United States of Ice Cream: America’s Best Cones

I scream, you scream: Here’s where to get your best licks around the United States this summer.

> New York, New York: Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream

This Lower East Side parlor opened in 2014, and the soda-fountain counter has been full ever since. Made in small batches, the egg-free ice cream comes in 40 flavors, including four chocolate varieties (Szechuan peppercorn, bitter, salted, and peanut butter). Try them all in the King Kong banana split.

> Haleiwa, Hawaii: Matsumoto Shave Ice

On hot sunny days, Matsumoto doles out about 1,000 servings of Japanese shave ice (kakigori) streaked with colorful, homemade syrups in flavors like coconut, lychee, and papaya to locals, surfers, and travelers lined up at the 1951 grocery store along Oahu’s North Shore.

> Centerville, Massachusetts: Four Seas

Located a short stroll from Cape Cod’s Barnstable beaches, the venerable Four Seas Ice Cream took over a former blacksmith shop in 1934 to dish up New England favorites such as penuche pecan (based on the brown sugar fudge recipe of local grandmothers) and fresh peach, the Kennedy family’s summertime favorite.

> Key West, Florida: Kermit’s Key West Lime Shoppe

Overlooking the historic seaport, Kermit’s colorful corner shop is as green as the famous frog himself. Signature frozen treats include key lime ice cream and dark-chocolate-covered frozen key lime pie slices on a stick.

> Traverse City, Michigan: Moomers

The annual National Cherry Festival tarts up this Lake Michigan town during July harvest season, but pastoral Moomers always churns farm-fresh ice cream made with milk from its cows; several flavors are studded with northern Michigan black cherries.

> Norfolk, Virginia: Doumar’s

When an ice-cream vendor ran out of bowls at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, Syrian immigrant Abe Doumar loaded the cold treat into rolled-up waffles, then built the first waffle iron (still in use), and opened Doumar’s Cones and Barbecue near Virginia Beach. In 1934, innovative Abe introduced curbside service still provided at the historic diner today.

This piece, written by Christine Blau, first appeared in the May 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine. 

Did we miss your favorite ice-cream shop? Give us the scoop by leaving a comment below or tweeting us @NatGeoTravel!

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  1. Caruso
    August 30, 2015, 10:22 pm

    Best Ice cream in the NE: Toscanini’s, Cambridge Mass.
    Not just saying that, please ask around.

  2. Dana Freeman
    July 20, 2015, 12:40 pm

    Vermont is known for Creemees. You likely know it as Sidt serve. Best places to get one? Check here http://www.findandgoseek.net/category/creemee-stands

  3. Charles McCool
    July 10, 2015, 4:56 pm

    Really wish travel articles would stop using BEST and the ilk. Title should just be “Great Ice Cream Places” or similar. My favorite (see, I did not say the best), is Cherry Hill Farm in Lunenburg, Massachusetts. I will keep researching, though!

  4. Alyssa
    June 29, 2015, 6:11 am

    Gelato Celesti – the best, aside from my dad’s homemade, I have ever tasted! http://www.gelatiicecream.com

  5. Helen Kane
    Cincinnati, OH
    June 29, 2015, 1:22 am

    GRAETER’S Ice Cream in Cincinnati!
    It is on Oprah’s Favorite Things list too

  6. Doug in DC
    June 28, 2015, 10:56 pm

    Graeters ice cream parlors, many locations in cincinnati.

  7. Michelle Kovach
    Crank & Boom - Lexington, Kentucky
    June 28, 2015, 8:16 pm

    with flavors like Bourbon & Honey, Lucky Charms and Kentucky Blackberry and Buttermilk – how can you go wrong!!!! All Kentucky Proud products and locally sourced – the flovors are amazing!

  8. steven pearce
    ohio ice cream places
    June 28, 2015, 6:32 pm

    tom’s in zanesville, ohio
    velvet in utica, ohio

  9. Cathi Moore
    June 28, 2015, 6:30 pm

    My favorite ice cream comes from Jiffy Treet West of Bloomington, IN. If you are on a diet and watching your carbs, nothing beats their soft serve Dream-de-Lite. It’s awesome!

  10. GB
    June 28, 2015, 5:26 pm

    You guys missed Scoopsies, out of Boston!

  11. Marianne Murphy
    Creole Creamery New Orleans, La
    June 28, 2015, 2:53 pm

    best flavors- check ’em out