Great Ice Cream Shops from Coast to Coast

Move over, chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. The world's most-delicious dessert is showing up in shops from coast to coast in delectable flavors like salted caramel, Prosecco, roasted banana and beyond.

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We All Scream for ...

There are few better summer pleasures than ice cream. Whether you like yours in a cone, cup or piled high in a sundae, here are a few top spots for the sweetest scoops across the country.

San Francisco: Humphry Slocombe

This ice cream shop continues to surprise customers with its ever-changing array of flavors (prosciutto, anyone?). For a treat that will appeal to the kid in every adult, try the Secret Breakfast. Cornflakes are baked into a crispy cookie, then folded into a bourbon-infused ice cream base. It's appeared on Top 5: Restaurants and The Best Thing I Ever Ate.

Go to: Humphry Slocombe

Washington, D.C.: Ice Cream Jubilee

Using locally sourced dairy, this acclaimed parlor, founded by attorney-turned-“icecreampreneur” Victoria Lai, makes a wide selection of seasonal scoops, including mint chip with garden mint, a buttery salted caramel and several alcohol-infused treats, including gin-and-tonic sorbet.

Go to: Ice Cream Jubilee

Brooklyn: Ample Hills

The names are nearly as clever as the scoops are delicious at Ample Hills. This family-run chainlet of ice cream parlors regularly commands lengthy waits on warm summer days for flavors like Salted Crack Caramel, The Munchies and The Dude, a White Russian-inspired ode to The Big Lebowski. It Came from the Gowanus, a flavor unique to the Gowanus location, was deemed the best flavor in the country, according to Top 5: Restaurants.

Go to: Ample Hills Creamery

Anchorage, Alaska: Wild Scoops

This shop sources its ingredients from local bounty for flavors like Alaska Birch — with local birch syrup and almond-birch brittle — and a Baked Alaska cone, under a swirl of torched marshmallow.

Portland, Oregon: Salt & Straw

This ice cream chainlet has attracted international press and shops throughout the West Coast, but it still feels like a neighborhood parlor. There’s a monthly themed menu — creative flavors inspired by cheese, cocktails or “rescued food,” such as day-old bread and celery leaves — plus a dozen standbys that lean a little more traditional (if you consider strawberry balsamic with black pepper traditional). Follow the smell of fresh waffle cones to the line that’s always snaking out the door, and comfort yourself with the knowledge that a generous sampling policy awaits you once you get to the front.

Go to: Salt & Straw

Newtown, Connecticut: Ferris Acres Creamery

It could be the gentle symphony of moos from a nearby herd of cows, or the bucolic 150-year-old dairy farm setting, but Newtown’s Ferris Acres Creamery is one of Connecticut’s most-beloved ice cream destinations. With more than 50 flavors to choose from, the shop usually has something for every taste, but the majority of ice cream fans are there for just one; the locally inspired Cow Trax is many a regular’s top choice. A rich and creamy vanilla base is densely packed with swirls of peanut butter and mini chocolate chips. Open seasonally and on certain holidays, the shop offers cones, cups and, around the corner, a to-go window for pints, which is a nifty way to get an ice cream fix without the wait.

Go to: Ferris Acres Creamery

Cincinnati: Graeter's

This Ohio treasure hit the national stage when Oprah declared it her scoop of choice more than a decade ago. And it's no wonder: This family-run operation turns out French-style ice cream in an array of classic flavors. Aficionados swear by the amped-up varieties, such as Black Raspberry Chip and Buckeye Blitz (made with peanut butter cookie dough and chocolate chips), citing the high chip-to-ice-cream ratio.

More About: Graeter's

San Francisco: Bi-Rite Creamery

First the good news: The rich, custardy ice cream at Bi-Rite will be among the best you'll taste in your lifetime. Now the bad news: Lines can last up to an hour. Do not be discouraged. The dense, creamy and complex Salted Caramel — one of the company's best flavors — is worth the wait. Other winners on the ever-changing roster of flavors: Toasted Coconut, Cara Cara Orange Cardamom and Malted Vanilla.

Go to: Bi-Rite Creamery & Bakeshop

Philadelphia: Franklin Fountain

This old-timey ice cream parlor offers classic scoops, shakes, splits and soda concoctions — including phosphates and egg creams — served by staff clad in bow ties and white caps. Go for a classic scoop of vanilla or rum raisin or try a sundae, like the Franklin Mint, with chocolat syrup, marshmallow fluff and mint syrup over mint and vanilla scoops.

Go to: The Franklin Fountain 

Denver: Sweet Action Ice Cream

Sweet Action is regularly hailed as one of Denver’s top spots to grab a cone. Flavors change daily, but include vegan options and creative combinations like sake-ginger, peppermint-mocha and Rocky Mountain root beer.

Go to: Sweet Action Ice Cream

Los Angeles: Sweet Rose Creamery

The SRC Bacon Caramel Sundae is a gorgeous sight to behold: Picture snowy mounds of vanilla ice cream, fresh organic whipped cream, a glistening drizzle of Bourbon-Bacon Caramel Sauce and a cap of candied bacon strips. For more modest appetites, Executive Chef Shiho Yoshikawa whips up seasonal scoops of Rose Geranium with Raspberry Ripple ice cream, and Olive Oil and Strawberry Rhubarb sorbet.

New York: Big Gay Ice Cream Shop

Stepping into this new wave soft-serve shop is like walking into a party: dance music blaring while the crowd compares notes on the tongue-in-cheek menu. First-timers are directed to the Salty Pimp, a dulce de leche-coated vanilla cone sprinkled with salt and chocolate. The more experienced choose from rotating flavors and toppings like Wasabi Pea Dust, Ginger Syrup and Awesomesauce, a cayenne-spiced fudge.

Columbus, Ohio: Jeni's Ice Cream

This handcrafted ice cream is seemingly everywhere, with shops dispensing those irresistibly delicious cones and cups of Salty Caramel, Brambleberry Crisp and Darkest Chocolate all throughout the country. But Columbus is and always will be home, including to several scoop shops. The secret? Milk from grassfed cows and locally sourced ingredients.

More About: Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

Milwaukee: Kopp's Frozen Custard

If you haven’t licked a scoop of frozen custard, some might say you’re missing out on the Midwest’s most-delicious sweet. Kopp’s has three locations (in Glendale, Greenfield and Brookfield), each with old-school flair (think white-paper hats for the workers, and stainless-steel counters). Founded by Elsa Kopp in 1950, the business is now managed by her son Karl. Pro tip: Check out the Flavor Forecast on Kopp’s website, should you be deciding which day to visit. Flavors are often inspired by restaurant menus, including creative combinations like Tiramisu and Maple Syrup & Pancakes.

Go to: Kopp's Frozen Custard

Chicago: Black Dog Gelato

The Whiskey Gelato Bar is the way to go at this pair of charming Windy City sweet shops. Dipped in milk chocolate, then rolled in salty bits of bacon, the grown-up treat is a liquor-infused flavor bomb. Owner Jessie Oloroso got her start selling at a farmers market, and fresh herbs and seasonal produce are the building blocks of many of her creations. Exhibit A: The delectable Sesame Fig Chocolate Chip gelato.

More About: Black Dog Gelato

Phoenix: Churn

How do you improve on the Peanut Butter and Chocolate ice creams at this cute, vintage-style candy shop? Order a scoop of each on a crunchy, salt-specked pretzel cone! And if the Arizona sun has got you parched, ask for a Caramel Apple Pie Float. Made with vanilla ice cream, cinnamon sugar, homemade salted caramel and apple soda, it's sure to hit the spot.

More About: Churn

Miami: Azucar Ice Cream Company

Cool off with a scoop or two of homemade Cuban ice cream at this Miami shop. The tropical flavors includesweet plantain, mantecado (Cuban vanilla), coconut flan, guava, avocado and the signature Abuela Maria (vanilla swirled with red guava, cream cheese and chopped Maria cookies).

Go to: Azucar Ice Cream Company

St. Paul: Izzy's Ice Cream Cafe

Call it an ice cream shop for the digital age: Every time a new flavor is added at this Twin Cities magnet, the information is sent out via Twitter and email. From Peace Coffee to Blackberry Crème Fraîche, the dozens of varieties are downright irresistible. Happily, you don’t have to choose just one: Owner Jeff Sommers tops each cone with an extra mini-scoop—called an "Izzy"— in a second flavor of your choice.

More About: Izzy's Ice Cream Cafe

Philadelphia: Capogiro Gelato Artisans

Capogiro means "dizziness" in Italian, and that's what this flavorful gelato has been inducing in fans for more than a decade. Made fresh every morning, the rotating selection of 27 flavors is keyed to the seasons — think Lancaster County Peach in summer, rich Black Walnut in the fall. And if you can't get the thought of that Wildflower Honey Gelato out of your head, no worries: The owners ship overnight to all 50 states.

More About: Capogiro Gelato Artisans

Washington, D.C.: Moorenko's Ice Cream Cafe

There's plenty of seating at this cheery suburban parlor, which is lucky, because you'll want to stop and savor every delicious spoonful of these artisanal blends. Honey Lavender, Red Hot Chocolate, Peach Melba, Rice Pudding — the flavors may change with the seasons, but the quality of these luscious desserts remains consistent.

More About: Moorenko's Ice Cream Cafe

Detroit: Guernsey Farms Dairy

Battered onion rings, homemade soup and roasted chicken are all on the menu at this family-run institution, but the star attraction is the supremely fresh ice cream. Made onsite in the dairy's processing plant, the chilled treat comes in 48 flavors, both classic (Mint Chip, Praline Pecan) and new (Grandpa's Blueberry Way, a lip-smacking mélange of blueberries, pomegranate and chocolate chips).

More About: Guernsey Farms Dairy

Miami: The Frieze Ice Cream Factory

People-watching in South Beach can't be topped, and there's no better way to do it than by strolling Lincoln Road — preferable with a cool treat from Frieze in your hand. Located just off the main strip, this dessert nirvana offers a variety of smooth ice creams, though locals swear the seasonal sorbets are the standouts. Top picks include the refreshing Watermelon, elegant Champagne and fragrant Lychee.

More About: The Frieze Ice Cream Factory

St. Louis: Ted Drewes Frozen Custard

There are many items on the menu, but there's only one thing to order, and that's the legendary Concrete. Made of silky vanilla custard (which has less air and more butterfat than conventional ice cream), this Midwestern specialty is mixed with toppings into an extremely thick shake. When servers hand you an order, they'll turn the cup upside down to prove your spoon and straw are firmly stuck inside.

More About: Ted Drewes Frozen Custard

Boston: Toscanini's Ice Cream

There's often a line at this Central Square institution, but that's a good thing, as you'll need the time to get a handle on the gourmet tastes on offer. Choose from Cocoa Pudding, a pure French Vanilla or a kicky Ginger Snap Molasses, among the dozens of varieties in rotation. Samples of the pillowy-soft blends are given generously. Word up: The Burnt Caramel is a favorite with the neighborhood Harvard and MIT crowd.

More About: Toscanini's Ice Cream

Atlanta: Morelli's Gourmet Ice Cream

Locals flock to this mom and pop mini chain for its smooth, made-from-scratch offerings served in waffle cones still warm from the press. Though varieties like Chocolate Peanut Butter are steady crowd-pleasers, the real draw here is the inventive flavors: Sweet Corn, Coconut Jalapeño and Krispy Kreamier. Got kids in tow? Order up a Dirt 'n' Worms sundae made with a scoop of vanilla, Oreo cookies and gummy worms.

More About: Morelli's Gourmet Ice Cream

Denver: Little Man Ice Cream

Housed in a 28-foot steel replica of an old-fashioned milk can, this local favorite is hard to miss. Even in January, the devoted come out for their fix of artisanal-style ice cream made with ingredients sourced from surrounding farms. And you can order that double dip without guilt because for every scoop of ice cream sold, Little Man promises to donate a scoop of rice or beans to a village in a developing country.

More About: Little Man Ice Cream

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