SIPPING AWAY THE SUMMER
ALABAMA: K&J'S ELEGANT PASTRIES AND CREAMERY
Wedding and birthday cakes are the bread and butter at K&J, but don't miss the "monster milkshakes," made with icing- and candy-encrusted mugs and over-the-top additions like entire cupcakes and cotton candy. You can even book a milkshake-making party to try your hand at creating them.
ALASKA: LITTLE MILLERS
Little Millers serves up plenty of unique treats, but its milkshakes alone are worth the stop. Flavors have included birthday cake, lavender and honey, crème d' menthe and Oreo, Reese's puff, and plenty of seasonal creations. If you're a java junkie, there are plenty of decadent coffee creations, too.
Stop in for "everything ice cream" at Churn, which is always scooping dozens of unique flavors for any frozen treat you can imagine, including milkshakes. Your choices will range from traditional (malted milk chocolate, strawberry) to off-beat (Vietnamese coffee, candy corn). Retro candy, baked goods, and coffee are also on offer.
ARKANSAS: PURPLE COW
The diner food at Purple Cow is enough of a draw, but leave room for dessert after that BLT. The restaurant has a robust menu of milkshakes, including the iconic purple vanilla and the Elvis (vanilla ice cream with banana and peanut butter). There are also shakes just for grown-ups, like the Apple Pie Lightning, made with fresh apple pie and local apple-pie whiskey.
CALIFORNIA: GREAT SHAKES
As its name suggests, Great Shakes specializes in one thing: "splurge worthy" milkshakes. Customers can choose traditional ice cream or go dairy-free or no-sugar-added, then pick from a long list of innovative flavors. Try the date or date walnut shakes, a local specialty made with fresh dates from the Coachella Valley. You'll even get a mini doughnut placed around the straw of your shake. And Disney fans will likely want to try the pineapple Dole Whip option.
COLORADO: MILKBOX ICE CREAMERY
There are always 16 flavors of ice cream on offer at Milkbox, including exotic choices like Fluffernutter, strawberry balsamic, and chai. Adults in the mood for something a little more indulgent can choose from a menu of "boozy shakes" or make their own by adding bourbon, tequila, rum, or vodka to any flavor.
CONNECTICUT: UCONN DAIRY BAR
Some of the best milkshakes in Connecticut are available on the sprawling University of Connecticut campus, where the UConn Dairy Bar has been operating since 1953. Grab a red stool and have a milkshake made from any one of two dozen flavors, including rotating seasonal favorites like peach (summer), maple walnut (fall), or peppermint stick (winter).
DELAWARE: MUG & SPOON CO.
A long day at the beach practically demands a stop for a frozen treat, and the Mug & Spoon Co. is a leading contender. A menu of classic milkshakes includes old-fashioned favorites like the black & white, made with vanilla and chocolate syrup, or massive "crazed" shakes like the mermaid, featuring candy, pearl sprinkles, and edible glitter.
FLORIDA: ROBERT IS HERE
Robert is Here is a family-owned fruit stand that has been going strong for years, even earning a spot on the National Food & Beverage Foundation Culinary Heritage Register. The fresh exotic fruits available here make for even more exotic milkshakes, including papaya, passion fruit, tamarind, guava, and the kiwi-like sapodilla.
GEORGIA: FLIP BURGER
Upscale Flip Burger, the brainchild of celebrity chef Richard Blais, has a small menu of innovative and whimsical milkshakes to go with its exotic burgers (think everything from bison to shrimp). Your shake choices will include Krispy Kreme, Nutella and burnt marshmallow, and Cap 'n Crunch.
HAWAII: VOLCANO SHAKES
Aptly named Volcano Shakes is the place you go for something truly Instagram-worthy. Insane choices include the Mauna Loa, made with espresso, donuts, and biscotti; and the Haleakala, a red velvet shake topped with red velvet cake, cookies, and a whole slice of cake. In case you were wondering, there's a modest menu of "regular" shakes, too.
IDAHO: VICTOR EMPORIUM
East of Idaho Falls, Victor Emporium is more than worth the trip for the milkshake that has made it famous: the pleasingly tart huckleberry shake, which even merits a shout-out from the Food Network. The shake is loaded with fresh local huckleberries, locally spun ice cream, and a generous dollop of whipped cream. Check out the mural on the side of the building, where a fish and a grizzly bond as they sip the famous treat.
ILLINOIS: DAIRY STAR
If you long for the dairy bars of your childhood, a trip to Dairy Star in suburban Chicago will be a treat in more ways than one. This soft-serve mecca, around since the 1940s, is famous for its Bostons: They're a mashup of a milkshake and a sundae, made in whatever flavor you choose. Also available: parfaits, ice cream bars, and old-fashioned banana splits.
Step into Zaharakos, and you may not think anything has changed since this soda fountain opened its doors in 1900. Ogle the wood and marble bar, tin ceiling, and stained-glass door while you sip an equally nostalgic shake. The most unique choice is the Green River shake, made with lime Green River soda, a regional delight that used to rival Coca-Cola.
IOWA: HAMBURG INN NO. 2
One of America's best places for a cheap breakfast, the Hamburg Inn No. 2 has been a must-stop for just about every politician stumping in Iowa during election season, including Presidents Reagan, Clinton, and Obama. The menu has all the diner favorites you'd expect, but the crowning glory is the pie shake. Just like it sounds, it's made with your choice of pie or cake. Try the bumbleberry pie shake, which includes a mixture of apple, raspberry, and rhubarb.
Winstead's, a small chain with locations in Kansas and Missouri, is renowned for its steakburgers, but those in the know follow that up with a milkshake or malt. The flavors aren't flashy — the most exotic one is butterscotch. But devotees say that's the way they like it. Anyone who truly wants a challenge can try the Skyscraper, a 64-ounce behemoth that Winstead's challenges patrons to finish by themselves.
KENTUCKY: CHANEY'S DAIRY BARN
At Chaney's Dairy Barn, choose from a huge menu of homemade flavors for your shake. We recommend Bourbon Crunch, made with Maker's Mark, to pay homage to Kentucky's famous exports. Top it off with fruit, sprinkles, Oreo, caramel, or other toppings. Don't leave without a farm tour or a session on the jumbo jumping pillow — though you may want to do that before a shake is sloshing around in your tummy.
LOUISIANA: CREOLE CREAMERY
Have a shake made with any one of the Creole Creamery's rotating roster of flavors, ranging from traditional favorites like mint chocolate chip to southern, seasonal picks like banana foster, golden summer fig, and buttermilk lemon pie. Make a milkshake into a float for an even more indulgent treat by picking an extra scoop of ice cream to top it off.
Famous for its Belgian fries (which are, of course, fried in duck fat), Duckfat also serves up rich, dense milkshakes made not with the usual hard ice cream, but gelato. Go traditional with strawberry or chocolate, try sea salted caramel or mocha, or ask whether Maine blueberries are in season for a distinctly local treat.
MARYLAND: ABBEY BURGER BISTRO
Abbey Burger Bistro is a neighborhood staple for burgers, beer, and yes, milkshakes. The most famous is the Berger Cookie shake, made with eponymous Berger Cookies, a cakelike cookie topped with a generous layer of fudge and baked in Baltimore for 175 years. There's even a grown-up version spiked with vanilla vodka and Godiva liqueur.
MASSACHUSETTS: BOSTON BURGER COMPANY
Boston Burger Company is the place to go in Beantown to experience the crazy-milkshake trend, or in local lingo, "freak frappes." Try a "S'more Than You Can Handle," made with frozen hot chocolate, a graham-cracker encrusted rim, chocolate syrup, and "a wicked big s'more" right on top. Other treats have included Peeps, entire slices of strawberry shortcake, and bacon.
MICHIGAN: RAY'S RED HOTS
Any good Wolverine has downed a Chicago Dog or two at Ray's Red Hots, but the milkshakes are also top-notch. There are 35 flavors on offer, including black walnut and pina colada. Even better, you can layer up to three of them. Try the Maize 'N Blue — that's blueberry, lemon, and cheesecake — or the Bizzaro, made with root beer, pineapple, and bubblegum.
MINNESOTA: MILKJAM CREAMERY
Milkjam is the spot for foodies with a sweet tooth. Get your milkshake or malt made with inventive flavors unlike any you'll find elsewhere, like Uma Thurman (Greek yogurt swirled with passion fruit and lychee) and Cereal Killers (orange coriander milk with candied pebbles). Need a nightcap? You can add rum, bourbon, or Irish cream liqueur to your shake.
MISSISSIPPI: VELVET CREAM
A local institution since 1947, Velvet Cream has steadily expanded into a milkshake mecca. Its massive menu of frozen treats is a sight to behold, with dozens upon dozens of flavors (240 at last count) and mix-ins. A couple of examples: the Elmer Fudd (chocolate, caramel, coconut, and peanut butter) and the Twinkie shake. Bring your appetite and get the gallon size — yes, really.
MISSOURI: THE FOUNTAIN ON LOCUST
Sip your shake at The Fountain on Locust, an Art Deco masterpiece with dazzling wall murals, light fixtures, and a polished wooden bar. Choose any flavor for an old-school concoction served with the tin, or try a house-specialty Johnny Rabbitt Monkey Malt with a banana blended in. Adults will want to peruse the huge menu of ice cream martinis for a distinctive grown-up treat.
MONTANA: NORM'S SODA FOUNTAIN
At Norm's, the motto is "Eat Dessert First," and we couldn't agree more. Milkshakes are the most popular item on the menu of this old-school soda fountain, and they're available in any flavor, from bubble gum to black cherry. If that doesn't satisfy your sweet tooth, maybe this will: Norm's also sells 800 kinds of candy, and house-made fudge.
NEBRASKA: ANGUS BURGERS & SHAKES
An updated take on a classic burger joint, Angus Burgers & Shakes will bring out the kid in you with a whimsical milkshake menu including banana pudding, coffee and doughnuts, and Captain Crunch flavors. Adults who want a little extra something can get a "boozy shake" like the salted caramel bourbon. Don't skip the burgers — they're made only with local Nebraska beef.
NEVADA: STICKS & SHAKES
The choices are endless at Sticks & Shakes, a small chain of shake shops that can make for a more innocent Sin City splurge. You'll find classic milkshakes, fruit shakes, coffee shakes, boba (bubble) shakes, and even British shakes with classic British candy mixed in. If you really want to live large in Vegas, try the 24-Karat Shake, made with chocolate truffles, fresh strawberries, and gold flakes.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: LAGO'S HOMEMADE ICE CREAM
Don't ask for a shake — they're called frappes here in the Northeast. At longtime local favorite Lago's, you can get your frappe regular, extra-thick, malted, or extra-thick malted, of course. Choose any flavor from the massive ice-cream menu. Store originals include Cappuccino Slam, Salty Sailor, and Kahlua Fudge Brownie.
NEW JERSEY: BENNY'S LUNCHEONETTE
It's only fitting that Benny's Luncheonette, a diner slinging heaping pastrami sandwiches, also serves some of New Jersey's best milkshakes. Stick with a traditional flavor or go extreme: The shop's "crazy shake" creations have included the Campfire Classic, topped with marshmallow fluff, fudge, graham cracker crumbs, and an entire s'more.
NEW MEXICO: SHAKE FOUNDATION
Come to Shake Foundation for the famous Green Chile Cheeseburger, but stay for the Adobe Mud Shakes, made with all-natural and organic ingredients. Flavors rotate, but past choices have ranged from traditional chocolate and vanilla to more-exotic coconut and lavender. Get one malted or add a mix-in like New Mexico pinon nuts or a shot of espresso.
NEW YORK: BROOKLYN FARMACY & SODA FOUNTAIN
New York City
Even New Yorkers need to slow down and savor the simple things sometimes. A perfect spot for that is Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain, modeled after the soda fountains of old that have all but disappeared. Sip a delightfully traditional shake made with any of the shop's classic flavors, or go for something like the Goldfinger, made with peanut butter, caramel, and sugar cones mixed right in.
NORTH CAROLINA: COOK OUT
Cook Out has grown into a large regional chain that has spread throughout the Southeast, but it got its start — and amassed a cult following — in North Carolina. Devotees will tell you it serves some of the best milkshakes you can get, and you'll be spoiled for choices. The milkshake menu has more than 40 varieties, including chocolate cherry, Hi-C, watermelon in the summer, and eggnog in the winter.
NORTH DAKOTA: PRIDE DAIRY
Pride Dairy, North Dakota's last small-town creamery, has been churning out butter and milk since the 1930s; it later branched out into ice cream in the 1940s. Today, the ice cream recipe remains largely unchanged. Stop in for unique milkshake offerings including juneberry, chocolate chokecherry, rhubarb strawberry, and Fluffernutter.
OHIO: YOUNG'S JERSEY DAIRY
Just outside of hippie haven Yellow Springs, Young's Jersey Dairy has grown from a modest dairy store on a family farm into an entertainment complex with mini golf, batting cages, a giant slide, a corn maze, and more. But the delicious ice cream hasn't changed. You can get a milkshake made from dozens of flavors, but it's hard to beat the Buckeye, a peanut butter and chocolate concoction that pays homage to Ohio's famous candy export.
OKLAHOMA: HIGHWAY 66 DINER
Take a break from your Route 66 journey at the kitschy Highway 66 Diner inside Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, just outside of Tulsa. Of course you can sip a classic chocolate or strawberry shake served up by an attendant in a paper soda-jerk hat, but there are a few less-conventional flavors on the menu like Hawaiian crème brulee, red velvet, and peppermint patty.
OREGON: MIKE'S DRIVE-IN
Wash down your halibut fish and chips with a milkshake at Mike's Drive-In — this longtime Portland-area favorite is known for both. Try a soft-serve milkshake in a classic flavor like orange creamsicle or marshmallow root beer, or go for something a little more involved like hot fudge banana peanut butter Oreo. Stick with a berry flavor for a true taste of Oregon: Wild huckleberry shakes are offered in late summer.
PENNSYLVANIA: PENN STATE BERKEY CREAMERY
Nittany Lions speak with reverence about Berkey Creamery, so it's only natural that this is one of Pennsylvania's best spots for an amazing milkshake — in fact, Berkey makes more than 700 shakes each day. More than 100 flavors of ice cream are made here, including distinctive favorites like Alumni Swirl (vanilla swirled with blueberry and mocha chips). You'll get to choose from at least 20 for your sippable treat.
RHODE ISLAND: NEWPORT CREAMERY
If you want a milkshake at Newport Creamery, you'll need to ask for a frappe — common in New England. But consider trying the Ocean State's own unique twist on the milkshake: an "Awful Awful," made with ice milk, syrup, and a bit of ice cream to thicken it up. Slurp up classics like vanilla or chocolate, or try something like cotton candy, bubblegum, or choc o' nutter.
SOUTH CAROLINA: KAMINSKY'S DESSERT CAFÉ
Stop in for an indulgent treat at Kaminsky's Dessert Café while you're exploring charming Charleston. There's always a dessert case full of freshly baked treats, rotated throughout the day. Of course, you can also sip some coffee, spirits, dessert martinis, or a signature milkshake. Adults can add a little something extra — for instance, a little Kahlua in their espresso or cookies and cream milkshake.
SOUTH DAKOTA: PHILLIPS AVENUE DINER
You know you're in for a treat when you see the old-school neon sign beckoning you inside Phillips Avenue Diner. Be sure to chase your meatloaf or chicken and waffles with a malt or milkshake. Flavors include the classics, plus a small selection of "crazy shakes" like the Whatchamaycallit: chocolate, caramel, Rice Krispies, and peanuts.
TENNESSEE: GOO GOO SHOP
For Tennessee's most iconic milkshake, go straight to the Goo Goo Shop. It's your source for all things related to the Goo Goo Cluster, Nashville's famous mashup of marshmallow nougat, caramel, peanuts, and chocolate. Order the Original Shake and you'll get a Goo Goo Cluster in sippable form — mmmm. Not a marshmallow fan? Try the Salty Southerner, which blends house-made salted caramel with creamy vanilla ice cream.
TEXAS: CHILL ... THE MILKSHAKE BAR
Just outside Houston, Chill ... The Milkshake Bar is not for anyone who is overwhelmed by too many choices. There are about three dozen options on the menu, including uncommon flavors like cinnamon sugar and sangria. Or you can simply "build a chill" by grabbing an order form and circling your custom ingredients.
UTAH: LABEAU'S DRIVE-IN
When The New York Times comes calling to see just how your shakes are made, you know you've got something special. Indeed, you can't visit LaBeau's without downing its most famous item: a fresh raspberry milkshake so thick that you eat it with a spoon. In fact, the little restaurant is so confident in its best-seller that it's erected a 10-foot revolving berry shake out front.
VERMONT: THE VILLAGE SCOOP
At The Village Scoop, you can choose from both hard ice cream and soft serve for your milkshake. But wise up to the local lingo: Vermont's cherished soft serve is called a "creemee." For a true taste of New England, go for the black raspberry or maple flavors. On a road trip? Take a spin through the drive through.
VIRGINIA: POP'S ICE CREAM AND SODA BAR
Check the charming chalkboard to find out what flavors you can choose from for your milkshake at Pop's Ice Cream and Soda Bar. Rotating choices have included pumpkin, gingerbread cookie, and even Spumoni. You can also add any of Pop's soda fountain syrups for some extra oomph: think everything from cherry and cola to sarsaparilla and licorice.
WASHINGTON: MARY LOU'S MILK BOTTLE
Who could resist a restaurant that's actually shaped like a milk bottle? Charming Mary Lou's offers you the chance to indulge in diner favorites like burgers and BLTs, then a milkshake made with fresh homemade ice cream. Unique flavors include butter brickle, huckleberry, and River City Sludge. You can even "be good" with a sugar- or lactose-free shake.
WEST VIRGINIA: THE CORNER SHOP
The Corner Shop is a classic little soda fountain that looks like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. The ice cream is made in-house, and the fruit is locally grown, too. Choose from about a dozen milkshake flavors that skew traditional, including rocky road and butter pecan. Get creative with the toppings, from gummy worms to marshmallow and coconut shreds.
WISCONSIN: BABCOCK HALL DAIRY STORE
There are a ton of places in dairy-loving Wisconsin to score a delicious milkshake, but one of the best is at the University of Wisconsin's Babcock Hall Dairy Store. Get one made with flavors including orange custard chocolate chip or Badger Blast, a premium chocolate ice cream swirled with fudge and dark chocolate. Blend in candy or fruit for some extra indulgence.
WYOMING: CHUGWATER SODA FOUNTAIN
Milkshakes just taste better when they've got a history, which makes Chugwater Soda Fountain a must. Wyoming's oldest operating soda fountain, it serves hot dishes like green chili and homemade sloppy joes, but the classic sweet treats like homemade pies and milkshakes steal the show. Past flavor choices have included everything from blackberry to toasted marshmallow.