Updated Apr. 24
True fact: Ice cream is always great. Also true: It’s even better when it’s beautiful outside.
As Philly hits that warm weather stride, here’s where to find cool scoops and shakes to refresh and rejuvenate.
This Old City shop is proof that sometimes, the old fashioned way is the best way. Brothers Eric and Ryan Berley’s historically accurate parlor serves handmade Philadelphia-style cream in flavors both traditional and exotic. Don’t miss the custom sodas from the suspendered “jerks” behind the counter. 116 Market St.
What’s better than one ice cream shop in Old City? Two! The Berleys added a second storefront with a slate of unique offerings, including the namesake “Keystone Bar.” Fashioned to order, they’re dipped in chocolate made from beans roasted next door. Also on tap: soft-serve custard. 112 Market St.
It looked like this family-owned creamery would be a goner when rents got too high at the Rittenhouse location, where it had held sugar-fueled court since 1989. But it successfully relaunched in Midtown Village, and also now has a presence at the Bourse Food Hall. Look for candy, frozen yogurt and pastries along with the scoops. 1315 Walnut St. & 111 S. Independence Mall E.
Owner Jen Satinsky is a former pastry chef, so no surprise her gourmet cookie-wrapped ice cream sandwiches are a hit. But the French-style cream inside is special too, made with organic milk from a pastured-cow dairy just 35 miles away. Expect flavors that change with the season, also available in pints, cups and cones. 9 W. Girard Ave.
A selection of Bassetts ice cream is backed up by housemade sweets by the sisters who own this Front Street shop in Kensington specializing in Middle Eastern cuisine, which means baklava sundaes are definitely a thing. The kitchen also puts out savory dishes like shawarma and tabbouleh. 1949 N. Front St.
“This is a special time.” So goes the viral YouTube video that helped launch this unorthodox parlor in 2012, featuring a cream-covered person eating out of their own head. Plenty of dairy-free and/or vegan flavors on the menu, plus creative toppings. “World HQ” is in Kensington, and there’s also an outpost in Cedar Park and the glitzy East Market. 2311 Frankford Ave., 4903 Catharine St., 19 S. 12th St.
This seasonal walk-up shack with plenty of outdoor seating is a Manayunk favorite for ice cream, frozen yogurt, water ice and shakes. Bring the pooch — dog-friendly “pup cups” topped with Milkbones are a specialty. 4162 Main St.
This fourth-generation Roxborough scoop shop is famous for its party ice cream cakes, but the over-the-counter service also has tons of options. Everything from hard ice cream to nonfat to soft-serve to froyo, plus plenty of toppings, sundaes and shakes. 5461 Ridge Ave.
Founded back in 1889, this sweets shop expanded through Philly, eventually opening in Chestnut Hill in 1983. Baked goods make up the bulk of the business, but there’s a whole parlor side of the shop serving scoops of around two dozen Bassetts flavors. 8126 Germantown Ave.
Along with regular ice cream, this Ninth Street Market storefront is one of the best places in the city to score Mexican raspados. The frozen slushies, also known as chamoyadas, are made with real fruit — mangonada has mango, lime and chili powder — and they’re ultra refreshing. 1142 S. 9th St.
This restored 1948 PCC trolley car (next to the Trolley Car Diner) is a throwback to a 1950s soda shop, offering 16 flavors of locally-made Richman’s ice cream, plus soft-serve. Also look for decadent classic sundaes and thick, hand-whipped shakes. 7619 Germantown Ave.
This four-year-old parlor is perfect for Old City tourists in search of a Bassetts cone — but made-to-order waffle sundaes provide a compelling local draw. Visit 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday to score a free extra scoop. 105 S. 2nd St.
It’s a candy store designed to make you feel like a kid, with self-serve canisters just waiting for you to dive in, but this Queen Village corner stop also does scoops of Bassetts ice cream. The ultrathick shakes made with organic milk are a customer favorite — as for a shot of cold brew coffee for an even perkier sip. 630 S. 4th St.
After starting at stands at farmers markets, this scratch-made frozen treat operation landed in Mt. Airy with a brick-and-mortar store. Customers rave over the rich flavors and specialty ice cream sandwiches, and housemade sorbet is also on offer. 6616 Germantown Ave.
The Italy-connected team behind Gran Caffe L’Aquila (see below) branched out with this taglio-style pizza shop. As a complement to the scissors-cut, airy-crust slices, there’s a full assortment of rich Italian gelato made at the sister location. 235 S. 15th St.
Right next to to Geno’s Steaks, this Italian Market shop boasts an extensive menu of traditional Italian pastries and desserts, including biscotti, cream puffs, cassatelle, sfogliatella, and of course, gelato. Looking for a twist to the classic cone? Get your scoop with a cannoli (or inside of one). 1205 S. 9th St.
Sierra Georgia’s flagship of what she envisions as an eventual mini-chain of Philadelphia gelaterias will be at the Daral Building in Frankford. The storefront will have an open kitchen, a full-service espresso bar, 20-plus seats and a counter serving pastries alongside gelato, sorbet and smoothies. (Opening soon.) 4667 Paul St.
After an earthquake destroyed the hometown of Italy’s best gelato maker (Stefano Biasini has won the Gelato World Cup), he transferred his talents to Philly. Order at the counter that fronts this Rittenhouse restaurant, cafe and wine bar, and be amazed at the creamy texture. 1716 Chestnut St.
Italian immigrants and Philly natives teamed up to bring classic gelato to the far Northeast. Along with the rich cream, there’s also Italian ice on offer (with vegan options), and a selection of quirky toppings. Bonus: donut sundaes and gelato pie. 12355 Academy Rd.
This woman-owned Kensington cafe from an acclaimed pastry chef and her partners offers an ever-changing slate of housemade gelato and sorbetto, with flavors you won’t find elsewhere (mango-togarashi or guava cinnamon, anyone?). 2413 Frankford Ave.
Of course America’s oldest ice cream company originated in Philly. The stand inside Reading Terminal Market has been there since 1892, and still turns out giant cups and cones under the purview of fifth-generation owners. There’s usually a line, but it moves impressively quickly. 45 N. 12th St.
The soft-serve at this NYC transplant is just better than the rest — the recipe was honed over several years as owners Doug Quint and Bryan Petroff saw their little truck gain national acclaim. Dipped cones and fun sundae creations are the signature of the rainbow-clad shop, or go for an ultra-thick milkshake topped with acres of whipped cream. 521 S. Broad St.
When on South Street, this classic is a good alternative to the Rita’s across the street, with lines that aren’t as long and a cool interior in which to wait. Cones, cups, sundaes, this ’80s classic has it all. 242 South St.
From Blizzards to candy-shell dipped cones, nothing’s a surprise at the Old City outpost of this 75-year-old brand, but sometimes that’s just what you need. 609 Chestnut St.
Turns out loaded flavors like Chunky Monkey and New York Super Fudge Chunk taste even better scooped fresh than they do out of a supermarket pint, and you can score them at outposts in both Rittenhouse and University City. 1726 Sansom St., 218 S. 40th St.
A national brand, yes, but all ice cream at this Port Richmond parlor is made in-store daily. Choose your flavor base and mix-ins, and watch as the blend is melded together in front of your eyes. 2530 Aramingo Ave.
Look for the bright pink cap on the seasonal stand in Mayfair — that’s where to roll up to the window and cop a soft-serve or sundae to brighten a hot day in the Northeast. 3401 Longshore Ave.
Rolled Ice Cream
Arguably Philly’s most popular rolled ice cream purveyor — where liquid cream is frozen and mixed with flavors to order atop frozen metal pans, then shaved off in cylindrical spirals that can be topped with additional goodies — these shops are almost always busy in warm weather, with lines that stretch down the block. 711 Walnut St., 1921 Walnut St.
Four frozen pans make for less of a line at this East Passyunk shop, where you can opt to get your rolled frozen treat inside a waffle cone for an ice cream taco of sorts. Also serving Joe Coffee espresso and cold brew on nitro tap. 1647 E. Passyunk Ave.
Yes it’s an NYC import, but it was basically the pioneer of bringing rolled ice cream here from Thailand — there are now 250 outposts across Southeast Asia — so it gets a bit of a pass. Get ready to experiment with flavors like taro, mango sticky rice and black sesame. 1016 Race St.
Royal Tea Truck proprietor Stephen Ngo got into the rolled ice cream game relatively early, and his one-year-old Chinatown parlor offers seating and also a whole menu of freshly-brewed bubble tea. 227 N. 10th St.
The new age of ice cream isn’t signified by whether or not it is enjoyed in a cup, cone or pint, it’s distinguished by whether or not it is sold on Instagram stories. Ryan Fitzgerald, the chef behind the “underground” Boku Supper Club, sells innovative, indulgent mix-in pints by posting a selection of limited flavors on Instagram stories every Saturday. Customers can lock-in their pre-orders fast before Sunday night, and then they can pick up their online orders that Thursday or Friday at the secret Boku art gallery in Fairmount.