Best Soft Serve Ice Cream Shops in America

Dairy Joy in Weston, MA

Tiffany L./Yelp

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Dairy Joy in Weston, MA
Tiffany L./Yelp

Smooth Operation

The soft serve renaissance shows no signs of slowing down. From traditional cash-only roadside joints and mom-and-pop shops to sleek artisan parlors, food trucks, and farmer's markets, the swirled delight can be found across the U.S. Get your cake cones ready — Cheapism scoured reviews and rankings from ice cream-craving customers and in-the-know food writers across the U.S., and we're calling out some of the best places that do soft serve right.  

Magpies Softserve in Los Angeles, CA
JoJo C./

Magpies Softserve

Los Angeles

Magpies Softserve whips up all of their soft serve ice cream and toppings from scratch. The two locations sell cold brew coffee floats and a rotation of inventive soft serve flavors — half of which are vegan — like sweetened cream, malted milk chocolate, milk tea, corn-almond, and blueberry pie. Pair 'em with fixings like chocolate covered honeycomb, butterscotch rice krispies, and toasted maple coconut chips.

Greg K./


Billings, Montana 

Locals flock to Softies at the first sign of warm weather for "Cherry Cows," "Turtle Bliz-Its" (their version of a Dairy Queen Blizzard), gigantic dipped cones, and a slew of other soft serve variations. Order a treat in a larger "cow" or smaller "calf" size at the window, and grab a seat outside for great people-watching.

The Dorothy
Brandon C./

Big Gay Ice Cream

New York City

Dazzle your senses with the rainbow of colors and creative flavors at one of three Big Gay Ice Cream shops in NYC. Offbeat soft serve options keep the lines running out the door regularly, but the Dorothy (a signature cone filled with vanilla ice cream that's injected with dulce de leche and dipped in crushed Nilla wafers) is well worth the wait. 

Related: 20 of the Oldest Ice Cream Shops in America

Leon's Oyster Shop in Charleston, SC
Anna G./

Leon's Oyster Shop

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston stalwart Leon's Oyster Shop is that laid-back, super cool eatery everyone flocks to for fried chicken and fresh oysters, but it's even cooler for the simple-by-design dessert menu. Take your pick: soft serve or milkshake. This old school spot does simple soft serve really well: vanilla or chocolate in a classic cone or cup, with or without rainbow sprinkles.

Whip'n Dip Ice Cream Shoppe in Miami, FL
Amanda L./Yelp

Whip'n Dip Ice Cream Shoppe


You never know what the day will bring at Whip'n Dip Ice Cream Shoppe with assorted flavors prepared every morning in-house using local ingredients. You might find sweet flavors like Nutella or chocolate peanut butter. Even if you're watching your figure, the Lite Cream is surprisingly delicious/light/fluffy for being sugar/fat/cholesterol free.

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Cliff's Homemade Ice Cream in Ledgewood, NJ
Melissa H./

Cliff's Homemade Ice Cream

Ledgewood, New Jersey

Since 1975, Cliff's Homemade Ice Cream has been churning out seasonal and classic flavors like black raspberry, graham cracker, and strawberry plus award-winning lemon raspberry shandy, sticky bun, and "Holy Cannoli" ice creams. With 11 soft serve and more than 60 hand-dipped ice creams, this nostalgic North Jersey drive-in is the perfect spot for fulfilling those childhood dreams of taste testing cone after cone.

Carl's in Fredericksburg, VA


Fredericksburg, Virginia

Carl's is an old fashioned, curbside ice cream stand that's closed in the winter and slammed in the summer. Even if the line is wrapped around the block, you'll be slurping down a pineapple shake pretty fast. The 1940s era institution's quality soft serve comes in familiar flavors: chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Enjoy them as cones, cups, sundaes, milkshakes, and malts. 

Related: 27 Indulgent Ice Cream Sundaes Across America

Dreamette in Jacksonville, FL
Jawhara G./Yelp


Jacksonville, Florida 

Whether you're going for a chocolate cone dipped in peanut butter or butterscotch topping, banana milkshake or banana split in a cup, or the perfect cake batter-dipped cone, you're in for an incredible experience at Dreamette. The cash-only ice cream stand has been churning out all kinds of cold treat combos since 1948, and, yes, it's really the stuff dreams are made of.

Belts' Soft Serve in Stevens Point, WI
Jess F./Yelp

Belts' Soft Serve

Stevens Point, Wisconsin

Homemade toppings, 20 rotating specialty flavors like fruity cereal milk or yellow cake batter, and generous cones keep soft serve lovers loyal to Belts' Soft Serve. Over 30 varieties of cones, flurries, malts, smoothies, sundaes, and other treats are blended with house-prepared ingredients — brownies, cookie dough, and peanut butter cups — and seasonals like fresh strawberries and raspberries. Peanut butter flurries and Belt Buster Brownie Sundaes are infinitely better with homemade peanut butter cups!

Nancy's Italian Ice in Montgomery, AL
Kelly M./

Nancy's Italian Ice

Montgomery, Alabama 

Anyone who's been to Nancy's Italian Ice will tell you to try the "Fancy Nancy," an Italian ice/soft serve combo, on your first visit. You'll pick a sweet and fruity Italian ice flavor, which is then paired with vanilla soft serve for a combination of textures and flavors that ends up tasting like an out-of-this-world float. 

Related: I Tried 10 Halo Top Ice Cream Flavors. Here’s the Scoop.

Tastee Freez in Anchorage, AK
Marvin L./

Tastee Freez

Anchorage, Alaska

Hot fudge sundaes, root beer floats, Oreo Freezees, 3-tier parfaits layered with strawberries and pineapple, and good, old-fashioned soft serve — vanilla, chocolate, twist, or dipped in chocolate — have been keeping people in the Tastee Freez lines since 1950.

Dairy Joy in Weston, MA
Tiffany L./Yelp

Dairy Joy

Weston, Massachusetts 

Grab a roadside cone at Dairy Joy before nightfall (and the season ends). Alongside the nostalgia and frozen treats, the family-owned, counter-serve joint also serves fried seafood snacks. But it's the tasty creamsicle or java berry soft serve quickly devoured while sitting on a log in the parking lot that makes summer in New England so sweet.

Nami in Phoenix, AZ
Veronica N./Yelp



Nami is an unexpected soft serve destination. Besides delicious baked goods and Sunday brunch, the vegan cafe serves sweet tooth-satisfying "tSoynamis," house-made organic soy and coconut soft serve — vanilla or chocolate — with vegan goodies mixed in. You're not gonna turn down a Banana Cream Pie tsoynami with bananas, banana syrup, and vanilla wafers, or PB 'n' J with organic peanut butter, strawberries, and vanilla wafers, are you?

Rizuto's Ice Cream And Sweet Shop in Colorado Springs, CO
Koni O./Yelp

Rizuto's Ice Cream and Sweet Shop

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Generous portions of high-quality soft serve, gelato, and regular ice cream at amazing price points are a big draw for the unassuming, family-owned Rizuto's Ice Cream and Sweet Shop. Just don't be surprised if you walk into the parlor to find people eating butterscotch-dipped soft serve cones the size of their heads.

David's Burgers in Little Rock, AR
Keri M./

David's Burgers

Little Rock, Arkansas

The David's Burgers restaurants, designed in the spirit of the butcher shops of the 1950s and '60s, sling juicy, house-made burgers and addictive, fresh-cut fries made from real potatoes. That's obviously enough to tempt those with a hankering for a delicious meal to the retro, counter-serve chain, but your meal's crowning glory comes in the form of chocolate and vanilla swirl soft serve for dessert.

Sweet Rose Creamery
Airi T./Yelp

Sweet Rose Creamery

Santa Monica, California

Small-batch shop Sweet Rose Creamery whips up their ever-changing soft serve offerings using fresh, seasonal ingredients from the local farmers market. Typically, you'll find a couple scratch-made artisan options on tap like cookies-and-cream and cinnamon-oatmeal-cookie. Get your chocolate and vanilla fix by swirling the two time-honored flavors together.

Dairy Palace in New Castle, DE
Sarah L./Yelp

Dairy Palace

New Castle, Delaware

Let's get one thing straight: You're coming to Dairy Palace for the sundaes. Sure, you could order a simple cone, milkshake, float, or candied freeze — they're all great here, too — but it's impossible to pass up all the sundae options. Try a blueberry pancake, pineapple upside-down cake or a bananas foster.  

Dairy Star Ice Cream in Lincolnwood, IL
Marissa G./

Dairy Star Ice Cream

Lincolnwood, Illinois

Chicagoland's Dairy Star Ice Cream has fat-free, no-sugar-added, and non-dairy soft serve varieties on tap. One of the veteran ice cream shop's specials is a "Flavor Burst Cone," creamy vanilla soft serve with up to three flavor gels swirled into the ice cream. There are 13 dip flavors to choose from, so you can try a number of combinations with each visit.

Piper's Cafe in Covington, KY
Maggie K./

Piper's Cafe

Covington, Kentucky 

The friendly vegetarian food and ice cream shop Piper's Cafe has a welcoming outdoor patio and crazy array of soft serve flavor options. You'll find 88 flavors, including Amaretto, German chocolate, red velvet cake, black raspberry, and rainbow Skittles. They'll even let you mix up to three flavors to create your ideal treat at no extra charge.

Red's Dairy Freeze in South Portland, ME
Sarah W./

Red's Dairy Freeze

South Portland, Maine

Ice cream staple Red's Dairy Freeze has been whipping up some of Maine's finest soft serve and frozen yogurt since 1952. The popular spot for summertime treats offers soft serve flavors like sour watermelon, salted caramel, and peanut butter with chocolate sprinkles, "nor'easters" (their version of DQ Blizzards), and a magical off-menu item: the Boston Shake, a hot fudge sundae on top of a milkshake. 

Related: Best Frozen Yogurt Shops in America

Detroit Water Ice Factory in Detroit, MI
Raad R./Yelp

Detroit Water Ice Factory

Bestselling author and journalist Mitch Albom started Detroit Water Ice Factory to create jobs and fund charitable works in Detroit — all profits benefit charities of S.A.Y. Detroit. You can feel good about ordering a water ice with the "Motown Twist," a delicious combo of soft serve layered with water ice, like Honolulu blue raspberry water ice with vanilla soft serve. They say "there's no calories in doing good."

Cup & Cone in White Bear Lake, MN
Sue S./

Cup & Cone

White Bear Lake, Minnesota

Small-town favorite Cup & Cone serves a rotating roster of super smooth soft serve, including lactose-free premium flavors like classic vanilla and chocolate as well as birthday cake and salted caramel. Get a Dole Whip strawberry swirl or "sunset splash," a fruity, bubbly, and light concoction of the Flavor of the Day and Sprite run through the swirl machine.

Ro-Bear's Sno-Balls & Soft Serve Ice Cream in New Orleans, LA
JoAnn V./

Ro-Bear's Snowballs & Soft Serve

New Orleans

Flavorful "snowballs" (aka "sno-balls" and not to be confused with snow cones) are as much a New Orleans staple as po-boys, gumbo, and beignets. The light and fluffy shaved ice and syrups are prepared in-house at Ro-Bear's Snowballs & Soft Serve, and 60-plus flavors can be "stuffed" with soft serve in the middle. Order the best-selling chocolate "stuffed" with vanilla soft serve, topped with a special condensed milk.

Zesto Shoppe in Omaha, NE
Shelby B./

Zesto Ice Cream & Grill

Omaha, Nebraska

Zesto Ice Cream & Grill's dipped and rolled cones and "super shakes" will hit the spot. Vanilla, chocolate, and vanilla-chocolate twist soft serve can be dipped in chocolate, cherry, or butterscotch before the cone is rolled in peanuts, sprinkles, or a crunch coat. Butterfinger, black raspberry, mint chip, and other "super shake" options come thick and loaded with a mind-blowing amount of candy.  

King Kone in Merrimack, NH
Jenn S./

King Kone

Merrimack, New Hampshire

Generous servings and the weekly rotation of fresh flavors make the seasonal King Kone shop a great stop for soft serve. They have the usual suspects like vanilla and chocolate as well as rotating specialty soft serve flavors like pineapple, coconut, PB&J twist, and black raspberry. Doggie cones, vanilla ice cream in a cup topped with two milk bones, make for tasty treats for canine companions, too.

Chilly Jilly'z in Boulder City, NV
Suzy H./

Chilly Jilly'z

Boulder City, Nevada

Funky local joint Chilly Jilly'z has a self-serve Dole Whip soft serve and frozen yogurt bar along with shaved ice treats. Flavors rotate throughout the year, but you'll typically find Tahitian vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, peanut butter, and cheesecake on tap. After a long hike, there's nothing more refreshing than a pineapple-orange Dole Whip float with whipped cream and a cherry on top in the airy, colorful space.

Putz's Creamy Whip in Cincinnati, OH
Jessi C./

Putz's Creamy Whip


Putz's Creamy Whip has some of the creamiest vanilla ice cream in Cincinnati hands down. President Nixon even moved the proposed I-74 expressway 50 feet south to avoid Putz's back door. As a result, a 6-decades-old Electro-Freeze soft serve machine named Bessie has churned out delicious vanilla ice cream to customers, uninterrupted, for decades. You'll also find snow cones, slushes, cyclones (like a DQ Blizzard), floats, and much more. 

Like No Udder in Providence, RI
Calley S./

Like No Udder

Providence, Rhode Island

As you'd expect from the name Like No Udder, ice cream from this all-vegan, dairy-free shop and ice cream truck is exceptional. Soy-based soft serve comes in vanilla, chocolate, and twist. Soft serve pistachio shakes, floats with locally made soda, and "unicorn" blends of soft serve and mix-ins are also on the docket. 

Related: The Surprising History of Ice Cream Trucks

Jerry's Sno Cones in Memphis, TN
Emily L./

Jerry's Sno Cones

Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis staple Jerry's Sno Cones is known for the "wedding cake supreme," one of the menu's many inventive snow cones layered with vanilla soft serve ice cream. Ice cream and finely shaved ice might sound odd for newcomers, but nothing beats the taste of cake and ice cream in a cup on a hot day. Whatever your snow cone order, just be sure to upgrade to supreme!

Auntie Rae's Salt Lake City Soft Serve Ice Cream with Strawberries in a Sundae Cup
Ivane L./

Auntie Rae's Sweets and Tea Parties

Holladay, Utah

A "escape to sweet indulgence" can be found at Auntie Rae's Sweets and Tea Parties, where scrumptious baked goods and soft serve delights are made fresh. You could opt for Dole Whip pineapple or vanilla in a regular cone, but we'd suggest the cookie sundae: two cookies baked fresh in a ramekin, covered with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge or caramel, and sprinkled with caramel bites.

Dairy Creme in Montpelier, VT
Kevin L./

Dairy Creme

Montpelier, Vermont 

The family-owned and operated Dairy Creme in Vermont's capital is a local hotspot during the summer months. The seasonal stand still uses mass-production creemee machines built in the 1950s to churn out the smoothest, richest creemees around. There are a bazillion flavors to choose from, but a chocolate- or vanilla-maple twist with butterscotch dip will score some local flavor points.

26th Street Sugar Shack in Chicago, IL
Stacy P./

26th Street Sugar Shack


26th Street Sugar Shack's funnel cake sundae with vanilla soft serve, hot fudge, chopped peanuts, whipped cream, and a cherry on top might be your dentist's nightmare, but the sugar high is worth it. You'll likely also be tempted by the shop's sweet soft serve parfaits in flavors like strawberry shortcake, brownie s'mores, and caramel banana.

Toscanini's in Cambridge, MA
Tiffany L./


Cambridge, Massachusetts

Toscanini's is a hit with its quirky, creamy scoops and homemade toppings, but the shop's dense and silky soft serve is just as delicious. Treat yourself to some traditional vanilla or chocolate (or both) or go wild and expand your soft serve horizons. The list is ever-changing, but previous flavors include black raspberry and goat cheese brownie.

Kurver Kreme in Albany, NY
Vivian Y./

Kurver Kreme

Albany, New York 

At Kurver Kreme, one of the oldest ice cream stands in the region, vanilla and chocolate are always on the menu, along with a flavor of the week. But the sweetest treat is the iconic Cookiewich, made with your favorite soft serve — like chocolate, vanilla, or orange sherbet — sandwiched between two huge chocolate chip cookies. 

Twirl And Dip in San Francisco, CA
Esther Y./

Twirl and Dip

San Francisco 

Twirl and Dip dishes up organic soft serve ice cream in the form of dark-chocolate dipped cones, honeycomb candy-studded sundaes, handmade fresh fruit ice lollies, and more from their truck in Golden Gate Park and ice cream parlor in Potrero Hill. The classic vanilla bean and dark chocolate twirl cone with dark chocolate dip (sea salt optional, but recommended) can be jazzed up with homemade sauces and toppings like butterscotch and toasted almonds. 

Related: Relive Your Childhood By Making These 13 Classic Ice Cream Truck Treats

Kline's Dairy Bar in Harrisonburg, Staunton, and Waynesboro, PA
Patrick W./Yelp

Kline's Dairy Bar

Harrisonburg, Lynchburg, Staunton, and Waynesboro, Pennsylvania 

Kline's Dairy Bar has multiple locations — and each one makes their own fresh ice cream every morning. Solid, old-fashioned ice cream-making techniques have kept them in business since 1943. A regular rotation of unique flavors including lemon gingersnap and blueberry cheesecake swirl keep customers coming back for more.

Banán in Honolulu, HI
Natasha T./



Honolulu-based Banán turns locally grown bananas and other island ingredients into dairy-free soft serve. Fresh fruits and veggies are mixed with the banana base to create unique creamy flavors like liliko'i (passion fruit) and greens (bananas, ginger, mint, and spirulina). Order them in cups or "papaya boats" loaded with toppings like puffed quinoa, shaved coconut, pineapple, and local dark chocolate.

Cow Tipping Creamery in Austin and Dallas, TX
Annie D./

Cow Tipping Creamery

Frisco, Texas

Formerly in Dallas and Austin, Texas, Cow Tipping Creamery in Frisco serves up some of the coolest creamy goods in the state. Their unique twist on soft serve, deemed "Stackers," are sundae-like desserts with exotic, housemade toppings and baked goods folded right into luscious soft serve layers — so the last spoonful is just as good as the first. Choose from rotating soft serve flavors and stacker combos like the "Southern Charm" with rummy caramel sauce and honey-dusted pecans or go wild and build your own unbelievably delicious treat.

Armadillo's Ice Cream Shoppe in Rapid City, SD
Casey P./

Armadillo's Ice Cream Shoppe

Rapid City, South Dakota

Locally owned Armadillo's Ice Cream Shoppe has a delicious array of ice cream, sherbet, and slush flavors. Daily rotations span from black cherry and apricot to strawberry butter and raspberry cheesecake to cinnamon and maple. Another splurge-worthy endeavor, the Armadillo specialty sundae, packs chocolate ice cream, peanut butter dip, hot fudge, and chopped nuts in a dipped waffle bowl. 

Related: The Best Dessert in Every State (and Where to Try It)