Whew, it’s been a hot and sweaty July! Surely you’ve already cooled down with an ice cream cone… or two… or three – but why not explore some new-to-you spots for the best scoops around town?
With more than a month of summer left to go, here’s a list of some of the best ice cream joints in the Cleveland area – along with real-life testimonials from folks who love them.
These ice cream businesses boast multiple locations, which mean you can hit up the one closest to home or stop in for your favorite ice cream even when you’re on the other side of town. Not usually a fan of chains? Don’t worry: These are all locally owned, so you’re still supporting small business and Cleveland entrepreneurs.
This beloved brand has nine locations, with an Ohio City flagship store inside in an old theater whose marquee broadcasts special and seasonal flavors. Large glass windows separate the storefront from the kitchen, where workers toil away at making flavors like Toasted Pistachio, Caramelized Chocolate, and Banana Cream Pie. Kids and adults alike will love the experience of watching the ice cream magic happen – not to mention all the taste-testing! Local business bonus: Their website outlines the company’s sustainability practices and lists the suppliers of many of their fresh, local ingredients, including lavender, honey, rhubarb and more.
- “The Pralines and Cream is by far the best flavor they make. The giant chunks of pralines in it are why I love it so much.” –Wyatt R., Little Italy
- “The seasonal campfire s’mores (available now!) is my favorite. I kind of hate summer because it’s so hot but that ice cream makes up for it.” –Jill G., Lakewood
- “They use such high-quality ingredients and are really committed to the environment and sustainability. One of my favorite things about them is that they won’t ship their ice cream beyond Cleveland because the quality would suffer – so it’s a true Cleveland original!” –Jen R., Willoughby
Originally from Youngstown, this Northeast Ohio-based favorite now boasts franchises in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Oregon, and Arizona. In 1945, Alice Handel started selling ice cream made with the fresh fruit from her own backyard – and today, the menu at the chain bearing her surname offers more than 100 flavors of ice cream, including flavors you won’t see on other menus, like Graham Central Station, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Orange Pineapple, and Cinnamon Sticky Bun. No matter which location you visit, you’re likely to encounter a long (but fast-moving line)… probably behind an entire youth tee-ball team. It’s just that kind of place!
- “Monkey Business is delicious: banana, brownie chunks and caramel. What could be better?” –Linda W., Stow
- “My dad, uncles, and grandma took me there my entire childhood and it stuck. Chocolate chip cookie dough is my favorite, but the Oreedough is gaining on it!” –Mike F., Stow
This Columbus-based brand now has locations throughout the country, though the only Cleveland-area location is in Chagrin Falls. It was Jeni’s first venture outside of the Central Ohio area, and it’s still going strong! Try flavors like Brandied Banana Brûlée, Ricotta Toast with Red Berry Geranium Jam, brown Butter, Cream Puff, Goat Cheese with Red Cherries, Churro… the list of drool-worthy flavors goes on. Can’t get out to Chagrin Falls? Jeni’s take-home pints are available at stores like Dave’s and Heinen’s.
- “I got hooked on Jeni’s years ago! They have the best coffee ice cream I’ve had in my entire life!” –Joey L., Cuyahoga Falls
- Their salty caramel flavor was the first one that really blew me away, but they keep adding more awesome ones!” –Lilly F., Lakewood
Opened by Cleveland firefighter Frank Page in 1973, Honey Hut now has locations in Brecksville, Brunswick, Cleveland, Parma, and Solon, and it even has a signature flavor, as determined by Page himself: honey pecan.
- “The ice cream itself is delicious, but it’s cool knowing I’ve been enjoying the same tasty treat since my parents used to take my brother and me to the Old Brooklyn location. Back then the best part was sitting on that life-sized cow statue; now it’s eating ice cream for dinner!” –Alicia H., Independence
- “I just love the smoothness!” –Vicki M., Valley City
The Little Guys
These spots all have only one or two locations, keeping it small but never skimping on quality or taste. You won’t find their pints in grocery stores, but if you’re looking for a scrumptious scoop and want to support a local small business, start making your way through this delicious list.
Mason’s Creamery (Ohio City)
This standing-room only shop has a large outdoor patio perfect for enjoying a cone on sunny summer days. Listen for your name when they call out the window that your order’s ready! Classic flavors include Cleveland Whiskey, Mexican Chocolate, and Vietnamese Coffee, plus seasonal flavors like Sweet Potato Pie, Eggnog, and White Chocolate Pumpkin. Vegan and lactose intolerant ice cream lovers will find a full menu of options at Mason’s, too, including Vanilla with Sweet Sriracha Sauce, Lemon Ginger, and Nectarine Sorbet. Temped yet? An added bonus is the shop’s awesome murals and artwork, all eminently Instagrammable.
- “The flavors are inventive yet unpretentious. The owners are absolutely lovely and it’s clear they’ve put their heart and soul into their business.” –Rachel L., Cuyahoga Falls
- “They have inventive flavors that draw inspiration from all over the world, and I love their add-one like churros, macarons, and egg waffles!” –Shibani F., Edgewater
- “They’re always coming up with amazing new flavors and they always nail the classic flavors.” –Julia K., Lakewood
Dairy King (Independence)
Not to be confused by the royally themed ice cream chain of a similar name, this small-town mom-and-pop shop is a cash-only custard joint where you place your order at walk-up windows, right next to one of those old-timey signs shaped like a giant ice cream cone. They don’t have a website or a social media presence to alert you to their flavors or specials, so you’ll just have to show up and check out the menu for yourself!
- “You have to get a cone of vanilla custard dipped in sprinkles! It’s in the town where I live, so it’s convenient to get to and I love supporting a small business while getting a yummy treat!” – Stevie K., Independence
Chill Ice Cream (Medina / Akron)
This artisan ice cream shop is owned by three brothers who say their goal “is to take Ohio by storm, one legendary flavor at a time” – for now, though, they’re starting with locations in Medina’s Historic Square and Akron’s Historic Arts District. With seasonal menus that rotate frequently, you’re likely to find uncommonly imaginative flavors you definitely can’t get anywhere else. Think Zucchini Bread, Sweet Corn and Sage, Red Raspberry Champagne, and Jalapeno Cornbread (along with plenty of classic flavors, of course). So inventive!
- “The flavors are not only unique and delicious, but they’ve got some great names (Chai Curious, Banana Hammock and Fancy Lawnmower to name a few). The flavors feature locally sourced products from Medina County, and are often named to represent local small businesses.” –Jessa H., Medina
Sweet Moses (Gordon Square)
This quaint, old-fashioned ice cream shop – which also specializes in old-fashioned sodas, phosphates, and other goodies – sums up their philosophy like this: “With all the advancements over the last century, we just don’t think anyone has been able to top the pure magic that happens when classic ingredients…are stirred in a hot copper kettle, or churned in an ice cream freezer.” If your stomach is up for it, try The Terminal Tower, 10 scoops of ice cream (one scoop of each of the shop’s classic flavors) topped with almonds, pecans, sprinkles, and more. (6800 Detroit Ave., Cleveland)
- “I had a huge hot fudge sundae with two different flavors of straight perfection: Salted French Caramel and Bananas Foster. My husband also had one of the best root beer floats of his life. This place is a gem!” –Heather R., Cuyahoga Falls
Country Maid Ice Cream (Richfield)
Full disclosure: My husband spent many summers working here long before we met, and now, he’s just one of many Clevelanders who’s loyal to Country Maid’s smooth, creamy, flavorful ice cream. All of their ice cream is made with 12% milk and cream, and many of their other ingredients come from the orchard located on the same property. Try flavors like Maple Nut, Honey, and Whitehouse Cherry – or go for one of their thick, creamy classics. There’s nothing plain about their chocolate or vanilla!
- “There are a lot of great ice cream places in Cleveland, but for me, it’s always got to me Country Maid. I loved working there and honestly just think their ice cream is the best.” – Mike K., Tremont
Tremont Scoops (Tremont)
If you walk down Professor Avenue on any nice summer evening, you’re likely to find a crowd gathered outside Tremont Scoops, licking melty ice cream cones and chatting with neighbors. This charming spot serves 24 flavors of ice cream, plus sundaes, shakes, ice cream sandwiches, and chocolate-covered bananas – and is both food allergy-friendly and vegan-friendly. Their pretzel cones make for a delicious salty-sweet twist on your standard cone, and they even have vegan whipped cream on hand for dairy-free folks who want an authentic sundae taste!
- “Their peanut butter and jelly ice cream is legit the best flavor I’ve ever had, anywhere, ever. Those big slivers of peanut butter are the best! And I’m not a vegan, but I love their vegan vanilla milkshakes.” –Kate K., Tremont (yes, this is from me!)