The 18 Best Ice Cream Shops in America

·Food & Travel Intern

This week, Yahoo Food is celebrating America’s favorite dessert with a series of profiles, recipes and photo galleries all dedicated to the creamy, delicious dessert. Check out our Ice Cream page for complete coverage!


Jeni’s Ice Cream is No. 18 on the list. Scroll through to find out who takes the No. 1 slot! (Photo: Angie Six/Flickr)

Right now we find ourselves in the middle of Yahoo Food’s Ice Cream Nation week, where we are paying tribute to America’s favorite dessert. But can one week truly encapsulate our adoration for this timeless dessert? (Hint: No.) Ice cream appreciation is more of an everyday ritual rather than a weeklong phenomenon. So we’ve gathered the best places in America for you to show that love year round.

Creating an exhaustive ranking of all the ice creameries in the country — there are a lot of them — is no easy task, so Yahoo Food teamed up with Yelp to find which ones had the highest number of user reviews and ratings. The result was an expansive list of the parlors that made Yelpers happiest. You’ll notice that shops located in our 50th state Hawaii makes the list several times.  (Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that it has the highest rate of ice cream parlors per capita in the United States? Or maybe their ice cream is just amazing.)

You might already be a loyal customer to your favorite parlors that aren’t on this list, (and let us know where those places are in the comments below) but if you wanted to take a scoop out of some place new, these are exactly the places to go.


Photo: Crystal S./Yelp

18. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in Nashville, Tenn.
4.5 stars, 390 reviews

Jeni’s has locations all over the country including Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and St. Louis, but residents of Nashville really, really love their local spot. Brown butter almond brittle, odd as it sounds, should be on your flavor bucket list, according to Yelpers, as should goat cheese with sherries. “It blew my mind!” commented Carolyn L. The chain is known for its unique, homespun flavors, like bourbon salted pecan, wildberry lavender, and root beer. Their sundaes are also creatively cute — they’re topped with waffle cones folded into fortune cookies with little strips reading conversation topics hidden inside. “Oh hell, everything there is cool,” says Jason S. 


Photo: Ty W./Yelp

17. Tasty Crepes in Las Vegas
4.5 stars, 120 reviews

Tasty Crepes is a multi-talented confectionary. Besides selling the eponymous French dessert of crepes, they also offer chocolate-covered cake bites, fruit bites, bubble tea, and, of course, ice cream. If you order right, you can get some of these offerings mixed together in your order. A strawberry and blueberry crepe, for example, gets topped with strawberry syrup and a whopping scoop of chocolate chip ice cream. A mixed-fruit version comes with a scoop of chocolate brownie. Yo should know that the servings here are large, but that just means you get more bang for the buck. “I am here way too often but it’s worth every penny!” writes Yelper Nicole P.


Photo: Robert K./Yelp

16. Bianco Gelato in Miami
5 stars, 82 reviews

This gelato parlor in Miami’s Coconut Grove is for “people who care about organic ingredients” and “healthy options” says Yelp reviewer Isis N. You can get your scoops sugar-free, dairy-free, or gluten-free. But having health-conscious choices doesn’t make the gelato any less delicious. Hazelnut is a popular pick, but pumpkin and avocado are up there too. Order to get them in a cup and they’ll top it off with a slice of waffle cone.


Photo: Cynthia S./Yelp

15. Catbird Creamery in Westbrook, Maine
5 stars, 56 reviews

Catbird is a place for people who like offbeat flavors, like the Furious George (which contains actual peppers), strawberry balsamic, and brown sugar vanilla — all three are big successes with Yelp commenters. Everything is made in small batches on site so don’t expect to see the same flavors everyday. If your favorite is not available, you could always comfort yourself with the confectionary’s truffles, cakes, or cookies. 


Photo: Carmen C./Yelp

14. Pink’s Creamery in Hanalei, Hawaii
4.5 stars, 167 reviews

The Kona mud pie, which is Kona coffee with chocolate fudge and Oreo sprinkles, is the main standout at this ice cream shop. Other A-listers are Banana Mac-Nut Brittles (with actual banana ice cream), mango and cream, and coconut and pineapple. If satisfying your sweet tooth gives you a savory craving, you can also get a grilled sandwich at Pinks, with a side of chips and pickles. Yelpers suggest ordering a classic grilled cheese or a kalua pork sandwich with pineapple and Muenster cheese. 


Photo: Jim D./Yelp

13. Frost Gelato in Gilbert, Ariz.
5 stars, 221 reviews

Arizona’s San Tan Village may seem like your typical cozy suburb, but it’s also home to this cool gelato outpost. For a sure bet, order the sea salt caramel or dark chocolate. The customer service is quality, too. Regular customer Joan G. writes, “The service is always fast and friendly even when there is a line out the door in the middle of 100 degrees. They always bring around water to everyone sitting and keep the tables clean as soon as someone gets up.” 


Photo: Lindsay M./Yelp

12. Dolce Neve in Austin, Texas
4.5 stars, 272 reviews

This cute gelato place is a hot spot in Austin, where guests enjoy their desserts in an equally adorable atmosphere fit for a Pinterest guru – rustic white wood accents, chalkboard menus, and all. Big hits include the strange but tasty goat cheese flavor — often topped with pecans or cherries — and the Cassatta – dark chocolate with candied orange peels. Although parking is scant, there are plenty of seats for dining inside. “We come here for dessert (or meal replacement) at least three times a week,” says local Yelper Victoria S.


Photo: Island Cream Co/Yelp

11. Island Cream Co. in Lahaina, Hawaii
5 stars, 72 reviews

It’s not gelato, and it’s not ice cream. It’s island cream (at least according to its website). It doesn’t matter what you decide to call it — just as long as you enjoy it. You can find it at this scoop shop on the island of Maui. The flavors are bountiful —there’s oatmeal cookie, key lime pie, guava, and more — and handmade in-store, so you don’t get the same lineup every day. There are a number of frozen yogurts and non-dairy sorbets to choose from, too. But Yelpers are craziest about the handmade cones. The chocolate waffle cone is the most popular, which many reviewers suggest paring with turtle island cream. Plus, most orders are garnished with a pirouette cookie.


Photo: Tina N./Yelp

10. Gelato Dolce Vita in Mesa, Arizona
5 stars, 142 reviews

Owners Walter and Marti take their work seriously; they attended Gelato University in Italy and brought back their dessert-making talents to Arizona. Patrons are fans of the African dark chocolate flavor and salted caramel. But Dolce Vita is more than a gelato shop: they also have a small grocery and deli where paninis, pastas, and imported meats and cheeses are on the menu. You can even get $5 for $10 deal right from Yelp.


Photo: Jessica M./Yelp

9. AikoPops in Denver, Colorado
5 stars, 95 reviews

This is not your mother’s ice pop shop. The flavors of these icy desserts go beyond the plain fruit-tasting ones you grew up with. There’s cucumber sesame, watermelon mojito, peach vanilla & pumpkin with sugared bacon, and honey blue cheese. Avocado orange is a big hit with Yelpers. Besides selling the frozen treat, AikoPops also offers craft sandwiches and soups. But in the hot summer temperatures, you might want to stick to something cold.


Photo: Jake L./Yelp

8. Rococo Artisan Ice Cream in Kennebunkport, Maine
5 stars, 108 reviews

Although it’s an ice cream shop, the dessert is actually made like gelato for an end product that’s rich in flavor. Flavors range from dark chocolate and honey vanilla, to fan favorites like spicy rocky road and strawberry basil. As Yelp user Marcus P. puts it, “I skipped the Ben and Jerry’s for this and it’s the best flavor decision I’ve ever made!” Rococo’s menu isn’t the usual ice cream fare — expect flavors like goat cheese blackberry, rhubarb sage, sweet avocado cayenne, and Nutella cranberry. You might end up spending more time choosing your scoops than eating them.


Photo: Kamana’Wanan Hawaiian Treats/Yelp

7. Kamana’Wana Hawaiian Treats in Phoenix, Arizona
5 stars, 73 reviews

Turns out, one of the best spots for Hawaiian shaved ice is actually in Arizona. Visitors love getting the Honeymoon flavored ice over ice cream, with a snow cap sauce on top. Whereas smoothie bars have their acai bowls, Kamana’Wana has its pitaya (dragonfruit) bowls. Like acai, they come in a pinkish-purple smoothie base crowned toppings like granola, bananas, berries, chia seeds, gogi berries, and agave nectar. 


Photo: Jennifer S./Yelp

6. OMG! Dessert Lounge in Anaheim, Calif.
5 stars, 198 reviews

You might not be able to use a selfie stick in Disneyland close by, but at OMG you can freely snap away. In fact, sometimes the owner will lend you her own, as she did to Yelp user Annie C. last month. The lounge itself is bright and inviting, with FroYo-style dispensers in the wall. There are over 40 flavors of gelato, soft serve, yogurt, and ice cream — and an array of desserts like ice cream sandwiches and macaroons — but the grand slam is vanilla custard.


Photo: M M./Yelp

5. Southern Snoballs in Oceanside, Calif.
5 stars, 91 reviews

A snow cone from this New Orleans-inspired shop features fine and fluffy ice coated with condensed milk, leaving a velvety feel in your mouth. The flavor selection is copious, and all their ice and syrups are made with Carlsbad Alkaline water. Besides the ice cream, the owners themselves are a sweet treat. Visitors are on a first name basis with Rachel and David, and are fans of their friendliness and southern hospitality. Yelper Lana B. calls them the “icing on the Snoball.”


Photo: Christiane V./Yelp

4. Great Shakes in Palm Springs, Calif.
5 stars, 402 reviews

“The shakes were poppin with 100% of heavenly ingredients topped with a mini donut.” Yelper Yvette R. basically sums up Great Shakes in one comment. It’s no wonder this milkshake store is a cult favorite when mouthwatering toppings include toasted marshmallows and a cute, tiny donut hung around the straw. They even have lactose-free options so your diet won’t stop you from having a great dessert.  


Photo: Love-Mai P./Yelp

3. Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice in Kihei, Hawaii
5 stars, 411 reviews

These frosty desserts — perfect for tropical Hawaiian climate — come in massive sizes. Patrons on yelp suggest taking in your syrupy ice in a micro size because even the smalls are generous servings. Sunset Beach is a fan favorite, made with passion orange, guava, and mango. Coconut Lovers, which is covered in shredded coconut, and Local Motion – mango, li hing, and pineapple – are among other standouts. Add a “snowcap” of condensed milk to take any order to the next level. “Snowcap is a must! It makes everything taste absolutely divine,” wrote Yelper Josie H.


Photo: Meagan C. /Yelp

2. Bobboi Natural Gelato in La Jolla, Calif.
5 stars, 391 reviews

This La Jolla post is a unique gelateria with a mix of traditional and offbeat flavors. Yelpers are fans of flavors like almond zest, hazelnut, dark chocolate sorbet, Meyer lemon, and even pineapple sorbet. There’s also kibana —  a kiwi, banana fusion — charcoal vanilla (which local Jenny H. assures tastes better than it sounds) and Mediterraneo, a hazelnut/almond/pistachio mix. Plus, they’re fresh, all-natural, and organic. The parlor comes with charming outdoor seating in the back so you can enjoy your gelato in the beachside San Diego air. 


Photo: Samantha G./Yelp

1. Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha in Honolulu, Hawaii
5 stars, 612 reviews

It’s not a snow cone, but it’s not regular shaved ice either. House of Pure Aloha (HOPA) fans point out that the shop’s syrups are homemade from real fruits and natural ingredients, which separates them from traditional shaved ice places. Praised flavors include Kalespin, and nearly anything with “dream sauce,” a HOPA staple that’s similar to condensed milk, but with a lighter consistency. Even the toppings themselves are famous, especially the house-made mochi, which Yelpers love for being sweet, chewy, and molded into adorable heart shapes.

Read up on more Ice Cream Nation news:

25 Crazy Ice Cream Flavors You Need to Taste to Believe 

10 Insanely Creative Ice Cream Sandwiches We Are Dying to Try 

This State is More Obsessed With Ice Cream Than All the Rest