Summer means ice cream and the Bay Area is a frosty wonderland of ice cream riches. From avant-garde micro creameries serving up imaginative flavors to old-fashioned homey parlors dishing up the classics of yesteryear, there’s an ice cream shop for every palate. We have rounded up the best ice cream shops of the Bay Area, including the newest offerings on the block, so you can find your perfect ice cream love. Read on, then get licking!

San Francisco

Bi-Rite Creamery and Bakeshop

Bi-Rite Creamery, a San Francisco institution, is just steps away from another SF destination-must, Dolores Park; ice cream after a romp in the kids’ playground makes for a grand outing. Bi-Rite uses mostly organic, local milk products to make their sweet treats, including kid favorites like ricanelas (cinnamon with snickerdoodle cookie pieces) and malted vanilla with peanut brittle and chocolate pieces. There’s almost always a line out the door, so if your brood is getting impatient, try the soft-serve line: it’s usually shorter, and you can score ice cream sandwiches and popsicles from there as well.

3692 18th St. and 550 Divisidero St.
San Francisco, CA
Onlinebiritecreamery.com

Humphry Slocombe

Head to Humphry Slocombe for the ultimate in wacky and unexpected flavors. Although they’re most famous for their exotic inventions like chèvre fig and Szechaun strawberry, you’ll still be able to find more kid friendly delights like Wexler’s root beer and malted milk chocolate. If you’re downtown and find yourself with a sudden craving for their Secret Breakfast (bourbon ice cream with cornflakes), there’s a second location in the Ferry Building. Plus, for East Bay residents a third branch opened in Oakland last year.

2790A Harrison St. and 1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA

2335 Broadway
Oakland, CA

Onlinehumphryslocombe.com

photo: Anita Chu

Ice Cream Bar 

Ice Cream Bar is the coolest, and not just because of the ice cream. It’s a full service 1930s-style soda fountain, down to the servers in bow ties and paper hats. The bar at the back of the shop serves genuine old fashioned concoctions like tinctures and phosphates. If you’re looking for ice cream, we suggest splurging on one of their sundaes, milkshakes or floats. The New Orleans Hangover is a particular favorite, made with chicory coffee syrup, soda and sweet cream ice cream.

815 Cole St.
San Francisco, CA
Onlinetheicecreambarsf.com

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photo: Mitchell's Ice Cream

Mitchell’s Ice Cream

This long-running Outer Mission favorite has been serving delicious specialty ice cream, sorbet and sundaes for over 50 years. Grab a number, deli-counter style, as soon as you arrive, then mull over the flavors while in line. They serve up all the classics, as well as their signature tropical flavors; we love Ube-Macapuno, purple yam blended with young coconut. They also sell pre-packed half gallons if you want to stockpile a supply at home—or make the kids really happy.

688 San Jose Ave.
San Francisco, CA
Onlinemitchellsicecream.com

photo: Ghirardelli

Ghirardelli Chocolate

If you are hanging near Fisherman’s Wharf, there are two places to score classic scoops complete with a killer view. Dating back to 1864, the Original Ghirardelli Chocolate Manufactory in the Clock Tower Building serves up World Famous Ghirardelli Hot Fudge Sundaes, plus it has a bustling chocolate shop and original chocolate manufacturing equipment on display. At a second location in the West Plaza, the Ghirardelli Chocolate Marketplace also serves legendary sundaes and features a live chocolate master creating handcrafted chocolates.

900 North Point St.
San Francisco, CA
Onlineghirardelli.com

Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous

The most tongue-twistingly named ice cream shop in San Francisco, this Dogpatch shop is worth the visit even if you keep mispronouncing the name. Their flavors are smooth, clean and inventive without being over the top: try Pink Squirrel (a mix of almond and chocolate flavors) or candied violet, while the kiddies will love the milk and cookies flavor. The kid-size scoop is surprisingly generous and will satisfy most kids, and maybe parents as well.

699 22nd St.
San Francisco, CA
Onlinefacebook.com

Polly Ann Ice Cream

Polly Ann’s has been a celebrated fixture in the Outer Sunset for over 60 years. This bright, airy shop serves a huge variety of flavors but is best known for its Asian-influenced ones. Looking for black sesame, jasmine tea or durian? This is your ice cream parlor. Overwhelmed by all the choices? Spin the flavor wheel and leave it up to fate. You may just get lucky and win a free cone! Get your scoop and head on down to Ocean Beach for some ice cream, sand and surf with the kids.

3138 Noriega St.
San Francisco, CA
Onlinefacebook.com

photo: San Francisco’s Hometown Creamery

San Francisco’s Hometown Creamery

This Inner Sunset spot is run by two brothers with a passion for ice cream and the neighborhood. Their wildy creative, house-made flavor combinations include strawberry balsamic, honey berry breakfast and peanut butter chocolate fudge. They even offer a tasting flight of five flavors for $12. Hometown Creamery currently is the only ice cream shop in San Francisco that makes their ice creams completely from scratch in-house. We suggest stopping in for a taste of their hard work!

1290 9th Ave.
San Francisco, CA
Onlinesfhometowncreamery.com

photo: Smitten

Smitten

What started as a svelte shipping container serving up no more than three flavors a day has turned into a local household name, in no small part to the high-tech show that comes with a visit: Proprietor Robyn Sue Fisher developed the Brrr machine, which uses liquid nitrogen to make ice cream in 60 seconds. That means kids can watch it go from a liquid to a solid while they wait for their scoop. The original Hayes Valley location still serves a limited menu, but their newer, bigger outposts offer more choices.

432 Octavia St.
2404 California St.
2268 Chestnut St
904 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA

5800 College Ave.
Oakland, CA

3545 Mt. Diablo Blvd.
Lafayette, CA

3055 Olin Ave. Suite 1055
San Jose, CA

Onlinesmittenicecream.com

Swensen’s Ice Cream

This wonderfully retro-style ice cream parlor in Russian Hill is known for its rich, creamy, flavorful ice cream. The sticky chewy chocolate is one of their best sellers, or branch out and try their black marble raspberry or thin mint. Parking is tricky, so plan accordingly. Give the kids an extra thrill and hop on the Hyde Street cable car (or the 45 bus from Union Street) and let someone else take the wheel. But don’t spend all your quarters—this place is cash only.

1999 Hyde St.
San Francsico, CA
Onlineswensens.com

Twirl and Dip

Twirl and Dip is the sweetest food truck in Golden Gate Park. Stationed near the California Academy of Sciences, their signature offering is an organic vanilla bean soft serve dipped in TCHO dark chocolate and sprinkled with Maldon sea salt that has grownups and kids alike queuing up for a cone. Take your kids out to the Academy of Sciences and end the day with a chocolate-dipped cone; you’ll be their hero forever.

335 Martin Luther King Jr Dr. (near California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park)
San Francisco, CA
Onlinetwirlanddip.com

photo: Salt and Straw

Salt and Straw

The Portland favorite made it down to the Bay Area and we are thrilled! They specialize in unique, interesting flavors, like brown butter rice gelato and olive oil with lemon custard, but the most popular items are sea salt caramel ribbon and toasted strawberry tres leches. We recommend checking out their monthly special flavors for July like Meyer lemon with blueberries (vegan!), fresh sheep's cheese with strawberries and the kid fave birthday cakes and blackberries. Portions are huge, so get a kid cone if you don’t want to indulge too much. Bonus for lazy days: you can have your pints delivered via Postmates!

2201 Fillmore St.
San Francisco, CA

586 Hayes St.
San Francisco, CA

250 University Ave.
Palo Alto, CA

1309 Burlingame Ave.
Burlingame, CA

Online: saltandstraw.com

photo: Garden Creamery

Garden Creamery

Super unique and decadent flavors with a punch. Huge ice cream selection made from the best local ingredients and one of the most extensive vegan menus in the city. This place is a must if you’re into Asian inspired flavors like black sesame, teas of all kind such as hojicha and Thai tea, which you could never guess but it’s vegan! On Saturdays you can get their very special chimney cone (a cone made from chimney cake!). Follow their Twitter feed to see when their ice cream truck is making stops around the city.

3566 20th St.
San Francisco, CA
Online: gardencreamery.com

photo: Anita Chu

Coletta Gelato

If you're looking for authentic Italian gelato, you won't find better than Coletta. Co-founders Antonio and Henri studied the art of gelato making at the Gelato University in Bologna, Italy (yes, this is a real school!) and then came to San Francisco to make some really tasty gelato. They make all their gelato in micro-batches every couple of days for maximum freshness and texture—every scoop is fantastically smooth, dense, and creamy. They have a rotating weekly menu of flavors; their signature flavors pistachio and gianduja are amazing, and the littles will love the fruit sorbets.

685 Harrison St.
San Francisco, CA
Online: colettagelato.com

East Bay

photo: Fenton’s Creamery

Fenton’s Creamery

This spot is seriously old-school—the original Fenton’s opened in 1894, when they delivered fresh milk by horse-drawn wagon. They seem to have ignored the crazy flavor fad—dark chocolate raspberry swirl or green tea is as wild as it gets—but they have truly mastered the more than 30 classic flavors they still mix up by hand. Try one of their yummy mix-and-match sundaes to taste a few. Movie trivia: Fenton’s classic ice cream parlor was even featured in Pixar’s Up.

4226 Piedmont Ave.
Oakland, CA
Online: fentonscreamery.com

Curbside Creamery

This sweet little creamery in the Temescal neighborhood serves up scoops, ice cream sandwiches and fresh-made waffle cones. There are typically about a dozen flavors on offer, from classics like mint chip and peanut butter fudge to more sophisticated tastes like Bourbon whiskey and vanilla. They also offer vegan and dairy-free flavors. For treats on the go, track down their cooler-equipped trike on the weekends at the Grand Lake Farmer’s Market, Bites at the Lake and Bites off Broadway.

482 49th St.
Oakland, CA
Online: curbsideoakland.com

YERSEN Gelato Cakes

Blink and you'll miss this tiny shop in a Danville shopping center. Gelato fans rave about all the amazing flavors that are made in house by the owner himself. Try the peach or cantaloupe flavors if you are looking for a fruit fix, or get a half n' half single scoop of two flavors side by side (try coconut and pineapple to keep you in vacay mode forever). Need to impress someone for their next birthday? Yersen's Gelato Cakes are almost too good to eat (we said ALMOST).

9000 Crow Canyon Rd
Ste N
Danville, CA

photo: Anita Chu

Little Giant Ice Cream

Little Giant has made a giant impression on the Oakland ice cream scene—their ice cream is sweet, smooth and made on-site. Kids will love peeking into the back kitchen where the ice cream is made. Chances are they’ll also love the robot-themed décor with vintage robots hung on the walls. Favorite flavors include Dirty South (caramel with pecans and whisky caramel swirl) and Mexican rocky road. Keep an eye out for their Airstream trailer dishing out ice cream around Oakland and San Francisco.

1951 Telegraph Ave.
Oakland, CA
Onlinelittlegianticecream.com

Tucker’s Supercreamed Ice Cream

Tucker’s is THE place for ice cream in Alameda—they set up shop in 1941 and have been here ever since. They serve over 30 flavors of ice cream, sorbet and sherbet in their charming, old-fashioned parlor, all extra-whipped in order to live up to that “supercreamed” title. Their "Tornado Machine" will custom-blend frozen yogurt flavors—try one in a freshly-baked waffle cone. Plenty of indoor and outdoor seating makes this a nice place to linger.

1349 Park St.
Alameda, CA
Onlinetuckersicecream.com

 

Mr. Dewie’s Cashew Creamery

Ice cream that's 100% vegan, dairy and gluten free? Mr Dewie's Cashew Creamery has done it with their cashew milk-based gelato. The brothers who founded Mr Dewie's were inspired to create the concoction when they found out they were both lactose intolerant. For all health-conscious sweets lovers out there, this is a protein-packed treat with 5 to 8 grams of protein in every serving. And you can ask for "kid size" scoops. If you're a cashew fan, go for their roasted cashew flavor, otherwise they have a full menu of classic and updated flavors from chocolate orange chip to green tea. 

116 Solano Ave.
Albany, CA

5959 Shellmound St.(inside the Emeryville Public Market)
Emeryville, CA

Onlinemrdewies.com

photo: Anita Chu

Uji Time Dessert

Impress your little ice cream lovers with this Japanese soft ice cream treat. Their eyes will triple size when they get to hold their taiyaki, an oversized cone made out of pancake batter, shaped like a fish (symbol of good luck in Japanese culture). Taiyaki means baked sea bream" and it is perhaps the cutest Bay Area trend when it comes to noshing soft-serve in style. The soft cream comes in four flavors: tofu, matcha, black sesame and rose lychee. If you're in San Francisco, check out their second location in the Japantown mall.

2575 Telegraph Ave.
Berkeley, CA

22 Peace Plaza Suite 440 (inside the Japantown East Mall)
San Francisco, CA

Onlineujitime.weebly.com

Cookiebar Creamery

Cookies and ice cream together sound like every little kid's dream come true. Add in some decidedly kid-tempting ice cream flavors like Fruity Pebbles and Cinnamon Toast Crunch and this is a must-stop if you're in the neighborhood with the littles. Cookie flavors range from traditional chocolate chip and oatmeal to more offbeat ones like white chocolate cranberry and coconut almond chip. You can get just ice cream, just cookies, or get them together as an ice cream sandwich—we know what our choice would be.

647 Central Ave.
Alameda, CA

517 8th St.
Oakland, CA

Online: cookiebarcreamery.com

Peninsula/South Bay

Cauldron Ice Cream - NEW!

This Orange County favorite has made its way north to San Jose and we couldn't be more thrilled. The puffle cone topped with liquid nitrogen-churned ice cream shaped like a flower is an Instagram favorite and a kid favorite, too. Choose from traditional flavors like double chocolate or opt for Earl Grey lavender for a more exotic flavor.

1088 E Brokaw Rd
Ste 60
San Jose, CA
Online: cauldronicecream.com

photo: Kate Loweth

Icicles Cream Roll

Skip the scoop and rock the roll instead! Locals are lining up around the block to try this hand-made Thai treat at Icicles Cream Roll. Cream, milk, eggs and sugar—that’s all you’ll get at Icicles where top-notch ingredients are the only way to roll. Step up to the counter when your name is called and they will make your rolled ice cream just like you like it. Get all the toppings you want and don't skip the roasted marshmallow!

1275 Lincoln Ave. Suite 1
San Jose, CA

Other locations in San Mateo, San Francisco, Newark, Cupertino, Pleasanton and Mountain View
Online: iciclescreamroll.com

It’s-It Ice Cream

It’s-It ice cream sandwiches are a bit of Bay Area history: they used to be sold only at San Francisco’s iconic Playland-at-the-Beach before the park was demolished. Fortunately, It’s-It lives on. Yes, you can find It’s-It in grocery stores around the Bay Area, but it’s worth a stop by their factory store, as they carry some hard-to-find, rare flavors like pumpkin and strawberry. Plus, the ice cream sandwiches are super fresh as they’re made right there!

865 Burlway Rd.
Burlingame, CA
Onlineitsiticecream.com

Palo Alto Creamery

Palo Alto locals used to flock here for the 15-cent milkshakes. Sure, that was 1923, but besides the price, not too much has changed since then. Come here for the ultimate old-timey diner experience, with breakfast served all day, burgers, fries and ice cream sundaes, of course. Kids will get a kick out of ordering their banana split or double scoop of Peppermint Fudge Ripple from an actual soda jerk and taking a spin on the red vinyl counter stools.

566 Emerson St.
Palo Alto, CA
Onlinepaloaltocreamery.com

Rick’s Rather Rich Ice Cream

This ice cream shop is tucked away in an unassuming shopping center, but offers up a “rather rich” experience. They carry 48 flavors of ice cream, all hand-made in small batches, as well as their version of a popsicle, called "frozen ice." Try a lavender honey or a white chocolate ginger scoop. Their beautiful ice cream cakes are also perfect for your kid’s next birthday party. Take a hint from Rich’s store motto: “Eat Ice Cream for Daily Happiness”.

3946 Middlefield Rd.
Palo Alto, CA
Onlinericksicecream.com

Scoop Microcreamery

Scoop is indeed a micro-sized store, but it’s hard to miss when you’re walking down University Avenue—there’s always the amazing scent of fresh waffle cones wafting out the door. Scoop’s ice cream is made with liquid nitrogen, although not to order; available flavors are displayed already made in the case. The speculoos(biscoff) flavor is not to be missed, and don’t forget to add a freshly made waffle garnish!

203 University Ave.
Palo Alto, CA
Onlinescoopmicrocreamery.com

Tin Pot Creamery 

This sweet spot was started by a former dessert chef at Facebook, and today its “likes” are off the charts. No wonder, with it’s fabulously rich, smooth ice cream and a constantly rotating menu of flavors like orange dreamsicle and roasted banana fudge ripple. Don’t forget about their ice cream cakes and pies when your kiddies’ birthdays roll around. Tin Pot has kept tech-connected by partnering with Postmates and Door Dash, so you can get ice cream delivered to your front door. They've now expanded to four locations in the South Bay and Peninsula.

855 El Camino Real, #121
Palo Alto, CA

201 First St.
Los Altos, CA

1875 South Bascom Ave. #370
Campbell, CA

3081 South Delaware St. Suite B
San Mateo, CA

Online: tinpotcreamery.com

 

Marin

photo: Lappert’s Ice Cream

Lappert’s Ice Cream

For a little taste of Hawaii in downtown Sausalito, follow the smell of waffle cones and coffee. Three generations of Lapperts have been whipping up island inspired flavors such as Kaua’i pie or Hawaii Pink Sea Salt Caramel. Kids might go nuts over the Cookie Monster-inspired ice cream tinted blue and studded with cookie bits. Mom and Dad can get their own pick me up in the form of a Hawaiian cup of joe. Be warned, service is a bit confusing: they advise to go directly to the counter if you’re ready to order.

689 Bridgeway
Sausalito, CA
Online: lapperts.com

Pizzeria Picco

Sure, this is a pizza joint (and a fantastic one at that), but those in the know come for the Strauss soft serve ice cream. The first choice is simple: chocolate, vanilla or swirl. But then things get interesting. Try topping it with olive oil and sea salt, or getting it dipped in a Scharffenberger chocolate “magic shell.” Our go-to combo? Chocolate soft serve topped with warm caramel and sea salt. What pizza??

316 Magnolia Ave.
Larkspur, CA
Online: pizzeriapicco.com

Three Twins Ice Cream

Three Twins has several outposts in NorCal now, but the San Rafael location is where is all started. You can’t go wrong no matter what you order here—it’s all absolutely delish, from their lemon cookie to mint chip, made with dark chocolate flecks and real mint. Sit inside or out on the patio on warm days, or order a pint of ice cream or sorbet to go. Take the factory tour with your kids – they’ll love seeing how ice cream is made!

641 Del Ganado Rd.
San Rafael, CA

Oxbow Public Market
610 First Street
Napa, CA

Marin Country Mart
2257 Larkspur Landing Circle
Larkspur, CA

Online: threetwinsicecream.com

photo: Posie Ice Cream

Posie Ice Cream

Started by Kyle Caporicci, a local dad and former pastry chef, Posie offers an artisinal array of ice cream and even to-go pints.  All of the ingredients are locally sourced, and you’ll often spot Kyle at local farmers markets gathering whatever’s in season. Posie’s ice cream flavors change regularly and range from classics (chocolate and strawberry), to fresh takes (Buttered Whiskey and Burnt Vanilla). As a bonus, Posie also has dairy-free options and all of their cones are gluten free, so ordering for your whole family is easy.

250 B Magnolia Ave.
Larkspur, CA
Online: posie.com

—Anita Chu and Erin Feher

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