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The best ice cream in the US (reachable by JetBlue)

Dear Chow-folk,

I need help picking the best ice cream shops in the country to visit over the course of 30 days.

I got a JetBlue "all you can jet" pass for Sept 7-Oct 8, and I plan to sample the best ice cream shops in the country. Unfortunately JetBlue doesn't fly to some places with great ice cream, like Ohio, MI, and WI. I've also excluded some places that are hard to get to without a car outside of the mid-Atlantic region. And, although my list includes California places, I'm going to focus on places outside California while I have the flight pass.

I've put together a rough list of candidates based on several sources, including the great chow thread here from 2006: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/324492

I put the candidate list at the bottom of this post, and an editable version on Google docs ( http://tinyurl.com/BestIceCreamUSA ). Any input you have is welcome and can be made at either place.

Here are my specific questions:

What should I add to the list?
What should I remove from the list?
Do you recommend particular flavors?

This is primarily an ice cream list, and I want to limit distractions, but I've already got a few gelato places on the list. Frozen pop suggestions are welcome too.

To give you a sense of the kind of ice cream I like, my favorite ice cream stores so far are Bi-Rite (SF) and Scoops (LA).

My pass excludes flights operated by Cape Air (to Cape Cod and nearby islands) and foreign destinations cost extra, so I'm excluding those too.

Thanks! I haven't figured out entirely how I'm going to track my progress, but I'll post updates or links here when I figure that out.

Here's the list (Name followed by metro area):
Angel Sweet Gelato, Phoenix
applegate farm, NYC
Bassett's, Philadelphia
Bellvale Creamery, NYC
Bi-Rite Creamey, SF Bay Area
Blue Bell Ice Cream, Texas (Austin?
)Bulgarini Gelato, LA
Capannaris, Chicago
Carl's, Fredericksburg VA
Chinatown Icecream Factory, NYC
Cones, NYC
Creole Creamery, New Orleans
Dave and Andy's, Pittsburgh
Delicieuse, LA
Doc Burnstein's Ice Cream Laboratory, San Louise Obispo
Downtown Bakery & Creamery, 70 miles from SF Bay Area
Dr. Mike's Ice Cream Factory, NYC/CT
Fairfax Scoop, SF Bay Area
Far Fars, Boston
Farr's Fresh, Utah
Flamingo Crossing, Key West
Franklin Fountain, Philadephia
Gerenser's Exotic Ice Cream, New Hope PA
Gifford's, DC
Herrell's, Boston
Ici Ice Cream, SF Bay Area
Jake's Ice Cream., Atlanta
Joe's, SF Bay Area
JP Licks, Boston
Kimball Farms, Boston
Kline's Dairy Bar, Harrisonburg VA
Lappert, Monterey CA and Los Angeles
Margies Candies, Chicago
Marianne's Ice Cream, Santa Cruz CA
Mariposa Ice Cream, San Diego
max and mina's, NYC
McConnell's Fine Ice Creams, Santa Barbara CA
Meyer Dairy, State College PA
Mitchell's, SF Bay Area
Moxley's Ice Cream Parlor, Baltimore
Oberweiss, Chicago
Paradis, LA
Premise Made, between Allentown and Reading PA.
Purity Ice cream, ithaca NY
Richardson's Dairy, Boston
Rick's, SF Bay Area
Robin Rose Ice Cream & Chocolate, LA
Ronnybrook Farms, NYC
Scoops, Los Angeles
Shubert's Ice Cream and Candy, Chico
Snoqualmie Gourmet, Seattle
Teo's, Austin
Toscanini, Boston
University Creamery, Penn State
Yellow Snow Ice Cream, Utah
Zozo's Juice & Grille, NYC

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  1. What a great trek.

    To add to your list.

    - Sweet Republic (Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ)
    - Elizabeth Creamery (Charlotte, NC)
    - Little Man's and Lik's (both in Denver, CO)
    - Mashti Malone's (Los Angeles, CA)

    Enjoy and report back.

    1. Well, you're not gonna get to STL on Jet Blue unless that pass affiliates with American Eagle. And Ted Drewes custard is pretty unimpressive unless it's in a concrete, which is the shake that inspired DQ's Blizzard. But since you have Ohio spots on there despite saying you can't get to Ohio, a strong recommendation for Jeni's in Columbus. Just stunning stuff.

      1 Reply
      1. re: lemons

        Ah, thanks for pointing out my list error. I meant to remove those from my shared list. I'm keeping track of them offline though, because Jeni's and Graeter's sound terrific. I'll have to plan another trip with different transportation.

      2. Graeter's ice cream, which has multiple shops in Louisville KY. I believe they have other locations as well (Cincy, OH maybe?). Wonderful iced cream

        1 Reply
        1. re: elfcook

          Yup - they're in Ohio too (although I know you can't go there...glad it's outside of Ohio!). That was what I popped on here to suggest, actually! You HAVE to get something with the chocolate chunks/ribbons.

          Seriously, I still have dreams about it and it's been almost five years since the last time I had it. I even paid theme park prices for a tiny 1/2 pint ($6 or something ridiculous like that).

          You would be seriously missing out if you didn't visit Graeter's!

        2. Add: Manning Dairy Farm in Scranton, PA. Any flavor containing vanilla as a base (there are many). This has become my new standard for great ice cream.

          Definitely remove Franklin Fountain in Philly and McConnell in Sanata Barbara from your list. Both good, not great.

          Gifford in DC does not even rate good for me. York Castle Tropical Ice Cream in Rockville, MD is the best in the DC area, especially for tropical flavors.

          Since you are including gelato, then Ottho in NYC, I can highly recommend the olive oil, burnt sugar, hazelnut and pistachio as some of the best int he world.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Steve

            Done! Thanks for helping me winnow those out. I'll definitely be checking out York and Ottho, but I'm not sure how far into PA I'm going to get. Manning will at the least stay on my "to do" list. Every time I read your Ottho flavor recommendations, my stomach contracts. Can't wait!

          2. Molly Moon's in Seattle: http://www.mollymoonicecream.com/

            I went twice a week when I still lived there. They serve fresh flavors made with local and organic ingredients.

            Have fun on your trip(s)! What a great idea; if I were you I'd bring a videocamera and document your adventure.

            1 Reply
            1. re: twj

              I used to live in Seattle, and I've never been to Molly Moon's. Thanks for the great suggestions.

            2. Humphrey Slocombe in SF. If the stars are right, you can get prosciutto, olive oil, basil and tomato (4 flavours, not one).

              1. Blue Bell is in Brenham on US 290, about half way between Austin and Houston, a little over an hours drive to Brenham. They have a shop on premises, and also offer tours of the plant, Mon-Fri.


                  1. Raleigh, NC: Goodberry's and Locopops

                    Atlanta, GA: King of Pops (If you go to Irwin St. Market you can get these while you try Jake's-which is already on your list)

                    1. It kind of depends what criteria you are using. Are you looking for the best ice cream, or literally the best ice cream shops. Margie's Candies in Chicago might be worth a visit from a nostalgia perspective, but the ice cream is notably horrible. The ice cream at the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory in NYC is o.k., and it's a fun place to visit, but it would never make my "best" list.

                      Purity is good, but not worth traveling to Ithaca for.

                      Can't wait to see your top 10.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: CathleenH

                        Thanks Cathleen! I am looking for the best ice cream that is sold in a shop. I appreciate your help paring shops off the list. I think that will be the hardest part.

                        1. re: RhileighAlmgren

                          There is another shop in Brenham, just down the street from the creamery.


                      2. I was so excited to see Shubert's on your list- so good! My favorite growing up used to be the peppermint ice cream, but I'm also partial to the lemon custard. Have fun!

                        1. I see you have the Penn State creamery on the list, and you could round it out with others like University of Guelph and University of Maryland.

                          For an expert opinion, if you are serious, ask Bruce Tharp.

                          1. I would recommend Whitey's Ice Cream. Several locations in Iowa. http://www.whiteysicecream.com/

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: TubaHead

                              Yes, I considered adding this, but Jet Blue does not fly to the Quad Cities. Whitey's is not an artisanal product, but the graham cracker ice cream is just so delicious....

                              Moline, Illinois seems pretty bleak from a chow perspective, but between Whitey's and Lagomarcino's, it's a good town for ice cream. (Though Lagomarcino's is more about the experience - and the hot fudge - than the ice cream.)

                            2. I grew up on Graeters, skip Giffords. I'd do the gelato at the Smithsonian before Giffords.

                              1. If you are going to New Orleans for Creole Creamery (which I would say is just ok, but great variety of flavors), you should hit Angelo Brocato's (http://www.angelobrocatoicecream.com/) for their gelato as well- AMAZING.

                                1. izzy's in st paul mn
                                  crema/sonny's in minneapolis mn

                                  1. Maple View Farm in Hillsborough, NC, about 45 minutes from RDU. You can sit on the store's front porch and watch the cows :) It looks like their website is taking a break, but the address is 3109 Dairyland Road
                                    Hillsborough, NC 27278

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: mpjmph

                                      oooh yeah this place is outstanding! Probably the freshest ice cream I've had. If you go you have to try the honey toasted almond. I haven't been back to Hillsborough in 5-6 years, but I still think about that flavor from time to time...

                                    2. I don't know about best in the US but Dairy Godmother, in Alexandria, VA (DC 'burb) has very nice frozen custard. Daily specials are fun, you can see the forecast on their website.


                                      1. The absence of Christina's in Cambridge, MA from this list is a major oversight. Innovative flavors, great ice cream.

                                        A couple of other Boston shops to consider are Lizzy's and Emack & Bolio's, but you might want to come over to the Boston board and ask specifically over there.

                                        We take our ice cream very seriously in Boston. It's an oft quoted maxim that Boston eats more ice cream per capita than anyone else in the country. Not sure where it came from, but Bostonians hold the idea dear. We do have an annual event called the "Scooper Bowl."

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: VintageMolly

                                          I was blown away by the ice cream in Boston when I lived there - I was delighted to see Toscanini and Herrell's on your list. At Toscanini, my favorite was "Sluggo" - I always prayed to see it on the menu when I walked in, which it was about 25% of the time. At Herrell's I loved the chocolate pudding, with peanut butter sauce on top. So rich, and SO good. Both are very memorable ice cream shops.

                                            1. re: woodleyparkhound

                                              Toscanini's truly is the best ice cream in the country. The flavors are imaginative and not overbearing. Gus is a genius.

                                          1. Your NYC list is horrible. I've lived here 18 years and only two are any good. and/or existent. I'm sure the NYC boards will be a big help to you.

                                            Chinatown Icecream Factory, NYC
                                            Cones, NYC

                                            To add:
                                            Il Laboratorio del gelato
                                            Milk Bar

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: chow_gal

                                              I'll second Laboratorio. I should have added it earlier. .

                                            2. What a great idea!! I love ice cream, and am always on the lookout for great homemade flavors. Here's a link to Jane & Michael Stern's Roadfood website. Last year a couple of intrepid reporters visited the northeast, and this list shows what they liked, ice cream and home made topping wise!


                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: heidip732

                                                Oh, i love Roadfood. Thanks for the suggestion!

                                                1. re: RhileighAlmgren

                                                  Roadfood is always somewhere nearby!!! Have fun! And make sure to report back to us fellow ice cream lovers!!

                                              2. Thanks for all the awesome suggestions!

                                                1. In the greater Los Angeles area, you need to stop by Paradis.
                                                  Skip Fosselman's.

                                                  Paradis Ice Cream

                                                  1. The Bent Spoon in Princeton, NJ is a must try. Named to MSN's top 9 ice cream places in the country last year - numerous glowing reviews, including a couple from the NYT, . Great artisanal, seasonal ice cream - haven't had anything like it anywhere else in the country and better than any of the vaunted gelato places I've been to in Italy. Love it every time I go.


                                                    1. Anywhere in Portland, OR that you can get Umpqua or Tillamook ice cream. It is so good.

                                                      1. Jaxson's in Ft Lauderdale makes some good ice cream. Very old-fashioned place, a landmark in the area.

                                                          1. Not much new to add but...

                                                            In Santa Cruz, if you go to Marianne's, I wouldn't say it is the best ice cream but it is very good and the flavors are fun to choose from. You've got to try 10/20 or, if they've brought it back, Thai iced tea.

                                                            In SF, if you do go to Mitchell's, I did not find it my favourite but people lined up and waited forever for their ice cream! You'll have to at least sample the avocado! I'd go to Joe's instead. They are on Geary and, I think, 18th in the Richmond. I loved their chocolate/white chocolate or the lemon chiffon.

                                                            If you're in Colorado, look for Bonnie Brae. Their blueberry cheesecake is one of the few ice creams I'll try in that kind of flavour--so yummy! Or, try to find a tub of Boulder Ice Cream's Dutch chocolate. Absolutely my favourite chocolate ice cream ever!!

                                                            Sounds like so much frun :)

                                                            1. Highland Creamery in Oxford , Maryland. The shop is only open during the warmer months.

                                                              1. Meltharb's. Wakefield Ma. Right across the street from my house. I'm so lucky. :)

                                                                1. Purity in Ithaca, NY is nothing special. Scratch that and add Cayuga Lake Creamery. Pretty much the best ice cream I have ever had.


                                                                  Available at Palmer's Pharmacy, a real new ye olde soda fountain in downtown Ithaca.