Best Ice Cream Parlor (2016)


There's nothing quite as refreshing as cold, creamy ice cream on a hot day. While the historic roots of ice cream are disputed, this favorite American dessert was first mentioned in the New World in a 1744 letter by a guest of the Maryland Governor. According to records kept by a New York ice cream merchant, President George Washington dropped $200 on ice cream during the summer of 1790.  Thomas Jefferson had a famous recipe for Baked Alaska, and Dolly Madison served strawberry ice cream at a White House dinner for her husband's second inaugural banquet.

  • Moomers Homemade Ice Cream

    Moomers Homemade Ice Cream
    Traverse City, Mich.

    The kitchen at Moomers Homemade Ice Cream in Traverse City makes more than 160 different flavors of ice cream – 20 are available daily. There's often a line outside for a scoop or other menu item, all of which can be made with any flavor. Options include apple crisp, banana bread, lemon poppy seed muffin and Oreo cheesecake.
    Photo courtesy of Moomers Homemade Ice Cream

  • Big Dipper Ice Cream

    Big Dipper Ice Cream
    Missoula, Mont.

    More than two decades ago Big Dipper Ice Cream started out in the back of a brewery. Today this Missoula institution continues to serve homemade ice cream and sorbet to visitors and locals who line up throughout the year for popular flavors like White Mint Oreo, Huckleberry, Cardamom and Green Tea.
    Photo courtesy of Geoff Peddicord for Big Dipper Ice Cream

  • Doumar's

    Norfolk, Va.

    Doumar's has been serving ice cream to the Norfolk masses since 1907 and in their current location since 1934. In 1904, Abe Doumar invented the ice cream cone and introduced it at the St. Louis World's Fair, forever altering the course of ice cream history. Doumar's still uses that original cone machine (and for hungry guests, they also specialize in North Carolina-style barbecue).
    Photo courtesy of Doumar's

  • Screamin' Mimi's

    Screamin' Mimi's
    Sebastopol, Calif.

    Award-winning Screamin' Mimi's has been serving handmade ice cream since 1995, when Maraline Olsen opened the shop as a way to recreate the ice cream of her youth on the East Coast. The flavor lineup changes daily, but there's always homemade hot fudge, waffle cones, caramel sauce and whipped cream on hand to build the perfect dessert.
    Photo courtesy of Sydney Demartino / Screamin' Mimi's

  • Sundae School Ice Cream

    Sundae School Ice Cream
    Dennis Port, Mass.

    Sundae School Ice Cream opened in 1976 after a school teacher and his wife and child were looking for ways to spend summers in the Cape. Ice creams and frozen yogurts are made on-site in small batches, and signature sundaes come topped with homemade hot fudge, real whipped cream and a fresh Bing cherry (seasonal).
    Photo courtesy of Sundae School Ice Cream

  • A La Mode Shoppe

    A La Mode Shoppe
    New York

    New York's A La Mode Shoppe doubles as a kids boutique, but where this parlor really shines is in its allergy-free ice cream selection. The ice creams here are nut-, egg-, gluten- and sesame-free, so diners can enjoy their treats worry-free. Popular flavors include Blue Cotton Candy Marshmallow and Pink Vanilla Sprinkle.
    Photo courtesy of A La Mode Shoppe

  • Sloan's Ice Cream

    Sloan's Ice Cream
    West Palm Beach, Fla.

    When Sloan's opened shop in West Palm Beach in 1999, it was with the aim of creating an "ice cream utopia," and we think it was a success! This pink and lime green sweet shop features fresh-baked desserts and candies as well as a variety of innovative ice cream flavors, like Carrot Cake, Coffee & Doughnuts, Mom's Apple Pie and Tracy's Scrumptious Pretzel.
    Photo courtesy of Sloan's Ice Cream

  • Springer's Homemade Ice Cream

    Springer's Homemade Ice Cream
    Stone Harbor, N.J.

    Springer's Homemade Ice Cream occupies a historic building with the look and feel of an old-time ice cream parlor. Jersey Shore locals and vacationers can choose from over 50 flavors, including interesting options like Orange Pineapple, Potpourri or Teaberry.
    Photo courtesy of William F. Yurasko / Flickr

  • Cape Cod Creamery

    Cape Cod Creamery
    South Yarmouth, Mass.

    Cape Cod Creamery boasts that their ice cream is the creamiest, smoothest and most flavorful on the market. This award-winning ice cream parlor in South Yarmouth offers a wide selection of flavors, including Pleasant Bay Peanut Butter, Nauset Peach, Bayview Beach Brownie and Barnsatble Bananas Foster.
    Photo courtesy of Cape Cod Creamery

  • Woodside Farm Creamery

    Woodside Farm Creamery
    Hockessin, Del.

    The ice creams at Woodside Farm Creamery are made using traditional techniques hailing back to the days of George Washington's presidency. The ice cream is made from the milk of the farm's own Jersey cows, which gets processed locally into sweet cream – grass to ice cream in a matter of weeks! Besides the classic flavors, Woodside Farm also offers interesting flavors like bacon, peanut butter & jelly, pumpkin pecan and gingersnap.
    Photo courtesy of diaper / Flickr

10Best asked readers to help us find the best ice cream parlors in the U.S. from a pool of 20 nominees, and after four weeks of voting, the results are in.

The top 10 winners in the category Best Ice Cream Parlor are as follows:

  1. Moomers Homemade Ice Cream - Traverse City, Mich.
  2. Big Dipper Ice Cream - Missoula, Mont.
  3. Doumar’s - Norfolk, Va.
  4. Screamin' Mimi's - Sebastopol, Calif.
  5. Sundae School Ice Cream - Dennis Port, Mass.
  6. A La Mode Shoppe - New York
  7. Sloan's Ice Cream - West Palm Beach, Fla.
  8. Springer's Homemade Ice Cream - Stone Harbor, N.J.
  9. Cape Cod Creamery - South Yarmouth, Mass.
  10. Woodside Farm Creamery - Hockessin, Del.

A panel of experts picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Eric Grossman (USA TODAY), Anna Hider (Roadtrippers), Gerrish Lopez (USA TODAY), Jane and Michael Stern ( and Malcolm Stogo (Ice Cream University) were chosen based on their extensive knowledge of ice cream and/or food travel in the USA.

Additional parlors nominated in this category included Aglamesis Brothers in Cincinnati; Annabelle's Natural Ice Cream in Portsmouth, N.H.; Bi-Rite Creamery in San Francisco; Cool Moon Ice Cream in Portland, Ore.; Creole Creamery in New Orleans; The Franklin Fountain in Philadelphia; Ici Ice Cream in Berkeley, Calif.; Izzy's Ice Cream in Minneapolis & St. Paul; Rococo Artisan Ice Cream in Kennebunkport, Maine and Salt & Straw in Portland, Ore.

Congratulations to all our winning ice cream parlors, and thanks for keeping us cool this summer!

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AlertThe Experts

Eric Grossman

Eric Grossman

Eric Grossman

Anna Hider

Anna Hider

Anna Hider

Gerrish Lopez

Gerrish Lopez

Gerrish Lopez

Jane and Michael Stern

Jane and Michael Stern

Jane and Michael Stern

Malcolm Stogo

Malcolm Stogo

Malcolm Stogo