Special Report

Best Ice Cream Shop in Every State

“Ice cream is a category on fire,” says a report from industry website Dairy Foods — and no, the report’s not talking about flambéed Baked Alaska. Over the 52-week period ending on Sept. 6, 2020, ice cream sales in America rose 13.4% to a total of $6.84 billion, according to the site.

Ice cream is one of the ultimate comfort foods, so it’s little wonder that we’ve been buying it so enthusiastically since the pandemic hit. And with 2021 shaping to be one of the hottest years on record, sales will almost surely continue to grow through the year. Of course, having a famously ice cream-loving president will likely not hurt sales either. (Here is a list of President Biden’s favorite foods.)

Given that the stakes are so high, it’s hardly surprising that big food companies have become major players on the ice cream scene (Nestlé owns Häagen-Dazs and Dreyer’s, and Unilever owns Ben & Jerry’s), or that supermarkets devote so much freezer space to it.

Independent ice cream parlors remain an enduring American tradition, however. There are probably thousands of such places around the country, most of them making their own ice cream on an artisanal scale, and many of them creating unusual flavors — honey bourbon cornbread, rye whiskey eggnog sugar cookie — as well as standbys like chocolate and vanilla. Still, here are some delicious ice cream flavors we wish would come back.

To assemble a list of the best ice cream store in every state, 24/7 Tempo considered ratings and reviews on a variety of food and general interest sites, including Food & Wine, Eat This Not That, The Daily Meal, Taste of Home, Delish, Spoon University, Insider, and Reader’s Digest, as well as numerous local and regional sites.

Click here to see the best ice cream shop in every state

We left chains like Baskin-Robbins, Carvel, and Cold Stone Creamery off our list and did not include frozen yogurt shops (though frozen yogurt might be on the menu at some of the places here). And while some of the ice cream parlors listed have several locations, we have also omitted regional enterprises that have grown to have a nationwide presence, like Graeter’s from Cincinnati and McConnell’s from Santa Barbara, California. 

Note that suggested flavors may be seasonal or occasional and may not always be available.