8 Fun Places in the USA to Stop for Ice Cream

Nothing says vacation like stopping for ice cream.

When these last days of August roll around, I want to squeeze every last bit of fun out of the summer: Hit up the beach, dine al fresco, and pay a visit to my favorite ice cream shop. Grabbing ice cream is always a fun activity when you travel, and it every city has their own iconic scoop shop. The good news? Most of these places aren’t seasonal, so even if you’re reading this in the dead of winter, you can get your frozen treat fix any time of year.

Frozen Custard in Wisconsin

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Wisconsin is known for their dairy, and when it comes to ice cream, it’s all about frozen custard. If you’re not familiar, it’s basically ice cream made with eggs in addition to cream and sugar. Its thick, creamy texture makes it stand apart from regular ol’ ice cream… not that I’m not a fan of both! Wisconsinites argue over who does the best frozen custard: Kopp’s, Leons or Gilles. I say you really can’t go wrong with any of them!

Ice Cream Topped with Ice Cream in the Twin Cities

Grabbing ice cream is always a fun activity when you travel, and it every city has their own iconic scoop shop. The good news is most of these places aren’t seasonal, so even if you’re reading this in the dead of winter, you can get your frozen treat fix any time of year.

Kids and adults alike love Izzy’s, a vibrant scoop shop with locations in both St. Paul and Minneapolis. Izzy’s is famous for its innovative selection of flavors (think Norwegian Chai, Dark Chocolate Zin, and Licorice), as it is for its signature Izzy scoop. What’s that, you ask? A bite-sized sample of ice cream that tops your cone or cup, the perfect solution for people who want to try an interesting flavor, but don’t want to commit to an entire cone. Brilliant! Bonus: If you’re name is Izzy (or an iteration like Isabella or Isabell), you can get your photo taken for their Izzy wall.

A Taste of Nostalgia in Chicago

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I’m all for an innovative cone, but sometimes I just crave that old school ice cream parlor vibe. That’s exactly what you at Margie’s Candies in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood. Open since 1921, you’ll find tons of knickknacks, memorabilia, and mustard yellow booths perfect for splitting a classic hot fudge sundae with your favorite person. Fun fact: the Beatles enjoyed a sugar rush here, and if it was good enough for John, Paul, George and Ringo, it’s good enough for me.

Portlandia-style Ice Cream in… Portlandia!

8 fun places to stop for ice cream in the USA.

Dill Pickle Sorbet? Green Fennel and Maple? Avocado and Strawberry Sherbert? Flavors like this could only work in an episode of Portlandia… or so you’d think! Portland-based ice cream shop Salt & Straw dreams up the most insane flavor combinations, and their loyal customer base lines up to try whatever they’re currently scooping. Once you make it to the front of the line, you’ll get patient one-on-one service. Try as many flavors as you’d like before committing to a cone. The best part: there’s no rush. Think of it like a wine tasting, but with more calories. And there’s great news for California residents: Salt and Straw operates three locations in LA!

Cool Off in New Orleans

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The Big Easy is known for Mardi Gras, delicious Cajun food, jazz, voodoo and its epically hot and humid weather. That last one can be brutal, but NOLA residents have been beating the heat with a regional frozen treat since 1939. Hansen’s Sno Bliz, still owned and operated by the Hansen family, creates incredible snow-balls (or sno-balls… you pick). Don’t confuse these with those chunky-ice and syrupy concoctions of your youth; the sno-ball is made with shaved ice, which renders a light, fluffy texture. For an old school sno-ball experience, try the root beer (founder Ernest Hansen’s signature flavor). A little more adventurous? Hansen’s granddaughter and current owner Ashley has created a few flavors of her own—like ginger-cayenne.

Get Schooled in Cape Cod

If you have a sweet tooth and are visiting Cape Cod, there’s no better place to indulge than Sundae School. A seasonal staple since the 1970s, this quaint shop was opened by teachers who wanted to summer on the cape. It was so successful that two years later, they ended up moving to Cape Cod full-time. Not only does this place serve delicious ice cream and sundaes, it’s one of those places that makes it a point to hire cheery, ambitious high school and college students.

Keep Ice Cream Weird in Austin

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With offerings like Mexican vanilla, coffee and dark chocolate, it’s not really the flavors that make this Austin, Texas staple weird. It’s their ice cream throwing. Here’s the deal: you may opt to have their ice cream scoopers throw ice cream to you. If you catch it in a bowl, it’s free. If not, you pay for it. I say if you have good hand-eye coordination, go for it! Personally, I prefer mine handed to me without bits of dirt and dust. Try one of their cool combos that mixes ice cream with all sorts of naughty treats—like brownies, hot fudge, candy bars and more.

Annabelle’s Natural Ice cream

My hometown ice cream shop! Open since 1982, this seacoast gem churns out creamy, 16 percent butter fat ice creams, frozen yogurts and sorbets. Their Mint Summer’s Night Dream (mint chocolate ice cream with dark and white chocolate chunks) is excellent, but for a little local flavor, try the Pure Maple Walnut, made with New Hampshire Maple syrup and California walnuts.
If I’ve churned your cold cream by not listing your favorite: give me the scoop on the ice cream shop you’re devoted to AND PLEASE LIST FLAVORS (I have no problem licking my wounds).

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Grabbing ice cream is always a fun activity when you travel, and it every city has their own iconic scoop shop. The good news? Most of these places aren’t seasonal, so even if you’re reading this in the dead of winter, you can get your frozen treat fix any time of year.

Photos by smcgee, elizabeth, Eric Wilcox, Paul Joseph, jpellgen, infrogmation,

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