You scream. I scream. We all scream… for Nebraska ice cream! The Cornhusker State celebrates its love for ice cream year-round with amazing homemade combinations. From Omaha to the Wyoming border, you’ll find some of the best ice cream parlors and stands in the country.
With almost every town across the state having a mom-and-pop ice cream shop, it’s a fun summer treat to get one and pull off the road and enjoy a cone, malt, or sundae.
Here’s a baker’s dozen of some of the best and most unique places to enjoy ice cream in Nebraska.
1. Ted and Wally’s, Omaha
Have you ever tried squid ink ice cream? Ted and Wally’s can hook you up with it. In fact, the old market-based ice cream parlor sent a couple of pints to the Live with Kelly and Ryan show a few years ago after producers learned about the delicacy. The store, which is located in a former gasoline station, creates more than 3,000 flavors. Churning out ice cream daily in its century-old ice cream maker, customers enjoy daily specials and old favorites. From waffle cones to sundaes and shakes, it’s challenging to find any better homemade ice cream treats than at Ted and Wally’s. As you explore Omaha, you may want to visit Ted and Wally’s second location, in the Benson neighborhood, which kept the tradition of being located in a converted gas station.
2. Frosty Drive-in, Valentine
Take a drive back to the 1950s with a visit to Frosty Drive-in. With carhops taking and delivering your order, men may want to grease their hair back and wear their best white T-shirt and jeans while women sport a ponytail, sweater and their favorite poodle skirt while hanging out with high school buddies. With a menu featuring burgers, fries, and even breakfast, you may want to order dessert first with an old-fashioned shake, cone, float, or banana split. Afterward, head to the Valentine heart downtown for a selfie.
Pro Tip: The Frosty Drive-in only accepts cash, so you’ll want to plan accordingly.
3. The Potter Sundry, Potter
The Potter Sundry celebrates ice cream with its own invention of the Tin Roof Sundae, a delectable dish of vanilla and chocolate ice cream in a glass dish topped with chocolate and marshmallow sauce with nuts sprinkled on top. Believed to have been named for the 121-year-old business’ tin ceiling, the Tin Roof Sundae has been recognized as one of the best frozen treats in the country. The Potter Sundry also offers other frozen treats at its soda fountain. You can enjoy some of the shop’s amazing breakfast and lunch items before you indulge your sweet tooth.
4. Graley’s Creamery And Confections, Papillion
Located in downtown Papillion, Graley’s Creamery and Confections invites customers to take a trip down memory lane as you enjoy a homemade ice cream treat. Resembling an old-fashioned soda fountain, the Sarpy County parlor offers ice cream bowls, sundaes, and shakes. You can even order a float or phosphate with your favorite flavorings. Graley’s, a combination of the owners’ children’s names (how many of us have done that with our own kids?), also offers a coffee menu.
5. Cody Park Rides And Concessions, North Platte
A visit to Cody Park offers a unique experience, with a train park, carousel rides, a miniature zoo, playgrounds, and ballfields. A monument to Buffalo Bill Cody greets visitors at the entrance to the park. While there, check out the ice cream stand at Cody Park Rides and Concessions. With rotating flavors, such as pineapple, blackberry, and toffee, you can enjoy a cone or sundae. Of course, it offers the basic vanilla, chocolate, and vanilla/chocolate twist. The ice cream stand is a perfect way to accent your visit to the park.
Pro Tip: While in North Platte, visit some of the historical and pop culture attractions, such as the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historic Site and Fort Cody Trading Post.
6. River House Cafe, Plattsmouth
Any place with a soda fountain has to have great ice cream, right? That’s the case at River House Cafe. With ice cream cones, sundaes, and floats, you may find yourself on a nostalgic tour of your childhood. After enjoying your ice cream visit, check out Plattsmouth’s quaint downtown, with boutiques, shops, and restaurants calling century-old buildings home.
7. Dick’s Zesto, Fremont
A teenage hangout during my youth, Zesto has always held an emotional spot in my heart. I remember spending lots of time there while cruising around town with friends. I still enjoy grabbing a thick shake or malt there, while the float is also tantalizing. A summertime favorite, you can order a variety of ice cream cones, sundaes, and shakes or malts, along with a banana split or float at Dick’s Zesto. With a menu featuring drive-in food, a footlong chili dog is a delicious complement to any ice cream treat. Listen to classic rock-and-roll music at the outdoor stand as you enjoy a treat sitting at one of its picnic tables or at your vehicle.
Pro Tip: Dick’s Zesto is open seasonally, from spring until late October.
8. Cheri O’s, Ashland
Ashland offers one of the most-scenic downtown areas in Nebraska. Cheri O’s adds its own beauty with amazing ice cream goodies. Serving Goodrich ice cream (an Omaha favorite), Cheri O’s serves hand-scooped dishes, such as sundaes, floats, and old-fashioned sodas. Of course, you can also enjoy your favorite ice cream in a cone. Cheri O’s offers a breakfast and lunch menu, as well as a variety of coffee drinks.
Pro tip: Bring cash, as Cheri O’s charges an additional fee for using credit or debit cards.
9. Ivanna Cone, Lincoln
With the colorful look of a malt shop from the 1950s, Ivanna Cone features an ever-changing menu of unique flavors of ice cream. With handmade treats fresh from its vintage ice cream maker, Ivanna Cone offers a variety of ice cream cups, cones — including the giant waffle cone — shakes, sundaes, and more. A trip to Ivanna Cone is a must when visiting Lincoln’s Historic Haymarket District.
Pro Tip: Located a few steps from Ivanna Cone, visit Licorice International, where you can find candy from around the world, including Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
10. Springfield Drug, Springfield
Home to the Sarpy County Fair, Springfield may be best-known as the home of an old-fashioned soda fountain. Springfield Drug, located inside a former bank building, added the soda fountain a few years after opening in 1977. You can enjoy a hand-scooped ice cream treat, such as a float, shake, or sundae. Sit at the counter or enjoy your treat at a table. Afterwards, explore the antiques in the pharmacy, and pose for a selfie with Homer and the other Simpsons (get the Springfield connection to the animated series?).
11. Dairy Chef, Elkhorn
With weekly flavor specials, such as mango and orange, a trip to Dairy Chef features some of the best ice cream in the state. You know a place is popular when people are willing to stand in line during summer’s hot temperatures to order and try its delicious soft serve ice cream. In addition to sundaes, floats, and banana splits, Dairy Chef offers a lunch and dinner menu with hand-pattied burgers, a local favorite.
12. Coneflower Creamery, Omaha
Taking its name from Nebraska’s wildflowers, Coneflower Creamery prides itself on using locally sourced ingredients to create its nationally-renowned ice cream. Whether it’s a waffle cone or sundae, Coneflower Creamery’s ice cream is popular among locals and visitors alike. With an ever-evolving menu, you can visit weekly and try something new each time. While it maintains a few standards, such as vanilla bean and dark chocolate, the team enjoys experimenting with new flavors. Coneflower proudly brought back an Omaha original when it started offering butter brickle ice cream. Invented more than 100 years ago at the nearby Blackstone Hotel, Coneflower’s classic treat is featured at the Cottonwood Hotel, a new hotel in the converted Blackstone building. Situated in a small building, you’ll want to take your ice cream to go and enjoy it while strolling around the Blackstone entertainment district.
13. UNL Dairy Store, Lincoln
Located on the east campus at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the UNL Dairy Store features handmade ice cream, as well as fresh cheese and meat. Operated by students, the college dairy offers handmade ice cream served in cones or dishes, as well as shakes, sundaes (try the brownie sundae), and root beer floats. The Husker Blitz (of course, there needs to be a treat named after the school’s athletic teams), which features vanilla ice cream blended with candy toppings.
Pro Tip: While in Lincoln, you may want to check out some of the impressive museums on and near campus.
A visit to Nebraska affords visitors a unique opportunity to experience a variety of recreational activities: