Indulging in a scoop (or two) of delicious ice cream is a delightful way to beat the summer heat or satisfy a sweet tooth year-round. At TravelAwaits, we asked our readers to nominate and vote for their favorite ice cream shops across the country as part of our annual Best Of Travel Awards, and the results are in! From the rich flavors of New Orleans to the tropical delights of Hawaii, here are the 14 best ice cream shops that made the cut.
1. The Creole Creamery (Winner)
New Orleans, Louisiana
Climbing up from number 7 on last year’s list to take home the title of Best Ice Cream Shop in the U.S. is The Creole Creamery! This small chain of ice cream parlors in New Orleans is known for its innovative flavors. With unique creations like Bananas Foster, King Cake, and Creole Cream Cheese, visitors can expect a taste of Louisiana’s culinary heritage in every bite.
2. Betty Rae’s Ice Cream
Kansas City, Missouri
From Joe’s KC BBQ & Burnt Ends to goat cheese and apricot, Betty Rae’s Ice Cream in Kansas City has gained a reputation for its eclectic and adventurous flavors. Just a short walk from the City Market, Betty Rae’s boasts a colorful outdoor mural and is a fixture in the River Market District, with another location in Waldo.
Popular flavors include lavender honey, s’mores, and crème brulee, but Betty Rae’s is also known for its “Ice Cream Sammies,” such as the Notorious PBC, which features peanut butter cookies and chocolate ice cream.
3. Lappert’s Hawaii
An island-chain ice cream café, Lappert’s Hawaii on Kauai offers a tropical paradise of flavors. Inspired by Hawaii’s vibrant culture, Lappert’s ice cream is made with premium ingredients and features exotic options like Kauai Pie, Kona Coffee, and macadamia nut. Enjoy a scoop while taking in the stunning tropical scenery.
4. Lick Honest Ice Creams
In Austin, Lick Honest Ice Creams crafts small-batch ice cream using locally sourced and sustainable ingredients. From classics like dark chocolate with olive oil and sea salt to unique creations like cilantro lime, their flavors reflect the spirit of the city’s diverse culinary scene.
5. Moomers Homemade Ice Cream
Traverse City, Michigan
A Traverse City staple, Moomers Homemade Ice Cream is a family-owned shop that is renowned for its rich and creamy treats. Using milk from their own dairy farm, they offer a wide variety of flavors — over 150 to be exact, 20 of which are available on any given day. Fun flavors include Cherries Moobilee, Mooberry, and Supermoo; order a flight to sample five of them. Their commitment to quality and tradition is evident in every scoop. Enjoy yours with a view of the cows grazing in the pasture next door.
6. Mitchell’s Ice Cream
San Francisco, California
Mitchell’s Ice Cream has been delighting Bay Area locals and visitors alike for 70 years. With a menu featuring Filipino-inspired flavors like ube, mango, and halo-halo, this family-owned establishment combines tradition and innovation to create unforgettable ice cream experiences.
7. The Pearl
La Crosse, Wisconsin
The scent of fresh, crisp waffle cones hot off the press hits you in the face as you walk into The Pearl. Located in downtown La Crosse, this charming ice cream parlor offers both classic and unique flavors. Their extensive menu caters to every palate, from classic chocolate and vanilla to seasonal delights like pumpkin pie and apple cider. More adventurous flavors include Mississippi Mud and Blue Moon — a Midwest favorite, this bright-blue-hued ice cream tastes like Fruit Loops.
Old-fashioned malts, sundaes, and soda drinks are nostalgic enough, but the attached candy shop offers homemade chocolates and candy from every era as well. There’s even a window where you can see the fudge being made by hand as you try not to drool all over the counter.
8. Applegate Farm
Montclair, New Jersey
Nestled on a historic farm 15 minutes from New York City, Applegate Farm in Montclair is an ice cream stand that has been serving delightful treats since 1848. With a focus on quality and tradition, their homemade ice cream flavors include frozen hot chocolate and the graham-cracker-flavored Graham Central Station. Pineapple, cookies and cream, dulce de leche, peanut butter, and butter pecan are all popular flavors. Enjoy a scoop in their beautiful outdoor seating area.
9. Mayday Ice Cream
St. Augustine, Florida
With locations throughout Florida, Mayday Ice Cream prides itself on offering unique, small-batch ice cream made from scratch. Classic flavors are inspired by local ingredients and regional favorites, such as Key lime pie. Seasonal offerings for this summer include the Big Top Cookie, which features frosted animal crackers in vanilla ice cream; blackberry Earl Grey (blackberries with bergamot and orange); and the fresh and boozy watermelon-flavored High Dive Melon. Each scoop at Mayday Ice Cream is a delightful taste of the Sunshine State, and their commitment to quality and creativity is evident in every creamy bite.
10. Roxy’s Ice Cream Social
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Known for its nostalgic vibes and delectable flavors, Roxy’s Ice Cream Social is a community favorite, with two Oklahoma City locations. From classics like mint chocolate chip and cookies and cream to inventive options like maple bacon and lemon poppyseed, their ice cream is made in house with love and attention to detail. Enjoy a root beer float made with cane sugar soda. Vegan options are available for those who don’t do dairy.
11. Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlor & Restaurant
Dania Beach, Florida
Located in Dania Beach between Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood, Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlor & Restaurant is a beloved destination that has been serving up smiles since 1956. Step into their whimsical parlor and indulge in their homemade ice cream flavors, including butter pecan, praline, and fudge ripple. For just $18.95 per person (minimum 4 people), you can try the Kitchen Sink Sundae, which features about a pound of your choice of ice cream, piled high with homemade whipped cream, bananas, mixed nuts, cherries, and a sparkler or two!
12. Boardwalk Waffles & Ice Cream
St. Louis, Missouri
Located in St. Louis and Maplewood, Boardwalk Waffles & Ice Cream offers a unique twist on the classic ice cream experience. Here, you can pair your favorite ice cream flavors with warm, freshly made Belgian-style waffles for the ultimate indulgence. Whether you choose traditional vanilla or opt for their specialty flavors like s’mores or matcha, the combination of waffles and ice cream is pure bliss. Speaking of bliss, the Maplewood location offers CBD-infused ice cream flavors and boozy milkshakes, too!
13. Blue Marble Ice Cream & Sorbet
Brooklyn, New York
Based in Brooklyn, Blue Marble Ice Cream is dedicated to crafting delicious, all-natural ice creams and sorbets using high-quality ingredients from organic farms and fair-trade purveyors. This shines through in the upscale ice cream parlor’s simple yet delectable selections, such as classic vanilla, fresh mint cocoa and cookies, and summertime strawberry. Non-dairy options, such as Brooklyn black-and-white cookie, are vegan-friendly.
In addition to sustainable practices, this woman-owned organic ice creamery is making the world a sweeter place by donating a percentage of sales to the New York City youth advocacy group, BroSis.
14. Penn State Berkey Creamery
University Park, Pennsylvania
Penn State Berkey Creamery holds the distinction of being one of the oldest university creameries in the U.S. Located in University Park, their ice cream has been a favorite among students and locals for generations. From the beloved bittersweet mint and peachy Paterno to seasonal flavors like pumpkin pie and eggnog, a visit to Berkey Creamery is a cherished tradition for ice cream enthusiasts.
In addition to more than 100 luscious ice cream flavors, the creamery also offers frozen yogurt, sherbert, and more. It is famous for its variety of cheese, but the store offers other dairy products such as milk and butter that are produced using the milk from campus cows.
Whether you find yourself in Louisiana, Hawaii, or any other corner of the country, these 14 ice cream shops offer a delightful array of flavors and experiences. From the innovative creations of The Creole Creamery in New Orleans to the timeless classics of Penn State Berkey Creamery in Pennsylvania, each shop on this list has something unique to offer. So, pack your spoons and embark on a delicious journey to these top ice cream destinations!
Read more from our 2023 Best Of Travel Awards.