Ice cream: it’s probably the one summer dessert everyone can agree on. And since there’s nothing we love more than an ice cream shop with a chic atmosphere, we’re charting the best retro inspired parlors across the U.S.
Click through the gallery to see our favorites–from shops that are literally set up as vintage soda bars, to new takes on classics like the ice cream sandwich, and ice cream shops that have been around since the 1930s.
Ice & Vice: Hidden in the depths of the Lower East Side in New York City, Ice & Vice has become one of the chicest places to grab a colorful cone. With the addition of unexpected flavors (think: tea infused options, or specials infused with champagne and bubble gum) the shop walls provide a perfect backdrop. The menu here changes often--both in terms of flavored cones (a recent edition includes a baby pink coconut macaroon cone), actual ice cream, and cool treats like ice cream sandwiches.
Churro Borough: You've likely seen the churro ice cream cone trend making waves on instagram, but Churro Borough in Los Angeles takes things to the next level with its churro ice cream sandwiches. Choose flavors ranging from black forest cheesecake to Spanish latte--you can have your scoop sandwiched between piping hot churro discs, or with a side of churro fries or sliced as a topping. The small shop has a cozy feel.
Original Rainbow Cone: With its pink building and 80+ year history, Original Rainbow Cone is one of the chicest intrinsically retro ice cream parlors in Chicago. They specialize in the rainbow cone, which consists of scoops of chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House (vanilla, cherries and walnuts), pistachio and orange sherbet.
Izzy's Ice Cream: Located in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Izzy's Ice Cream has all the charm of a small town ice cream parlor. The selections here constantly rotate, and always showcase local ingredients. What's more--Izzy's specializes in the most adorable, tiny scoops on top of your regular cone, dubbed the "Izzy."
Morgenstern's: It's possibly one of the most instagrammed places in New York City during the summer, with its retro chic floors and cool collaborations, spanning from Glossier to Kanye West. While last summer saw the release of Kim K thirst trap sundaes, this summer offers Kanye panda themed cones. Look out for unusual flavors, which are released regularly, like the all-black coconut ash.
Gifford's: You can't get much more Americana than Gifford's. With locations throughout Maine (Auburn, Bangor, Farmington, Skowegan and Waterville), the outdoor stands have all the retro vibes that make going out for ice cream in the summer worth the extra calories. Think: picnic tables, trees and the sometimes-present mini golf course. The family-owned stands offer over 100 different flavors.
Ice Cream Jubilee: Located in Washington D.C., Ice Cream Jubliee may feel ultra-modern with its all-glass building, but inside it's a totally different story. Taking inspiration from old-school parlors, the shop offers all-natural, fresh flavors ranging from caramel popcorn to honey lemon lavender.
Azucar: This ice cream parlor is inspired by Cuban culture--both in terms of flavors, decor and atmosphere. Located in Miami, Florida, the building is covered in neon lights and a protruding three-dimensional ice cream cone. Head there for flavors ranging from "crazy peanut" to one featuring Red Hots and bananas.
Molly Moon's Ice Cream: With locations throughout Seattle, Molly Moon's Ice Cream is committed to creating handcrafted flavors with an emphasis on local, natural ingredients, as the original Americana ice cream parlors did. Try one of the chic, sophisticated flavors like spring berry goat fro-yo, or vegan coconut strawberry.
Brooklyn Farmacy: Created with the idea in mind of bringing back the old-school soda fountains of the past, Brooklyn Farmacy serves floats, homemade sodas, sundaes and silver dishes full of ice cream that will make you feel like you're traveled backwards in time. The shop is set up like an authentic soda bar or "pharmacy" with small tables, a long bar, and on summer nights, the lines can stretch out the door.
Coolhaus: Ice cream sandwiches already have a reputation as a classic American dessert, but founders Natasha Case and Freya Estreller wanted to take that notion one step further. With backgrounds in design, the duo explore the relationship between architecture and food, constructing completely out-of-this-world ice cream sandwiches at their Culver City, California shop and in food trucks across the U.S. Try unique flavors like blueberry sweetcorn or Cuban cigar.
Gary's Ice Cream: Located in Tiverton, Rhode Island, Gary's Ice Cream is another family owned, old school ice cream parlor that attracts both locals and foodies from around the country. The homemade ice cream includes a range of flavors, both classic and new, such as cherry vanilla or maple walnut.
Beth Marie's Old Fashioned Ice Cream: Set up like an old fashioned soda fountain (think: black and white checkered floors and homemade classic renditions of sundaes and floats), Beth Marie's has two locations in Denton, Texas. Try one of the shop's famed cherry or butterscotch ice cream sodas.
The Creole Creamery: Just outside the French Quarter of New Orleans lives this 1950s style ice cream parlor. Despite the vintage decor and leather booths, the spot boasts a surprising array of modern flavors (creole cream cheese, hibiscus beet). Also worth trying: the Tchoupitoulas challenge, which comes in the form of a decked-out sundae with eight scoops.
Holsten's Brookdale Confectionary: This New Jersey spot prides itself as being the ice cream shop on The Sopranos. But besides that, the authentic parlor has been in business as an ice cream shop since the 1930s. The homemade ice cream ranges in flavor from black raspberry to butter pecan, and the malted milkshakes are worth the travel to this vintage shop.