The 14 Best Ice Cream Shops in DC
Sundaes, scoops, and soft serve to cure your sweet tooth.
Even before our ice cream-loving commander in chief took office, DC has been home to a staggering selection of ice cream shops. Old standbys serving classic frozen custard sit alongside trendy new shops with flavors you’d never think to dream up.
Whether you want a cone towering high with two scoops, a hot fudge sundaes, or some specialty gelato, there’s a little something for everyone. So when that summer sweet tooth hits, look no further than this list of the best ice cream shops in DC.
The Capital Candy Jar
On the Northeast side of Capitol Hill, this candy and ice cream shop hybrid is a neighborhood favorite. The scoop side of the operation carries popular flavors from Maryland’s South Mountain Creamery and the ice cream is available by the cup, cone, or pint. The candy shop has been visited by Vice President Kamala Harris, and they carry peanut butter cups, chocolate covered Oreos, chocolate covered strawberries, and more to cure your sweet tooth.
Happy Ice Cream
This ice cream cart from Little Gyro’s Ben Brunner dishes up homemade ice cream and cones on 17th Street, as well as pints to take home and devour on the couch. Find elevated options like Strawberry Buttermilk and Polenta Crumble or Raspberry Rhubarb Swirl. For the kid at heart, there are also nostalgic picks, including mint chip and root beer floats. New this year—the cart can be found parked outside The Line Hotel in Adams Morgan, so check Instagram for the latest flavors, locations, and hours.
This spot for all things dairy inside Union Market should also be the go-to for all your ice cream needs. The shop sells milk, butter, cheese, and other dairy products from local farmers, and also has a killer selection of hard-serve ice cream. Classic flavors like cookies and cream, chocolate, and coffee come in scoops or pints packed to go, plus soft serve, homemade waffle cones, and other sweets.
The Dairy Godmother
The Dairy Godmother in Del Ray, a sleepy neighborhood spot in Alexandria, Virginia, is making all your dairy dreams come true. The shop specializes in creamy, Wisconsin-style frozen custard and offers other nostalgic treats like freshly baked cookies and apple cobbler. Each day, the shop offers vanilla, chocolate, and a rotating daily flavor of custard, plus there’s always a few dairy-free and sorbet options. The shop even has something for the pups, with Puppy Pops which are made from plain yogurt and peanut butter, and come in pumpkin or banana flavors.
Argentine-style gelato is served by the husband-and-wife team Robb Duncan and Violeta Edelman, who hails from Buenos Aires, at Dolcezza. Since opening their first shop in Georgetown in 2004, the couple has built an empire with a half-dozen outposts in the DC region and pints in local grocery stores. Try an affogato if you’re looking for a buzzier treat, or sample the peanut butter stracciatella for a salty-sweet scoop that’s downright delicious. They also recently collaborated with the Call Your Mother bagel shop to develop a black-and-white cookie batter gelato offered by the pint.
One bite of Dolci Gelati’s artisan gelatos, and you might feel as if you’ve been transported to the streets of Rome or Siena. Chef Gianluigi Dellaccio uses authentic Italian recipes that have been in his family for generations. His gelato combines local and far-flung ingredients, like Sicilian pistachios, hazelnuts from Turin, chocolate from Ecuador, all available at locations in Shaw, Takoma Park, and Alexandria, as well as from a roaming ice cream truck.
Goodies Frozen Custard & Treats
It used to be pretty difficult to track down this roving custard truck. But now that Goodies has settled into a 90-year-old renovated ice house in Old Town Alexandria, you always know where to find Wisconsin-style custard. The shop will sell you rich custard on its own in a dish or on a cone, but Goodies is best known for its over-the-top sundaes. The donutwich is just what it sounds like: a scoop of vanilla bean custard sandwiched between two donuts of your choosing, and the shop offers other sundaes, shakes, and floats as well.
The name does not lie—Hovermale's Tastes Best. And if you’re looking for a throw-back parlor on a busy thoroughfare, like something out of a scene from American Graffiti, then head to this cash-only custard stand just outside of the District. It’s a pretty simple process, pick from either tall vanilla, chocolate or swirl, then add your toppings. Hovermale’s has been around for more than six decades, and it specializes in dip top cones, too.
Ice Cream Jubilee
With three locations and shelf space in local grocery stores (plus an online shop, where you can get pints shipped nationwide), Ice Cream Jubilee has been easily within reach since opening in 2014. The shop stocks unique flavors like Banana Bourbon Caramel, MarionBerry, and Honey Lemon Lavender, but adds in seasonal offerings, like Sweet Cream and Honey.
Moorenko’s Ice Cream
This Silver Spring, Maryland ice cream parlor recently expanded to an Eastern Market location and serves 15 different hand scooped flavors—from classics like chocolate, strawberry, and mint chocolate chip, to more specialty blends, like Honey Lavender, Peppermint Stick, and Salted Caramel with Pralines. You can order by the pint or scoop, and it’s guaranteed that this ice cream is made by hand in small batches using only the highest quality ingredients.
Mount Desert Island Ice Cream
Since coming to DC by way of Maine, Mount Desert Island Ice Cream has been churning out small-batch ice creams in creative flavors like Butterscotch Miso, Thai Chili Coconut, and vegan Maple Pecan. On a trip to Bar Harbor, Maine during his first term, former President Barack Obama ordered toasted coconut while the former first lady went with chocolate, so you can always go with the presidential picks but you really can’t go wrong with any order here.
For Italian-style gelato, look no further than this DC mainstay. Founded in 2007, chef Noah Dan delivered tasty flavors like Halva and Pistachio, Black Sesame, and Matcha Green Tea made from milk sourced from Pennsylvania’s Spring Wood Organic Farm—a pioneer in grass-fed, organic farming.
Southwest Soda Pop Shop
For the best in soft serves, shakes, and floats, the Southwest Soda Pop Shop is your spot. In this case you should go big, or go home. The waffle cones are made fresh daily and are massive enough to hold two scoops or a towering soft-serve twist. Be sure to pile some toppings on, too. The shop offers brownie chunks, Reese's crumbles, assorted cereals, rainbow or chocolate sprinkles, chocolate fudge, wet walnuts, and gummies.
Thomas Sweet Ice Cream Co.
This Georgetown scoop shop is nothing short of a destination, so when you arrive at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and P Street in the summertime, there’s almost sure to be a line. Be sure to look around as you wait. Thomas Sweet is a favorite of both Biden and Obama, and pictures of their visits adorn the wall alongside other old-school decorations. The shop has been operating in the District since 1979 and serves ice cream by the scoop, as well as frozen yogurt and other sugary delights, including fudge and chocolate candies.