Summer is here and nothing beats the heat like frozen dairy delights. This is the Midwest after all. Ice cream is more than a mere summer staple. It’s necessary part of our culture. A breezy reminder that the oppressive heat is temporary. And while we’re certainly not afraid to while away the winter months with a bowl of Ben & Jerry’s in front of the fireplace, nothing quite beats the mouthfeel of a melting dip cone on a late summer sunset stroll around the lake.
When it comes to favorites, everybody’s got a list. I mean, who only has one favorite ice cream place? This isn’t East Germany 1972. We’ve got options aplenty in the Twin Cities. Despite the odds, I managed to whittle my own list down to nine. Feel free to add or subtract as you see fit. By all means, send me your suggestions for I’m forever in search of new tasty treat sensations.
Nine Totally Delicious Ice Cream Spots in the Twin Cities*
(That’s eight, plus one in Stillwater)
Grand Ole Creamery
Nostalgia makes ice cream tastes even better and Grand Ole Creamery holds the title of serving up my very first cone in Minnesota. Many a summer’s eve did my college pals and I make our way down Grand Avenue for a double scoop. These days, I’m more likely to pop into the Cedar Avenue location for my whopper-at-the-bottom-of-a-waffle-cone fix. If you need to eat your feelings, go for the brownie sundae.
These days, terms like all-natural, organic, and locally sourced seem ubiquitous (and, frankly, overused), but Pumphouse Creamery has been employing them (much to the delight of ice cream lovers in south Minneapolis) since 2003. With 20 regularly rotating flavors of both dairy and non-dairy ice creams and sorbets, even the finickiest tastebuds are sure to find something tempting. In a fresh-baked waffle cone. Oh, the waffle cone.
If you haven’t heard about Milkjam Creamery, you’ve been living under a rock. A huge Communist rock. Their Jam Bun alone is already the stuff of legend. Picture decadent, fresh-churned ice cream stuffed lovingly into a pillowy glazed Glam Doll donut. You’re picturing it, right? And you’re in the car on the way to Milkjam, right? You’re welcome.
Pop Culture Frozen Yogurt
There’s nothing quite so satisfying as concocting your own signature froyo masterpiece. Pop Culture in Arden Hills gives you 15 flavors, 70 toppings, countless sauces and fresh whipped cream to choose from. For the decisionally challenged like myself, arrive with time to spare. Pondering flavor and topping combos is serious business.
Lovers of Lynden’s Soda Fountain on Hamline Avenue in St. Paul like myself were sad to see the untimely end of The Nook-neighboring ice cream spot. Lucky for us, a Cold Front has moved in (to the Lynden’s space). Handcrafted old-fashioned sodas are still on the menu and Madison’s Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream is on scoop. The signature Cold Front sundae comes complete with candied bacon (swoon). Coffee lovers can also get their fix from an array of caffeinated creations.
Dairy Queen (on 38th Street and 13th Avenue South)
Of course I’m partial to Minnesota favorite and hometown ice cream hero Dairy Queen. I’m an even bigger fan of my own neighborhood DQ. A seasonal treat that reappears every spring offering your typical DQ array of frozen wonders. And so much more. I swear they offer every flavor of Blizzard DQ has ever had on the menu. Best of all, if you like your Blizzard chock full of “stuff,” you’re in luck. There’s no skimping on 38th & 13th.
Nelson’s Ice Cream (Stillwater)
As if you needed another reason to spend a day in Stillwater. Still, here’s one more. If you’ve never set foot in Nelson’s, you’re in for a treat. The shop is small, but the servings are huge. Like, laughably large. I say that as a person who can eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s without realizing it. If you’re really feeling famished, you can even attempt to put away something called the Lumberjack. Five softball-sized scoops and as many toppings as you want combine to form a food challenge few have mastered.
Izzy’s Ice Cream
Is there anything more ice cream iconic in the Twin Cities than the Izzy’s scoop? Of course not. That tasty bitesized bonus scoop nestled atop your already delicious main scoop of ice cream means you can have your cake and eat it, too. Or at least try a flavor you weren’t ready to commit a full scoop to. And with well over a hundred flavors, the combinations are nearly endless.
Sebastian Joe’s Ice Cream
Remember, nostalgia enhances flavor. Thus, there will always be a special place in my heart for Sebastian Joe’s. My partner and I shared our very first cone together at the Franklin Avenue location a little over seven years ago now. In addition to being a great date spot, the ice cream itself is still among the best in town. Which is why, on any given summer night, there’s a hefty line snaking its way throughout the shop.