Budget Travel

20 Yummiest Ice Cream Shops in America

The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory is a NYC institution with its two locations—one in the shadows of the Brooklyn Bridge on the corner of Old Fulton and Water Street, the other at Commercial Street and Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint.

A few scoops of vanilla chocolate chunk, chocolate chocolate chunk, butter pecan, coffee, strawberry, or peaches & cream at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory are the perfect reward after a hike across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Just steps from the water, and from the island’s incredibly engaging and exciting whaling museum, The Juice Bar (508/228-5799) in Nantucket, Mass., serves up its delicious signature Crantucket ice cream with dark chocolate and dried cranberries.

The Juice Bar also makes its own awesome waffle cones and provides friendly service even on the busiest summer days.

What's better than a long walk on the beach during a gorgeous southern California sunset? Ending up with a tasty treat from Soda Jerks on Santa Monica Pier.

Soda Jerks, a throwback-themed ice cream parlor in the historic Carousel Building on Santa Monica Pier, serves up handmade sundaes, shakes, malts, and ice cream sodas from its full-service soda fountain as well as Fosselman ice cream, a local favorite since 1919.

A Door County legend for the last 109 years, Wilson's Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor in Ephraim, Wisc., is definitely worth visiting the next time you're in the area.

Order Wilson's classics like a banana split, or take on the Ephraim Special, a sweet concoction made of three scoops of French vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, hot fudge, cherries, and pecans.

Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream, with shops and trucks in New York and Los Angeles, goes above and beyond the usual chocolate and vanilla, with flavors like Earl Grey and Sicilian pistachio.

Van Leeuwen is also a pioneer in serving a variety of vegan “ice cream” that is so good that some people order it just for the great taste.

Leopold's Ice Cream, a Savannah staple ince 1919, was founded by three brothers who had come to the U.S. from Greece. Singer-songwriter Johnny Mercer, who lived nearby, is said to have been a frequent customer—rumor is he wanted to write a song based on Leopold's signature flavor at the time, Tutti Frutti, but singer Little Richard, also from Georgia, beat him to it!

With more than 45 flavors of ice cream and fountain creations like old fashioned sodas, floats, and milk shakes, Leopold's Ice Cream is the tastiest place to cool down in sunny Savannah.

If you're ever in the Portland area, or anywhere near N. Larchmont Blvd. in L.A., stop by Salt & Straw. You'll find fun flavors like coconut with Petunia's salted caramel bars, pear & blue cheese, strawberry honey balsamic with black pepper, honey lavender, cinnamon snickerdoodle, and chocolage gooey brownie in the Portland shops, and options like avacado & strawberry sherbert and sea salt with caramel ribbons in the L.A. outpost.

Sign up for Salt & Straw's seasonal pints club to receive five pints of unique and locally sourced seasonal flavors straight to your door for $65 a month.

The next time you're visiting the New York City area, take a 30-minute train ride across the Hudson to Jersey City, an emerging foodie destination in its own right. Your first stop: Milk Sugar Love.

Milk Sugar Love's founder and pastry chef Emma Taylor uses organic milk, cream, and other locally sourced products from New Jersey to create delicious flavors like lemon olive oil, salted caramel, honey corncake, Stumptown Coffee, and caramel flan, the perfect cure for a hot summer day.

CoolHaus Trucks in Los Angeles, New York City, and Dallas, offer amazing combos like the Fast Food (vanilla ice cream, chocolate malt balls, French fry crisps).

CoolHaus creates a unique array of delicious ice cream sandiwches. This summer, it's serving up a treat called the Netflix (an ice cream sandwich that includes white-cheddar popcorn-infused base and Doritos), not to mention incredible balsamic fig & mascarpone ice cream.

Talk about a blast from the past. Stop by Doumar's, one of our favorite hidden gems in Norfolk, Va., where you can watch Albert Doumar make ice cream cones on the family's original four iron waffle machine, created in 1904.

Doumar's is also a teriffic diner, serving up North Carolina-style BBQ at its old fashioned counter or curbside if you're in a hurry. The best part: prices here are also retro-style. Where else can you find a chocolate, hot fudge, strawberry, pineapple sundae for $2.90 and ice cream floats for $3.50?

The Boardwalk, in Beach Haven, on Long Beach Island, New Jersey, is steps away from the water and offers amazing fresh traditional flavors and ice cream sandwiches made with Pop Tarts.

The Boardwalk is also home to the one-of-a-kind Blotation Device, a beach bucket filled with 32 scoops, crumbled baked goods, and more toppings than you can imagine.

Located in Kailua on Oahu's east coast, Island Snow is known for being the spot where President Obama goes to get his fix for shave ice, a deliciously sweet snow cone-like treat popular throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Choose three delicious flavors like mango, pineapple, coconut, lilikoi, and my personal favorite, li hing mui, among a huge list of others, and enjoy your snack down the street on beautiful Kailua Beach.

Another local favorite on Oahu is Matsumoto's Shave Ice, located along the North Shore in Haleiwa. What started in 1951 as M. Matsumoto Grocery Store is now one of the most well-known shave ice shops in the islands, and with prices under $3 for a large shave ice and your choice of three out of 40 different fruity flavors—lychee, pickled mango, papaya, guava, and watermelon among others—we can see why!

Big Gay Ice Cream shops and trucks in New York City have redefined what ice cream can and should be, introducing high quality and originality to the soft-serve universe.

Big Gay Ice Cream's recipes, like the Bea Arthur (vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche, and crushed ‘nilla wafers) and ginger-curry shakes, are creative and mind-bogglingly delicious.

Located in Beacon, part of New York State's beautiful Hudson Valley, Zora Dora's Micro Batch Ice Cream & Paletas is definitely worth visiting. Founded by culinary school graduate Steven Astorino, the shop sells a wide variety of yummy frozen treats including paletas, Mexican popsicles made from fresh fruit.

After a long day of sightseeing at Zion National Park, a visit to the Springdale Candy Company is exactly what you need. Located just down the road along Zion Park Blvd. in Springdale, you'll find an old fashioned ice cream parlor that also makes gourmet chocolates and other confections like fudge, peppermint bark, salted caramels, vanilla caramels, peanut brittle, and English Toffee, guaranteed to satisfy every sweet tooth on your trip. For a real treat, try their homemade cookies and cream ice cream.

Doesn't a giant ice cream cone sound great right about now? Stop by Braum's, a legendary ice cream shop found throughout the Midwest in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri. Try deliciously decadent flavors like banana pecan, amaretto peach Charlotte (with tiny chunks of lady finger cookies), French egg nog, peppermint chocolate chip, caramel cookie dough, chocolate frosted cupcake, and snickerdoodle.

It's all about the sauce at Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream. Slather your sundae in salty caramel, extra-bitter hot fudge, or honey butterscotch, or try unique flavors like brown butter almond brittle and wildberry lavender.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream has locations around the country in Columbus, Cleveland, Nashville, Chicago, Atlanta, Charleston, St. Louis, and L.A.

Ample Hills Creamery opened in Brooklyn in 2011 and quickly became a local sensation. The shop lets you watch the ice cream being made (stoking your curiosity and hunger for more!) through a window.

You must try Ample Hills’ fun flavors like Ooey Gooey Butter Cake and Snap, Mallow, Pop.

Temperatures at Mount Rushmore National Memorial often creep into the 80s and 90s during the height of summer. Luckily, there's a unique ice cream break right nearby...

You can taste Thomas Jefferson's rich, sweet ice cream recipe—created with the same type of vanilla beans our third president would have used—at Carvers Café in Mt. Rushmore National Memorial. It turns out Jefferson not only drafted the Declaration of Independence, but is also credited with being the first American to jot down the recipe for ice cream, which he is said to have encountered during his time in France, and bringing it back to America, often serving it to guests in Washington D.C.

Rocky road! Mint chocolate chip! Cookies and cream! From the beaches of New England to the mountains of Hawaii, nothing says "summer" quite like a heaping scoop of ice cream. Here, some of our favorite places to get your frozen fix. And you won't believe the wacky flavors they're serving in Portland.

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