The Best Soft Serve Ice Cream Stands In The USA
Carl's In Fredericksburg
August 31, 2020
Where can you get the best soft serve ice cream in the USA? Thanks to the website www.cheapism.com we now have the answer. I'll admit that other websites had their lists but they did not include Carl's in Fredericksburg. Given that fact, I knew they could not be accurate. This list is not rank ordered.
Magpies Softserve -- Los Angeles Magpies Softserve whips up all of their soft serve ice cream and toppings from scratch. The two locations sell cold brew coffee floats and a rotation of inventive soft serve flavors — half of which are vegan — like sweetened cream, malted milk chocolate, milk tea, corn-almond, and blueberry pie. Pair 'em with fixings like chocolate covered honeycomb, butterscotch rice krispies, and toasted maple coconut chips. Salt & Straw's Wiz Bang Bar -- Portland, Oregon Besides hand-dipped cones and novelties like "chocolate tacolates" (a riff on Choco Tacos), Salt & Straw's soft serve dessert bar, Wiz Bang Bar, offers "fresh spins on the childhood swirl." Flavors include roasted strawberry coconut and matcha blood orange. Sundaes include the "Rhubarb Anise Crumble" while concretes — soft serve blended with fresh-baked cookies — satisfy with flavors like "Salted Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough." Softies -- Billings, Montana Locals flock to Softies at the first sign of warm weather for "Cherry Cows," "Turtle Bliz-Its" (their version of a Dairy Queen Blizzard), gigantic dipped cones, and a slew of other soft serve variations. Order a treat in a larger "cow" or smaller "calf" size at the window, and grab a seat outside for great people-watching. Big Gay Ice Cream -- New York City Dazzle your senses with the rainbow of colors and creative flavors at one of three Big Gay Ice Cream shops in NYC (and one in Philadelphia). Offbeat soft serve options keep the lines running out the door regularly, but the Dorothy (a signature cone filled with vanilla ice cream that's injected with dulce de leche and dipped in crushed Nilla wafers) is well worth the wait.
Leon's Oyster Shop -- Charleston, South Carolina Charleston stalwart Leon's Oyster Shop is that laid-back, super cool eatery everyone flocks to for fried chicken and fresh oysters, but it's even cooler for the simple-by-design dessert menu. Take your pick: soft serve or milkshake. This old school spot does simple soft serve really well: vanilla or chocolate in a classic cone or cup, with or without rainbow sprinkles. Whip'n Dip Ice Cream Shoppe -- Miami You never know what the day will bring at Whip'n Dip Ice Cream Shoppe with assorted flavors prepared every morning in-house using local ingredients. You might find sweet flavors like Nutella or chocolate peanut butter. Even if you're watching your figure, the Lite Cream is surprisingly delicious/light/fluffy for being sugar/fat/cholesterol free.
Danny's Frozen Custard -- Monroe, Michigan Right next door to hometown grocer Danny's Fine Foods, with its famed counter service and meats, is Danny's Frozen Custard with its creamy, rich soft serve, served in a made-fresh-daily waffle cone, at a beyond reasonable price. The cash-only establishment has outdoor seating, but you can also take your peanut butter crunch up the street to nosh riverside at Veteran's Park.
Drips & Swirls -- Los Angeles Koreatown spot Drips & Swirls features pour-over coffee and soft serve (or together as the nitro float). Rotating flavors celebrate L.A.'s diversity, alongside two standbys: charcoal crispy rice and Korean melon bar. Chef DJ Park's past renditions include matcha white chocolate, and fig with toasted brioche. Try a banana milk with a butter cookie crumble or Thai tea with crunchy granola.
Cliff's Homemade Ice Cream -- Ledgewood, New Jersey Since 1975, Cliff's Homemade Ice Cream has been churning out seasonal and classic flavors like black raspberry, graham cracker, and strawberry plus award-winning lemon raspberry shandy, sticky bun, and "Holy Cannoli" ice creams. With 11 soft serve and more than 60 hand-dipped ice creams, this nostalgic North Jersey drive-in is the perfect spot for fulfilling those childhood dreams of taste testing cone after cone.
Carl's -- Fredericksburg, Virginia Carl's is an old fashioned, curbside ice cream stand that's closed in the winter and slammed in the summer. Even if the line is wrapped around the block, you'll be slurping down a pineapple shake pretty fast. The 1940s era institution's quality soft serve comes in familiar flavors: chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Enjoy them as cones, cups, sundaes, milkshakes, and malts.
Dreamette -- Jacksonville, Florida Whether you're going for a chocolate cone dipped in peanut butter or butterscotch topping, banana milkshake or banana split in a cup, or the perfect cake batter-dipped cone, you're in for an incredible experience at Dreamette. The cash-only ice cream stand has been churning out all kinds of cold treat combos since 1948, and, yes, it's really the stuff dreams are made of. Belts' Soft Serve -- Stevens Point, Wisconsin Homemade toppings, 20 rotating specialty flavors like fruity cereal milk or yellow cake batter, and generous cones keep soft serve lovers loyal to Belts' Soft Serve. Over 30 varieties of cones, flurries, malts, smoothies, sundaes, and other treats are blended with house-prepared ingredients — brownies, cookie dough, and peanut butter cups — and seasonals like fresh strawberries and raspberries. Peanut butter flurries and Belt Buster Brownie Sundaes are infinitely better with homemade peanut butter cups!
Nancy's Italian Ice -- Montgomery, Alabama Anyone who's been to Nancy's Italian Ice will tell you to try the "Fancy Nancy," an Italian ice/soft serve combo, on your first visit. You'll pick a sweet and fruity Italian ice flavor, which is then paired with vanilla soft serve for a combination of textures and flavors that ends up tasting like an out-of-this-world float.
Tastee Freez -- Anchorage, Alaska Hot fudge sundaes, root beer floats, Oreo Freezees, 3-tier parfaits layered with strawberries and pineapple, and good, old-fashioned soft serve — vanilla, chocolate, twist, or dipped in chocolate — have been keeping people in the Tastee Freez lines since 1950.
Dairy Joy -- Weston, Massachusetts Grab a roadside cone at Dairy Joy before nightfall (and the season ends). Alongside the nostalgia and frozen treats, the family-owned, counter-serve joint also serves fried seafood snacks. But it's the tasty creamsicle or java berry soft serve quickly devoured while sitting on a log in the parking lot that makes summer in New England so sweet.
Nami -- Phoenix Nami is an unexpected soft serve destination. Besides delicious baked goods and Sunday brunch, the vegan cafe serves sweet tooth-satisfying "tSoynamis," house-made organic soy and coconut soft serve — vanilla or chocolate — with vegan goodies mixed in. You're not gonna turn down a Rocky Road tsoynami with walnuts, chocolate chips, organic chocolate syrup, toasted marshmallow syrup, and ricemellow fluff, or PB 'n' J with organic peanut butter, strawberries, and vanilla wafers, are you?
Rizuto's Ice Cream and Sweet Shop -- Colorado Springs, Colorado Generous portions of high-quality soft serve, gelato, and regular ice cream at amazing price points are a big draw for the unassuming, family-owned Rizuto's Ice Cream and Sweet Shop. Just don't be surprised if you walk into the parlor to find people eating butterscotch-dipped soft serve cones the size of their heads. David's Burgers -- Little Rock, Arkansas The David's Burgers restaurants, designed in the spirit of the butcher shops of the 1950s and '60s, sling juicy, house-made burgers and addictive, fresh-cut fries made from real potatoes. That's obviously enough to tempt those with a hankering for a delicious meal to the retro, counter-serve chain, but your meal's crowning glory comes in the form of chocolate and vanilla swirl soft serve for dessert.
Sweet Rose Creamery -- Los Angeles Small-batch shop Sweet Rose Creamery whips up their ever-changing soft serve offerings using fresh, seasonal ingredients from the local farmers market. Typically, you'll find a couple scratch-made artisan options on tap like pure and creamy milk gelato and juicy peach sorbet (a great vegan go-to). Get your peaches n' cream fix by swirling the two time-honored flavors together.
Trickling Springs Creamery -- Washington, D.C. Trickling Springs Creamery in D.C.'s historic Union Market has built a loyal following through small batch, artisan products made with simple ingredients from grass-fed cows. The result is the purest, creamiest soft serve you'll find, available in silky smooth chocolate, vanilla, and swirl.
Dairy Palace -- New Castle, Delaware Let's get one thing straight: you're coming to Dairy Palace for the sundaes. Sure, you could order a simple cone, milkshake, float, or candied freeze — they're all great here, too — but it's impossible to pass up all the sundae options. Try a strawberry shortcake sundae, apple pie sundae, or extra chocolatey "Chocolate Fluff Overload Sundae" with smooth hot fudge and sweet marshmallow. Dairy Star Ice Cream -- Lincolnwood, Illinois Chicagoland's Dairy Star Ice Cream has fat-free, no-sugar-added, and non-dairy soft serve varieties on tap. One of the veteran ice cream shop's specials is a "Flavor Burst Cone," creamy vanilla soft serve with up to three flavor gels swirled into the ice cream. There are 13 dip flavors to choose from, so you can try a number of combinations with each visit.
Mrs. Curl Ice Cream -- Greenwood, Indiana Mrs. Curl's hand-spun milkshakes, banana splits, "razzles" (like Dairy Queen Blizzards), and "flavor burst" soft serve specialties have brought loyal customers to the window and creekside seating area every summer for over 55 years. The Greenwood fixture will likely be dishing up peanut butter and butterscotch flavor burst soft serve cones — topped with a beloved chocolate Teddy Graham — for more generations to come. Dips and Sips -- Mission, Kansas Would you like fudge in the bottom of your cone? The family-owned Dips and Sips shop adds a little special something to the typical soft serve treat. You'll find "explosions," soft serve blended with toppings like brownies, caramel, or peanuts. Choose from butterscotch, English toffee, cheesecake, and more.
Piper's Cafe -- Covington, Kentucky The friendly vegetarian food and ice cream shop Piper's Cafe has a welcoming outdoor patio and crazy array of soft serve flavor options. You'll find 68 soft serve flavors, including Amaretto, German chocolate, red velvet cake, black raspberry, and rainbow Skittles. They'll even let you mix up to three flavors to create your ideal treat at no extra charge, and they recently started offering soft serve sundaes.
Red's Dairy Freeze -- South Portland, Maine Ice cream staple Red's Dairy Freeze has been whipping up some of Maine's finest soft serve and frozen yogurt since 1952. The popular spot for summertime treats offers soft serve flavors like sour watermelon, salted caramel, and peanut butter with chocolate sprinkles, "nor'easters" (their version of DQ Blizzards), and a magical off-menu item: the Boston Shake, a hot fudge sundae on top of a milkshake.
Detroit Water Ice Factory -- Detroit Bestselling author and journalist Mitch Albom started Detroit Water Ice Factory to create jobs and fund charitable works in Detroit — all profits benefit charities of S.A.Y. Detroit. You can feel good about ordering a water ice with the "Motown Twist," a delicious combo of soft serve layered with water ice, like Honolulu blue raspberry water ice with vanilla soft serve. They say "there's no calories in doing good."
Rachel's Ginger Beer -- Seattle and Portland, Oregon Chalkboard menus at Rachel's Ginger Beer display the essentials: homemade ginger beer and cocktails, soft serve floats (including boozy ones), fries, and sauces. Aside from Moscow mules at happy hour and ginger beer growlers to go, ginger beer floats are one of RGB's main attractions. With a rotating soft serve menu, find new favorites like pink guava, caramelized pineapple, and blood orange floats with vanilla soft serve.
Cup & Cone -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota Small-town favorite Cup & Cone serves a rotating roster of super smooth soft serve, including lactose-free premium flavors like classic vanilla and chocolate as well as birthday cake and salted caramel. Get a Dole Whip strawberry swirl or "sunset splash," a fruity, bubbly, and light concoction of the Flavor of the Day and Sprite run through the swirl machine. Ro-Bear's Snowballs & Soft Serve -- New Orleans Flavorful "snowballs" (aka "sno-balls" and not to be confused with snow cones) are as much a New Orleans staple as po-boys, gumbo, and beignets. The light and fluffy shaved ice and syrups are prepared in-house at Ro-Bear's Snowballs & Soft Serve, and 60-plus flavors can be "stuffed" with soft serve in the middle. Order the best-selling chocolate "stuffed" with vanilla soft serve, topped with a special condensed milk.
Frostbite Ice Cream -- Asheville, North Carolina The newest Frostbite Ice Cream in North Asheville redefines the term "ice cream bar." Think beer floats made with local brews like Catawba Brewing Co.'s Peanut Butter Jelly Time, kid-at-heart cocktails like Jack and Coke slushies. Or satisfy a serious sweet tooth with dessert nachos made with waffle cone "chips" slathered in soft serve and sprinkles. Frostbite serves over a dozen scratch-made, real-cream soft serve flavors like fudge ripple and dreamsicle flavored with local ingredients, plus fixings like crushed pineapple and honey.
Zesto Ice Cream & Grill -- Omaha, Nebraska Zesto Ice Cream & Grill's dipped and rolled cones and "super shakes" will hit the spot. Vanilla, chocolate, and vanilla-chocolate twist soft serve can be dipped in chocolate, cherry, or butterscotch before the cone is rolled in peanuts, sprinkles, or a crunch coat. Butterfinger, black raspberry, mint chip, and other "super shake" options come thick and loaded with a mind-blowing amount of candy. There are two Zesto locations in Omaha and one in nearby Lincoln.
King Kone -- Merrimack, New Hampshire Generous servings and the weekly rotation of fresh flavors make the seasonal King Kone shop a great stop for soft serve. They have the usual suspects like vanilla and chocolate as well as rotating specialty soft serve flavors like pineapple, coconut, PB&J twist, and black raspberry. Doggie cones, vanilla ice cream in a cup topped with two milk bones, make for tasty treats for canine companions, too.
Chilly Jilly'z -- Boulder City, Nevada Funky local joint Chilly Jilly'z has a self-serve Dole Whip soft serve and frozen yogurt bar along with shaved ice treats. Flavors rotate throughout the year, but you'll typically find Tahitian vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, peanut butter, and cheesecake on tap. After a long hike, there's nothing more refreshing than a pineapple-orange Dole Whip float with whipped cream and a cherry on top in the airy, colorful space.
Putz's Creamy Whip -- Cincinnati Putz's Creamy Whip has some of the creamiest vanilla ice cream in Cincinnati hands down. President Nixon even moved the proposed I-74 expressway 50 feet south to avoid Putz's back door. As a result, a 64-year-old Electro-Freeze soft serve machine named Bessie has churned out delicious vanilla ice cream to customers, uninterrupted, for decades. You'll also find snow cones, slushes, cyclones (like a DQ Blizzard), floats, and much more. Like No Udder -- Providence, Rhode Island As you'd expect from the name Like No Udder, ice cream from this all-vegan, dairy-free shop and ice cream truck is exceptional. Soy-based soft serve comes in vanilla, chocolate, and twist. Soft serve pistachio shakes, floats with locally-made soda, and "unicorn" blends of soft serve and mix-ins are also on the docket.
Twisters -- Murrells Inlet, South Carolina Mom-and-pop joint Twisters does classic vanilla, chocolate, and twist right, and there are plenty of ways to consume 'em: in a cone and dipped, shake, malt, float and "tornado" blend formats, and all kinds of specialty sundaes. Order the "Cheesecake Sundae Supreme" for soft serve covered in cheesecake bites and other toppings. 39 / 51
Jerry's Sno Cones -- Memphis, Tennessee Memphis staple Jerry's Sno Cones is known for the "wedding cake supreme," one of the menu's many inventive snow cones layered with vanilla soft serve ice cream. Ice cream and finely shaved ice might sound odd for newcomers, but nothing beats the taste of cake and ice cream in a cup on a hot day. Whatever your snow cone order, just be sure to upgrade to supreme!
Auntie Rae's Dessert Island -- Salt Lake City Salt Lake City's "escape to sweet indulgence" can be found at Auntie Rae's Dessert Island, where scrumptious baked goods and soft serve delights are made fresh. You could opt for Dole Whip pineapple or vanilla in a regular cone, but we'd suggest the cookie sundae: two cookies baked fresh in a ramekin, covered with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge or caramel, and sprinkled with caramel bites.
Dairy Creme -- Montpelier, Vermont The family-owned and operated Dairy Creme in Vermont's capital is a local hotspot during the summer months. The seasonal stand still uses mass-production creemee machines built in the 1950s to churn out the smoothest, richest creemees around. There are a bazillion flavors to choose from, but a chocolate- or vanilla-maple twist with butterscotch dip will score some local flavor points.
26th Street Sugar Shack -- Chicago 26th Street Sugar Shack's funnel cake sundae with vanilla soft serve, hot fudge, chopped peanuts, whipped cream, and a cherry on top might be your dentist's nightmare, but the sugar high is worth it. You'll likely also be tempted by the shop's sweet soft serve parfaits in flavors like strawberry shortcake, brownie s'mores, and caramel banana. Toscanini's -- Cambridge, Massachusetts Toscanini's is a hit with its quirky, creamy scoops and homemade toppings, but the shop's dense and silky soft serve is just as delicious. Treat yourself to some traditional vanilla or chocolate (or both) or go wild and expand your soft serve horizons. The list is ever-changing, but previous flavors include black raspberry and goat cheese brownie.
Kurver Kreme -- Albany, New York At Kurver Kreme, one of the oldest ice cream stands in the region, vanilla and chocolate are always on the menu, along with a flavor of the week. But the sweetest treat is the iconic Kurver Slider, made with your favorite soft serve — like chocolate, vanilla, or orange sherbet — sandwiched between a fresh Schuyler Bakery glazed doughnut and then rolled in sprinkles.
Twirl and Dip -- San Francisco Twirl and Dip dishes up organic soft serve ice cream in the form of dark-chocolate dipped cones, honeycomb candy-studded sundaes, handmade fresh fruit ice lollies, and more from their truck in Golden Gate Park and ice cream parlor in Potrero Hill. The classic vanilla bean and dark chocolate twirl cone with dark chocolate dip (sea salt optional, but recommended) can be jazzed up with homemade sauces and toppings like butterscotch and toasted almonds.
Kline's Dairy Bar Harrisonburg, Staunton, and Waynesboro, Pennsylvania Kline's Dairy Bar has four locations — and each one makes their own fresh ice cream every morning. Solid, old-fashioned ice cream-making techniques have kept them in business since 1943. A regular rotation of unique flavors including lemon gingersnap and blueberry cheesecake swirl keep customers coming back for more.
Banán -- Honolulu Honolulu-based Banán turns locally grown bananas and other island ingredients into dairy-free soft serve. Fresh fruits and veggies are mixed with the banana base to create unique creamy flavors like liliko'i (passion fruit) and greens (bananas, ginger, mint, and spirulina). Order them in cups or "papaya boats" loaded with toppings like puffed quinoa, shaved coconut, pineapple, and local dark chocolate.
Cow Tipping Creamery -- Austin and Dallas, Texas Texas hotspot Cow Tipping Creamery serves up some of the coolest creamy goods in the state. Their unique twist on soft serve, deemed "Stackers," are sundae-like desserts with exotic, housemade toppings and baked goods folded right into luscious soft serve layers — so the last spoonful is just as good as the first. Choose from rotating soft serve flavors and stacker combos like the "Southern Charm" with rummy caramel sauce and honey-dusted pecans or go wild and build your own unbelievably delicious treat. Armadillo's Ice Cream Shoppe -- Rapid City, South Dakota Locally owned Armadillo's Ice Cream Shoppe has a delicious array of ice cream, sherbet, and slush flavors. Daily rotations span from black cherry and apricot to strawberry butter and raspberry cheesecake to cinnamon and maple. Another splurge-worthy endeavor, the Armadillo specialty sundae, packs chocolate ice cream, peanut butter dip, hot fudge, and chopped nuts in a dipped waffle bowl.
Sweet Daze Dessert Bar -- Richardson, Texas Almost any sweet tooth can satisfy a craving at this shop, which offers designer donuts and cake slices in addition to artisan soft serve made in small batches daily. Flavors rotate (recent picks included black velvet, cinnamon toast crunch, and fruity pebbles), but whatever you get, consider a glazed donut cone or birthday cake cookie dough cone if a cup doesn't cut it. Lucky Pickle Dumpling Co. -- New York City At first glance, it looks like there's no soft serve in this New York restaurant's name, but — brace yourself — the Lucky Pickle Dumpling Co. serves a pickle-flavored version of the stuff, which a Rachael Ray Every Day editor described as tasting "like cucumber (so refreshing!) with a light wave of briny goodness (even more refreshing!)." They also offer matcha and chocolate dip soft serve, as well as the occasional special flavor, like the recent popcorn sprinkled with Himalayan pink salt.