Unofficial Experts Guide – 6 Best Ice Cream Shops in the US

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At our annual reunion BBQ, my family always points out that the dessert table is really where we shine.  Yes, there are always casseroles and salads to go along with the burgers, but those are just a distraction from the main event – ice cream.

Anyone who knows us knows that we are united by a love of ice cream.  Growing up it was ice cream cake for breakfast on my birthday, ice cream on Saturdays after soccer games, and ice cream after dinner most nights.

Everyone’s Got a First Love!

This ritual is now saved for special occasions.  I’m both fortunate and perplexed that my husband doesn’t enjoy ice cream (something my family is still trying to grapple with).  But when we get together, we’re always in search of the new best place to get dessert.

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6 Best Ice Cream Shops in the US

In order to come up with a proper list of suggestions, I had to enlist several family members to voice their opinions as well.  Although there’s certainly no shortage of fantastic places to order ice cream in the United States, here are a few of our favorites.

1.   Hodgies Ice Cream – Amesbury, Massachusetts

This is a “kiddie” size ice cream

A post shared by ☮Ṅѧȏṃı ʟєṡċһ☮ (@nayxwasxhere) on

Did you know that New Englanders love ice cream almost as much as they love clam chowder?

I learned that quickly when living in New Hampshire.  People drive for miles to line up outside Hodgies in the summer, where they serve ice cream from a walk-up window.  Ice cream is made daily and they have over 40 different flavors to choose from.

Hodgies has been around since 1984 and has expanded to several other locations in the area.  Standing in line with other ice cream lovers is somewhat of a summer tradition.  The servings are generous and the flavors are fantastic.

2.   Glacier Homemade Ice Cream – Boulder, Colorado

If you’re passing through Boulder, Colorado, a stop at Glacier is a must.  All of their ice cream is hand mixed and many of the flavors incorporate local ingredients.

When you walk through the door, you’ll be greeted by an ice cream attendant behind the counter who will ask if you’d like a sample.  Samples are encouraged here!

I’d recommend trying the Funky Donkey ice cream or the Almond Gelato.  Most of the ice cream is sorbet or gelato.  They have gluten free options as well.  Although some people would classify ice cream as a summer-only treat, Glacier is packed year round.  Even when there is snow on the ground, you’ll find a crowd of ice cream aficionados lined up to order their favorite flavors.

3.   Big Dipper Ice Cream – Missoula, Montana

Long Lines in Front of the Big Dipper Mean That Summer Is Still Here!

Starting in mid-May, once the snow is finally melted, you’ll notice long lines forming around a small building with a large neon sign advertising Big Dipper Ice Cream.  As summer approaches and the days grow longer, so does the line in front of this iconic neighborhood ice cream shop.

There are so many different flavors to choose from.  And they offer seasonal specialties as well.  The Huckleberry ice cream is a local favorite, and Montana is famous for this flavor.  Top that with a scoop of the Mint Oreo and you’ve got a perfect pairing!

4.   Mr. Wizard’s – St. Louis, Missouri

Mr. Wizard’s Is My Go to St. Louis Frozen Custard Shop

St. Louis is home to a different kind of ice cream, called frozen custard.  It’s not quite ice cream and not quite soft serve, sitting somewhere between the two.  Frozen custard is kept at lower temperatures so it’s softer and more creamy than ice cream.  Those who are local to the area live for it and those who don’t are easily converted.

While Ted Drewes Frozen Custard gets more attention, I prefer Mr. Wizard’s.  It’s housed in an unassuming location and rarely generates the crowds that Ted Drewes does, which means you’ll get to take your time ordering and won’t have to wait in line for very long.  The small building hasn’t changed in over 30 years, except maybe for a fresh coat of paint.

When you go, order a “concrete” this is a St. Louis classic.  You’ll choose your frozen custard flavor and whatever toppings you’d like mixed in.  Then step to the side and grab a seat at one of the tables near the parking lot to enjoy your delicious treat.

5.   Blue Bird Ice Cream – Seattle, Washington

When I visited my brother in Seattle last summer, he had already done the research and presented me with a list of ice cream shop options.  These included Molly Moon, Full Tilt, and The Fainting Goat.  After a full day of touring Pike’s Place Market, sampling Beecher’s cheese, and walking around Green Lake it was time for ice cream.  There were so many different places to choose from.  But we settled on Blue Bird ice cream because it’s his favorite.

There are three different locations for Blue Bird Ice Cream in Seattle.  So wherever you are in the city, you’re probably close to one of these shops.  They also have an old-fashioned ice cream truck that will often show up at the farmer’s market.  So keep an eye out for it if you’re in the area.  We chose to visit the location in Phinney Ridge.

Blue Bird Ice Cream often integrates local ingredients when producing their flavors.  For example, try the Blueberry Cardamon ice cream with berries sourced from a nearby farm.

6.   Jiffy Treet – Bloomington, Indiana

Every college town needs an ice cream parlor, and Indiana University has one of the best in the country.  Even the name “Jiffy Treet” is so much fun.  Order a single scoop, a milkshake, or build your own sundae.

There’s nothing fancy about this ice cream shop, and that’s one of the reasons why it’s so popular.  That and the delicious flavors served any way you like.  The coffee ice cream is a local favorite, but you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.  There are two different locations in Bloomington.  So see which is closest and then head over to try it out.

What’s your favorite local ice cream joint that needs to be on this list?

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Erin Lizzo is a contributor for Million Mile Secrets where she covers points, miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels and general travel. Her work has also appeared in the Matador Network.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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