The heat is on for summer 2021, and that means it’s time for a trip to the beach, a dip in a free pool and sampling the many (many!) ice cream shops in New York City. We’ve rounded up the best ice cream shops in NYC for kids, including tops in Brooklyn, Instagram-worthy spots, shops for gelato lovers and more. Read on for the scoop!
For Delectable Flavors in Harlem: Sugar Hill Creamery
A family affair established by Nick Larsen and Petrushka Bazin Larsen, a neighborhood couple with three kids, this Harlem-based business scoops out handmade, seasonal, small batch ice cream and non-dairy frozen desserts in flavors both classic and inspired—with names to match. (It’s vanilla is dubbed “Andy Griffith”.) Made with thoughtfully-curated and sourced ingredients (chocolate from Madagascar, vanilla from Ile Bourbon, produce from the local farmer’s market) Sugar Hill Creamery has kid-friendly staples, as well as delectable flavors for grown-ups. Other very good options: build-your-own ice cream sandwich, ice cream floats, and locally-roasted coffee for you.
184 Lenox Ave.
55 Water St. (Closed Mon. & Tues.)
Time Out New York Market
For Xtreme Ice Cream Creations: Stuffed Ice Cream
Everything about Stuffed Ice Cream is a little extra. For starters, it’s signature “cruff” is a toasted glazed donut stuffed with ice cream and finished off with sugar toppings of your choice. Flavors include traditional and nuanced, such as Rocky Road, Rice Krispies, Vanilla, White Chocolate Lavender, and Black Sesame. Signature cruffs in pre-designed combos include the “Unicorn Poop” and “Cookie Road.” If a cruff is not your thing, you can get a cone—which is available as a seven- or 21-scoop creation if you so choose. (Like we said, extra.) Got a birthday party coming up? Stuffed has an over-the-top ice cream ball cake that must be seen to be believed. #whatthecruff
139 First Ave.
For Classics Done Right: Davey’s Ice Cream
One of Davey’s Ice Cream locations is in the East Village (ice cream Insta-bait HQ) but you won’t find too many crazy flavors here. Instead, expect classics like “Chocolate chocolate”, “Fresh Strawberry”, and a celebrated “Cookies & Cream” crafted from fresh ingredients and Hudson Valley milk. You can also go for a traditional but “supreme” banana split, brownie sundae, or milkshake. In Greenpoint, Davey’s serves gluten-free pastries. Davey’s makes cakes, too, including the incredibly fun “Megawich”, a giant ice cream sandwich!
Davey’s Ice Cream
137 First Ave.
74 Meserole Ave.
For Organic Ice Cream and Good Will: Blue Marble Ice Cream
Blue Marble, the first certified organic artisanal ice cream maker in New York, serves sweet-tasting treats with minimal added sugar and maximum goodness provided by Mother Nature herself. Featuring classics like strawberry and cookies and cream made from farm-fresh New York State dairy, its flavors are straightforward and pure. Blue Marble's Prospect Heights location has a kid's play space and outdoor garden, and is steps from Prospect Park. Take note: With each scoop you buy, you and your family are supporting Blue Marble’s not-for-profit organization, Blue Marble Dreams, the mission of which is to use ice cream to inspire joy, spur economic growth and employ and empower women in places like Rwanda and Haiti.
Blue Marble Ice Cream
186 Underhill Ave.
2578 Broadway at 97th St.
Upper West Side
220 36th St. (Open Sat. & Sun.)
For a NYC Institution: Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
This family-run business has been around for more than 40 years, serving up flavors like green tea and mango long before everybody else had the idea. You can be adventurous and go for Red Bean, Taro, etc. or opt for the "exotic" flavors like vanilla, chocolate or Oreo cookie. Check out all the flavors here. In addition to the OG Chinatown shop, you'll find newer locations in the Essex Market on Delancy and in Flushing.
65 Bayar St.
For Tons of Choices & a Retro Vibe: Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream
With fifteen varieties of vanilla, chocolate, coffee and caramel (and a massive menu!) there’s something for everyone at this Soho “new American” ice cream parlor in classic black and white design. Order up one of the classics or experiment with flavor mash ups like cardamom lemon jam, salt and pepper pine nut or banana curry. Kids will love their own menu with special cup and cone sizes and sundaes that are sure to please like the Butterscotch Banger —vanilla ice cream with caramel and cream.
Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream
88 W. Houston St.
For Those with Allergies: A La Mode
We can’t get enough of A La Mode, a place that has changed the lives of many allergy-prone kids and adults alike. All of the ice cream at this fun store/party space/ice cream shop is nut-free, sesame-free and egg-free. And with flavors like Partly Cloudy (blue cotton candy with marshmallows) and Pink Sprinkle (pink vanilla with rainbow sprinkles) for the kids and Wired (coffee with chocolate chips) for adults, everyone at A La Mode has something to smile about. More good news: the shop just launched its online business so now you can order the stuff from the comfort of your couch — pints, bars and cups can be delivered right to your door.
A La Mode
360 East 55th St.
Upper East Side
For Flavors with a Cult Following: Ample Hills Creamery
Recently acquired by Oregon-based Schmitt Industries, this Brooklyn-born brand is famous for irresistible combinations like Snap Mallow, Pop, (marshmallow ice cream with toasted Rice Krispie clusters ), Salted Crack'd Caramel (salted butter caramel ice cream with chocolate-covered homemade saltine crackers) and The Munchies (pretzel infused ice cream with clusters of potato chips, pretzels, Ritz crackers, and mini M&Ms). A brand new shop opened on
Prospect Park West in late spring, you can visit a shop/factory in Red Hook, and the Gowanus location also features a rooftop deck and popular indoor party space,
192 Prospect Park West
623 Vanderbilt Ave.
347-240 - 3926
305 Nevins St.
Dekalb Market Hall
445 Albee Square West
141 8th Ave.
34-02 30th Ave.
Mikey Likes It
We’ve long been a fan of Lower East side native Mikey Cole’s pop culture-inspired artisanal, organic ice cream and his fun storefront decked out with images of pop icons. (Flavors at the downtown store include “Pink Floyd”, “The Brady Bunch”, “Ice Ice Mikey” and “Foxy Brown.”) Cole started his business selling ice cream out of a pushcart, and now also offers vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free varieties.
199 Avenue A
Lower East Side
For Cutting Edge Flavors: Odd Fellows Ice Cream Co.
Brought to you buy a gastro-molecular pastry chef and a husband and wife team that admired said chef's skills, this ice cream shop features super fresh flavors in way outside-the-box combinations. The kids are guaranteed to love the vanilla-based Sprinkles but we bet Burnt Marshmallow and Oatmeal Cookie Dough could become the new favorites. (Parents, FYI: popsicles infused with booze are now available, in flavors like Rosé and Grapefruit Campari.) All the ice cream is made in-house, using locally sourced, hormone- and additive-free dairy. Check out Odd Fellows' Facebook page for flavor updates before you go.
60 Water St.
Pier 5 Brooklyn Bridge Park
260 Kent Ave.
For Deliciousness with a Side of Kitsch: Big Gay Ice Cream Shop
Big Gay is going local. They’ve teamed up with Ronnybook Farms and developed a proprietary base for their famous soft serve creations. And if the graham crackers and lemon curd toppings taste more homemade, that’s because they’re now made in-house. Among the creative confections are the Bea Arthur (vanilla ice cream and dulce de leche topped with finely-crushed Nilla wafers) and American Globs (vanilla with sea salt and pretzels dipped in a chocolate shell), but for more adventurous palates, the shop offers everything from elderflower syrup to key lime curd to top the cones. Shakes, ice cream sandwiches, great coffee and more are also always available.
Take advantage of the shop's after school Sugar Rush promo: $ 2 mini chocolate or vanilla cones from 2-5 p.m. And keep your eyes open for the BGIC truck roaming the city streets adorned with its signature rainbow cone.
Big Gay Ice Cream
516 Columbus Ave.
Upper West Side
61 Grove St.
207 Front St.
For Novel Wintry Refreshment in Summer: Snowdays
OK, shaved ice treat shop Snowdays does not technically serve ice cream, but its derivative of Taiwanese and Korean shaved ices, which is fluffy (like snow), is actually creamy and tastes like ice cream. Pretty cool, right? The business has operated a shop in the East Village for years, and now there's also a Brooklyn store in Bay Ridge. Flavors can be as exotic as Roasted Black Sesame or as basic as Sweet Milk, and they have great toppings from the classics like Oreos and M&Ms to a cereal-lovers dream with Fruity Pebbles and Cap’n Crunch (and many more!)
241 East 10th St.
7025 Third Ave.
For Fish-shaped Cones and Interesting Options: Taiyaki NYC
Taiyaki is a kind of fish in Japan, but don’t let that confuse you. Taiyaki NYC sells fish-shaped waffle cones filled with soft serve (a popular street food in Japan) because, why not? Yet another treat that made appearances on Instagram feeds everywhere, this unusual dessert is pretty and delicious. And the cones aren’t just filled with ice cream — they also have custard or red bean paste in them if you like — alongside unusual ice cream flavors like matcha or black sesame. For those traditionalists looking to try this, you can get the cone and the custard or bean paste with chocolate or vanilla, too. Find the original store in Little Italy, and newer outposts in Williamsburg and Flushing.
119 Baxter St.
294 Bedford Ave.
136-17 39th Ave.
Queens Crossing Food Court
For a Few Dozen Gelato Flavors: Il Laboratorio del Gelato
Now in its 19th year, this shop is still our favorite for hand-crafted traditional Italian gelato and sorbet. Tucked inconspicuously next to the Lower East Side’s famous Tenement Museum, the atmosphere at Il Laboratorio del Gelato HQ is spare and industrial, but don’t let that fool you. On any given day customers can choose from 48 artisanal and vibrant flavors like kid-friendly banana chocolate chip or concord grape, alongside more unusual offerings like rose petal, tarragon pink pepper and Guinness. Everything at Il Laboratorio is fresh and made at the shop, and the kids will love watching the ice cream makers hard at work in the “lab” through the glass windows on Ludlow Street.
Il Laboratorio del Gelato
188 Ludlow St.
Lower East Side
56 University Pl.
For a Classic Banana Split: Eddie's Sweet Shop
This old-school soda fountain and candy shop, founded decades before most of its hip competitors, doesn’t put on airs or stuff its homemade flavors full of bric-a-brac that would make Ben & Jerry blush. Here, you can find familiar favorites like vanilla, chocolate and strawberry (along with a few other classics like rum raisin, butter pecan and coffee almond chip) served up in metal-footed ice cream dishes and drowned in thick hot fudge, caramel sauce, homemade whipped cream and nuts. The kids will also love the old fashioned register, cast iron swivel stools and retro storefront. Head to Eddie's for a nostalgic taste of a bygone era.
— Lambeth Hochwald & Kim Sunshine
main photo: Patrick Fore via Unsplash