Let's be real-- who here doesn't scream for ice cream? Especially on July 20th-- National Ice Cream Day. Whether you like chocolate or vanilla, you'd rather enjoy a cone versus a sundaes, or you prefer sprinkles or hot fudge (or both!), treating yourself to a dip of this sweet treat is always a good idea. Lately, ice cream has gotten the gourmet treatment, and shops around American are mixing up some pretty unusual (and still delicious) flavors, but that doesn't mean that old-school ice cream parlors are any less tasty-- some things don't need to change! Read our suggestions for America's tastiest ice cream flavors, and consult the map (see full size map here) to find out how long it'll take to get to the ice cream shop that tickles your fancy the most. Ready to dig in?
Tom's Ice Cream Bowl (Zanesville, Ohio) Known for: Tin Roof Sundae. This local gem has been scooping up sundaes since 1948. The old-school atmosphere is authentic, and the ice cream is to die for. The tin roof sundae is a simple scoop of ice cream topped with warm, gooey hot fudge and salty, fresh-roasted peanuts-- nothing too fancy, but it's guaranteed to satisfy any sweet tooth.
Sweet Action Ice Cream (Denver, Colorado) Known for: milk chocolate. With always-changing, offbeat flavors like blueberry waffle, garam masala, avocado, and maple pale ale, it may seem foolish to order one of the most basic flavors on the menu, but their milk chocolate is legendary. It's a far cry from the freezer-burned carton of chocolate in the back of your freezer-- one bite will make you question everything you ever knew about milk, chocolate, milk chocolate, and ice cream.
Bi-Rite Creamery & Bakeshop (San Francisco, California) Known for: The Trifecta. This sundae is a staff-approved favorite! You get one scoop each of their salted caramel flavor, the brown sugar with ginger swirl, and the malted vanilla, and it's topped with peanut brittle and chocolate-- the perfect complements to the rich, sweet and salty sundae.
Sweet Republic (Scottsdale, Arizona) Known for: Toffee Banofi sundae. The Toffee Banofi sundae is a mind-blowingly amazing twist on the banana split with vanilla bean ice cream topped with fresh bananas, toffee brittle, and whipped cream and drizzled with salted caramel sauce. AND, as if things couldn't get better, it comes in a waffle cone bowl. If that doesn't make your mouth water, then you should have your tastebuds checked.
Amy's Ice Cream (Austin, Texas) Known for: Mexican Vanilla. Once again, basic doesn't have to mean boring. This rich, sweet ice cream starts with a sweet cream base and has ample amounts of Mexican vanilla added in. Besides, the advantage of ordering a scoop of this vanilla is that it pairs well with just about any other flavor that Amy's offers: try it with their apple pie, Brandy Alexander, Chai tea, custard donut, or maple bacon flavors (and that's just naming a few!)
Toscanini's Ice Cream (Cambridge, Massachusetts) Known for: burnt caramel. Tosci (as the locals call it) has a cozy coffee shop vibe, and while they do brew java, they also make a mean burnt caramel ice cream (among roughly 40 other equally awesome flavors)-- and if you're feeling like eating healthy, they make it as a frozen yogurt too!
Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream & Desserts (Honolulu, Hawaii) Known for: mochi ice cream. This is ice cream like you've never experienced before-- Bubbies serves the truffle-like mochis, which are essentially little scoops of ice cream wrapped in a shell of Japanese sticky rice, in several flavors, in addition to scoops and slices of ice cream pie. It's worth it to try at least one mochi; you'll probably wind up going back for another!
Pumphouse Creamery (Minneapolis, Minnesota) Known for: Peanut butter doggie ice cream. Yep, this place literally makes ice cream for your pooch. They only use peanut butter and milk so it's totally safe, and your dog will love it on a hot summer day-- plus all the proceeds from the doggie ice cream are given to rescue groups! And don't worry, humans will love their regular ice cream offerings as well. Rum raisin, Door County cherry, and mint chocolate chip are all guaranteed to hit the spot!
Creole Creamery (New Orleans, Louisiana) Known for: Creole cream cheese. You may want to invest in the 6 for $6 sampler because this New Orleans parlor offers a lot of options-- but make sure to make one of them the Creole cream cheese. It's a tangy and sweet confection made with a local type of curddled cream cheese. If that sampler still wasn't enough to curb your craving for ice cream, then try to tackle the Tchoupitoulas Sundae Challenge-- 8 scoops of ice cream, 8 toppings, and a pile of whipped cream, cherries and wafers. Those who finish the challenge alone will be immortalized in their Hall of Fame-- but the real prize is how delicious the ice cream is.
Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream (Seattle, Washington) Known for: melted chocolate. Just the image that "melted chocolate" elicits makes this flavor stand out about other chocolates, and the fact that it's made with organic, fair trade chocolate from local sweet shop Theo's makes it even better. They clearly value local ingredients, since their wonderful coffee flavor is made with locally-roasted beans from Stumptown. Drool.
Ample Hills Creamery (Brooklyn, New York) Known for: salted crack caramel. This addictively sweet and salty flavor lives up to its name-- salted butter caramel ice cream is loaded with bits of crack cookies, which are made chocolate, butter, sugar and saltine crackers. In fact, people get so hooked on the flavor that they keep coming back for more, and it frequently sells out; get there early and order a scoop (or three!) The good news is that they do happen to be sold out of what you want, you really can't go wrong with any of their flavors.
Moomers Homemade Ice Cream (Traverse City Michigan) Known for: cherries moobilee. It's like cherries jubilee but a million times better, since it's been mixed up into sweet, dreamy ice cream. The black cherry base is loaded with sweet black cherries, a chocolate swirl and chunks of chocolate brownies. You can also tour their dairy farm or the ice cream store (which includes an ice cream tasting!!)
HONORABLE MENTION: Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams (Columbus, Ohio) Known for: Salty caramel. Jeni's has spread out to bring its deliciousness to several states, but stop into one of the original locations in Ohio for a scoop of homemade goodness. Their salty caramel is a classic that pairs well with their dark chocolate, Buckeye State or my personal favorite, brown butter almond brittle.
What do you think? Did we miss any? Find your favorite with our interactive map and let us know in the comments below!