Oldest Ice Cream Shops in America
Leopold's Ice Cream/facebook.com

20 of the Oldest Ice Cream Shops in America

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Oldest Ice Cream Shops in America
Leopold's Ice Cream/facebook.com

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 in St. Louis
Ryan F./yelp.com

Ted Drewes

City: St. Louis
Founded: 1931
Ted Drewes has been serving St. Louisans delicious frozen custards and sundaes on Grand Boulevard since 1931. They've 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 their extensive toppings list.

Doc's Soda Fountain in Girard, Illinois
DocsSodaFountain/facebook.com

Doc's Soda Fountain

City: Girard, Illinois
Founded: 1929
Near the Chicago end of Route 66, Doc's pays homage to its time as a pharmacy with a museum of herbal remedies and elixirs. The peppermint-striped shop now specializes in ice cream and soda floats fresh from the tap.

Gray's Ice Cream in Tiverton, Rhode Island
Brian S./yelp.com

Gray's Ice Cream

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

Klavon's Ice Cream Parlor, Pittsburgh
Phil G./yelp

Klavon's Ice Cream Parlor

City: Pittsburgh
Founded: 1923
James and Mary Klavon's original ice cream parlor and apothecary opened in 1923 and while it closed in 1979, two decades later the shop was resurrected by their grandchildren, who restored classic features like 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 like pineapple upside-down cake.

Graeter's Hyde Park
Chris M./yelp.com

Graeter's Hyde Park

City: Cincinnati
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, and they kept that process even as they expanded to more and more retail locations throughout the Midwest. Be sure to try their 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
GAYETY'S/facebook.com

Gayety's Chocolates & Ice Cream

City: Lansing, Illinois
Founded: 1920
The founder of this ice cream stand moved to the United States from Greece at the age of 9, at which point he promptly began work scooping ice cream, laying the foundation for his own shop. The shop relocated from South Chicago to its current location, where the third-generation owners of Gayety’s still used the original equipment for making their ice cream and homemade chocolates. Gayety’s closed in the fall of 2018, but has since reopened this spring with a new owner who looks forward to marking the shop’s centennial year.

Leopold's Ice Cream
Leopold's Ice Cream/facebook.com

Leopold's

City: Savannah, Georgia
Founded: 1919
Three brothers from Greece developed the perfect formula for ice cream before opening their iconic Savannah shop Leopold's. The shop closed following 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 flavor Tutti Frutti, as well as other unique offerings like rum bisque and lemon custard.

St. Francis Fountain in San Francisco
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St. Francis Fountain

City: San Francisco
Founded: 1918
The current owners of San Francisco's oldest ice cream parlor purchased the shop only in 2002, at which point they installed a full-service kitchen now known for tasty breakfast options (starting at $9.50) that tend to draw a crowd. But they retained the dining room dating to 1948, and the soda fountain offerings of ice cream sodas and old-fashioned shakes, dating back to the fountain's founding.

Fair Oaks Pharmacy in South Pasadena, California
Dave A./yelp.com

Fair Oaks Pharmacy

City: South Pasadena, California
Founded: 1915
This working pharmacy on Route 66 in South Pasadena retains the look and feel of an old-fashioned corner drug store, 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 in St. Louis
crowncandykitchen/facebook.com

Crown Candy Kitchen

City: St. Louis
Founded: 1913
This candy shop has been family-owned since it was first opened by a pair of Greek immigrants, though their descendants have become just as famous for their lunch as their 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

City: 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.

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

Eddie's Sweet Shop

City: 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 with flavored syrups added to the sodas on command.

Doumar's Cones and Barbecue
Doumar's Cones and Barbecue/facebook.com

Doumar's

City: Norfolk, Virginia
Founded: 1907
Abe Doumar invented the world's first ice cream rolling machine in 1905, and it's still functioning today 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 $2.20 for one scoop.

Wilson's Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor
Wilson's Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlor/facebook.com

Wilson’s Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor

City: 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 opened earlier this month and remains 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, a choice of three toppings, cherries, nuts, and whipped cream. It’s $19 and is big enough for more than one person to enjoy.

Angelo Brocato's in New Orleans
Annie B./yelp.com

Angelo Brocato's

City: New Orleans
Founded: 1905
The ice-cream making techniques at this parlor date back even further than its original 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 then reopened to offer old favorites like its original flavor torroncino, made with vanilla, cinnamon, and ground almonds.

Penn State Berkey Creamery in University Park, Pennsylvania
psucreamery/facebook.com

Penn State University Creamery

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

Zaharakos in Columbus, Indiana
Zaharakos/facebook.com

Zaharakos

City: Columbus, Indiana
Founded: 1900
Reopened in 2006, this stately soda fountain was known simply as "The Greeks," owing to the founders' nation of origin, upon first opening in 1900. Zaharakos' 40-foot-long soda fountain is only one of the shop's many antiques harkening 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 in Auburn, Alabama
Toomers-Drugs/facebook.com

Toomer's Drugs

City: 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 only briefly in 1999, and now continues to sell traditional lunch specials, plus desserts like soda fountain shakes and sundaes.

Fenton's Creamery in Oakland, California
Courtesy of wikimedia.org

Fentons Creamery

City: Oakland, California
Founded: 1894
The oldest ice cream shop still 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 Fenton's location, so their version is definitely worth a try.

Bassetts Ice Cream in Philadelphia
Emily Y./yelp.com

Bassetts Ice Cream

City: Philadelphia
Founded: 1892
Lewis Dubois Bassett began making ice cream with a mule-powered butter churn in 1861 before opening his own shop in the Reading Terminal Market. The shop, now run by his great-great grandsons, is typically crowded with tourists and locals eager to taste flavors like butter almond and mango, all made with 16 percent butterfat instead of the usual 10 percent.