Enjoy a good dinner (or dessert) show? Stand back, because the folks at Abracadabra Ice Cream Factory are going to try SCIENCE (though to be fair to their name, it does seem a bit like magic)! Using liquid nitrogen, staffers at this downtown Kissimmee shop create your ice cream custom right before your eyes. Choose from among a long list of flavors and mix-ins and marvel at the the mad-scientist's-laboratory theatrics. Of course, if your kids are more up for pre-ice cream athletics, there's always the bounce houses out back. Abracadabra also serves cupcakes and, on the weekends, pizza, as well.
Recommended for Ice Cream because: Looking for a little something extra with your ice cream, Abracadabra offers up a little entertainment (and education) on the side.
A.D.'s expert tip: Be creative! With its massive list of flavors and mix-ins, the options are seemingly endless.
It's a five-step process to ice cream at Five Fx: choose your size, your flavor, your milk (soy and almond are options, vegans!), your toppings and your presentation (cup, waffle cup, waffle cone) � and you get a show in between. Ice cream scientists pour your above choices into a metal plate where its temp is lowered to below freezing. With the steady scrape and push of the spatula, your custom creation comes alive. What's more, Five Fx offers an array of traditional Asian treats, as well. Korean-style patbingsu and artful Japanese taiyaki are available, the latter with the standard azuki-bean filling or, if you're feeling creative, go wild with cream cheese and fruit, peanut butter and more.
Recommended for Ice Cream because: With an array of flavors and milks from which to choose and Asian flair to spare, Five Fx adds a unique dessert option to Waterford Lakes.
A.D.'s expert tip: Taiyaki is a Japanese fish, but it's hardly sushi – rather a fish-shaped waffle that can be filled with just about anything you'd like. Try one!
As of this writing (April 2018), this shop is still in soft open, but we couldn't pass up a chance to tell visitors about their small-batch, scratch-made and truly unique flavors. You can never be 100 percent sure what you'll find, the menu changes daily, but whatever it is – you probably won't find it anywhere else. Toasted almond and cherry, salty peanut butter and caramel, Speculoos, Thai tea, ube and the made-to-IG black ash coconut are just a few hints at the creative roster that awaits. What's more, the Greenery Creamery offers multiple vegan options, as well; the recipe is coconut cream-based with a texture that's airy-dairy-decadent.
Recommended for Ice Cream because: Delicious, creamy, cold and inventive, the Greenery Creamery is an A+ ice cream choice in downtown. Lots of vegan options, as well!
A.D.'s expert tip: Looking for a smashing social media post? Opt for the funky, black cone for startling contrast against brighter flavors. Or go goth and top it with the black ash coconut.
Dole Whip isn't just a frozen dessert. This cool, tropical confection has practically inspired a cult. Folks make pilgrimages to the handful of places in the world where you can get it. Most – Aloha Isle at Magic Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom Tamu Tamu outpost where you can get your whip spiked with rum, for example – require admission fees before you get near the soft-serve machine. At Pineapple Lanai, however, you can enjoy your Dole Whip amid the Hawaiian ambiance of Disney's Polynesian Resort, no high-priced ticket required! Save your money. Feed your addiction. And definitely go for the float.
Recommended for Ice Cream because: If there's an official list of reasons to live in Orlando somewhere, Dole Whip should be on it.
A.D.'s expert tip: Haven't been to Magic Kingdom in awhile? Look for your Dole Whip at a newer location behind the Magic Carpets of Aladdin. Lots more room!
All the colors of the rainbow and about a zillion others are in store on a visit to Rainbow Sno-Cones which has been cooling off Orlando locals since 1994. Impressed? Wait 'til you taste them. With a texture unparalleled by – well, just about anything if you ask devoted regulars – these hand-shaved ice treats are fluffy, sweetened to taste and come in an array of flavors so dizzying, you may want to check out the list on its Facebook page before heading over. Flavors include all those you'd expect and a bunch you might not, including hurricane, margarita, root beer and the interestingly named Tiger's Blood (a sweet combination of coconut and strawberry) as well as some dairy-laden varieties – coconut cream, cappuccino and wedding cake, for example – which contain evaporated milk.
Recommended for Ice Cream because: Rainbow Sno-Cones are a light alternative to ice cream on an oppressively hot Florida day – and oh, so refreshing.
A.D.'s expert tip: Bring your dieters. Sugar-free varieties are available and just as cold and refreshing.
Jettison the fro-yo and skip the butterfat in the ice cream, the Pop Parlour offers a healthier, lighter alternative: gourmet popsicles made from the freshest ingredients. In fact, you might not always find your favorite unless its contents are in season. Creative flavors like avocado coconut, lemon cucumber mint and strawberry basil sit side-by-side with tamer classics like watermelon, canteloupe and strawberry, each one a refreshing respite from the Orlando heat. Take yours to go and amble just a few steps to Lake Eola and enjoy your treat in the shade of the live oaks as you watch the resident swans glide. Nearly all their pops are vegan and gluten free.
Recommended for Ice Cream because: This fresh, local alternative to traditional ice cream is a winner for everyone with its variety: creamy, fruity, boozy, even vegan!
A.D.'s expert tip: It's five o'clock somewhere! The Pop Parlour offers boozy 21-and-over offerings, as well for a slightly pricier $5 apiece.
There is no egg in an egg cream. And every city in America should have a place where kids should learn this. In Orlando, we recommend the Soda Fountain, a great little College Park shop where fizzy chocolate milk goes by its traditional moniker and everything else – floats, milk shakes, sundaes and more – will remind grandma of when a little pocket change was still enough to buy a scoop. It's not a pharmacy-counter soda shop, but the essence of its forefathers is there. Eclectic furnishings and friendly staffers add to the shop-local vibe of the place, as does the neighborhood itself.
Recommended for Ice Cream because: Traditional faves and new takes on the classics are tasty. Scoop up a dining companion and check them out.
A.D.'s expert tip: With lots of good eats within walking distance, the Soda Fountain is a great extend-your-date-night strategy, Make it a second venue for dessert!
Wondermade is well known for its homemade artisan marshmallows, which you can buy boxed or enjoy in-store – toasted on a stick, inside a handmade s'more, melting away in heavenly hot cocoa – or even embedded into their creamy, dreamy ice cream flavors like rocky road. Yes, this marshmallow shop does double duty as an ice cream parlor and its traditional wares (think triple chocolate) are as good as its adventurous options – which are many. It's heavenly-creamy, truly. Oh, and those marshmallows? They come in flavors like coconut, honey, lavender � even fireball or gin! And while you can certainly order them online, there are flavors that are only available in store. So really, you need to pop on in.
Recommended for Ice Cream because: For Potter fans, Diagon Alley is ground zero for Butterbeer soft serve. You can't even get it at Hogsmeade yet!
A.D.'s expert tip: Four words: Maple bacon ice cream. Made with bacon from Hollerbach's German deli across the street, it is a creamy-cool confection of the highest order. Get some.
Maple-roasted pecan ice cream on bacon brioche. Rose pistachio ice cream with cherries on cardamom shortbread cookies. Coffee-salted caramel chip ice cream on chocolate hazelnut macarons. Yeah. Let all that sink in. These are just a handful of the kinds of scooped-to-order goodies you'll find on the menu at the Midnight Sun Ice Cream Sandwich truck. Even those of us with a fondness for the old-school variety of these tasty handhelds have to give it up for creamy, small-batch artisan ice cream on fresh-baked goods. This roaming harbinger of haute frozen delights is a favorite at Orlando's Tasty Tuesdays in the Milk District, but follow them on social and you may find them elsewhere in Central Florida, building a devout following of folks who will make the drive to wherever they have to should a brick-and-mortar store ever come about.
Recommended for Ice Cream because: Artisan-crafted, fresh-baked ice cream sandwiches in flavors both daring and comfortable. That's why.
A.D.'s expert tip: The fancy foodie offerings are truly stellar, but even so, you can't go wrong with the classics (if high-end) Madagascar vanilla bean ice cream on double chocolate cookies.
Kelly's Homemade first rolled into Orlando's heart as a food truck. In fact, they're still rolling all over town. But its recent move to brick-and-mortar in the still-growing Audubon Park Garden District means you no longer have to pull up a curb or bring your own lawn chair to enjoy the creamy goodness of their wares. Ice cream, Italian ices and sorbets all made in-house make for tough choices at the counter, so go ahead and ask for a little sample. They don't mind. Flavors like chocolate fluffer-nutter and cake batter n' sprinkles appeal to the mix-in set while creamy-plain goodies satisfy the traditionalist's need to keep their ice cream orderly.
Recommended for Ice Cream because: Kelly's, as the name indicates, is HOMEMADE. Quality ingredients go a long way in soothing the sadz over a blown diet. #worthit
A.D.'s expert tip: Love what you tasted? Take some home in pints or quarts. (P.S. - Try the Mexican chocolate!)