Cecelia Baumhover, 6, of Van Meter enjoys ice cream from The Creamery.
Writer: Karla Walsh
Photographer: Duane Tinkey
Consider this your bucket list of must-eat ice creams before summer melts away.
Best for Variety:
Bring the family or a group of pals and everyone will find something on the menu at this charming worth-the-drive shop in downtown Polk City. Hard pack, soft serve, frozen yogurt, shakes, malts, floats, sundaes and pup treats are available each day. New to the lineup for 2021: a Disney parks-inspired Dole Whip, which has been a top-seller, according to owners Joe and Ashley Fandel. (221 W. Broadway, Polk City, facebook.com/thecreamerypolkcity)
Best for Unexpected Flavors:
You probably recognize the name from its walk-up window at Gas Lamp, and now this buzzy ice cream brand is back. It opened in June in the former Woody’s Smoke Shack space in the Drake neighborhood. Expect the unexpected from owner Alex Carter—creative flavors include Chocolate-Ghost Chili; Cap’n Crunch and Brownie; Blueberry Pancake; and Peanut Butter Puppy Chow. (2511 Cottage Grove Ave., blackcaticecream.com)
Best for Ice Cream on the Go:
The Outside Scoop
Summer isn’t quite summer until we complete the trifecta: scoring a scoop from the original Outside Scoop location in Indianola, from its younger sibling in Ankeny, and from the roaming member of the family—the pretty-in-pink ice cream truck that makes appearances at concerts and food festivals and on select weekdays downtown. While we’re wild about mainstays like Dutch Letter, it’s tough to resist the seasonal varieties like Blackberry Peach. (602 N. Jefferson Way, Indianola; 2410 S.W. White Birch Drive, Ankeny; and the truck, which you can track on Instagram @theoutsidescoop; outside-scoop.com)
Best for Timeless Nostalgia:
Classic Frozen Custard
This south-side classic’s digital presence is small—save for rave reviews from fans—so the flavors are always a surprise when you walk up to the window. In addition to mainstays like chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, you’ll feel like it’s your lucky day if Caramel Cashew or Ooey Gooey Butter Cake are available. And you won’t go wrong with the hot fudge-showered Turtle Sundae. (4000 S.E. 14th St., restaurantwebexperts.com/ClassicFrozenCustard)
Best for Savory and Sweet Cravings:
This Prairie City shop is the perfect weekend afternoon destination for a quintessential Iowa meal: a pork tenderloin sandwich and a twister (aka milkshake). The Dutch Letter Twister is popular during spring and early summer, but you won’t go wrong with the top-selling Monster Cookie Twister with vanilla soft serve, peanut butter, cookie dough, granola and M&M’s. If you’re really lucky, the rhubarb compote-infused Twister will still be on the menu. (304 W. Second St., Prairie City, goldiesicecreamshoppe.com)