13 Ice Cream Shops to Visit This Summer
Chill out with creative flavors like marionberry with graham crackers, banana custard with peanut butter crackle and matcha green tea soft serve.
Nothing says summer like a frozen treat. Here’s the scoop on some of the sweetest places in the area for cups, cones, shakes and sundaes.
Stop by Ballston Quarter for a waffle bowl packed with summer flavors—blueberry pie, caramel popcorn and honey-peach granola—or a perennial fave such as marionberry with graham crackers. Pints are also sold in many area grocery stores, and there’s something extra sweet about supporting proprietor Victoria Lai, a lawyer-turned-ice-cream-maven who made her first ice cream at home with a machine she bought off Craigslist. // 4238 Wilson Blvd., #143, Arlington (Ballston)
This Arlington shop specializes in Thai rolled ice cream offers and out-of-the-ordinary mix-ins for its frozen creations, such as cotton candy and pie crust. It also serves an array of chilled-out beverages, from fruit slushies to dairy-free chopped ice. Japanese-style crepes filled with wonders like crème brulee, Nutella, candy and fruit round out the menu. // 2501 N. Harrison St., Arlington
Toby and Monina Bantug have been scooping out cones, sundaes and other treats (we see you, Oreo sammies) in Westover since 2008. Now the Best of Arlington award winners have a second location in Vienna, and are poised to open a third storefront this summer at Amazon’s Met Park in National Landing. Beat the heat with customer favorites such as Philippine mango, purple ube, calamansi sorbet, espresso chip and green tea. // 5849A Washington Blvd. (Westover); 510 14th St. S. (National Landing)
This two-year-old shop makes artisanal, small-batch ice cream inhouse and trains and employs adults with disabilities. Fill a cup or cone with flavors like blackberry, pink lemonade or coffee with crunch cacao nibs. Not in the mood for frozen? Opt for a cake pop or cookie instead. And did we mention the ice cream cupcakes with cake on the bottom, topped with a scoop of ice cream and then frosted and decorated? You’re welcome. // Barcroft Plaza, 6353 Columbia Pike, Falls Church
Lessons in chemistry come free with your order of sweet corn, blueberry or any of the seven ice cream flavors available on any given day (check the calendar). Watch as staff combine ingredients in mixers and add liquid nitrogen to create made-to-order ice cream with a uniquely smooth texture. Ask someone to show you what the liquid looks like when it comes out of the large tank. // The Crossing, 2831 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington (Clarendon)
This international chain has a kiosk in Tysons Corner Center, where you can try the “Golden Shogun,” homemade matcha soft serve ice cream topped with real gold leaf. For a less opulent but no less delicious option, go for the matcha or vanilla in a cone, or layered in a parfait with chestnuts, mochi and azuki beans. Also on the menu are shaved ice, teas and lattes. // Tysons Corner Center, 1961 Chain Bridge Road, McLean
This local institution (a sister establishment to Clare and Don’s Beach Shack) has been serving homemade ice cream for 25 years. “We’ve served dignitaries, professional athletes, coaches, presidents, senators and over 1.5 million kids,” says co-owner David Tax. The casual eatery sports a large covered patio and a walk-up window, so you can pick up a cone in a jiff. Choose from a bevy of classic treats such as banana splits, sundaes, milkshakes and egg creams. // 7049 Leesburg Pike (Broad Street), Falls Church
Order a cup, cone or smoothie and behold the vast menagerie of figurines on display at this petite storefront in the Little City. Flavor options include black raspberry chocolate chip, mango sorbet and steam oil (coffee ice cream with chocolate and swirls of green caramel). Here’s another idea: Get your scoop smashed between two Uncle Ralph’s chocolate chip cookies in a Chilly Brrgrr. The menu also includes drinkable desserts such as affogottos, which add a scoop of ice cream to a double shot of espresso. // 114 W. Broad St., Falls Church City
This Westpost hub for frosty treats is named after one of owner Rollin Amore’s daughters. Pick your favs from roughly three dozen flavors, including cucumber sherbet and dirty chocolate chip. Can’t choose one? Get a five-scoop flight—a new offering. Another tempting new creation: butterfly pea coconut in sticky rice pudding. // 1201 S. Joyce St., Arlington (National Landing)
If you’re heading to Mosaic to do a little shopping (the district is home to South Moon Under, Anthropologie and the region’s only Bloomie’s) or bringing the kids for a picnic on the lawn, take a gelato break for flavors such as mascarpone and berries or orange honey cardamom. The D.C.-born chainlet uses locally sourced ingredients. // 2905 District Avenue, Fairfax (Mosaic)
Wisconsin-style frozen custard is made fresh daily inside this magical storefront, where visitors can watch specialized machines churn out the dense, creamy treat. A flavor of the day is blended by hand with the shop’s traditional vanilla. Watch the calendar for flavors like Rise ’n’ Shine (vanilla with mango puree drizzle and orange gummy pieces) and Banana Peanut Butter Crackle (banana custard with Reese’s peanut butter cup crumble and chocolate hardening shell drizzle). The shop also sells pumpkin or banana puppy pops for your pooch. // 2310 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria (Del Ray)
Heading out to Manassas? Make an extra stop for the house-made, hand-scooped ice cream at this 22-year-old shop, where the flavors are as much fun to say as they are to eat. There’s Cow Tax (vanilla with Reese’s cups and fudge), Pina-Key-Lada (key lime ice cream with coconut and pineapple) and Bessy’s Bakery (brownie batter ice cream with cookie dough bites). While you’re in the area, hit the neighboring Magic Putting Place for a round or two of mini golf. //8948 Mathis Avenue, Manassas
Tucked into historic Clifton, amid 19th-century homes and Clifton Primitive Baptist Church, the oldest African American church in Fairfax County, this old-fashioned ice cream parlor feels like stepping back in time. The rotating roster finds 12 of its 30 flavors available on any given day. Try The Squish (Peterson’s version of an ice cream sandwich) or The Grandpap, a waffle cone filled with your choice of ice cream and dipped in hard chocolate shell. // 7150 Main Street, Clifton