The 10 Best Ice Cream Shops at the Beach
Sweet Rose Creamery, Santa Monica, California
Why we love it so much: This is art in a takeaway dish, and you’ll thank us for sending you to the Santa Monica location of LA’s five-star creamery owned by Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan and helmed (and co-owned) by the fabulously talented Shiho Yoshikawa. The sweet reward of SRC is not just those nuanced and delicious flavors like Bergamot Mint with Candied Grapefruit, but Yoshikawa’s frozen conceits, including seasonal ice cream pies (fresh peach!) and ice cream sandwiches (Summer Corn ice cream with vanilla wafer!). Subscribe to Sweet Cream's newsletter to catch any fun pop-ups... last summer they were on glorious Venice Beach several times.
Rococo Artisan Ice Cream, Kennebunkport, Maine
Why we love it so much: Creative and rich blends (14 rotate on and off the menu in Rococo’s standard, specialty and seasonal categories every day, so every time we come back we discover a new favorite) made from the milk and cream from the happy cows of Hatchland Farms in northern New Hampshire. Exhibit A: Olive Oil, Rosemary-infused Caramel and Toasted Pepitas, which we had on our last visit, and Exhibit B: Sweet Cream Strawberry Rhubarb, from a year ago (and not forgotten). Also: ample portions and a tiny and charming storefront in the midst of all the fun in the delightful waterfront town of Kennbunkport.
Kill Devil’s Frozen Custard and Beach Fries, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina
Why we love it so much: For us, frozen custard and beach days go together, and if you haven’t tried this dense and creamy treat (and particularly after a day on the Outer Banks), then you just haven’t lived. The frozen custard (in vanilla, chocolate, and a daily special flavor that’s usually posted on Kill Devil’s Facebook page, here) is made hourly at this summer hot-spot, so your swirl is guaranteed to be fresh. Order some hand-cut beach fries as long as you’re there… a summer power-move of the highest order.
Annabelle's Natural Ice Cream, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Why we love it so much: First, let us say that Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is one of our favorite seaside New England towns (and one of our Happiest Seaside Towns in 2015), and chief among its charms is its food (and the very nice people who live and work there). So why were we not surprised to discover this darling little spot on the waterfront, scooping up powerful black raspberrry ice cream that wowed us? Rich and dense, this is ice cream for ice cream fanatics. You know who you are.
Moomers Homemade Ice Cream, Traverse City, Michigan
Why we love it so much: Four words: Black Cherry ice cream. Made with pieces of real Northern Michigan black sweet cherries, it’s worth a trip to the Great Lakes just for this creamy taste of summer. This creamery in one of our favorite lakeside towns is part of Traverse City’s spirit and embrace of old-fashioned American style (check out why it’s one of the best small towns to celebrate the Fourth of July, here). And once you’ve tried the Black Cherry, there are 159 more flavors at the ready. Plan to spend the summer here.
Mora Iced Creamery, Bainbridge Island, Washington
Why we love it so much: Less butterfat, more flavor. That’s the mantra that has created one of the West Coast’s finest seaside creameries, tucked away near the ferry dock on Washington's Bainbridge Island. Worth hopping the boat from Seattle? We'd do it daily, just to have a chance to work our way through Ana Orselli and Jerry Perez’s menu of more than 70 subtly remarkable flavors (48 on any given day) that include Gianduja, Marron Glace, Dulce de Leche (homages to their hometown of Buenos Aires, Argentina), Goat Cheese with Fig, Banana Split, Lemon Bar, and now that it’s summer, Lavender. Glorious.
Cream, Pacific Beach, California
Why we love it so much: Because ice cream sandwich. Started in Berkeley, California, Cream has taken hold of the marriage of baked good and ice cream (is there any match more made in heaven?) and fueled the current craze for the elevated ice cream sandwich. Now at the Pacific Beach location, you can combine a day on the sand with, let’s say, a red velvet cookie sandwiching some cinnamon chill ice cream. Or a butter sugar cookie sandwich featuring blueberry cheesecake ice cream. The possibilities here seem endless, and this just means reason to go back over and over again.
Four Seas Ice Cream, Centerville, Massachusetts
Why we love it so much: We owe the discovery of this old-fashioned institution (since 1934) housed in a former blacksmith shop in Centerville to Coastal Living readers John and Lynn McCarthy, who are Cape Cod experts and have hauled our travel editor (and her kids) here over many happy summer visits. Check out the chip chocolate (melted chocolate that hardens when it hits the frozen ice cream) and if peaches are in season, order up a big scoop of fresh peach (rumored to be Jackie O’s favorite flavor here).
Calabash Creamery, Calabash, North Carolina
Why we love it so much: We love quaint, off-the-beaten-path Brunswick County, and this family-owned spot in this cute Intracoastal town just north of the NC/SC border hits all the right notes for us for an old-fashioned ice cream experience. Check out the Cantaloupe ice cream along with their July classic, Sunset Peach, made from local peaches.
Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream & Desserts, Honolulu, Hawaii
Why we love it so much: Well, it’s on Oahu. There’s that. But more to the point, it’s Bubbies’s mochi–that fantastic Japanese confection that encases a 1.25-oz. bite of ice cream in a sweetened rice concoction–that’s drawn food lovers and chefs alike to this institution since the 1980s. Bubbies’s mochi flavors, including the wildly popular Green Tea, as well as Guava, Lychee, and Mango, are as mind-blowing as the waves on the North Shore.