Editor’s note: Before you head out to your favorite ice cream shop, check their website or call for current hours and protocols. Due to Covid-19 most shop hours have changed and some are only offering pick-up/to-go and may require you to order ahead. We’ve made every effort to update this story with current information, but due to these ever-changing times, details may change at any moment.

When your little sugar babes scream for ice cream this summer, we’ve got the scoop on the most delicious ice cream shops near you to visit. Read on for the sweet deets on where to order up the best ice cream in San Diego.

South Swell Hand Dipped Ice Cream

South Swell was voted "Best of San Clemente" three years in a row--and for good reason! The shop is the brainchild of local owners dedicated to serving the community their creative frozen treat creations. Their delicious chocolate or vanilla ice cream bars are dipped in smooth, warm chocolate and then designed with your choice of toppings. You may also choose to try one of their amazing, cleverly named specialty bars such as The Parent Trap which is vanilla ice cream dipped in gourmet chocolate, topped with crushed Oreo cookie and a drizzle of peanut butter. Their menu is always changing, so each visit offers a new and exciting experience. They also offer floats!

Current info: South Swell is now serving at the door with a sneeze guard, a new cashless and contactless credit card machine and strategic line dividers to encourage social distancing.

137 Avenida Del Mar
San Clemente, CA 92672
949-388-4984
Online: southswellicecream.com

Mr. Trustee Walk-Up Ice Cream Shop

You can't beat the convenience of a walk-up ice cream shop during these times of social distancing. Mr. Trustee recently opened adjacent to Cardellino in in Mission Hills and they're serving up yummy soft-serve ice cream, handcrafted ice cream and to-go pints from their walk-up window. Go treat yourself to some of the delectable flavors on their rotating menu including standouts like White Chocolate Macadamia Cookie Dough or Captain Crunch and Malted Milk soft-serve. Order them in a house-made waffle cone.

Note hours: Mon.-Thurs. 4-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sun. noon-9 p.m.

4033 Goldfinch St.
San Diego, CA 92103
Online: cardellinosd.com

Holy Paleta

They're not technically ice cream, but they're still very worthy of a mention here! Holy Paleta's handcrafted pops are made with all-natural ingredients and full of delicious toppings. Bold, inventive and exciting flavors range from kid-faves Strawberry Lemonade and Watermelon to Chamango on a Stick! and Pineapple Mojito. Kids will go wild for the raspberry lemonade paleta that's dipped in white chocolate and adorned with Fruity Pebbles cereal. There are plenty of other "dressed" paleta options on the menu too! Believe us, you've never tasted a popsicle like this before.

Their Little Italy location just opened in March, so pay them a visit to show your support for local business.

2040 India St. (Little Italy)
San Diego, CA 92101
619-915-5366

4230 Bonita Rd. Suite B
Bonita, CA 91902
619-773-6568

Online: holypaleta.com

3TEN Churrobar

Looking for an ice cream, churro, marshmallow treat? You'll find it at the recently-opened 3TEN Churrobar in Mira Mesa. They have several combinations of Churro Ice Cream and this Campfire one hits the spot with vanilla ice cream, chocolate drizzle, marshmallows, graham cracker and a fresh-baked churro—yum! 

Good to know: Order via Doordash for a quick pick-up at the shop.

8111 Mira Mesa Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92126
858-800-1068
Online: churrobar.com

photo: JoJo's Creamery

JoJo's Creamery

This decadent, artisanal homemade ice cream shop was founded by a mother-daughter duo and a visit here is a doubly sweet treat because your ice cream is served with a chocolate chip cookie! All of JoJo's Creamery ice creams, cookies, waffle cones and sauces are made from scratch. Ice cream flavors include elevated versions of classics and interesting, flavorful delights such as Cayenne Sea Salt Caramel. You'll appreciate that JoJo's Creamery ice creams do not contain corn syrup, stabilizers, fillers, artificial flavorings or food colorings. If you're looking for a next level trip to enjoy ice cream, this place is definitely what kids are calling 'extra' these days.

Good to know: Most of JoJo's ice cream is made with organic dairy from Straus Family Creamery and they always have a few vegan flavors available as well as gluten-free chocolate chip cookies and waffle cones daily.

JoJo's Creamery ice cream is also available for delivery via DoorDash, UberEATS, Grubhub and Postmates.

937 S Coast Highway 101
Ste. 106
Encinitas, CA 92024
Online: jojoscreamery.com

photo: Beth Shea

Salt & Straw at One Paseo

Looking for a cool spot for family date night? Salt & Straw isn’t your average ice cream shop by any stretch. The family-run business conjures up wildly imaginative San Diego-specific flavors made using ingredients from local businesses. Made locally in small batches, their ice creams combine local, organic and sustainable ingredients into unique flavors you can’t find anywhere else. Their menu has two parts: permanent fixtures (called “classics”) that are so beloved they remain year-round and a selection of limited-time flavors that rotate each month. Classics here include Honey Lavender (a delightfully light purple-hued treat), Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons (featuring hand-burned caramel with a deep, rich flavor you won’t find in your grocery aisle) and Chocolate Gooey Brownie (hot chocolate ice cream with hearty chunks of chewy brownie). Scoops are available in either cups or handmade waffle cones, in addition to milkshakes, special sundaes and pints-to- go.

Click here for info on local pick-up and delivery options.

Read our full review of Salt & Straw's Little Italy location here.

Salt & Straw at One Paseo
3705 Caminito Court, Ste. 0580
San Diego, CA 92130
Online: saltandstraw.com

SomiSomi

Journey off the beaten ice cream path and try a new and delicious frozen treat at SomiSomi. Known as Ah-Boong in Korea, this Taiyaki soft serve is a culinary art form. Start by choosing between four flavors (or get a swirl) of: True Milk, Ube, Black Sesame or Matcha. Then choose a filling of red bean, custard or Nutella. This is piled high into a goldfish-shaped waffle cone known as boong-uh-bbang which you can top off with an array of toppings ranging from fruity cereal to sprinkles.

4620 Convoy St.
San Diego, CA 92111
Online: somisomi.com

Cauldron Ice Cream

These scoops of heaven are magical concoctions, just as the name of the shop implies. Cauldron Ice Cream, a.k.a. Home of the OG Puffle Cone, pairs innovation and tradition to create the creamiest ice cream using liquid nitrogen and a sweet, creamy base. They rotate their dreamy flavors monthly, so each visit promises something new. From bold, unique flavors like Sea Salted Carmel Crunch and Pineapple Express to more classic offerings like S'mores and Mint Chocolate Chip, there's something for everyone. 

4646 Convoy St.
Ste. 111
San Diego, CA 92111
Online: cauldronicecream.com

Kona Ice

This popular food truck can be found all over San Diego, serving up traditional Hawaiian shaved ice with a wide array of syrup flavors. Fan favorites include Wild Watermelon, Blue Raspberry and Tiger’s Blood. The best part is that the syrups are customer-accessible so you can use as much or as little as you want in any combination. Blue Tiger Watermelon? Why not?

Kona Ice
Use the online locator to find a truck near you: kona-ice.com

photo: photo: Beth Shea

Creamistry

Dessert and a science lesson? Creamistry uses liquid nitrogen to freeze their ice cream, resulting in an exceptionally creamy product. They offer over 70 flavors and toppings so let your future Nobel laureates indulge with options such as Captain’s Breakfast which is topped with Cap’n Crunch cereal. Even more, they have a vegan and dairy free menu too. Try the vegan cashew base for ice cream. Read more about how they use liquid nitrogen to make ice cream here.

Creamistry
7825 Highlands Village Pl.
San Diego, CA
858-365-7797

Online: creamistry.com

Iceskimo

Not all shaved ice is created equally. Taiwanese “snow” is shaved off large cylinders in ribbons so pretty they resemble peonies. Flavor choices include lychee, Stumptown coffee and matcha and toppings include everything from cheesecake and panna cotta to popping boba. The folks at Iceskimo offer this pro ordering tip: "request condensed milk layered in the middle for extra sweetness and creaminess."

Click here for current ordering information.

Iceskimo
4609 Convoy St., #B
San Diego, CA 92111
858-216-1111
Online: iceskimo.com

Niederfrank’s Ice Cream

When you’re craving nostalgia along with your butter pecan, head down to this beloved National City ice cream parlor. Their website proudly proclaims they make ice cream in the same outdated, inefficient manner they did when they opened in the 1940s: in freezers. They have a wide variety of chocolate flavors, sherbets, sorbets, coffee flavors, fresh and fruity flavors and creative creations. Something for everyone!

Niederfrank’s is now offering delivery, take-out and curbside pick-up.

Niederfrank’s Ice Cream
726 A Ave.
National City, CA 91950
619-477-0828
Online: niederfranks.com

Handel's Homemade Ice Cream

Check out this scoop shop in Carlsbad Village and now at Del Mar Highlands too. Grab a giant scoop for your whole brood, after the beach, dining or visiting the Wednesday Farmer's Market. What's more, you'll from over 32 flavors to choose from. Handel's is known for its freshly-made ice cream with natural ingredients and huge ice cream cones. Little ice cream eaters love the crazy Purple Dinosaur which tastes like grape Skittles, and bigger kids go for the Oreo Dough or Chocolate Chunk. Further, if you can't choose what to order the four scoop sampler is a great way to find new flavors.

Click here for current operating procedures.

Handel's Homemade Ice Cream

12843 El Camino Real
Ste. 108
San Diego, CA 92130
858-925-7308

Online: handelsicecream.com/delmar

2825 State St.
Carlsbad, CA 92008
Online: handelsicecream.com/carlsbad

iDessert

Temporarily closed.

The brainchild of famed pastry chef Jean-Philippe, this dessert spot will dazzle your eyes while also satiating your sweet tooth. Ordering from an iPad, customers choose from many levels of customization—a meringue base, ice cream, a cake layer, toppings—which are then quickly assembled by a staffer. If that’s not beautiful enough for you, order it “Las Vegas” style and it arrives in a mist of dry ice! 

iDessert
1608 India St., #104
San Diego, CA 92101
619-544-1033
Online: idessert.com

Creme & Sugar

Temporarily closed.

Creme & Sugar in Del Mar boasts truly amazing ice-cream desserts including ‘epic milkshakes,’ ice cream sundaes and ice cream floats. These sweet treats go above and beyond a typical ice cream shop with flavor, color and character combinations inspired by everything from unicorns and Harry Potter to E.T and Snow White! You should gallop, not trot, to try unicorn-inspired desserts and creative confections that seem straight out of a storybook. Standout menu item the ‘Unicorn epic milkshake’ is a magical concoction that consists of a cotton candy and vanilla shake, topped with whipped crème, marshmallows, sprinkles, a unicorn horn (lollipop), charm bracelet and rainbow belt. It costs $9-$10 depending on the size you order, so it’s definitely a splurge in every way, but well worth the indulgence–– and the look on your kid’s face will be priceless.

Good to know: Many of the dessert items are large enough to share between 2-3 people, so order accordingly!

Read our full review of Creme & Sugar here for more sweet details.

2646 Del Mar Heights Rd.
San Diego, CA 92014
858-925-7868
Online: cremeandsugar.com

Snowy Village

Temporarily closed.

If you want a healthier cold treat, then the shaved ice at Snowy Village is right up your alley. Try one of the Snow Bowls: fluffy, creamy snow ice made with lactose-free milk, handmade syrup and no fructose. One of our faves is the gigantic Watermelon Snow Bowl that sits in half a mini watermelon and is filled with watermelon balls, vanilla ice cream and snow. On the other hand, if you want something sweet and unique you can add-in their take on a Taiyaki: a Japanese fish-shaped treat. Snowy Village uses croissant pastry that they coat with brown sugar and filling in the middle. Little eaters love the Nutella and strawberry filling.

Good to know: If it's super busy, avoid the line and order at the self-service kiosk in the store.

8270 Mira Mesa Blvd, Suite C
San Diego, CA 92126
858-860-5086
Online: san-diego-snowy-village.site

Editor’s note: If you’re vegan, dairy- or gluten-free, most of the shops listed here offer delicious options that you’ll love! Check their online menus to see that you too can enjoy a sweet treat at an ice cream shop, even on an alternative diet.

––Michelle Franklin, Beth Shea & Nikki Walsh

featured image: Beth Shea

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