The Best Ice Cream Shops In The US, According To Mashed Staff

When the summer sun is bearing down and cooling refreshment in the form of a frozen treat is all that will suffice, ice cream is the natural go-to. Sure, you could head to the grocery store and grab a pint from the freezer section, but there's something special about walking into an ice cream shop, gazing down at the array of colorful flavors, and ordering a couple of hefty scoops of the creamy treat — with or without a cone.

The food scene in the United States looks radically different than it did a century ago. We have fast-food drive-thrus and food delivery that can be ordered straight to our door via a smartphone. Yet, ice cream shops remain a nostalgic throwback to a different time. Yes, we now have more ways to pay for those scoops than just cash, but so much about the ice cream shop has remained unchanged.

To celebrate this delectable treat, the Mashed staff rounded up a list of our favorite ice cream shops in the country. Visit these ice cream parlors and you'll find unique flavors and a bounty of toppings, all of them guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Chinatown Ice Cream Factory in New York, New York - Jenny Kellerhals

Time and time again, we've made our way to the heart of Chinatown and stood in front of a bright yellow storefront with a delightfully chubby cartoon dragon eating spoonfuls of ice cream on the sign out front. This is The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, and it's the best ice cream shop in NYC. The small shop on Bayard Street was founded 45 years ago by Phillip Seid, and is still a family-owned and operated business — currently owned by Christina Seid, Phillip's daughter. The ice creams are all homemade with traditional Chinese recipes and include flavors that you simply can't find anywhere else. In 2019, a second location opened in the Essex Market on the Lower East Side, followed by a third shop in Flushing, Queens.

The first half of the menu is made up of the "Regular Flavors," which include the wildly popular Black Sesame, Thai Iced Tea, Zen Butter (which is peanut butter ice cream with toasted sesame seeds), and Don Dot (a Chinese egg custard flavor). The Almond Cookie flavor is particularly special, as it's made with Chinese almond cookies baked at the Golden Fung Wong Bakery that's just around the corner on Mott Street. You'll also find Durian, Pandan, Green Tea, Lychee, and Taro on the menu, which are mostly all staples. The second half of the menu includes "Exotic Flavors," which are high-quality renditions of flavors that you might find in typical American ice cream shops, like Mint Chip, Oreo Cookie, and Rocky Road.

Wilton Creamery in Wilton Manors, Florida - Samantha Jacobs

One South Florida ice cream shop is a can't-miss for locals and tourists: Wilton Creamery. Located in downtown Wilton Manors, this unassuming ice cream shop features an eclectic array of flavors that perfectly complement the lively city it calls home. When you step inside, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the retro-industrial decor, the cozy upstairs lounge, and the reliably friendly greeting you'll receive. The atmosphere instantly feels inviting and familiar, whether it's mid-afternoon or just before closing time (at an impressively late 11:00 p.m. most days).

Then, there's the menu. It's extensive, detailed, and perhaps even a little overwhelming. Wilton Creamery's founder, pastry chef DJ Colby, creates his own unique, original recipes for the shop's handmade ice creams, and the lineup includes both seasonal specialties and longstanding crowd favorites. Several flavors have memorable names, such as "He's Not Worth It," a Heath bar-inspired ice cream that has remained popular for years. There are also plenty of zero-sugar options, vegan-friendly flavors, and even a few that are safe for dogs.

However, the variety doesn't stop with ice cream. The shop offers an awe-inspiring selection of toppings, some of which vary by season. Traditional choices such as sprinkles, wet walnuts, and chocolate chips sit alongside one-of-a-kind options like Moscato-soaked pineapples, matcha hot fudge, and strawberry boba. If that isn't enough, the shop even offers multiple whipped creams, including coffee, blackberry, and rotating seasonal flavors. The decadent dessert possibilities are only limited by your own imagination.

Lazy Dog Chocolateria and Ice Cream Parlour in Grass Valley, California - Becki Robins

Summer temperatures in the smallish town of Grass Valley in Northern California can get well into the triple digits, which means ice cream is almost a matter of survival. Fortunately, the town's pedestrian-only block on Mill Street (where you are most likely to roast on a July afternoon) offers some respite from the heat in the form of the state's best ice cream. Inside, Lazy Dog Chocolateria and Ice Cream Parlour is very cute and very pink. The indoor seating is limited so if you can't snag a table you'll have to eat fast to stop your ice cream from becoming a sidewalk puddle.

Lazy Dog has traditional ice cream cones, milkshakes, ice cream "cookiewiches," and hand-dipped drumsticks, but the absolute most delicious thing you can get there is the chocolate-covered ice cream bar, which features a super-generous layer of milk or dark chocolate on top of fabulously creamy vanilla ice cream.

If you'd rather not opt for using up half your daily calories on an ice cream bar, you can also get a lighter cup of dairy-free gelato. Bring your dog (lazy or otherwise) and order a pupsicle, which looks edible for humans but probably isn't. If it's too cold for ice cream (it literally never is but whatever), Lazy Dog also features handmade chocolates and a selection of practically every other candy in the universe.

Papa Ed's in Glendale, Arizona - Steve Luna

Located in the center of charming Downtown Glendale, Arizona, Papa Ed's is a sweet throwback to neighborhood ice cream parlors of yesteryear. It helps that the building housing this quaint creamery was constructed in 1951 as part of the original residential neighborhood, now a commercial circuit called Catlin Court. Owner Linda Moran-Whitley named Papa Ed's after her husband, who passed away before the idea of the ice cream shop was conceived. Per The Glendale Star, this humble store has been named Best Ice Cream Shop in Glendale three consecutive years, most recently in 2022.

At Papa Ed's, community is the flavor that tops the menu. The tip jar on the counter collects donations for local causes, including animal charities like Arizona Search Dogs. And when it comes to the ice cream, customers will find the creations of Karen's Kreamery, a Phoenix-based craft creamery that offers its products wholesale. This tasty team-up provides visitors to Papa Ed's bowls and cones filled with classics like peppermint candy and strawberry, as well as tempting artisan concoctions like honey lavender and honeycomb chocolate crunch. You'll also find delicious dairy-free creams and sorbets chilling in the case.

Amy's Ice Creams in Austin, Texas - Kirstie Renae

Established in Austin in 1984, Amy's Ice Creams specializes in artisan and premium ice creams, dairy-free fruit ice, and frozen yogurt. The shops, which have locations in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio are known for the unique ability to capture the "Keep Austin Weird" spirit of the company's hometown. The stores are decorated in bright colors and wild prints, and the ice cream scoopers who work there are known for their entertaining and fun way of serving up the regional chain's frozen treats. Don't be surprised if you're greeted with "Time Warp" blaring as the company's Ice Cream Heroes dance and toss scoops of ice cream into the air before serving your dessert. With jugglers, singers, and dancers, the ice cream counter at Amy's is always half customer service, half performance art. (Amy's even hosts "Trick Olympics" for scoopers to showcase their most unique ways of serving ice cream!)

Don't let the fun presentation fool you into thinking Amy's doesn't take its ice cream seriously. Amy's is also well-loved for its quality treats. The company is known for its "world-famous" Mexican Vanilla Ice Cream, but the brand also carries a rotation of over 350 different flavors. Some of the more unique flavors offered include chocolate lavender, donut, and roasted cherry. Amy's also offers an array of unique toppings that can serve as mix-ins to create your own flavor combination, including candy, cookies, fruit, nuts, sprinkles, sauces, and more. This means every visit to Amy's offers something new.

Dave & Andy's in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Helena Nichols

Move over, Ben & Jerry. Pittsburgh has its own ice cream powerhouse — Dave & Andy's. You know you have made it when you survive off of reputation alone and don't need to have things like a website. Dave & Andy's has been churning up delicious flavors since 1983. Located on a side street in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood, you are greeted by a charming green and red awning and a giant neon ice cream cone to let you know where you are. The inside is straight out of time with brightly colored walls and a chalkboard menu proudly displaying the current flavors. The whole place has clearly been maintained, but instead of constant updating, it has kept its old-school charm. The one update is that as of the pandemic, they now accept credit cards!

If you go on a hot summer day, be forewarned: you will be waiting in a line that stretches out the door and down the street, but it is worth it. Dave & Andy's makes malts and floats with independent soda companies. In addition to classic flavors, they are always scooping up interesting creations such as one of my favorites, white chocolate cinnamon habanero. Of course, the thing that really seals the deal is their freshly made waffle cones. You can literally watch as someone makes them, each having a single M&M in the bottom to prevent dripping. Dave & Andy's is a Pittsburgh experience not to be missed.

Black Cow Cafe in Sedona, Arizona - Jeremy Brown

Sedona, Arizona is known for its stunning red rocks and mystical vortexes of spiritual energy. However, the real magic of Sedona can be found in this downtown shop, which serves up fresh, homemade ice cream, pies, and pastries. Pretty much any ice cream flavor that you choose to go with is a guaranteed winner, but if you want to try a true taste of the Southwest, you can opt for the Prickly Pear ice cream, made from the fruit of local-growing cacti. Sweet and flavorful, it's something you'll be dreaming of long after you've left Sedona behind. The root beer floats are also a cut above, made with creamy vanilla ice cream and rich draft root beer. You can also opt for the creamsicle float, which swaps out the root beer for tangy orange soda.

If you're looking for a little lunch before you indulge in dessert, the Black Cow has you covered as well. In addition to sweets, the cafe serves up a quarter-pound, all-beef hot dog wrapped in a French baguette so thick and warm, you'll be debating whether to eat it or use it as a pillow. All in all, while downtown Sedona has a few top-shelf food options for hikers and explorers looking to unwind, if you only have time to visit one dining spot, make it the Black Cow Cafe.

Artesana Ice Cream Shop in Marion, North Carolina - Mary White

Artesana ice cream, which is available in and around the tiny western North Carolina town of Marion, is among the best ice cream you'll find anywhere in the world. This third-generation family business is known for rich and creamy all-natural, scratch-made ice cream. What makes this ice cream uniquely delicious is that it's sweetened with pure honey. Its texture is amazing and its taste is like no other.

The Artesana ice cream shop is in downtown Marion, about an hour outside of Asheville, North Carolina. If you visit Asheville, plan a day trip to try this ice cream for yourself. It's so worth the drive. The scenery is gorgeous and the ice cream is incredible. Artesana's menu features dozens of flavors, which vary based on availability — after all, you can't rush great handmade ice cream. My favorite is cherry chocolate chip, but you won't be disappointed with any flavor.

There's something for everyone at Artesana ice cream shop. You can get Artesana ice cream by the scoop, pint, or quart, or order decadent delights like banana splits, ice cream floats, and milkshakes. The menu includes dairy-free options, as well as delightfully delicious sugar-free ice cream sweetened with kabocha extract.

Artesana's shop is just a short detour from the Blue Ridge Parkway and popular tourist destinations like Linville Falls and Linville Caverns. Artesana ice cream is also available in many hotels, restaurants, and attractions throughout the two counties (McDowell and Buncombe) where Asheville and Marion are located.