best ice cream in every state
Oddfellows | Cole Saladino/Thrillist
Oddfellows | Cole Saladino/Thrillist
Food & Drink

The Best Ice Cream Shop in Every State

Discerning the absolute best ice cream in a given state is no easy task, because amazing ice cream can turn up literally anywhere. It could come from a highfalutin pastry chef with an impressive pedigree who’s taking ice cream to daring new places. It could come from a humble dairy farm where you can eat your sundae while staring down the cows who made it possible. It could come from a small town where the same family’s been making ice cream the same way for generations.

For these reasons there was no simple one-size-fits-all criteria for earning the top spot. We took into account creativity, but not at the expense of taste. We accounted for the (often strident) opinions of friends, colleagues, and ice cream fans spread all over the country. And size did matter -- while small regional chains weren’t expressly verboten, we tended to favor the little guy. We think the results will put you within shouting distance of a fantastic ice cream experience no matter where you are in the country. Well, maybe not Alaska. Alaska’s pretty big.


Cammie's Old Dutch Ice Cream


This Mobile staple has been in the capable hands of Cammie Wayne since 1998, though the location's been giving Alabamans their dairy fix since 1956 (fun fact: Wayne worked in the shop in her teens). Since she started running the place the legion of admirers has only increased, thanks to 47 rotating flavors like the can’t-miss Creole praline and the red velvet cake (in which each batch is blended with... an entire damn red velvet cake). If you’re extra hungry, the Meal in One (a five-scoop malted milkshake) still clocks in at less than five bucks. -- Matt Lynch, senior food editor


Hot Licks


Hot Licks might seem like a funny name for a place that... serves ice cream... in Alaska, but it’s into its fourth decade of giving Alaskans their ice cream fix in during those precious few months when said ice cream feels like a reasonable decision (they’re open May-August). But during that window you can hook yourself up with a scoop of their Aurora Borealis (made with hand-picked Alaskan blueberries and bush cranberries) or the coffee made with freshly roasted North Pole Coffee beans, take a seat on a picnic table outside the shop, and know that all is right in the world for a few hot minutes. -- ML




Arizona summer mandates a substantial ice cream supply at the ready (yeah, yeah “dry heat,” etc. etc., it’s hot OK?), and Churn’s been obliging in Phoenix since 2011, serving up small-batch creations like oatmeal cookie dough and goat cheese honey pistachio. But the innovation doesn’t stop there. Salty-sweet fans will enjoy the opportunity to drop their scoop in a pretzel cone, while sweet-sweet fans can opt for cookie sandwiches made on the spot with homemade cookies. For the kids and the adults reliving their childhoods, they also offer throwback candy (think Big League Chew and Abba-Zaba bars) and old-timey toys like yo-yos and those little army guys. -- ML


Loblolly Creamery

Little Rock

Technically Loblolly’s brick-and-mortar operation is a store within a store, as the hyper-local Arkansas creamery runs an old-fashioned soda fountain out of the Green Corner Store (though their wares are also well-distributed among other Little Rock restaurants and specialty stores). The soda fountain is worth an in-person visit though, because it provides you the opportunity to pair some of their outstanding ice cream (honey green tea, orange creme fraiche) with their also-outstanding house-made syrups for an ice cream soda that will change everything. Oh, also, they sell Little Rocky Road, because, how could you not? -- ML

Jeff Miller/Thrillist




Yeah, it’s named after a fancy French technique for forming ice cream and other foodstuffs into perfect little oblong shapes, but we’re pretty certain that Parisian shops aren’t straight-up dunking ice cream bars in Fruity Pebbles, serving up boozy popsicles and homemade push-ups, or applying their churning skills into heavenly concoctions like root beer float or horchata. This is a place ice cream sandwiches come between funnel cakes instead of cookies, after all. And sure, there’s a merlot ice cream (tres Fronch!), but this place also specializes in turning beers like Cigar City’s Jai Alai into ice cream that still packs ABV. And it comes in a scoop shape, not a quenelle. -- Andy Kryza, senior editor


Little Man Ice Cream


Look, we’re suckers for anything served out of a giant version of its core ingredient, but it’s not just the fact that Little Man’s housed in a gigantic old milk bottle that has us excited. It’s also not the fact that the Scoop for Scoop program matches each order with its equivalent in rice in beans for those in need around the world, though that’s also great! But this place could serve scoops out of an outhouse and we’d still be stoked about flavors like Fluffernutter, creamsicle, and banana pudding, plus ample gelato and sorbet options. Maybe not as stoked, but still pretty stoked. Given the typical lines, Coloradans seem to be stoked as well. -- AK


Ferris Acres Creamery


Though the creamery operation only started running in 2003, the Ferris family can trace its lineage in Newtown back to 1703, and has occupied this farmstead since 1894. But where were we... oh yeah, ice cream! Today three generations of the family are involved in one capacity or another in the vitally important work of delivering flavors like the s’mores-style campfire and PB-banana Elvis’ Dream to an increasingly ice cream hungry local following. And for any Connecticut residents clamoring about the omission of Oxford’s Rich Farm, there’s nothing wrong with the ice cream, but their recent franchise opening in SoCal means you’re now sharing them with the West Coast, which just isn’t the same. -- ML


Woodside Farm Creamery


Hey, it’s another longtime farming family that took awhile to get into the ice cream game! The Mitchell family established a farmstead here in 1796, and for some 160-plus years it operated mostly as a dairy farm until the herd was sold in 1961 as the farm shifted its focus to other livestock and produce. Luckily, some wise family remembers remembered that dairy fat is incredible, got back to milking cows, and the creamery was born in 1998. Now they’re packing in an entire apple pie when they make a batch of their cinnamon apple pie ice cream, and dumping gummy worms and Oreo bits into chocolate ice cream to make the kid-friendly “Dirt” that adults should in no way feel shy about ordering. -- ML



Dania Beach

South Florida’s most iconic way to combat a sweltering South Florida summer (or unseasonably warm winter, you never know, really) is packed to the brim with kitschy bric-a-brac and souvenirs and candy but, most importantly, there’s ice cream. So much ice cream. While there are plenty of flavor and sundae options at the ready, truly ambitious ice cream fiends will go for the kitchen sink, and aptly named pile of whatever flavors and toppings the people with the scoops feel like dropping in that runs $13.95 a person. Minimum four people. Make friends. -- ML

Kimberly Murray/Thrillist




Opened in 2008 by a husband and wife who realized making ice cream was way more fun than pharmaceutical sales, Morelli’s has been an Atlanta sensation ever since, rotating a deep roster of flavors that ranges from childhood-channeling (PB&J sandwich) to sophisticated (strawberry rosewater), to gloriously Southern (Krispy Kremier, whose components you should be able to deduce). Pro tip: Try the salted caramel, whose salty-sweet recipe is guarded so closely, it’s known only by the owner and one other staff member. -- ML


8 Half Desserts


Owner Robert Borling started his dessert business making colorful, Oreo-crusted ice cream pies, selling them to local restaurants and markets. Popularity grew, however, and in 2016 he opened a full retail shop showcasing an even wider range of flavors (in addition to said pies). Flavor combinations like mango with shoyu or lychee with furikake set it apart from the conventional ice cream experience, but don’t worry if you’re on the fence about trying something new, as they’re incredibly generous with samples. -- ML


Goody's Soda Fountain


The interior of this little house is the kind of old-school soda jerk where Marty McFly’s mom went all oedipal back in the day, the type of throwback spot that Johnny Rockets wants desperately to evoke. It might be the home of the best, most indulgent banana split in the West, though it’s nigh impossible to not get a hand-packed sundae in a pressed waffle dish the size of a hat. Get it with chocolate almond, and get it with fudge... this place is, after all, also a chocolatier. But maybe don’t take that “size of a hat” thing literally. -- AK

margie's candies
Kailley Lindman/Thrillist


Margie's Candies


Situated on the border of two Chicago neighborhoods in varying stages of hipsterfication, Margie’s has remained a comforting oasis of sweet, creamy, stability since opening at the corner of Armitage and Western in 1921. The neon sign is a beacon on summer nights, and the marble soda fountain and cozy booths ooze nostalgia, but it’s still the reliably outstanding sundaes dripping with equally outstanding homemade hot fudge that deliver the warmest feelings. -- ML




Three Greek brothers opened Zaharakos at the turn of the century. The 20th century. Yes, Zaharakos has been giving Columbus its sweets fix nearly continuously for 117 years. Sadly, there was a brief closure in the 2000s when the last remaining descendant passed away, but a local businessmen took over and preserved one of the most singular experiences for any American who gives a damn about ice cream, history, or (hopefully) both. The homemade sodas and sundaes taste like a simpler time, though some of that could come from the fact that it feels like you’re eating in an ice cream museum, with much of the shop’s original fixtures in decor still intact. Oh, and if you want to go to an ACTUAL ice cream museum, they now operate one on the second floor with stuff like soda fountains that predate the Civil War. -- ML



Iowa City

Apologies to the much-celebrated Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor in Le Mars, but the 14% butterfat ice cream at Heyn’s has them beat as the Iowa City-born creamery pushes towards its 40th birthday. The turquoise-rimmed blackboards and cow-spotted cases will beckon you towards flavors like bright yet creamy lemon custard will make you think there must be some kind of dark ice cream magic at work. Meanwhile, the monster mash (peanut butter, M&Ms, cookie dough) will make you suddenly less hostile towards infuriatingly catchy holiday novelty songs. -- ML


Sylas & Maddy's


A Lawrence institution since 1997 (so much so they were able to open a second location in nearby Olathe), Sylas and Maddy’s has 40 of their 150 inventive flavors on offer at any given time, which can make for some fraught decision making. Some advice: Go for anything with “pie” in the name, because they will have taken an entire homemade apple or banana cream or whatever pie you’re eating and blend it up into the batch. Some further advice: Get whatever flavor you selected in one of their huge, freshly made waffle cones. End of advice. -- ML


Crank & Boom Ice Cream Lounge


It sounds like the name of an ‘80s buddy cop duo -- Crank’s the level-headed one, Boom’s the loose cannon! -- but this “ice cream lounge” brings a different kind of unorthodox practices to the force. While flavors like blueberry lime cheesecake and dark chocolate truffle are great alone, they’re even better covered in local strawberries and house-made marshmallows. And lest you think the “Lounge” part is just cutespeak, C&B makes good on its Bourbon Country roots with a roster of boozy floats and scoop-topped cocktails. A prosecco float? Dammit, Crank & Boom, you’re loose cannons... but you get the job done. -- AK

creole creamery
Natalie Gay/Thrillist


The Creole Creamery

New Orleans

NOLA’s undisputed go-to for dairy-related indulgences sets a somewhat old-timey town with the vintage neon bakery sign adorning the exterior and the parlor pink adorning the inside, but they’re certainly not shy about innovation (think flavors like peach riesling and lavender honey). For something seriously, albeit subtly, different, try the signature Creole cream cheese, which employs a slightly sweet farmhouse cheese to achieve a level of creaminess that might almost seem a little too indulgent, until you remember what city you’re in again. -- ML


Toots Ice Cream


In a sub-10,000 person town 12 miles north of Portland, Maine, you'll find the state's best ice cream being served from a train caboose in the center of a family farm. Most everything that goes into Toots' ice cream is made in the family, barring Oreos and Needhams, Maine's favorite coconut candy, a prized fact for the 20-year-old shop. Don't trip over a loose baby goat as you're ambling through the 200-acre property to find the line for a scoop. -- Leanne Butkovic, senior editor


Scottish Highland Creamery


Listen, I know a native, kilted Scot making Italian ice cream on the Maryland waterfront leading out to the Chesapeake is the conceit for your next short story, but it's actually real, and very good, so please lay off. There's no way to capture the coffee or Italian lemon cookie or crushed strawberry scoops through even the most intensely workshopped prose. -- LB




Tosci’s is pushing through its fourth decade of supplying the smart (ahem, smaht) kids of Cambridge (and ice cream fans of all ages and intellects) with their daily intake of dairy fat. Their burnt caramel is the stuff of dessert legend. Their Vienna finger cookie will make you forget all about cookies & cream, even though their cookies & cream is also fantastic. Their khulfee is an incredible cardamom-pistachio-almond concoction that takes its name from the Urdu word for “ice cream,” and definitely not any kind of commentary on recent presidential Twitter mishaps. Though if any creamery could create culinary gold out of a typo, it’s this one. -- ML



Traverse City

Seldom do you get to eat something delicious while looking out the window at the animals that provided the ingredients, largely because there’s no quicker way to ruin a burger. But this little country creamery in gorgeous upper Michigan lets you gaze upon cows while getting down on your choice of 160 (!) amazing handmade ice creams ranging from a take on regional fave Superman called SuperMoo to cupcake and Chocolate Monster. Get your scoops in sandwich form, or buddy up on the Wholey Cow -- 10 scoops with every single topping -- then plop down and say thanks to Bessie before you drift off into a blissful diabetic coma. -- AK

Drew Wood/Thrillist



St. Paul

Husband and wife co-owners Lara Hammell and Jeff Sommers came to the conclusion the ice cream biz was way cooler (!) than lawyering or teaching nearly two decades ago, and Twin Cities residents have come to appreciate said conclusion more with each passing year. Their Kashi-infused cereal milk (one of their signatures) is far too good to involve anything even so much as resembling a health food, and the Swedish Garden Party (raspberry swirl and ginger snap crumbles in an elderflower base) is more fun than anything you could possibly ingest at Ikea. -- ML


Area 51 Ice Cream


Not far from the Tennessee/Mississippi border is Hernando, housing the funky Area 51 Ice Cream, nothing but a small outpost in a strip mall, not only the best ice cream in the state, but also a healthy dose of memes). The small-batch ice cream is typically made with whatever can be found at Hernando's farmers market that week, so don't expect to find the same lineup every time. But don't forego their "legendary" blackberry goat cheese or the might-as-well-be-a-creamsicle float, The Roswell. -- LB


Ted Drewes Frozen Custard

St. Louis

Ice cream trends come and go, but through it all, it's comforting to know that Ted Drewes is still there, slinging some of the finest frozen custard you'll ever come across for more than 80 years. Every fixin'-filled extra thick ice cream treat in the country, your Blizzards, your McFlurries, owes a debt of gratitude to Ted Drewes concrete, which was a game-changer when it debuted in the late-fifties. And they're still innovating -- see the satisfyingly salty and crunchy bits of pretzel in their Twisted Caramel concrete.


Big Dipper Ice Cream


This Big Sky Country stand has been drawing crowds for 22 years now thanks to its incredibly well-crafted handmade ice cream. You won’t find any weird or show-offy flavors here – cardamom and green tea are as complicated as it gets -- just impeccably crafted flavors like huckleberry mint Oreo scooped up in the kind of old-school walk-up shop (or via its mobile truck) you see in most small towns... though seldom done at such an expert level. -- AK


Ted & Wally’s


1984: terrible year for dystopian futures, excellent year for Nebraska ice cream! Several things have changed since the inception of Ted & Wally’s. It opened in Lincoln but relocated to Omaha a couple of years later, and the business was sold to a couple of former employees around the turn of the millennium, but the ice cream excellence has remained a constant. The sweet corn tastes like the distilled essence of a Nebraska summer. They’re constantly playing with flavors from sweet corn creme brulee to butterscotch boxelder (a butterscotch base with chunks of donut and Rice Krispies treats), both of which sound like they ought to be co-opted by the coasts at any moment. -- ML

IceCycle Creamery
Courtesy of IceCycle Creamery


Icecycle Creamery


The biggest little city in the world finally got an ice cream joint worthy of its plucky spirit in 2014, when Icecycle Creamery was born from some ice cream hobbyists whose friends and family implored them to bring their creations to a bigger audience. The advice proved sound, as they’ve already opened a second location for showcasing flavors inspired by everything from Thai desserts (coconut rice & mango) to Thanksgiving (sweet potato casserole) to, umm, nothing illicit or illegal, we assure you. That said, “The Munchies” (a pretzel base with potato chips, M&Ms, and peanut butter cups) may or may not be enhanced by certain herbal activities undertaken prior to ingestion. -- ML

New Hampshire

Jordan's Ice Creamery


The best name in basketball (sorry LeBron) has also been the best name in New Hampshire ice cream for two-plus decades, with son Craig taking the torch from his parents, who opened it when he was a teenager. Flavors like salted caramel crunch and Maine blueberry pie highlight the ever-changing menu, and customers who dig quantity AND quality can tackle a “Belly Buster,” a tricked-out five-scoop sundae that comes in a bucket with a small shovel. -- ML

New Jersey

Gracie and the Dudes

Sea Bright

Every small beach town has a solid ice cream shop. But the luckiest beach towns have Gracie and the Dudes, which rebuilt its Sea Bright flagship after Hurricane Sandy and has expanded to a few others towns as well. While the name sounds like a ‘50s cover band, they instead serve up the finest handmade ice cream in the Garden State. Everything minus the M&Ms and Zagnuts are made in-house here -- from the cones to the cannoli mix-ins -- with the ever-changing menu potentially featuring fancy stuff like Swiss chocolate orange along more boardwalk-familiar tastes like mud pie. There are 20 flavors at any given time. Which is to say, you should come back as often as possible. -- AK

New Mexico

La Lecheria

Santa Fe

Local chef Joel Coleman fell in love with ice cream making while running his popular Santa Fe restaurant Fire & Hops. The love was so deep, in fact, that he launched a separate ice cream business in 2016, and New Mexicans have had a valuable weapon against the heat ever since. Well, hold that thought -- this being New Mexico, you better believe there are chilis occasionally involved, as brown sugar red chili and (of course) green chile both figure into the seasonal flavor rotation alongside menu stalwarts like sea salt chocolate. So it’s possible your palate will be feeling a little heat, but it’ll be so blissfully pleased you won’t mind a bit. -- ML

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

New York


New York City

New York has enough incredible ice cream shops to warrant its own list, making it extra tough to crown OddFellows with the top honors. But we're suckers for Sam Mason, the former pastry chef of the city's most lauded (and shuttered) gastronomic restaurant wd~50, using his chops to make perfect concoctions that lean savory, like burnt honey rosemary, maitake peanut, and the much chattered about miso cherry. Plus, the "odd pockets," currently stuffing saffron and cardamom-laced ice cream into brioche, are the must-try ice cream sandwich restaurant collaborations of the summer. -- LB

North Carolina

The Parlour


Here’s a Durham success story that in no way involves basketball. A married couple uproots from Philly so one of them can attend grad school at Duke, finds the homemade ice cream scene not quite up to snuff, takes matters into their own hands, and takes ice cream making from a hobby to a thriving business not even the most ardent Blue Devil adversary could be mad at. Seriously, the biggest Tar Heel fan ever could take one bite of salted butter caramel or lemon buttermilk and be like “you know, Christian Laettner was actually kind of a stand-up guy.” Fine, that’s a stretch, but there’s no way they’d hate on the ice cream. -- ML

North Dakota

Pride Dairy


Butter. Cheese. Loose meat sandwiches. If it came from a cow and it’s sold at Pride Dairy, it came from the family farm... and has ever since the ‘30s. But in the ‘40s, something magical happened when this small-town, checker-floored little diner served the first scoop of what would remain NoDak’s best ice cream for a solid seven decades and running. Creamy and buttery, you’re fine with hitting plain ol’ vanilla, though when you’ve got pie-inspired flavors like rhubarb-strawberry and juneberry, it’s easy to be tempted away from the cookie dough. -- AK


Velvet Ice Cream


In the discernible middle of nowhere on the way-ish to Columbus is Velvet Ice Cream, a parlor with an immigrant's tale as old-school Americana as it gets. Its founder, Joseph Dager, was a Lebanese immigrant who moved to this part of Ohio in 1903 without speaking a lick of English, started his creamery in a basement, and effectively changed the town laws to be able to distribute his ice cream beyond teeny Utica, eventually moving into the larger, now-iconic gristmill the shop resides in now. The ice cream is incredibly good, too. -- LB


Roxy's Ice Cream Social

Oklahoma City

It takes some moxie (and really good ice cream) to break through Braum’s near stranglehold on Oklahoma ice cream consumption (that’s no shot at Braum’s, they grew that big for a reason). But Roxy’s managed to pull it off, blossoming from a food truck named for the owners’ dog to a brick & mortar location (still named after the same dog!), all on the strength of their standout small-batch creations. The pale green pistachio is a study in beautiful, sweet, nutty restraint. The Cookie Monster (a scoop of cookies & cream between a couple of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies) is not at all restrained, but still quite tasty. -- ML

ruby jewel
Alan Weiner Photography


Ruby Jewel


While Salt & Straw has risen to a three-city juggernaut with lines around blocks, Ruby Jewel has been content to hone its craft and quietly emerge with Oregon’s finest locally sourced, hand-crafted ice cream. And while you’ll find more out-there flavors at the three locations (lavender, sour cream), the balance achieved in flavors like salted honey almond brittle, peanut butter/chocolate, or a simple butterscotch is damn near perfect, made better only when smooshed between two fresh-baked cookies. -- AK


Fox Meadows Creamery


If you could consider farm-to-table ice cream "a thing," consider Fox Meadows Creamery the forebearers of it. Using Fox Meadows dairy and other local seasonal ingredients, including strawberries, foraged pine, and, uh, Lucky Charms, the ice cream takes on a sophisticated life in its upscale pastoral environs near Lancaster. Make sure your phone has plenty of juice -- you're gonna wanna Instagram the experience. -- LB

Rhode Island



This tiny cash-only shack at the end of the Tiverton pier has become a staple for folks looking for a sweet treat after downing a lobster roll or simply a scoop while contemplating the waterfront. Open since 1923, Gray's has been a staple in keeping this historic four corners alive. -- LB

South Carolina

Sweet Cream Company


It would be one thing if owners Joe and Jessica Kastner only relied on their stunning rotating lineup composed of 16 flavors of ice cream excellence from panna cotta with candied orange peel to brown sugar bourbon. OK fine, it would arguably be 16 things. But the attention to detail here goes far beyond the ice cream, which you’ll notice the second you order said ice cream placed in a waffle cone and it just happens to be the most delicate, buttery waffle cone you’ve ever seen. Or when you order yourself a cookie sandwich and receive a pair of pillowy lemon sugar cookies sandwiching a slab of white chocolate lavender ice cream. Or when you do all of the above and then notice you are quite full, but not the least bit upset about it. -- ML

South Dakota

Leones' Creamery


One of the essential elements of being a great small town is at least one good ice cream shop. The Black Hills hamlet of Spearfish, though, ups that ante with Leone’s. Located in the Old City Hall building, this family-run joint takes its house-made ice creams into unexpected territory: Hell, a blueberry goat cheese flavor or a curry-kissed peanut butter ice cream might come off as strange even in a bigger city, but in Spearfish they’re local favorites right alongside regular old chocolate. The scoops here defy expectation, except the expectation that whatever Leone’s comes up with will be delicious. -- AK


The Pied Piper Creamery


This little house brings the ridiculous in the form of the incredible Trailer Trash, an unholy blend of vanilla, Oreos, Twix, Butterfingers, Reese’s Pieces, Nestle Crunch, Snickers, and M&Ms (Cheetos optional!) that seems like a Ben & Jerry’s truck crashed into a movie theater concession stand. But ridiculous is delicious, and The Pied Piper’s 12 flavors offer up sugar bombs and inventively unexpected flavors in equal measure: On any given day, you’ll be faced with the choice between apple pie ice cream and tomato strawberry sorbet, for example, which is a lot harder to figure out than it has any right to be. -- AK

lick ice cream
Courtesy of Lick Ice Cream


Lick Honest Ice Creams


You can get traditional flavors like vanilla bean and salted caramel almost anywhere, but seldom are they as good as the dense, eggless, brown rice-sweetened varieties at this Austin emporium. For the adventurous, there are insane concoctions like cilantro lime and roasted beet on offer, which work alarmingly well. Still, when you have one of the best mint ice creams in the world in the freezer alongside everything else, it’s hard to get too crazy. But, hey, that’s what sampling is for. -- AK


Rowley's Red Barn


With its mountain backdrop, this farm store and ice cream parlor would be a destination solely based on its picturesque landscape and country-store Americana. But the ice cream makes it essential. The scoops here are nothing too out-there, but take note: Rowley’s is also famous for cherries, so you’re well advised to go with cherry cheesecake or cherry vanilla flavors, though we won’t blame you if you go with the silky cake batter. You can always mix some of their dry cherries from the store into it. -- AK


Lake Champlain Chocolates


It’s tough being in the ice cream game in the same state that Ben & Jerry’s calls home. Luckily, Lake Champlain Chocolates isn’t in the ice cream game. Well, they’re not exclusively in the ice cream game: They just happen to be a chocolate and candy shop that doubles as the state’s best ice cream purveyor. The flavors aren’t necessarily cute or exotic, but when you taste the maple butter pecan you’ll know damn well you’re in Vermont, and when you taste the single-origin chocolate (made with bean-to-bar chocolate from the Dominican Republic) you’ll know damn well why having ice cream made by a chocolate shop is a good thing indeed. -- ML

Island Creamery
Courtesy of Island Creamery


Island Creamery


Since 1975, Island Creamery has provided droves of tourists with added incentive to make their way to idyllic Chincoteague Island, while providing locals with added incentive to never, ever leave. The bourbon caramel crunch is made with Heath Bar and, more importantly, Virginia Gentleman bourbon. The pony tracks is a peanut butter and fudge swirled concoction that derives its name from the local population of wild ponies. Yes, seriously. Herds of wild ponies AND incredible small-batch ice cream from a decades-old family business. Why aren’t you there right now? -- ML


Mora Ice Cream

Bainbridge Island

Oh, sure, you can get some pretty next-level ice cream in Seattle, but there’s nothing quite like getting scoops at Mora’s while gazing out into the Puget Sound from one of its many islands. Berries are the move in this island oasis for hand-made greatness, with the signature blackberry being a standout (though raspberry’s a strong contender, too), while a scoop of banana split is like taking the perfect bite of that gigantic dessert with every lick. This is your first stop when you get off the ferry: Walk, don’t run. Sea legs are a beast. -- AK

West Virginia

Ellen's Homemade Ice Cream


Years ago, native West Virginian Ellen Beal relocated to Boston to study the flute. While she was there, she learned enough about flute playing to return home and play in the West Virginia Symphony, but she also learned enough about fantastic homemade ice cream to open her own scoop shop. Ellen’s is now going on 20 years in business, experimenting with flavors like espresso Oreo crunch and JQ Dickinson salted caramel, made with hand-harvested sea salt deposited beneath the Appalachians by an ancient ocean. You’ll appreciate the effort when you taste it. -- ML


Kelley Country Creamery

Fond du Lac

Of course the heart of dairy country would be churning luscious ice cream. Self-proclaimed as the "Best Ice Cream in the Middle of Nowhere," Kelley Country has been a 200-acre family farmstead for more than a century and a half, but the ice cream side of the biz came only shy of a decade ago and quickly gained accolades from media like a little show called Good Morning America, which called it the best ice cream in the country in 2013. Likely the secret to this success: The Kelley clan lets their cows live out a happy pasture life to produce the highest-quality milk for the highest-quality ice cream possible. -- LB


Moo's Gourmet Ice Cream

Jackson Hole

Twenty-four flavors are on offer at this rustic purveyor of organic, hand-churned excellence, ranging from the incredible cashew brittle and prickly pear to more ambitiously strange flavors like the sour guyabana and a stout-flavored concoction made with malts from a local brewery. But do not – repeat, do NOT – sleep on the huckleberry if it’s on hand, if only so you can say “I’m your huckleberry” to it while hanging out in the actual West. But also because it’s the best thing here. -- AK

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Deputy features editor Matt Lynch generally screams for the Cubs and eats his ice cream in blissful shamed silence out of public view. You can follow his thoughts on both @MLynchChi.

Senior editor Andy Kryza has spent an inordinate amount of his adult life talking about and searching for Superman Ice Cream throughout the US. Follow him to far-flung scoop shops (and disappointment) @apkryza.

Features editor Leanne Butkovic  has been known to enjoy ice cream. Find out what else she enjoys (and doesn't) @leanbutk.
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