Like a scoop of proper cookies n’ cream, you can’t take a bite out of the Bay Area without finding something sweet to do with the kids. One of our very favorites is a visit to Fentons Creamery, the old school ice cream shop and restaurant in Oakland. But did you know that with just a little planning (and for less than $5) you can go behind the scenes and see the ice cream being made? We’ve got the full scoop below.
A Taste of Bay Area History
What if we told you that you and your crew could learn a little something about the history of Oakland AND eat a triple scoop sundae smothered with house-made whip cream, caramel and chocolate sauce? Fentons Creamery was established in 1894 passed down through three generations of passionate ice cream makers—fresh ice cream was hauled around town in a wagon drawn by the Fentons’ two horses, Strawberry and Vanilla.
The retro restaurant and creamery on Piedmont Avenue has been around since 1961, and is decked out with old pictures of the founding family (and their sweetly named horses). You can learn (and eat) plenty just by dropping in, but insiders know to sign up for the Arctic Tour, where you will learn the full story of Fentons from a knowledgable guide and, the best part, go behind the scenes an see the ice cream being made.
A Sweet Start
The tour begins with a friendly tour guide leading you to the spacious back party room, which is also a mini museum, filled with historic photos of the family and their century-old ice cream business. Next, it’s up to the classic soda fountain counter, where a paper-hat wearing ice cream expert will dish out some of Fentons homemade toppings for you to taste. Did you know there are 3 different styles of whipped cream to choose from? You will.
Get Ready to Chill
Next up its back into the kitchen. The ice cream making area includes large vats bubbling with melted chocolate or whatever flavor is on tap for the day. But the real treat here is when they pull the freshly churned soft serve out of the machine and let you taste. This is ice cream before its spent time in the deep freeze, so the Arctic Tour is the only way to taste the sweet stuff in this unfinished (yet DELICIOUS) state.
The day we went, strawberry was being stirred up, so we got to experience the freshest strawberry soft serve on the planet. Then its time to talk a brisk walk through the deep freeze. Your tour guide will lead you on a stroll through the walk-in Blast Freezer, where the ice cream literally becomes ice, before moving to more reasonable freezing temps in order to become scoopable.
You’ll surely be ready for a full serving of ice cream now, and the menu of the cold stuff is endless. But if you want to make sure the kids eat something green (besides mint chip) before the sundae explosion, take a seat and stay for lunch. The kitchen serves up everything from salads to sandwiches and burgers. A kids’ menu wows with dino-shaped chicken fingers, fruit and veggie slices and more. We loved the Crab Louie salad and grown-up chicken strips. It made us all feel a little less guilty for the monster scoops we had for dessert.
Most tours last a half-hour and include a visit into the ice cream production room to see ice cream being made first-hand. Tours start between 11:00–11:30 a.m. and are available everyday excluding Sunday in Vacaville. You must call ahead to schedule your tour and have a minimum of 8 people—check out all the details, including pricing and package options right here.
4226 Piedmont Ave.
Oakland, CA 94611
Have you been to Fentons Creamery? What’s your favorite flavor? Tell us in the comments below.