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These Ice Cream Shops Definitely Belong On Your Bucket List

*gets the chills*

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I think we can all agree that summertime = ice cream time. The question is: Where should you go to get an incredible scoop?

Photo Courtesy of Pexels / Via pexels.com

From places known for small-batch, artisanal shops (like Portland) to those holding strong for their classic parlors (like Savannah), these are some great cities — and specific spots within those cities — to enjoy amazing ice cream this season.

1. Portland, Oregon

Salt & Straw / Via Facebook: SaltandStraw

When a city has its own Eater heatmap just for ice cream, you know its residents take this dessert seriously. And just like the city’s chefs, Portland's ice cream makers are known for their dedication to local ingredients and seasonal flavors.

Portland’s biggest ice cream claim to fame is Salt & Straw, which churns out inventive flavors at four local shops (and an expanding list of outlets in Los Angeles). In addition to its classic flavors like Salted, Malted, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, or Sea Salt With Caramel Ribbons, Salt & Straw also features constantly rotating seasonal offerings.

But just because Salt & Straw is the king doesn’t mean it’s the only place to get a cone — shops like Cool Moon Ice Cream, Cloud City Ice Cream, Fifty Licks, and Ruby Jewel Scoops make this city the ideal spot for taking a true tour of “la crème de la crème.” If the “crème" is ice cream, that is.

2. Savannah, Georgia

Photo Courtesy of Leopold's Ice Cream / Via Facebook: leopoldsicecream

This Southern belle was voted America’s Best City for Ice Cream by Travel + Leisure readers, and the credit for that moniker goes to one classic parlor, Leopold’s Ice Cream.

Going strong since 1919, Leopold’s is more than an ice cream shop — it’s an iconic landmark, a spot as beloved by locals as it is by tourists. Leopold’s offers a menu of “The Regulars” — classics like pistachio and strawberry and signature offerings like Rum Bisque — and there’s a list of “Seasonal or Special Flavors” like Japanese Cherry Blossom and Savannah Smiles. But that’s not all: Leopold’s also has an extensive fountain menu, with sundaes, banana splits, shakes, floats, and more.

3. New York, New York

Via Facebook: OddFellowsNYC

It's no surprise that a city as big (and humid) as NYC would have some of the best ice cream shops in the country. And there’s also a huge variety of styles; each successful shop has settled into its own niche.

Brooklyn’s Blue Marble focuses on organic, fresh ingredients, while Big Gay Ice Cream puts a modern spin on the classic ice cream truck. In Williamsburg, OddFellows Ice Cream Co. serves up wild, small-batch flavors on a seemingly constant rotation, while Momofuku Milk Bar’s various locations woo visitors with its Cereal Milk and Pretzel soft-serve flavors. And there’s always room for newcomers too, as 10Below Ice Cream proved when it started serving its social-media-star ice cream rolls last year, a Thai-inspired style of scooping (or, rather, freezing an ice cream base on a -10°F "cold plate" and then rolling it up with metal spatulas) that proves you can have your art and eat it too.

4. Austin, Texas

Via instagram.com

One way to beat the notorious Texas heat is with ice cream from Austin’s local shops. And any talk of Austin’s ice cream scene has to start with Amy’s, a shop that helped put this city on the sweet treat map. After scooping for 30 years, Amy’s Ice Creams' locations are still going strong and treating generations of locals to some of the best ice cream around. There are seven standard flavors, including Sweet Cream, Mexican Vanilla, and Belgian Chocolate, and a rotating lineup of specialty and seasonal flavors, so there’s always something new to try.

But Amy’s has some competition: Another local shop, Lick Honest Ice Creams, has made a name for itself by focusing on serving up cow-to-counter “Honest Ice Creams.” It offers inventive flavors like Roasted Beets and Fresh Mint; Goat Cheese, Thyme, and Honey; and Horchata; as well as dairy-free and vegan selections.

5. San Francisco, California

Photo Courtesy of Smitten Ice Cream / Via Facebook: SmittenIceCream

Although San Francisco’s “summer weather” may not scream ice cream, the city actually has some amazing options.

In the Mission neighborhood, renowned Bi-Rite Creamery pretty much always has a line of Dolores Park-goers eager to taste its famous Salted Caramel or ice cream sandwiches (trust us, they're worth the wait). Another San Francisco favorite, Humphry Slocombe, is known for unusual ingredients like bacon, Vietnamese coffee, corn, and cucumber — and don't worry, its scoopers are happy to give you enough samples to convince you that these flavors aren’t nearly as insane as they sound. And recently Smitten Ice Cream has made a name for itself by producing artisanal, preservative-free treats that are frozen with liquid nitrogen. Basically, you can’t go wrong when grabbing a cone in San Francisco...as long as you bring a jacket.

6. Columbus, Ohio

Photo Courtesy of Jeni's North Market / Via Facebook: jenisnorthmarket

Midwestern food doesn’t typically get a lot of love, but Columbus has a thriving restaurant scene and some of the best ice cream shops in the country. The most famous of these is Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream — a brand that is synonymous with re-creating (and elevating) the classic ice cream experience. Though Jeni's now has eight shops across the country, it’s still most popular in their hometown, and it has 10 locations in Columbus alone.

For the ultimate experience, head to the counter at North Market, where Jeni’s serves up the ice creams, frozen yogurts, and sorbets that made this Midwestern town a major player in the dessert scene. From classics like Green Mint Chip and Salty Caramel to newer varieties like Candied Ginger and Brambleberry Crisp, Jeni’s has something for everyone — along with a classic experience that replicates the ice cream vibes of our childhoods.

7. Santa Barbara, California

Via Facebook: mcconnells.icecream

Quaint Santa Barbara, California, is better known for its beaches than for its ice cream — but perhaps that needs to change. With two specialty makers, Rori’s Artisanal Creamery and McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams, Santa Barbara is making serious waves in the ice cream space.

Rori’s (named for the founder and ice cream connoisseur behind the shop’s selections) scoops small batches at the Montecito Country Market and the Santa Barbara Public Market. But the Rori’s ice cream experience doesn’t end there — it also has a factory in Carpinteria (in south Santa Barbara County) where visitors can see the magic behind the brand’s fresh flavors and perfect spoonfuls.

But Rori’s is not without competition — McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams has been serving Santa Barbara cones since 1949. Today it has expanded to a new downtown location (and outlets in Los Angeles), where it's still serving from-scratch flavors like Churros Con Leche, Summer Fruit Cobbler, and Dutchman’s Chocolate. Simple and flavorful, McConnell’s is what ice cream was meant to be.

Original article by Nile Cappello for AFAR.

For more dessert travel content from AFAR, check out:

* Places to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth Around the World

* The Best Sweets in Paris

* Rome's Best Gelato

* Sweet Treats in L.A.

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