(USA Today) - What are the best ice cream parlors in each state? Glad you asked!
Founded in 1985 as a roadside fruit stand, Peach Park in Clanton developed such a following of its homemade ice cream, flavored with fresh Chilton County peaches, that had co-owner Frances Gray burning more than a little midnight oil to keep up with demand. Now a full-scale operation selling preserves, from-scratch fried pies and BBQ, it's one of the best Interstate 65 pit stops. 2300 7th St. South.
Recommended by Kim Cross, travel editor, Southern Living magazine
Among the homemade flavors that light up patrons' faces at Hot Licks Homemade Ice Cream in Fairbanks is Aurora Borealis raspberry and blueberry pures swirled into super-premium vanilla ice cream.
Recommended by the Alaska magazine staff
When things heat up in Hot Springs, the locals cool off at Dolce Gelato. Located in a busy shopping center in Arkansas' Spa City rather than on a cobblestone street, Dolce Gelato serves up 36 flavors of house-made Italian ice cream. Try the raspberry.
Recommended by Libby Smith, travel editor, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Salted butter caramel, and honey blue cheese aren't your standard flavors, but Sweet Republic believes ice cream is a reflection of our unique personalities. The Scottsdale establishment uses all-natural, farm-fresh ingredients, so there's no need to feel guilty about your sweet indulgence. Even tried-and-true vanilla and chocolate fans will feel they've entered a whole new flavor galaxy.
Recommended by Robin Sewell, executive producer and host of Arizona Highways Television
Finally, a full-on, sit-down ice cream parlor in San Francisco a simple, soaring space in the up-and-coming Dogpatch neighborhood. Ian Flores and wife Annabelle Topacio, aka Mr. & Mrs. Miscellaneous, do 10 flavors a day, delicate hand-rolled cones, and a killer frozen fudge pop served stickless on a biodegradable plate.
Recommended by Rachel Levin, senior editor, Sunset magazine
Some of the flavors at Sweet Action Ice Cream in Denver might sound odd, but they're inspired and amazingly good. They also do a wonderful chocolate and vanilla.
Recommended by John Lehndorff, creator of food-trend blog Nibbles
The University of Connecticut gets back its ag-school roots at the UConn Dairy Bar in Storrs, where you can order your cone, sundae or shake and then walk out back to Horsebarn Hill to toast the cows that made it all possible. There are 24 varieties offered at all times; try the yellow-cake batter.
Recommended by Charles Monagan, editor of ConnecticutMagazine
Slurping cones from wooden benches outside King's Homemade Ice Cream in Lewes has been a Delaware beach tradition since the '70s. A 10-gallon batch of banana ice cream requires 16 pounds of ripe bananas, while butter brickle and butter pecan are quintessential old-school favorites.
Recommended by Matt Amis, dining editor of Delaware Today magazine
District of Columbia
Argentine-style gelato creamier than its Italian cousin takes a whimsical turn at Dolcezza. Along with dulce de leche and a few different kinds of chocolate, the glass case can hold rare flavors such as avocado-honey-orange and bananas foster. The sorbettos are often spiked with bourbon or vodka.
Recommended by Ann Limpert, food and wine editor of Washingtonian magazine
Every Friday at Jersey's Creamery in McIntosh, Karen DeConna makes her small-batch ice cream in an 1880 train depot. That's when you get the freshest scoop right out of the machine. Her dense product draws its sweetness from fruit rather than sugar. Summer flavors blueberry, peach and mango are best enjoyed in a rocking chair on the big porch.
Recommended by Patricia Letakis, executive editor of Florida Travel + Life magazine
The owner of Leopold's Ice Cream, Stratton Leopold, is a top exec at Paramount Pictures. When he's not shooting movies, the Savannah shop's namesake scoops ice cream with his staff and often names flavors after movies he produced. (Think Mission Impossible II and The Sum of All Fears.) Signed posters, photos with movie stars, film props, and other memorabilia from his sets are on display.
Recommended by Kevin Langston, deputy commissioner of Georgia's tourism office
Islanders don't go in much for ice cream, but you can start a spirited debate about the best spot for shave ice, Hawaii-speak for snow cones. At tiny Shimazu Store in Nu'uanu, just at the edge of Honolulu, ice is shaved to microscopic proportions, the better to soak up the flavors. Servings are ginormous (the infamous "Larry" is as big as a bowling ball), and the owner makes all the syrups in house from the usual fruit to red velvet, crme brle, even the stinky tropical fruit durian.
Recommended by Wanda Adams, ourislandplate.com
New owners brought Delsa's Homemade Ice Cream in Boise back last year after it closed in 2007. This is homemade ice cream like you remember, with unusual flavors such as huckleberry and Swiss orange chip. Nick West and Tom and Tiffany Cushing brought Don Blele, Delsa's owner for decades, out of retirement to teach them the signature magic.
Recommended by Dana Oland, Idaho Statesman newspaper
Gayety's Chocolates & Ice Cream Co. has been scooping homemade ice cream in Lansing since 1920 in flavors such as chocolate silk, strawberry cream and Gold Coast butter pecan. Dig into sundaes like the Gayety's special three scoops smothered in chopped fruit and whipped cream or take a hand-packed quart to go.
Recommended by Phil Vettel, food critic at the Chicago Tribune
Just a few miles west of the busy hum of downtown Indianapolis, 150 Brown Swiss cows roam the pastures of Traders Point Creamery. The organic dairy farm in Zionsville produces ice cream flavors including Dutch chocolate, raspberry and caramel from the milk of its grass-fed cows. Enjoy a scoop at the Dairy Bar at LOFT, the on-site restaurant.
Recommended by Victoria Wesseler, Going Local blog, www.goinglocal-info.com
Wilton Candy Kitchen is a classic small-town soda fountain, just south of Interstate 80 in the eastern Iowa community of Wilton (pop. about 2,800). You have to call ahead for hours, because the owners sometimes close shop to visit grandchildren, but it's worth it: big banana splits and thick shakes made with homemade ice cream and syrup.
Recommended by Hannah Agran, Midwest Living magazine
How do you like your ice cream? On fresh-baked pie? In a sundae with fudge and whipped cream? Or blended into a perfect chocolate malt? They've been doing that and more since 1871 at The Corner Pharmacy in Leavenworth. They choose Ashby's Ice Cream as the basis of all of this rich, cool goodness.
Recommended by Diana Lambdin Meyer, author of Day Trips From Kansas City and the travel app, Kansas City Uncovered
Situated on a farm south of Bowling Green that has been in the family since the 1880s, Chaney's Dairy Barn features live music and other year-round events, and serves what many consider the best ice cream in the Commonwealth. A favorite: hot apple pie topped with cinnamon ice cream.
Recommended by Steve Vest, editor of Kentucky Monthly
The Creamery in Monroe (with another location in West Monroe) has a classic 1950s theme, with booths featuring photography of town landmarks from the '30s and '40s. They serve Blue Bell ice cream from neighboring Texas; you're likely to find 30-plus flavors on the menu, along with sorbets and sherbets, and a few no-sugar-added options.
Recommended by Susan Ford, publisher, Louisiana Cookin'
Way Down East Maine, in stunning Bar Harbor, Ben and Bill's Chocolate Emporium garnered attention for their lobster ice cream. The balance of their 60-plus ice creams and gelatos are made in house and include our personal favorite, almond joy chocolate ice cream studded with coconut and almonds.
Recommended by Annie Copps, senior food editor, Yankee Magazine
Make a stop along the Historic National Road at year-old You Scream Ice Cream in Catonsville to sip on a malt or dip into an old-fashioned banana split while watching classic movies and sitcoms. Also enjoy vintage soda pop and retro candies. Healthy options include fresh-fruit smoothies or non-dairy, low-fat soft ice cream.
Recommended by Camila Clark, Maryland Office of Tourism spokeswoman
In a field where exotic flavors such as saffron and fig are la mode, Kimball Farm in Westford stands apart for its deft hand with homemade, old-fashioned classics, including maple walnut, grapenut, buttercrunch and gingersnap. Flavors are rich and portions are huge, which means a small cone can feed two.
Recommended by Amy Traverso, contributing editor at Boston magazine
At first lick, you taste farm-fresh cream at Moomers Homemade Ice Cream in Traverse City. No wonder, considering it overlooks a red milk barn, creamery and pastured black-and-white Holsteins. Moomers transforms milk from its hormone-free cows into 100 flavors of frozen happiness, including "Cherries Moobilee" a luscious blend of local black cherries, brownie bits and chocolate swirl.
Recommended by Jaye Beeler, Arbutuspress.com
It's not frilly frozen yogurt, Wisconsin-style frozen custard or trendy gelato. The handmade ice cream of Sebastian Joe's in Minneapolis' Uptown neighborhood (also on Franklin Avenue) is the traditional summer standby, but done with flair and talent. The house favorite is Pavarotti, a dramatic blend of caramel, banana and chocolate chip.
Recommended by James Norton, heavytable.com
With a menu so large its flavors merit categories (such as animals, candy, spices, sodas, pies, cakes), Velvet Cream in the small town of Hernando has been an ice cream lover's dream for more than 60 years. Also fondly known as "The Dip," its 150 flavors offer an ice cream education in old-fashioned drive-through, walk-up surroundings.
Recommended by the staff of Mississippi magazine
The "concrete" a frozen custard milkshake so thick that it's handed to customers upside down in a cup with a spoon is an iconic Missouri treat and the signature delight at Ted Drewes Frozen Custard in St. Louis, which has hosted ice-cream lovers for eight decades. First-timers are always easy to spot: They have to ask what a concrete is.
Recommended by Gary Figgins, editor, Show-Me Missouri magazine
The ice cream at the Big Dipper in Missoula (also in Helena) is so creamy, it's almost like frozen custard. Huckleberry is a staple flavor here. But popular specials include cold smoke, made with a locally brewed beer, and mango habanero sorbet.
Recommended by Lynn Donaldson, Montana photographer/journalist
Located just about smack-dab in the middle of Nebraska, the Goeke Variety Store in Atkinson carries all sorts of old candies and trinkets. But old-fashioned soda fountain treats are the real stars. The best seller: a Haystack made with vanilla ice cream, butterscotch topping, crushed Butterfinger candy bars and the obligatory whipped cream and cherry on top.
Recommended by Diana Lambdin Meyer, author of Off the Beaten Path: Nebraska
Luv-It Frozen Custard was a favorite in Las Vegas before The Strip became what it is today. The frozen custard is made every few hours by owner Greg Tiedemann, who took over the business begun in 1973 by his grandmother Dorothy Woods. Chocolate and vanilla are served daily, along with two new flavors. Hollywood celebrities arrive in limos.
Recommended by Kathleen Kenna, restaurant-travel writer for examiner.com
Summer means a line at the ice cream window of the Puritan Backroom in Manchester, which makes its own on-site and regularly wins readers' polls for best ice cream around. Ice cream lovers often enjoy scoops almond joy, grapenut or Cherry Seinfeld while sitting on benches in front, on car bumpers, or in the backs of trucks and vans, tailgate style, in the parking lot.
Recommended by Amy Diaz, editor of the weekly newspaper The Hippo
A quick hop off I-80, Cliff's Homemade Ice Cream in Ledgewood is a vintage drive-in with picnic tables where locals and travelers come to lick flavors that range from silly (bubble gum) to seriously swank (Bavarian cream raspberry truffle). Eat your cone, cup or sundae after having a foot-long chili dog, and you are on your way to road food heaven.
Recommended by Jane and Michael Stern, Roadfood.com
Made in Santa Fe by the Taos Cow Ice Cream Co., the all-natural, super-premium, rBGH-free treat is available at TaosCow Ice Cream Scoop Shop, Cafe & Deli in Arroyo Seco between Taos and Taos Ski Valley. It rotates 40 flavors, 12 at a time. Best sellers include pion caramel, lavender and Holstein sunset (strawberry ice cream with dark, milk and white chocolate chips).
Recommended by Sally Moore, author of the travel app Santa Fe The City Different
Cayuga Lake Creamery in Interlaken scoops up the freshest-tasting ice cream in the Finger Lakes, using local wines, fruits and chocolates whenever possible. A favorite summer flavor is s'mores. Look for a malty ice cream this fall using Ithaca Beer Co.'s Nut Brown Ale. Try maple walnut in spring.
Recommended by Maha Eltobgy, Empire State Development
Known for ice cream made fresh, in-house each week, Yum Yum Better Ice Cream serves cups, cones and milkshakes. Owned and operated by the same family since 1906 and set in the heart of the University of North Carolina Greensboro community, Yum Yum draws a mix of students and locals craving a delicious treat.
Recommended by John Batchelor, restaurant reviewer for the Greensboro News and Record
Stroll into Pride Dairy in Bottineau and step back to a time when ice cream parlors were hot spots in every town. This hidden gem makes premium ice cream with farm-fresh ingredients and perfect syrups from scratch. Try the Juneberry.
Recommended by Kim Schmidt, North Dakota Tourism
The line out the door in January isn't the only logic-defying trait of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams in Columbus. There are also the ingredients you never knew you wanted near your cone: cherries with goat cheese and Riesling with poached pear. Lyle Lovett stops by whenever he's in town. 1281 Grandview Ave.
Recommended by Jenny Pavlasek, an editor at OhioMagazine
Bricktown Candy Co., a charming little family-oriented sweet shop,is located in the heart of Bricktown in Oklahoma City. The store boasts over 130 varieties of candy, including a lolipop with a cricket inside, but locals are in love with the store's 24 flavors of gelato. Try the bubble-gum or the roasted pistacio and you'll instantly see what all of the buzz is about.
Prince Puckler's Gourmet Ice Cream in Eugene has served up 49 handcrafted flavors from its dinky storefront since 1975, using only local and seasonal ingredients since before farm-to-table became fashionable. Offerings like ultra-fresh strawberry keep this college town cool during break — and has the locals pining for berry season year-round.
Recommended by Mike Thelin, columnist, Portland Monthly magazine
Berkey Creamery, a Penn State institution since 1896, is the nation's largest university creamery, with much of the main ingredient (milk) coming from the university's own cows. Some of the 100 or so flavors (20 available at any one time) reflect the State College academic setting. There's peachy Paterno (peach flavored with sliced peaches) named for coach Joe Paterno and alumni swirl (vanilla with Swiss mocha chips and blueberry swirl).
Recommended by Timothy Brixius, contributor, savvygrouse.com
Gray's Ice Cream at Tiverton's picturesque Four Corners is the happiest of summer destinations: an 80-year-old landmark on a road lined with stone walls, rolling fields and a winery. Go old school with rum raisin and frozen pudding, or be au courant with ginger or strawberry cheesecake.
Recommended by Gail Ciampa, food editor of The Providence Journal
Located on Lady's Island in the coastal town of Beaufort, Berry Island Ice Cream Cafe offers 24 flavors at a time. Try a scoop of a standby called the Prince of Tides, a favorite of Barbra Streisand when she was in town making the movie based on Pat Conroy's novel. It's coffee-almond fudge, but the name is pure South Carolina.
Recommended by Sid Evans, editor of Garden & Gun magazine
When Barb and Kevin Wurtz opened Edgar's Old Fashioned Soda Fountain in their Elk Point pharmacy, they found and restored a marble-topped soda fountain operated a century ago by Barb's grandfather. Try Edgar's Rocket, a vertical banana split, or the Guilty Conscience, a brownie with ice cream, hot fudge, hot caramel, Oreos, coconut and cashews.
Recommended by Bernie Hunhoff, publisher, South Dakota Magazine
The 1890's Ice Cream Parlor & Fudge Shoppe in the Old Country Store at Casey Jones Village in Jackson actually dates to 1965, but its centerpiece is a beautiful and rare 1890s soda fountain. Tennessee-made ice cream turns up in old-fashioned milkshakes, ice cream sodas, malts, floats and classic scoops. Butter pecan is the most popular flavor. Don't miss a free sample of fudge.
Recommended by Cindy Dupree, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development
Hank's Ice Cream in Houston specializes in authentic Southern flavors like sweet corn, sweet potato pie and banana pudding. They sell 16 flavors at a time, and most of the people who work there are members of Hank's family. Beyonce is a big fan.
Recommended by Ken Hoffman, Houston Chronicle columnist
The Bluebird Restaurant in Logan encourages savoring ice cream the way Americans did when it was still a rare treat — like when the Bluebird opened in 1914. Sit at the marble-topped soda fountain and watch the waitress spin your shake the old-fashioned way, or take the time to choose the flavors and toppings for your personalized banana split.
Recommended by Mary Brown Malouf, dining editor, Salt Lake Magazine
The best ice cream shop also is a top state tourist attraction and has a factory attached. The original Ben & Jerry's in Waterbury offers a fun tour ($3 adults, $2 seniors, kids under 12 free), with ice cream samples at the end. Ice cream isn't produced on weekends; you see a video then.
Recommended by Jeff Connor, Vermont Travel Notes blog
Family-run Carl's Frozen Custard is a Fredericksburg institution, with a walk-up window and long lines in the summer, but don't worry. The lines move fast, partly because there's only ice cream, and the homemade choices don't extend beyond vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.
Recommended by Bill Lohmann, Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist and author of Backroads and Byways of Virginia: Drives, Day Trips & Weekend Excursions
With an emphasis on fresh, local and organic, Mallard Ice Cream is a fun hangout in Bellingham (home of Western Washington University) for students and townies alike. Check the online Flav-o-cam for the current menu, with flavors ranging from standards to exotics, including a recent "hot" favorite: apricot/tamarind/cayenne.
Recommended by Jay Friedman, Gastrolust.com
Ellen's Homemade Ice Cream is a Charleston favorite, churning out such delectable flavors as espresso Oreo, butter pecan, raspberry chocolate chip and mint chocolate chip. Seasonal specialties include pumpkin and peppermint. Other finds include gelatos, sherbets and sorbets.
Recommended by Tricia Sizemore, West Virginia Department of Commerce
Watch the grazing Holsteins that made the milk that made the ice cream that is sold by the scoop and pint at Kelley Country Creamery, a 200-acre farmstead business a few miles south of Fond du Lac. Among the more unusual specialty flavors: maple bacon.
Recommended by Mary Bergin, travel columnist, Midwest Features Syndicate
In Western Wyoming, Farson Mercantile in Farson is said to dish out the biggest scoops in the West. Farson Merc's two dozen flavors provide a cool break as you roll across the vast Wyoming prairies.
Recommended by Lynn Birleffi, Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association