20 of the Oldest Ice Cream Shops in America

Fair Oaks Pharmacy, South Pasadena, California

Ashlee L./Yelp

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Fair Oaks Pharmacy, South Pasadena, California
Ashlee L./Yelp

Scooping for a Century

America's love affair with ice cream goes back more than 100 years. For proof, look no further than these ice cream shops that have been scooping up fresh flavors longer than any others in the nation. From shops that brightened people's days during the Depression to those that opened as far back as the 19th century, each one offers a taste of that delicious history.

Related: Best Soft Serve Ice Cream Shops in America

Ted Drewes, St. Louis
Ryan F./Yelp

Ted Drewes

St. Louis
Founded: 1931
Ted Drewes has been serving St. Louisans delicious frozen custards and sundaes on Grand Boulevard since 1931. It's since added a location, started offering "concretes" — malts so thick you can turn them upside-down without consequence — and made an annual tradition of selling Christmas trees. Don't neglect to enhance your sundae with items from its extensive toppings list.

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Doc's Soda Fountain, Girard, Illinois
Gray's Ice Cream, Tiverton, Rhode Island
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Gray's Ice Cream

Tiverton, Rhode Island
Founded: 1923
With nearly a century of ice cream-making history behind it, the Tiverton location of Gray's remains open year-round, while the dockside shop in Bristol is seasonal. Both are known for generous scoops of classic ice cream flavors and extra-thick malts.

Klavon's Ice Cream Parlor, Pittsburgh
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Klavon's Ice Cream Parlor

Founded: 1923
James and Mary Klavon's original ice cream parlor and apothecary opened in 1923 and was resurrected by their grandchildren after a 1979 closing with classic features such as marble countertops, wooden phone booths, and bar stools fashioned to look like bottle caps. Now under new ownership, Klavon's sells paninis in addition to soda fountain floats and creative sundae styles such as pineapple upside-down cake.

Graeter's Hyde Park, Cincinnati
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Graeter's Hyde Park

Founded: 1922
With a history dating back to 1870 when Louis Graeter began selling ice cream at street markets, the first Graeter's ice cream shop opened in Hyde Park using a unique French Pot process to craft sundaes and other sweets. It kept that process even while expanding throughout the Midwest. Be sure to try its ice creams made with real fruit and double-dip sodas made with sparkling soda water, a choice of fountain syrups, and a scoop of vanilla.

Gayety's Chocolates & Ice Cream, Lansing, Illinois
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Gayety's Chocolates & Ice Cream

Lansing, Illinois
Founded: 1920
The founder of this ice cream stand moved to the United States from Greece at the age of 9 and began work scooping ice cream immediately — laying the foundation for his own shop. The shop relocated from South Chicago to its current location, where the original equipment for making ice cream and homemade chocolates stayed in use into the third generation of family ownership. Gayety’s closed in 2018 and reopened the next year with a new owner.

Leopold's Ice Cream, Savannah, Georgia


Savannah, Georgia
Founded: 1919
Three brothers from Greece developed the perfect formula for ice cream before opening their iconic Savannah shop. Leopold's closed after the founders' deaths in 1966 but was resurrected by one of their sons in 2004 in a new location but with much of the same old-fashioned equipment. Be sure to try the signature Tutti Frutti; other offerings include unique or rare treats such as rum bisque and lemon custard.

St. Francis Fountain, San Francisco
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St. Francis Fountain

San Francisco
Founded: 1918
The current owners of San Francisco's oldest ice cream parlor bought the shop only in 2002, installing a full-service kitchen now known for tasty breakfast options that tend to draw a crowd. But they retained the dining room dating to 1948 and the soda fountain and old-fashioned shakes dating back to the fountain's founding.

Fair Oaks Pharmacy, South Pasadena, California
Ashlee L./Yelp

Fair Oaks Pharmacy

South Pasadena, California
Founded: 1915
This working pharmacy on Route 66 in South Pasadena retains the look and feel of an old-fashioned corner drugstore, soda fountain, and town gathering place, specializing in sandwiches as well as decadent sundaes. Fair Oaks also includes a candy shop and gift shop with toys and bath products. 

Crown Candy Kitchen, St. Louis
Karen K./Yelp

Crown Candy Kitchen

St. Louis
Founded: 1913
This candy shop has been family-owned since its opening by a pair of Greek immigrants, though their descendants have become just as famous for lunch as for desserts — their thick-stacked sourdough sandwiches were even featured on the Food Network. But save room for a homemade chocolate or ice-cream-based beverage, as it's family policy that no one leaves without dessert.

Goolrick's Pharmacy
Goolrick's Pharmacy by Adam Fagen (CC BY-NC-SA)

Goolrick's Pharmacy

Fredericksburg, Virginia
Founded: 1912
An old brick corner drugstore in downtown Fredericksburg, Goolrick's is the nation's oldest continuously operating soda fountain. It's locally renowned for its pies a la mode, malts, and real, fresh-mixed cherry colas, best complemented with a scoop of vanilla for a float. The historic space is currently closed to undergo renovations preparing for a reopening bigger and better than before — Stay tuned!

Eddie's Sweet Shop
Eddie's Sweet Shop by Trevis Rothwell (CC BY-NC-ND)

Eddie's Sweet Shop

Queens, New York
Founded: 1909
Eddie's Sweet Shop has been a staple of Queens' Forest Hills neighborhood since the corner store first began offering its assortment of 20 old-fashioned ice cream flavors. Though ownership has changed, Eddie's retains the atmosphere of a classic soda fountain serving malted shakes and egg cream sodas.

Doumar's, Norfolk, Virginia


Norfolk, Virginia
Founded: 1907
Abe Doumar invented the world's first ice cream rolling machine in 1905, and it's still functioning at the most enduring location of his ice cream stands, which opened in 1907 and relocated after a hurricane in 1933. The curb-service restaurant now offers hot dogs, hamburgers, and barbecue specials, but the main attraction remains its fresh-rolled ice cream cones and sundaes, starting at $2.40 for a scoop.

Wilson’s Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor, Ephraim, Wisconsin

Wilson’s Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor

Ephraim, Wisconsin
Founded: 1906
In the state known as America’s Dairyland, it shouldn’t be too surprising to find an ice cream shop that dates back more than 100 years. Wilson’s is a seasonal venue that stays open until late October in the state’s scenic and tourist-friendly Door County. It offers a wide array of specialties, including home-brewed root beer and the “Wilson’s Banquet,” a massive treat featuring five kinds of ice cream, three toppings, cherries, nuts, and whipped cream for $20.

Angelo Brocato's, New Orleans
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Angelo Brocato's

New Orleans
Founded: 1905
The ice-cream making techniques at this parlor date back even further than its opening. Founder Angelo Brocato mastered the art of confections in Sicily before popularizing Italian gelato in the heart of the French Quarter. The shop relocated to Mid-City and was shuttered for a year after Hurricane Katrina, but reopened to offer favorites such as its original torroncino, made with vanilla, cinnamon, and ground almonds.

Penn State Berkey Creamery, University Park, Pennsylvania
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Penn State University Creamery

State College, Pennsylvania
Founded: 1904
Otherwise called the Berkey Creamery, Penn State's Department of Food Science has run this creamery, making, selling, and even studying ice cream since 1892, though it didn't begin retail sales until 1904. The creamery now has more than 100 flavors of ice cream — from Death by Chocolate to Alumni Swirl — available online or at its shop in the Food Science Building.

Zaharakos, Columbus, Indiana
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Columbus, Indiana
Founded: 1900
Reopened in 2006, this stately soda fountain was once known simply as "The Greeks" for the founders' nation of origin. Zaharakos' 40-foot soda fountain is only one of the shop's many antiques hearkening back to the turn of the century. Try a cheeseburger and banana split downstairs before perusing additional antiques in the upstairs museum.

Toomer's Drugs, Auburn, Alabama
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Toomer's Drugs

Auburn, Alabama
Founded: 1896
This Auburn landmark was founded by a halfback on the university's first football team on the edge of campus, for whom the spot is now named — Toomer's Corner. Toomer's changed ownership and closed for renovations briefly in 1999 but continues to sell traditional lunch specials and desserts such as soda fountain shakes and sundaes.

Fenton's Creamery, Oakland, California
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Fenton's Creamery

Oakland, California
Founded: 1894
The oldest ice cream shop operating west of the Mississippi River, Fentons Creamery was opened by Elbridge Seth Fenton, who ran the shop with the help of his 13 children. The shop relocated within Oakland in 1961. The flavor Rocky Road is said to have been invented at the original location, so the version here is worth a try.

Bassetts Ice Cream, Philadelphia
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