If you’re ready to get out of the house and brave the heat, we’ve got the perfect summer outing: a trip to your local ice cream shop. We’ve rounded up a list of the coolest ice cream parlors in (and near) DC for a frozen treat. From Bethesda’s Baked Bear to Chevy Chase’s Sugar Fox, these are the best places to cool off with a cone in the DMV.
IN THE CITY
From the owners of the Little Red Fox coffee shop, 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 in Chevy Chase. 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.
Editor's note: This sweet shop is once again open, but serving one customer (or family) at a time. Please don't forget your mask!
5027 Connecticut Ave NW
Chevy Chase (DC)
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
Mount Desert Island Ice Cream
Head here for the best cookies and cream varieties in town. 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.
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
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 DC. 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. Today, Ice Cream Jubilee uses all natural cream and milk from a local creamery at all of its stores.
The scoop: Victoria conceives flavors inspired by her international travels, delicious libations and Texan upbringing.
Editor's note: Jubilee is open for take-out and delivery. They also ship!
301 Water St. SE
1407 T St. NW (DC)
4238 Wilson Blvd, #143 Arlington (VA)
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.
Insider's tip: This now ships candy and baked goods nationwide!
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)
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
Millie’s Spring Valley
Millie’s 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
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
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
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 DC restaurants and in local grocery stores.
8030-B Georgia Ave.
Silver Spring, MD
Sarah's Handmade Ice Cream
Sarah’s Handmade Ice Cream—a Korean-American family business—is a Bethesda neighborhood hotspot. 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!
Editor's note: Sarah's also offers no contact delivery and pick up.
5241 River Rd.
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 Ave.
North Bethesda, MD
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.
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).
5849 Washington Blvd.
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.
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, Bethesda, Reston, Adams Morgan and Baltimore
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.
Editor's note: Be sure to log on to their website to pre-order for pick up!
2831 Clarendon Blvd.
726 King St.
1787 Columbia Rd. NW
—Meghan Meyers with Guiomar Ochoa & Kristina Messner
featured photo: iStock