There’s nothing better than walking into your local ice cream shop and getting a big scoop of your favorite flavor. What makes for a great ice cream shop? Hand-dipped housemade ice cream in a variety of flavors and freshly made cones. It doesn’t hurt if they have other delicious sweet treats, like milkshakes, hot fudge, and pastries, too!
What makes for the best small-town ice cream shop? Location, location, location. Many of these ice cream shops can be found in some of the best and friendliest small towns.
TravelAwaits readers voted in our Best of Travel Awards to help us determine everything from the best beaches to the best national parks. Our readers have spoken. Here are best small-town ice cream shops in the United States.
Winner: Bellvale Farms Creamery
Warwick, New York
It’s no surprise that Bellvale Farms Creamery licked the competition. The dairy farm has one of the best-reviewed ice cream parlors in the country. Plus, it’s located in Warwick, New York, one of the friendliest small towns in the U.S. Postcard-cute, this creamery also features fabulous views from atop Mount Peter.
This Hudson Valley ice cream shop makes its waffle cones fresh daily and fills them with homemade ice cream. Fifty different flavors are available, as well as sundaes, ice cream cakes, ice cream pies, and quarts to take home. Try the Bellvale Bog, a dark chocolate ice cream with brownies and a fudge swirl.
Bellvale Farms Creamery is open seasonally from April 1 to October 30.
Finalist: Dippity Do Dahs Homemade Ice Cream
Corning, New York
Dippity Do Dahs Homemade Ice Cream is located in Corning, New York, in the Finger Lakes region. One of the best small towns, Corning is known for the Corning Museum of Glass (yes, it’s where Corningware comes from!). This colorful ice cream shop is one of the 100-plus shops, galleries, and storefronts in the five-block Gaffer District.
Salted caramel is the most popular of Dippity Do Dahs’ 30 delicious homemade flavors. Waffle cones are made fresh, plus there’s a soft-serve machine and tasty milkshakes, too! The ice cream shop also has vegan options, non-dairy sorbets (including wine sorbets!), rotating beer flavors, and no-sugar-added flavors, as well as vanilla yogurt.
Finalist: Kapaws Iskreme
Fans of Whidbey Island’s Coupeville were very active in our 2021 Best of Travel Awards. The town was named one of the Best Small Towns as well as one of the Friendliest Small Towns In The U.S. It’s no wonder, then, that the town’s historic ice cream parlor, Kapaws Iskreme, is a finalist for Best Small-Town Ice Cream Shop.
Filled with seaside charm and 100-year-old buildings, this waterfront village is Washington state’s second-oldest community. In fact, the historic building that houses Kapaws Iskreme was the birthplace of Wet Whisker, which eventually became Seattle’s Best Coffee.
Located on Front Street amongst shops, restaurants, and the Island County Museum, Kapaws Iskreme is one of the busiest spots in Coupeville Wharf. Customers line up for the ice cream parlor’s hand-dipped ice cream in homemade waffle cones, as well as shakes and malts.
Kapaws is open seasonally from March through December.
Covered Bridge Creamery
Long Grove, Illinois
Covered Bridge Creamery is located in Historic Downtown Long Grove. Illinois’ first historic district is full of charming shops, like High Tea with Gerri. One of the state’s best hidden gems, the small town of Long Grove sits about an hour away from Chicago.
Covered Bridge Creamery scoops Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream, which is made in Madison, Wisconsin. It also serves Metric coffee and organic teas and offers a build-your-own sundae bar for special events!
Downeast Ice Cream Factory
Boothbay Harbor, Maine
Boothbay Harbor folks were also very active in our 2021 Best of Travel Awards. The charming town was named a finalist for Best Small Town as well as one of the Friendliest Small Towns. Now, Boothbay Harbor’s Downeast Ice Cream Factory has been named one of the Best Small-Town Ice Cream Shops.
This unique, old-fashioned ice cream factory has been making hard, creamy ice cream and homemade hot fudge for more than 40 years. Choose from more than 65 flavors, from apple pie to Whoopie pie! Downeast Ice Cream Factory also offers various kinds of low-fat frozen yogurt, sherbet, sugar-free ice cream, and vegan sorbet.
Customers from all over the world line up at both area locations for an unforgettable scoop. Visit the parlor at Pier 1, or stop by its second location at Meadow Mall, where you can see how it’s all made!
Dagney’s Ice Cream
Salina makes for a great pit stop on any foodie’s road trip. After a few sliders from The Cozy Inn, a local greasy spoon, head over to the corner of Iron and Sante Fe in downtown Salina for dessert at Dagney’s Ice Cream.
Fun, freshly made flavors include Fruity Pebble, Lavender Honey, and Speculoos. There are also plenty of non-dairy options.
Kone Kompany carries Dreyer’s ice cream, but we have a feeling this family-owned shop won votes for its other delicious sweet treats, too. Sip on a specialty milkshake, or take home some homemade fudge and roasted Bavarian nuts. Glacial Swirl fudge marries mint and milk chocolate. Cinnamon-glazed pecans, almonds, and cashews make for tasty souvenirs.
La Conner Ice Cream Tower
La Conner, Washington
An adorable small town in the heart of the Skagit Valley, La Conner is as beautiful as it is historic. This quaint fishing village also got a lot of attention in our Best of Travel Awards, appearing on both the Best U.S. Small Towns and Friendliest Small Towns lists.
La Conner Ice Cream Tower serves ice cream, milkshakes, Hawaiian shaved ice, espresso drinks, and more. In addition to frozen treats, the shop sells fun gifts, candy, and flavored popcorn. Take home a themed ice cream box, like the Astronaut Ice Cream Box or Deluxe Sundae Ice Cream Box.
Salty & Sweet
A charming small town, Boerne is nestled in the Texas Hill Country just north of San Antonio. Unique shops, restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, and wineries line the lovely German town’s Main Street. Run by the Cleary family, Salty & Sweet sits among the shops, just across from Boerne’s Main Plaza on the Historic Mile.
Salty & Sweet ice cream is made fresh in-house without added sugars, dyes, or peanuts. The shop’s signature flavor is avocado, because… Texas. They also offer a carefully curated selection of hard-to-find brands of gourmet root beers that make for excellent root beer floats.
The shop is so named because, in addition to all-natural ice creams, cookies, and bulk candy, it carries housemade Philly-style pretzels and fresh popcorn, as well as seasonal goodies. Savory and sweet popcorn flavors include caramel, kettle, vanilla, and Chicago. Golden on the outside and fluffy on the inside, the soft pretzels are served with dipping sauces like raspberry chipotle.
Snow Goose Produce
Mount Vernon, Washington
Not to be confused with George Washington’s Mount Vernon, this Mount Vernon is in the state of Washington. This small town plays host to one of the best tulip festivals in the U.S., the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.
Located on Fir Island in the Skagit Valley, Snow Goose Produce is a seasonal, family-run fresh food market that’s famous for its “immodest ice cream cones.” Made with all-whole, all-real ingredients, the shop’s specialty ice cream comes from Lopez Island Creamery. Most of the other 48 flavors are sourced locally from Cascade Glacier in Eugene, Oregon.
Visitors come from far and wide for a generous scoop piled atop a handmade waffle cone. In addition to ice cream and non-dairy options, this country market peddles local produce and fare, including artisan cheeses, baked bread, wine, and seafood.
Sweet Savannah’s Of The Florida Keys
There’s plenty to see and do in the Florida Keys, and stopping for a sweet treat from Sweet Savannah’s of the Florida Keys in Marathon is a must. Enjoy the locally made, small-batch ice cream sandwiched between cookies, atop warm brownies, in a cookie bowl, in a cone, as a sundae, or blended into a milkshake or malt. Key lime would probably be an appropriate flavor selection.
Speaking of which, this bakeshop and ice cream café boasts award-winning Key lime pie and even has a chocolate-covered version! In addition to ice cream and pie, Sweet Savannah’s of the Florida Keys has cupcakes, fresh-baked bread, and cheesecake. There’s even a gift shop!
The Udder Guys
What a coincidence — Waterbury also made our list of Best Small Towns. New England is known for cider donuts and authentic maple syrup, but Waterbury is known for ice cream. You see, this hidden gem is home to the first Ben & Jerry’s factory. So The Udder Guys must have been utterly confident to open alongside these dairy Goliaths.
This seasonal ice cream tricycle is the only place you can find Adirondack Creamery’s all-natural ice cream in Central Vermont. The small family-owned creamery doesn’t use any thickeners, stabilizers, emulsifiers, or artificial flavors, ingredients, or colors. As many ingredients as possible are sourced locally, including milk, which comes from area family farms.
Rotating flavors include Whiteface Mint Chip, Earl’s Chocolate Peanut Butter, Banana Chip, Barkeater (almond toffee), Syrian Date & Walnut, and Kulfi-Pistachio Cardamom. Open seasonally from Memorial Day to Labor Day, you can find the treat-filled tricycle at The Reservoir on Main Street or at Waterbury Center every weekend, weather permitting. And yes, they do private events!
Historic Globe, Arizona, just so happens to be one of TravelAwaits’ Best U.S. Small Towns as well. Zona Ice serves up soft scooped ice cream in delicious cones as well as Hawaiian shaved ice in the Globe-Miami area.
Bonus: Cali Cream Homemade Ice Cream
With more than 60,000 residents, Encinitas is no small town, but that didn’t stop our readers from voting the beach city’s Cali Cream Homemade Ice Cream one of the best small-town ice cream shops! Located off the 101, this locally owned and operated shop also has a downtown San Diego location in the Gaslamp Quarter.
From Almond Joy and banana cream pie to blueberry cobbler and confetti cake, more than 55 flavors are offered daily. Plus, there are plenty of dairy-free/vegan options. A chocolate-dipped cake cone with sprinkles makes your cone Instagram-worthy. Other ice cream treats include a banana split, a hot fudge sundae (available on a brownie or in a waffle bowl), and ice cream sandwiches. Sip on shakes, malts, or a root beer float. The Thick Scoop Dogg Shake is a milkshake with an extra scoop of ice cream!