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Ice Cream Trip Through Maine

  • j

So far I've got plans to hit Toots in Yarmouth, Boothbay Ice Cream Factory, Dairy Cone at Waterville exit of 95, and Ice Cream Lady in Lucerne. Any other GREAT homemade ice cream up there?

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  1. I like Round Top Ice Cream.

    1 Reply
    1. re: OceanPt

      Round Top. DITTO!!!!!! (Rte. 1, outskirts of Damariscotta; also served at the highway side of Red's in Wiscasset, but the barn is better.)

    2. I like Annabel's at Five Islands (south of Bath); they also have (?had) a branch in Boothbay Harbor. But I prefer the 5 Island's location for it's beauty, plus there's a good lobster shack next door.

      1. Curious to hear your review of Toots. I went once so far, and I was a bit underwhelmed. They have a great flavor selection, and they seem to get a lot of props for the homemade extra ingredients (brownies, apple pie etc.). But the ice cream itself did not strike me as anything extraordinary. Not bad, mind you - but I left thinking it's not all it's cracked up to be.

        1. If you're going to be in the Waterville area, I think a stop at Gifford's is in order.

          Link: http://www.giffordsicecream.com/home.htm

          1. The ice cream lady is long gone. An "ice cream trip through Maine" should include all of the following:

            Mrs & Me Route 1 Kittery
            Brown's Nubble Point, York
            Daily Scoop Downtown Kennebunk
            Shaw's Ridge Sanford
            Maple's Portland
            Toot's Yarmouth
            Classic Custard Yarmouth
            Tubby's Wayne
            Deb's Randolph/Gardiner
            John's Liberty/Lake St. George
            North Street Dairy Waterville (Colby College)
            Smiley's Winslow (now owned by Shain's of Maine)

            Giffords is scooped at roadside stands throughout Central Maine, in my opinion the quality has suffered over the years as they have grown, these days it tastes all-whipped-up and artificial like Edy's and Turkey Hill.

            6 Replies
              1. re: momjamin

                Brown's doesn't make their own ice cream. They sell "Shain's of Maine"

              2. re: jackattack

                You forgot Dormans Dairy Dream in Thomaston/Rockland on Rte 1.

                1. re: jackattack

                  I've heard great things about Tubby's Ice Cream. But is it so good as to warrant a special trip from outside its immediate area like John's Ice Cream in Liberty? John's is easily the best ice cream I've had in Maine, but I'm always interested in trying other places.

                  And is the quality the same at both Tubby's locations?


                  1. re: italianices

                    I think Tubby's is well worth the trip. Especially the original Tubby's in Wayne near the pond. Nice drive. But if you don't have the extra time, Tubby's in Winthrop has the same ice cream plus a great lunch menu with a terrific Maine Lobster Roll or Hot Dogs/ fresh dipped Onion Rings, etc. Consistently good, and really just 15-20 mins detour if you're on I-95.

                    Note re above listings.....Daily Scoop in Kennebunk is no longer open and Smileys Winslow no longer serves Shain's ice cream. I think it's just Hersheys or something.

                    Scoop Deck in Moody/Wells serves up Blakes of New Hampshire Ice Cream in a ton of flavors, and Wells Beach Burger still makes their own ice cream as far as I know.

                    Dorman's Ice Cream has great flavor, but it is more like ice milk...very whipped, very light. Kudos to them for not selling out to Walmart however, ice cream shacks are always better than bigger parking lots.

                    Haven't been to Toots for awhile but someone posted a "downhill alert" about that place a while back. Any recent visits ...please report.

                    1. re: jackattack

                      Thanks, I'll definitely have to find time to make a detour to Tubby's.

                2. Smiling Hill Farm and Beals are options in the Portland area.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mjp81

                    We (me and my 6 year old) love Smiling Hill, and the bonus there is that you can also get some great cheeses, milk, and butter.

                    Beal's is also generally good, although I occasionally get some freezer burn after taste.

                    Red's in South Portland for basic but good soft serve (and "eyes" on the cones for kids).

                    Maple's in Portland is good, as well.

                    1. re: mjp81

                      I second Smiling Hill Farm and Round Top. Also had home-made ice cream last weekend at Big Daddy's (I think that was the name) in Salmon Falls along the Saco River. A really good pineapple orange.

                    2. We like Dorman's between Thomaston and Rockland. Closed Sundays.

                      1. I was recently told about John Ice Cream, I believe in Liberty...? Can anyone else recommend? And more importantly, can anyone confirm hours, so I don't drive out and find it closed? Thanks!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: happybellynh

                          I liked Johns. Interesting "Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream" and a good Coconut Ice Cream is what we tried. I think he creates some custom-made flavors for some restaurants. I would definitely stop there again whenever passing through the area. They had sorbets too, and I think "Italian Ices". Nice and friendly, and I think the hours were 12 to 9 daily? Not sure, but the phone is 207 589 3700
                          It's on Route 3 near Lake St. George

                        2. If you don't mind traveling, and driving just across the border into New Hampshire, Annabelle's Ice Cream located at 49 Ceres Street in Portsmouth is worth the trip!

                          1. Does anyone know if Cote's Ice Cream is still made in Lewiston? Probably 10 years or more ago, after trying many Maine ice creams, my husband and I found it to be superior to Round Top and Smiley's (Waterville). Smiley's was very decent and they were always very generous portion sizes... a small cone had close to a pint of ice cream on it. But Cote's had a much higher butterfat content.

                            1. Don't miss The Scoop Deck in Wells, ME. It's awesome. You will get a feel for how good it is by the line out front on any evening in the summer.
                              Happy eating!

                              12 Replies
                              1. re: The Maine Stay Inn

                                I don't think that The Scoop Deck serves homemade stuff. But I've never tried it since their sign doesn't say "homemade". There is a place just south of Scoop Deck though, called Sundaes By the Beach that has homemade ice cream. Build your own sundaes are $5.50 and include hot fudge and real whipped cream.

                                By the way, Cotes is still open in Brunswick, but I don't think they're still in Lewiston. And Beals, down near Pine Point, is just terrible. First ice cream that I've thrown away in years.

                                1. re: jackattack

                                  I agree about Beal's. But Len Libby's candy shoppe on Route 1 is just 10 minutes away, and the ice cream is terrific. My only complain with Len Libby's is that the "Needham Ice Cream" is just coconut ice cream with dark chocolate chips, instead of vanilla-fudge with chunks of Len's needhams, which is what I was expecting.

                                  1. re: jillso

                                    OH ! Is there actually a place where you can get Needham bars in Maine. When I was a kid my grandmother from Maine used to bring them to me. Are Len's Needhams the original??? Where is it exactly?Thanks!

                                    1. re: emilief

                                      I grew up in Maine and forgot how much I loved Needhams! Unless my memory is shot, they were simply sweet coconut covered with dark chocolate, yes? I found this web site that says the original Needhams have a mashed potato filling! Yuck!


                                      1. re: DexterM

                                        I doubt that they were made with mashed potatoes. Maybe there is someone who really knows~ thanks!

                                        1. re: emilief

                                          It's true. Classic needhams are made with mashed potatoes. MainSweets, in Georgetown, still makes them that way.

                                          1. re: Mainegal

                                            Thanks! Next time I go to Five Islands I will try them.

                                            1. re: Mainegal

                                              Thanks! The next time I go to Five Islands I will try them.

                                        2. re: emilief

                                          Perry's Nuthouse in Belfast (great fudge) makes Needhams in small batches. Get in line early!

                                          1. re: dwdunn

                                            I'm glad I looked at this thread -- I asked about Needhams on another thread recently. The potatoes are what separates Needhams from Mounds bars. They are a truly unique Maine treat.

                                            1. re: Bob W

                                              Maynard's Chocolates in Winslow (formerly in Waterville) makes Needhams the old fashioned way with potatoes and coconut. Located next to Subway, behind Mcdonalds, across from Rite Aid.............a mom and pop place surrounded by the fearsome chains!


                                              1. re: jackattack

                                                Wow, Jack, that is a great tip. Winslow is not exactly a place you'd expect to find a nice chocolate shop.

                                                We'll get there for sure!

                                  2. OK, here is a stretch but one worth it. Drive down 209 from bath to the end. There is a little general store there, Percy's. Have a hot fudge sundae with coffee icecream or a blueberry cone. The best part is that you get to eat it while walking on Popham Beach, the best beach in Maine.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: jspear

                                      What a wonderful idea. I could only get away with it if I walked.

                                      1. re: dolores

                                        It's a great walk, visit fort popham or just enjoy the sandy beach.

                                    2. If you're in the lakes region of Southern Maine (headed toward Lake Winnepasaukee), a new place opened recently called Shaker Pond Ice Cream. Homemade stuff and pretty good.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: ewhitten

                                        we stopped at shaker pond on the way home after spending 4th of july in portland--it was a real highlight of our holiday.

                                        1. re: ewhitten

                                          Shaker Pond Ice Cream sounds really good - would you say that it ranks among the best in Maine, or is at least worth a special trip from outside the immediate vicinity?

                                          1. re: italianices

                                            Skaker Pond is okay. Just don't read the ingredient list--lots of chemicals. I like Shain's down the road. It might be tastier.

                                            1. re: IWantFood

                                              Yikes, I'm definitely allergic to the word "chemicals". I think I'll pass, lol.

                                              Thanks for the feedback; appreciate it!

                                        2. Anyone have any updates now that summer is in full swing??? WHERE O WHERE have you found the best ice cream, and what flavor did you try????

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: jillso

                                            I don't know if it's homemade, but this weekend I had amazing orange sherbet at Goldenrod in York Beach. It was called "fresh squeezed orange sherbet". The flavor was intense orange and creamy vanilla, with little bits of orange zest.

                                          2. I don't think anyone has mentioned Hodgman's Frozen Custard in New Gloucester. Delicious. Also second Maples in Portland.

                                            1. Ruby Rose in Poland has some of the best frozen custard, not much selection on flavors, and tends to be a little inconsistent. When it is good it is about as good as you can get in Wissconsin.

                                              1. One Cow Ice Cream at Smedberg's Crystal Spring Farm, Route 26, Oxford Maine. Off the beaten track, but worth the trip for the best ice cream I've had in the state. I think they have more than one cow now.

                                                1. Does frozen custard fit on your list? If so, there's a great place on rte 302 between Raymond and Naples. Used to be Watkins, but I forget the new name. Also in the same shed as a farm stand, so you can buy squash or tomatoes at the same time,

                                                  1. Yikes, almost time for some of the Ice Creameries to shut down for the season! Stock up !

                                                    1. We live in Rockland and have always favored Dorman's homemade ice cream. But last night we hosted a dinner party where one guest brought ice cream from Thorndike's Creamery. While discussing who likes what local ice cream, someone claimed that they had it on good authority that Dorman's is now using (oh my god!) a mix. Can anyone confirm this? Please say it isn't so.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Shooley

                                                        I don't know, but we stopped for an ice cream at Dorman's the other afternoon for a dish--chocolate--and it had little flavor. Quite disappointed.

                                                        1. re: Shooley

                                                          I think most ice creameries use a base mix, because they cannot pasteurize onsight. However there are meager 10% butterfat bases, and 12% and 14%, and Dorman's seems to use a very light mix. Nice real chocolate chips and good extracts for flavorings, it seems, but the ice cream itself seems overly whipped-up.

                                                        2. Round Top ice cream lacks the rich, creamy flavor/texture which marks the best ice creams. Gifford's is not worth eating.

                                                          Tubby's, with shops in Wayne and in Winthrop, makes its own, from scratch, and is rated in Boston Magazine as the best ice cream in New England – with good reason.
                                                          In the Portland area, Smiling Hill Dairy is really good, and Beal's may be a tad better.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: muyhambre

                                                            I would disagree about Round Top. Maybe the quality differs from flavor to flavor, but I've had some very good ice cream there. The blueberry sorbet has good blueberry flavor, the grapenut is terrific, the Indian Pudding is up there with the best of them.

                                                          2. There's been some mention of frozen custard, and I would appreciate a little more, he kindly suggested.

                                                            So, does anyone have any suggestions for enjoying this treat in the Augusta/Palermo/Rockland/Belfast area? The few recommendations found in this thread are a ways away from where I'll be (Palermo), but I'm not above driving a bit for some sweet summer splendor.

                                                            Thanks upfront!

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: Jeremiade

                                                              There's not much frozen custard in Maine, it's more an ice cream state (like the rest of new england) . There's an okay place between Freeport and Yarmouth on route 1, and the place in New Gloucester that tastes more like Dairy Queen than frozen custard if you ask me.

                                                              Hit up John's Handmade Ice Creams on Route 3 between Augusta and Belfast.

                                                              1. re: HaroldandMaude

                                                                Another vote for John's. Tried it for the first time a few weeks back, it's REALLY good.

                                                            2. All of the suggestion are excellent but,
                                                              Mt. Desert Ice Cream "Fearless Flavors", worth it wading through the tourists!
                                                              Maybe some Thai Chili or maybe some PanCake ice cream, in a hand made waffle cone, dipped in chocolate and then rolled in some candied bacon! Small amounts are available.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: dwdunn

                                                                I like Mount Desert Island Ice Cream a lot, but have only tried their Bar Harbor/MDI location. Is the Portland branch of similar quality?

                                                                1. re: italianices

                                                                  Haven't tried it but have heard promising things about "Captain Sam's" ice cream in Portland. Might be a good city for an ice cream crawl....include maybe Kettle Cove Ice Cream on Cape Elizabeth. Willard Scoop near Scratch Bakery (detour! yum!) and Len Libby's in Scarborough.

                                                                  1. re: jackattack

                                                                    Great suggestions, thanks.

                                                                    By the way, Captain Sam's (which is apparently a newish place that opened in 2012) received very high praise in this 2013 article ranking the top ice creams and gelatos in the Portland area:


                                                                    "Captain Sam’s: In the heart of the tourist brigade on Commercial St., this family run shop looks like any other scoop-to-go emporium. Appearances, however, are deceiving. Their ice cream is made on the premises in small batches using sugar, heavy local cream and flavorings. Their vanilla is terrific, and the butter-pecan is one of the best I’ve had. The ice cream varieties are many — perhaps less esoteric than Catbird Creamery’s but it’s just as creamy and fine. Don’t pass this off as just a place for the Commercial Street throng. It’s the real ice cream deal."

                                                                  2. re: italianices

                                                                    Haven't tried it but the one in bar harbor was some of the best ice cream I've tried.

                                                                2. I hope no one minds me bumping this thread. It's been two years since the last reply and surely something new must have happened in that time. Then again, maybe not -- that's part of the appeal of Maine, no?

                                                                  I'll be making my annual visit in two weeks, to a house in Palermo, and hitting John's (Liberty), Dorman's (Thomaston) and Round Top (Damariscotta), Hope to add Tubby's to my list as well.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Jeremiade

                                                                    If you also like great produce, I recommend Beth's Farm Market in Warren, Maine. Maybe 5 min. off Rte. 1 between Waldoboro and Thomaston. Some of the most spectacular produce in Maine, and reasonably priced. They'll have strawberries still. Not sure which vegetables yet, but they're always glistening, fresh picked that day, and they also sell fresh lobster at non-inflated prices. Check out their website:

                                                                    1. re: Jeremiade

                                                                      Probably too far south for you, but Catbird Creamery in Westbrook is outstanding w very friendly service. Tamari caramel, salted chocolate and blueberry corn are all amazingly flavorful.

                                                                      1. re: Bluebell

                                                                        Thanks for recommending Catbird Creamery - I'd never heard of it before, but it sounds like it's a true destination ice cream shop and perhaps a contender for Best in Maine.

                                                                        In a 2013 review of Portland-area ice cream shops, Catbird was ranked #1:


                                                                        "Catbird Creamery: This Westbrook storefront makes the best ice cream of them all. The texture is the creamiest and richest with such unique flavors as salted chocolate, brown-sugar vanilla, strawberry balsamic and basil green tea. They serve the ice cream at the shop in handmade cones, in sundaes or by the dish, and they also have a terrific ice-cream sandwich—mounds of ice cream of your choice wedged between two homemade chocolate chip or sugar cookies. The ice-cream maven is Andrew Warren who for many years was the pastry chef at Five-Fifty Five. His is definitely world class ice cream. It’s available at Aurora Provisions, at various restaurants and at his ice cream shop at 846 Main Street, in Westbrook."

                                                                        1. re: italianices

                                                                          Catbird is one of my favorite Portland ice creams!! If Westbrook is too far afield it's being scooped at Black Cat Coffee in Portland right now, too--

                                                                    2. If gelato is to be considered in this discussion - I do realize that it's different from traditional ice cream - then Gelato Fiasco in Portland and Brunswick needs to be mentioned. They serve high quality gelato and sorbetto as well as homemade waffle cones.

                                                                      I've been to their Brunswick location, which was a clean, comfortable, and inviting cafe with couches and free wifi. Perfect place to hang out on a lazy afternoon while surfing the web or getting some work done.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: italianices

                                                                        Another gelato place that has to be mentioned is Gorgeous Gelato in Portland. I've heard more than a few people describe it as the best gelato in Maine, with some insisting that it's noticeably superior to Gelato Fiasco.

                                                                        In a 2013 article ranking Portland-area ice cream and gelato shops, it was rated #3, behind only Catbird Creamery and Captain Sam's but ahead of Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream and Gelato Fiasco:


                                                                        "Gorgeous Gelato: The big difference between gelato and ice cream is in the process. Gelato minimizes the amount of air churned into the ice cream, resulting in its ultra creamy texture. And Gorgeous Gelato is the creamiest of the gelatos in Portland. Made in small batches at their Fore Street shop, proprietors and gelato savants Donato Giovine and Mariagrazia Zinardi moved here from Milan to open up their business. I’ve had many of their gelatos and have always been impressed by the luscious texture and fine flavors. I recently sampled the panna cotta, a rich but subtle gelato dessert. And their vanilla and chocolate is first rate, too. Their ingredients list shows that they use cream, milk, cane sugar and some harmless stabilizing agents."

                                                                      2. Has anyone been to Dot's Ice Cream Shop in Bath? It doesn't seem to have been mentioned here, but it sounds really good.

                                                                        What about Downeast Ice Cream in Boothbay Harbor? Seems to be a great local spot, but is it worth a detour?

                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                        1. re: italianices

                                                                          We are making a trip soon to Kennebunkport (then north) and heard about this new place. Haven't tried it yet to offer a recommendation, and I do tend to steer clear of anything Artisan or Crafted, which usually translates into $$$$. I believe it used to mean 'homemade'. Anyway the ingredients seem good, and the flavors offered are very trendy and exotic should that be your preference.


                                                                          p.s. I second Dorman's very good. But if you are taking RTE 1 to Rockland, check the Maine DOT about the closure (flagman) one lane open only to cover both directions, between Warren and Thomaston. Supposed to continue all summer last I heard. So you might want to find an alternate route before being stuck in traffic.

                                                                          1. re: Coco Nutt

                                                                            Rococo in Kennebunkport is good. I've sampled at least a half-dozen of their flavors. Not too sweet, and you can taste the "cream" part of the ice cream. I found the flavors to be true to their names. Not inexpensive, but a small ($4+) was more than enough for two adults to share.

                                                                            1. re: IWantFood

                                                                              Thanks for the tip about Rococo, guys. I'm definitely going to add this place to my list of ice cream shops to try.

                                                                          2. re: italianices

                                                                            Is Downeast worth a detour to Boothbay? Well, that depends on where you're detouring from I suppose. If you're going to try both Dot's in Bath (I've never heard of this one) and Dorman's in Thomaston ....then Downeast would be well worth the detour. It's been around forever and though I haven't been there for several years, it was always delightful. It's also very close to Round top so if you're headed there it would be worth it to visit both (I'd probably skip Dorman's of all of these).

                                                                            1. re: jackattack

                                                                              Thanks for the advice. To be honest, I don't normally like driving through the Boothbay area, but I'll probably end up going there because there's a new lobster roll shack that sounds really promising (Shannon's Unshelled) and, if I'm down that way anyway, I may as well check out Downeast Ice Cream for the first time along with a seafood shack I've been to many times, Bet's Fish Fry.

                                                                              And Round Top and Dorman's Dairy Dream are definitely on my itinerary since I'll inevitably be passing through Damariscotta and Thomaston on my way up the coast.

                                                                            2. re: italianices

                                                                              Had Dot's in downtown Bath Saturday. It's Shain's of Maine, which is made and sold in Sanford. That said, easy stop and nice atmosphere. If you go to Sanford, Shaw's is the best I think.

                                                                            3. Another ice cream shop worth noting is Morton's Moo in Ellsworth. I tried this place last year and enjoyed my ice cream, although I don't think I liked it as much as some of the folks raving about it on other food and travel sites. While I definitely feel they serve a pretty good product, I'm not sure if it's worth a special trip.

                                                                              I did appreciate the fact that the lady working behind the counter (who I believe is the owner) was super friendly and helpful.

                                                                              I'll definitely be passing through the Ellsworth area this weekend, so I'm going to give it another shot and possibly try some new flavors.

                                                                              1. Has anyone tried Stone Fox Farm Creamery? They don't have their own storefront but they do have a mobile truck that goes to farmers' markets and other events around Maine, plus their ice cream is served at various ice cream shops and markets around the state.


                                                                                "About Stone Fox Farm Creamery

                                                                                We make homemade ice cream at our small plant in Monroe, Maine. Our ingredients include milk from our neighbors at Hilltop Farm, cream, and sugar (never high fructose corn syrup). Our flavorings and extracts are all natural, and we use Maine grown fruit and maple syrup whenever possible.

                                                                                Our Carpigiani batch freezer makes 2.5 gallons of ice cream in about 10 minutes and has a small overrun (the amount of air incorporated into the mix) resulting in a smooth and creamy product. We offer about 25 flavors, some of which are seasonal.

                                                                                MobileCone is our ice cream truck. Look for us at events around Maine!"

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: italianices

                                                                                  It's retailed at Rosemont in portland right now--pretty fantastic ice cream! The chocolate based ice creams are particularly good--especially the chocolate salt caramel.

                                                                                  1. re: sultanaboudreau

                                                                                    Cool, I'll have to add this place to my list. :)

                                                                                    1. re: italianices

                                                                                      I've seen it around Belfast and Lincolnville if you're going to be in that area. Dot's in Lincolnville used to carry a few flavors, not sure if they still do, but it's a good place to stop for a muffin or a sandwich anyway www.dotsgoodies.com