or, visit a few of the farms on a side trip after touring Baltimore’s museums or seeing the wild horses of Assateague Island. Along the trail, you can watch cows being milked in parlors, help bottle-feed baby calves, and sit on porches in the country air.
Don’t Miss: Geocaching fun. Use your GPS or smartphone to find the hidden geocache box at each farm and stamp your Geocache Ice Cream Trail Passport. At the end of your quest, mail in your completed passport and receive a special Pathtag coin.
Smugglers’ Notch Resort, Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont
Why Go: The Tuesday-afternoon Ice Cream Float at this family adventure resort combines two classic Vermont summertime experiences: canoeing in the waterways of the Green Mountains and eating Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
The Scoop: On Smugglers’ Notch Resort‘s two-hour Ice Cream Float trip, families follow a guide down the meandering Lamoille River as it passes through a scenic valley with rolling farmland. You’ll stop en route for a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream treat to be enjoyed riverside. The excursion is $85 per canoe, each of which holds two adults and up to two kids ages 12 and under. Need more Ben & Jerry’s? Stop in at the resort’s Scoop Shop or head to the Ben & Jerry’s factory in nearby Waterbury for a tour and samples.
Don’t Miss: The National Ice Cream Day celebration on July 21 at the historic Billings Farm & Museum in Woodstock, Vermont. Make and sample ice cream, take a horse-drawn wagon ride, and play 19th-century games.
Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Nevada
Why Go: Beat the desert’s summer heat with an ice cream and sorbet tasting game at Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood. If you’re one of the very few who can guess all 16 flavors blindfolded, the $18 sampling platter is free.
The Scoop: One of Sin City’s unique indulgences, this dessert-menu favorite shows up at your table in 16 little cups. You record your guesses on a sheet of paper with 16 circles in the same layout as the ice cream. Chef Rick gives you one (vanilla bean), but the other constantly changing flavors are so tricky you’ll need a team of seasoned eaters with spoons in order to beat the house. The game of chance sparks lively debate and hilarious reactions, especially when a flavor like garlic or pico de gallo hits your taste buds.
Don’t Miss: SnoBar‘s alcohol-infused ice cream, served at some of Vegas’ sexiest pools, including the Marquee Dayclub at The Cosmopolitan.
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