Summer is in full swing, and the kids (ok, let’s be honest, ALL of us) are screaming for ice cream to beat the heat. So, the question is, how will you satisfy your sweet tooth? We’ve rounded up a list of the coolest ice cream options in the DMV, so you can get your fix of frozen fabulousness. From gelato to liquid nitrogen-frozen treats, keep reading to find your new favorite spot.
Bubble waffles are probably the best thing to happen to ice cream since sprinkles; if your kiddo needs to avoid milk and egg this Georgetown shop is the place to go! It’s the only place to get your hands on a vegan alternative in the District. The dairy intolerant will also appreciate the vegan sorbet and gelato flavors.
The scoop: The ever-changing chalkboard wall is a picture-perfect backdrop for a family photo.
3279 M St NW
202 888 5346
Aptly named for its close proximity to the White House, this ice cream parlor scoops the sweet stuff near DC’s downtown attractions (it’s just steps away from the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing). You’ll find all-American flavors, like chocolate, strawberry and vanilla, with a delicious, political spin. Named after POTUS past and present, popular flavors include Carter’s Patriotic Peanut Butter (a nod to Carter’s peanut farm) and JFK”s America’s Birthday Cake.
The scoop: Presidential Scoops is the closest ice cream shop to most of the Smithsonian museums on the north side of the National Mall.
1450 G St NW
Lulabelle’s Sweet Shop
Part-old fashioned candy store, part ice cream parlor with a sprinkle of sundries and gifts, this this Petworth shop scoops up 10 artisanal flavors, like the popular Honey Graham ice cream (it takes just like the cereal!) and Peanut Butter Cup. There is limited seating indoors, but you can enjoy your creamy dessert outside where brightly color chairs line the sidewalk.
The scoop: This sweet shop also serves savory sandwiches. Breakfast and lunch sandwiches are all served on waffle and cooked on the iron.
847 Upshur St NW
This Canal Park gelato shop was recently opened by the owner of Wiseguy Pizza (yes! DC’s best crust pizza is just steps away) and is conveniently located near the Navy Yard metro stop. Altani’s carries some exceptionally unique flavors, like Sweet Potato (which is a kid-enticing color of Barney-purple). This shop also offers dairy free options.
The scoop: Kids will love the splash pad located directly in front of Altani’s.
202 M St SE (at S 2nd Pl)
When the heat index is dangerously high, skip the cones and grab a popsicle. While the fat content of ice cream warms the body, a low-fat fruit pop is efficiently refreshing. This Adams Morgan outpost sells hand-crafted pops made from locally sourced, fresh ingredients (prices start at $3). Pleasant Pops features artisanal flavors, like Strawberry Ginger Lemonade and Mangos and Cream (with fresh, mango chunks!). For those avoiding milk, there are also non-dairy options.
The scoop: If you’re struggling to keep up with your summer schedule, Pleasant Pops has also grown a reputation for its fresh ground coffee.
1781 Florida Avenue NW
Scottish Highland Creamery
Started by an Edinburgh native, the Scottish Highland Creamery is a must visit if you’re in lovely Oxford! Their splendid ice cream is made with fresh, local ingredients and some of their flavorings are even imported from Italy.
The scoop: Make sure to order the Italian lemon cookie—it'll transport you right to the Amalfi coast.
314 Tilghman St. Oxford (MD)
A new sweets shop from the owners of the Little Red Fox coffee shop, bakery and market opened in Chevy Chase this spring. Sugar Fox sells ice cream, sheet cake and cupcakes on the popular Connecticut Ave strip that includes Politics and Prose bookstore and the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria. The ice cream is made out of products from South Mountain Creamery in Middletown, Maryland.
The scoop: Little Red Fox's famous baked goods are mixed into ice cream to create unique combinations.
5027 Connecticut Ave NW (DC)
Ice Cream Jubilee
Victoria Lai loves ice cream (don’t we all?!!). She loves it so much that she started experimenting with ice cream and creating fun flavors in her small NYC apartment kitchen eight years ago. She took a break from her corporate law career to pursue her newfound hobby and apprenticed at a pie shop in Brooklyn. Her hobby quickly turned into a passion but would have to remain an evening and weekend pastime as Victoria accepted a presidential appointment at the Department of Homeland Security here in D.C. Despite her dedication to her federal job, Lai couldn’t free herself from the exhilaration that formulating ice cream brought her. She started Ice Cream Jubilee as home tasting parties for friends. Ice Cream Jubilee, which uses all natural cream and milk from a local creamery, has two D.C. area locations and now two in VA.
The scoop: Victoria conceives flavors inspired by her international travels, delicious libations and Texan upbringing.
301 Water St. SE
1407 T St. NW (DC)
Tysons Galleria - 3rd floor
2001 International Drive McLean (VA)
4238 Wilson Blvd, #143 Arlington (VA)
A lick of Pitango Gelato will have you screaming “buonissimo.” The Italian inspired sorbets and gelato contain no artificial ingredients and only organic sugars, milk, cream, and fruit. So, basically, you’ll feel less guilty letting your kids eat it! They offer both unique and traditional flavors.
The scoop: They also host gelato-making parties!
Locations: Penn Quarter, Capitol Hill, Reston, Adams Morgan and Baltimore
It’s all about the fun colors at Munch! Ice cream at this Annandale, VA hot spot comes in effervescent colors like purple (ube or yam) and inky black (ash coconut). But the main attraction is their sweet sandwiches, made with warm doughnuts. Yes, ice cream and doughnuts…together. The folks over at Munch are sugar aficionados who dream in sugar, butter, cream, sprinkles, and glitter. Enjoy!
The scoop: There's even a cone rolled in fruity pebbles.
4221 John Marr Dr., Annandale (VA)
You and your kids will feel like you’ve entered a cool chemistry lab at Nicecream! They use liquid nitrogen to freeze their ice cream right in front of your eyes and IT IS AMAZING. The process also allows for them to include fresh ingredients with a thicker and creamier finish.
The scoop: Flavors rotate weekly and include honey lavender, key lime pie and mint chocolate chunk.
2831 Clarendon Blvd. (Arlington, VA)
726 King St. (Alexandria, VA)
1787 Columbia Rd. NW (DC )
Maracas Ice Pops
Originally from Mexico, Julia Padierna-Peralta is inspired by tropical flavors and refreshing, healthy treats. She makes paletas, Mexican ice pops, and they became the inspiration for her company, Maracas Ice Pops. Her paletas are made, by hand, with fresh fruits, purified filtered water, and organic sugar cane. Flavors include strawberry, kiwi, lime, pineapple, melon, coconut, mango, cucumber-lime, watermelon, corn, pear and hibiscus They also cater for parties!
The scoop: Handcrafted in the heart of Georgetown, Maracas's paleta filled tricycles can most often be found by the fountain along the waterfront or at Georgetown University.
Founders Rob Robbins and Shane Stanger opened the first Baked Bear, in San Diego, four years ago. They have slowly expanded east, and have finally opened in North Bethesda’s booming, Pike & Rose. You mix and match freshly baked brownies, doughnuts, and cookies…YES…ALL THREE CHOICES…. for the top and bottom. You stuff this delectable “sandwich” with yummy ice cream flavors like rocky road, salted caramel, and ‘bear batter.’ But wait, it gets better! Your delicacy is “pressed” in a magical machine that warms the top and bottom but keeping the ice cream cold in the center before they are rolled in toppings.
The scoop: Options include brownie bits, Fruity Pebbles, mini chocolate chips, and whipped cream, among others.
929 Rose Avenue, North Bethesda (MD)
Millie’s Spring Valley
Things have definitely livened up in the Spring Valley/AU Park area of D.C.! Millie’s is the ideal addition to this family-filled neighborhood. The restaurant pays homage to the stress-free, beachy Nantucket vibe, and their menu is fresh California Baja-style. Kids will LOVE going to the old-fashioned ice cream window outside. The walk-up ice cream stand is filled with classic Gifford flavors and fun toppings.
4866 Massachusetts Ave., NW (AU)
Named for its central Pennsylvania creamery, Trickling Springs makes mostly straightforward flavors out of minimally processed milk. The Eastern Market location is its only standalone store, but there’s also a shop inside Union Market and the Avalon movie theater café with an ice cream counter and fridges full of other dairy products.
The scoop: They have pre-packed ice cream you can take to go.
720 C St SE (DC)
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
The Columbus, Ohio-based company ice cream shop finally made its way to DC last Fall! Jeni’s was founded 16 years ago by Jeni Britton Bauer, a James Beard Award-winning author of two cookbooks. Mouthwatering flavors include Sweet Cream Biscuits & Peach, Brown Butter Almond Brittle, Pistachio & Honey and Wildberry Lavender.
The scoop: You can snag a Jeni's ice cream desserts cookbook for homemade goodies!
1925 14th St. NW (DC)
Mount Desert Island Ice Cream
This shop in Mount Pleasant is the only place in the U.S. to get super creamy Mt. Desert ice cream outside of its home base of Maine. Partners Brian Lowit and Melissa Quinley brought Mt. Desert to D.C. in the summer of 2018. Now it serves one of the best cookies and cream varieties in town
The scoop: For those with allergies, Mount Desert Island keeps nut-free scoops, gluten-free scoops and dairy-free scoops that don’t mingle with regular scoops in the dip well.
3110 Mt Pleasant St NW 1st Floor (DC)
Toby's Homemade Ice Cream
Get a taste of the Philippines with the globally inspired ice creams at Toby’s. In addition to standards like chocolate chip cookie dough, find ube (purple yam), avocado, and macapuno (Filipino coconut).
The scoop: There's a 15% discount for students and staff of local Swanson Middle School.
5849 Washington Blvd Arlington (VA)
Sarah's Handmade Ice Cream
In late winter, Sarah’s Handmade Ice Cream replaced the long-standing ice cream shop, Wow Cow, in Bethesda’s Westwood shopping center. Sarah’s Handmade Ice Cream—a Korean-American family business—is the new neighborhood hotspot—it’s only been open for a few months, but the shop is nearly always packed. Sarah sells not only the expected vanillas and chocolates but also unconventional Asian flavors like Matcha, Thai tea and Korean pear.
The scoop: They also serve up bubble tea!
5241 River Rd, Bethesda (MD)
A long-standing Georgetown favorite on the corner of Wisconsin Ave. and P St., N.W., this traditional parlor makes ice cream on-location, offers a wide variety of delicious flavors, and also specializes in “mix-ins” that let guests blend a variety of toppings into several scoops. Thomas Sweets also offers locally-made candy and treats, including hand-dipped chocolates, as well as sandwiches and espresso drinks.
The scoop: They offer a wow-worthy assortment of toppings.
3214 P St., NW (Georgetown)
The Dairy Godmother
A little shop tucked into the Del Ray area of Alexandria, they offer some great icy treats including frozen custard, sorbet and homemade marshmallows. Talk about a kids dream come true!
The scoop: Those with serious ice cream planning needs can check out their online “flavor forecast” calendar before they make their trip.
2310 Mt Vernon Ave. (Alexandria, Va)
These folks are serious about local ingredients, which they use to create a wide selection of delicious ice cream flavors. Offerings run the gamut, from Cotton Candy Gummy Bear to Strawberry White Chocolate.
The scoop: The in-demand treat can also found on the dessert menus of several top D.C. restaurants and in local grocery stores.
8030-B Georgia Ave., (Silver Spring, Md)
—Meghan Meyers with Guiomar Ochoa & Kristina Messner