No matter the weather, the time of year, or the day, it is always ice cream time. Ask any kid, sweet lover, or a kid disguised as an "adult," and the ruling is unanimously the same, ice cream is always the answer! Our list of best ice cream factories and shops has it all, from old creameries still dishing out old-fashioned ice cream to new-age shops selling sweet treats for dairy-free eaters.
The 5 Best Ice Cream Factories & Scoop Shops in the US
Ample Hills Creamery
A Brooklyn favorite since they first opened their doors over Memorial Day weekend in 2011, Ample Hills Creamery features some of the best homemade ice creams, and every flavor is made in-house from beginning to end. Ample Hills is a registered dairy plant, so they even pasteurize their milk and cream (which you can watch while you eat your chosen sweet, creamy goodness)!
Favorite flavors include their take on butter pecan called Ooey Gooey Butter Cake, their vegan and non-dairy chocolate "ice cream" called Oh Fudge!, and PB Takes a Dip (milk chocolate ice cream with housemade peanut butter cups and peanut butter swirls).
The East-Coast ice cream company also create some of the most Instagram-worthy waffle cone ice cream tacos. The creamery started as a food cart and opened its first store in Prospect Heights in Brooklyn, New York. It has 11 locations in New York, New Jersey, and California. You can also find them at retailers nationwide.
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams
With scoop shops in 17 US cities now, you know there must be something specifically special about Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. The founder and creator, Jeni Britton Bauer, composes symphonic ice cream flavors that spark imaginative bliss. You can also find contemporary versions of the classics like Dark Chocolate Truffle, Frose Sorbet, and Honey Vanilla Bean. Jeni is a true testament to integrity and value in every facet of her business.
At Jeni's, unique and exploratory flavors like Saison with Sunflower Seeds, Maple Soaked Pancakes, and Brandied Banana Brûlée are curated and composed from the ground up. Jeni's directly sources as much as possible from people they meet, setting the high-quality precedent of not using synthetic flavorings, dyes, and off-the-shelf mixes and minimizing the number of stabilizers and emulsifiers.
Kelley Country Creamery
In the middle of nowhere in the Midwest state of Wisconsin, you can discover a 200-acre dairy farm serving up some of the country's best old-fashioned ice cream. The five children of founders Karen and Tim Kelley operate the farmstead that has been the home of 39 Kelley families who have lived in the quaint Irish community over the past 150 years. Known for its commendable farming practices and sustainable agriculture, Kelley Country Creamery features its historic ice cream parlor where guests can watch the magic being made.
This family-operated creamery has been around since 1861. It makes hundreds of flavors for tasters to enjoy (with new flavors each month)! If you are looking for a fun day trip for the family or an off-the-cuff date, add "savor scoops of ice cream on the sun deck overlooking the dairy farm at Kelley Creamery."
Big Gay Ice Cream
The soft-serve sensation that has taken over the Big Apple, Big Gay Ice Cream satisfies the city's soft cream needs one Nutella-lined waffle cone at a time. With three locations (Madison Square Garden, South Street Seaport, Upper West Side), Big Gay Ice Cream is concocted the traditional way, using all-natural milk, cream, sugar, and a small amount of invisible emulsifier from an all-natural dairy farm in Pennsylvania.
Suppose you have the opportunity to pleasure your taste buds with this decadent treat. In that case, it may be hard to choose.
We recommend one of the ice cream shop's unique parfait-style sundaes like the Shortberry Strawcake (vanilla ice cream, homemade strawberry sauce, crumbled Nilla wafers cookies, and whipped cream), the Rocky Roadhouse (chocolate ice cream cone rolled in Rocky Roadhouse topping, a blend of mini marshmallows, toasted almonds, and chocolate chip bits), or one of the Truckers (Big Gay's spin on the classic ice cream sandwich).
For our dairy-free diners out there, NadaMoo! in Austin, Texas is the spot for you. Some would call it the creamiest, most delicious coconut milk frozen dessert on the market, and we agree. This ice cream shop harnesses plant power while also keeping the health of the in mind! This family business began in 2004 with a commitment to bring a more sustainable, earth-friendly, and a dairy-free option to ice cream lovers nationwide.
Suppose you cannot make it to Texas. In that case, you can purchase this delectable dairy-free creation at Whole Foods Market locations nationwide. Favorite flavors of NadaMoo! fans include Birthday Cake Cookie Dough, Mint Chip, and Pistachio Nut.
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