Monday, July 24, 2023

Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip

July is National Ice Cream Month! So what a better way to celebrate than indulging in some ice cream at one of Iowa's nostalgic ice cream shops!  During the month of June for over 10 years my family has gone on an Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip in honor of National Dairy Month.  Check out the 30+ locations we've visited on the tour:

Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip - 20+ Ice Cream Shops from across the state of Iowa

The Whippy Dip serves up unbelievable soft serve ice cream!  Our family recommends getting their cookie dough tornado.  This seasonal shop has turned into a family favorite.  We make an annual pilgrimage to Decorah every summer just to have a treat from The Whippy Dip - it is that good!

You know your ice cream from Hansen's Dairy is fresh - you can literally pick it up on the farm!  This family dairy decided they needed to diversify their farm when all four sons wanted to come home to farm so they added a creamery.  Hansen's Dairy hard ice cream is thick and creamy.

An Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Ice Cream Capitol of the World - LeMars, Iowa!  Our family recommends visiting the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor, eating your favorite Blue Bunny ice cream dish up at their bar, and checking out all of the fun memorabilia.  Also, be sure to come to town during their annual Ice Cream Days in June.

Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip - Hot Fudge Sundae at Birdsall's Ice Cream in Mason City, Iowa
Miss A in 2014 enjoying a hot fudge sundae
at Birdsall's in Mason City
Birdsall's Ice Cream, Mason City

Birdsall's has become of favorite for generations in North Iowa.  2017 actually marks their 80th year in business!  We recommend their hot fudge sundae or if you come at the right time in the summer - their fresh peach ice cream.  The ice cream shop just opened under new ownership in 2021 after the past owner passed away.  They have been working with the previous owner's brother to make sure they are bringing all of the classic favorites back!

Snookies is known for thick & rich shakes and malts, free doggy cones, and a line up of fans every year for opening day in the spring.  I love how Snookies adds shortbread cookies and animal crackers as garnishes on their shakes and ice cream cups.

Heyn's makes over 40 flavors of hard ice cream, including some fun flavor creations like Monster Mash and Kara's Creation.  Splurge while you are there and get your ice cream in a Dream Cone!

Stan's is a classic drive-in where you can expect speedy service from their car hops.  Their ice cream is rich & smooth and their food is hot & fresh.  Stan's is a great, nostalgic summer spot to visit on your next road trip.

Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip - Black Raspberry cone from the Viking Drive-Inn in Ventura, Iowa
A "small" Black Raspberry cone
from the Viking Drive-Inn in Ventura

A favorite ice cream hot spot on the west side of Clear Lake in Ventura, the Viking Drive-Inn is always full of people traveling by car, boat and bike.  Try their Black Raspberry soft serve ice cream and a heads up, the portions are big at the Viking!

Ahoy Fountain, Eldora (Closed)

Ahoy Fountain is a fun 1950's soda fountain shop, whose atmosphere adds to your experience.  Their ice cream is creamy and rich.  It is a fun stop for the entire family that will bring you back in time.

Princess Grill & Pizzeria, Iowa Falls

Our family enjoys not only going to the Princess for dinner, but for ice cream too!  We love trying their special ice cream flavors.  Our favorite that we have tried so far was their bacon ice cream.  We had them put the ice cream in a shake, with a little caramel - amazing!

Over the Top, Pleasant Hill

Over the Top is known for their fresh, homemade ice cream.  They work with AE Dairy located down the road to create their own, unique ice cream, which they mix in their shop.  Working with AE allows them to mix and create their ice cream in less than 7 days from when the milk came from the cow!  A fun feature of their hard ice cream is they add a little "topper" scoop of ice cream "over the top" of each ice cream cone.

Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip - New Day Dairy
Going on a tour at New Day Dairy in 2022

New Day Dairy, Clarksville and Shell Rock Scoop, Shell Rock

This is a double stop tour destination. New Day Dairy, a robotic dairy farm, outside of Clarksville offers tours with Dairyman Dan and you can even "sleep with the cows" at their Guest Barn.  Travel to neighboring Shell Rock for some ice cream at The Shell Rock Scoop that serves WW Homestead Dairy ice cream.

Zombie Burger + Drink Lab, Des Moines

Zombie Burger might be know for their crazy, delicious burgers, but their rich, creative ice cream shakes deserve just as much credit.  We loved the chocolate cake shake and the peanut butter banana shake when we visited.  Next time we want to try the s'more and crunch berry shakes.

Dariette, Fort Dodge

The Dariette might be hard to find, but it is worth the trip!  Their delicious soft serve ice cream menu changes weekly, and you'll be sure to not go home hungry with their big servings.

Twiins Shoppe, Eagle Grove (closed)

Twiins Shoppe in Eagle Grove offers the best of both worlds at their ice cream shoppe and restaurant.  They have both hard and soft serve ice cream.  My children love getting a "Rainbow Swirl" soft serve cone with several flavors in it.  I recommend the Monster Cooker Chiller!

Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip - Sky Kone Ice Cream in Ackley
If you eat at a giant ice cream cone,
you've got to take your photo in front of it!
Sky Kone in Ackley - 2017 Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip
Sky Kone Ice Cream, Ackley

An Ice Cream Road Trip wouldn't be complete without getting your ice cream from a giant ice cream cone!  Sky Kone has a primary location in Ackley, and they have another cone that travels around to different area festivals and events.  Sky Kone serves Flavor-Burst soft serve ice cream, which gives just the right amount of added flavor to make your cone or cup unique and individually yours.

Goldie's Ice Cream Shoppe, Prairie City

Goldie's not only has delicious, fun, ice cream treats, they also are known for their award-winning breaded pork tenderloin sandwich.  This small town, small diner is a fun place to go with your family and friends, but be prepared for a packed house of both locals and travelers.

4 Queens, Cedar Falls, Waterloo and Waverly

A staple and favorite in the Cedar Valley, 4 Queens has a few locations and offers delicious ice cream at each spot.  I recommend getting the Scotcheroo Snowstorm!

Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip - Wilton Candy Kitchen
I had fun being allowed behind the soda fountain bar
at the Wilton Candy Kitchen in Wilton on the
2019 Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip
Wilton Candy Kitchen, Wilton

Take a short detour off I-80 to the town of Wilton and stop in at the oldest on-going confectionery ice cream parlor in the WORLD, the Wilton Candy Kitchen.  Under new ownership in 2016, Lynn Ochiltree has done a great job of carrying on the legacy and charm.  Lynn was even the one who served us when we visited.  I couldn't resist a classic hot fudge sundae on our stop.

South Shore Sweet Spot, Clear Lake

The South Shore Sweet Spot is hard to miss on South Shore Drive in Clear Lake.  This seasonal ice cream stand is in a shape of a giant ice cream cone and is big on portions too.

Whitey's Ice Cream, Quad Cities

Whitey's is an ice cream chain based in the Quad Cities with several locations and has been a local favorite since the 1930s.  Whitey's is known for their extra thick shakes and malts, which can be held upside down due to their invention of a high-powered malt machine.  They also claim to be the first ice cream company to use cookie dough as an ingredient so I had to have some when we visited!

Miss L at the Bristow Ice Cream Shack, located next to
the town's Splash Pad on the 2020 Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip
Bristow Ice Cream Shack, Bristow

The Bristow Ice Cream Shack serve soft serve ice cream treats seasonally in the small town of Bristow's Memorial Park next to their Splash Pad.  This is a great place to cool off in the summer!  Grab a homemade hot fudge sundae or their popular Black Raspberry shake!

Dan & Debbie's Creamery, Ely

Grab some farm-fresh ice cream when you visit Dan & Debbie's Creamery in Ely.  Our favorite flavors on our visit were their Swiss Chocolate Chip, Cookies & Cream and top seller Salted Caramel.  A neat fact about Dan & Debbie's is that all of their ice cream and other dairy products available at their creamery are all made with milk directly from their family's farm!

WW Homestead Dairy, Waukon

WW Homestead Dairy may be known for their cheese curds, but their ice cream is just as delicious, high-quality and fresh!  Their homemade hard ice cream is silky and rich.

Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip - WW Homestead Dairy
We couldn't resist taking a picture with "Anna"
on the side of WW Homestead Dairy on the 2020 Road Trip
Sweet Treats, Jewell

Sweet Treats is a popular seasonal ice cream stand located on the east side of the town of Jewell where they make all of their homemade ice cream on site.  They are open every night in the summer from 6-9 p.m. so perfect for that after supper treat!

Casa Chameleon, Belmond

Casa Chameleon is a seasonal restaurant in Belmond ice cream and pizza! Each ice cream dish is individually made by taking vanilla soft serve ice cream, blending in any one of their 45 flavors and then served to the customer. It is really neat to watch them make!

Twiins Shoppe, Jefferson

Located near the town square and the Mahanay Carillon Bell Tower, Twiins Shoppe is a seasonal ice cream shop that serve both soft serve and hard ice cream. We loved the murals and outdoor seating area. It all added up to a great experience!

Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip - Twiins Shoppe, Jefferson
Grab a seat and enjoy hard or soft serve ice cream at the
Twiins Shoppe in Jefferson (2021 Road Trip)

Arty's Ice Cream & Grill, Wilton

Check out the creative and unique menu at Arty's! They not only make amazing ice cream creations, they also are known for their delicious burgers. Be sure to try their "special" ice cream of the day when you visit; you'll love their fun combination of flavors.

Iowa State University Creamery, Ames

Every Scoop for ISU! Located on the second floor of the Food Sciences Building, the Iowa State Creamery is a fun place for Cyclones and others to enjoy a fresh, hard scoop of ice cream or two. We loved their creative and creamy ice cream, developed by students!

Charlie's Soda Fountain, Clear Lake

Located in Downtown Clear Lake, at Charlie's Soda Fountain you can get everything from classic soda fountain drinks like Green Rivers and different Phosphate flavors, to creamy soft serve ice cream treats. Try the classic Mud Sundae when you visit!

Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip - Mill Creek Concessions
Enjoying sweet treats at Mill Creek Concession
on the 2022 Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip
Mill Creek Concessions, Paullina

This seasonal ice cream and concessions stand is located in Mill Creek State Park and is a great place for visitors, campers, hikers and swimmers. They off soft serve cones, sundaes, shakes, malts, floats, whips and storms!

The Nutty Bar Stand, Arnolds Park

This Okoboji landmark has been serving ice cream treats since 1945! Go for the traditional Nutty Bar, which is a block of vanilla ice cream on a stick, dipped in chocolate and then rolled in chopped peanuts, sprinkles or whatever their "limited edition" flavor is. They also serve ice cream by the scoop and Root Beer Floats!

The Olde Creamery, Garner, Mason City and Clear Lake

The Olde Creamery has quickly become one of our local favorites. They make a variety of hard, homemade ice cream flavors at the Garner location to supply all three locations. Be sure to try the signature flavors at each location, especially Mason City's River City Cheesecake!

The Filling Station, Madrid

Located in Downtown Madrid, this seasonal ice cream shop offers both hard and soft serve ice cream. They have lots of outdoor seating available for everyone who drives, walks or bikes to get their sweet treat!

Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip - The Frozen Parrot, Arnolds Park
Enjoying The Frozen Parrot popsicles in 2023

The Frozen Parrot, Arnolds Park

This fun new cool treats shop in the Okoboji area is a must try on your next trip to the lake. Choose between milk or water based popsicles and customize by dipping, topping and/or drizzling on top! The milk based popsicles have an ice cream texture and have great flavor.

TOPOG Coffeehouse, Arnolds Park

Located in the Historic Queens Court of Arnolds Park, this coffeeshop scoops up delicious, creamy and rich hard ice cream. They carry a variety of unique flavors that can be served in a cup or cone!S

Bob's in Arnolds Park, Arnolds Park

This casual restaurant may be know for their Bob Dogs and Tavern sandwiches, but our family encourages you to try their shakes or malts! Bob's serves a variety of soft serve ice cream treats and their shakes a perfect way to cool off on a hot day at the lake.

We've had so much fun traveling across the state, exploring different communities and celebrating the hard work that Iowa's dairy farmers do everyday as part of our June Dairy Month Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip.  Ice cream is my favorite sweet treat and this annual tour has turned into a fun excuse to enjoy a cup or cone at all of these fun ice cream shops.

So where to next?  What Iowa Ice Cream Shops do you recommend our family visits next year on our Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip?


  1. Great list! If you ever make it back to Goldie's let me know. Would love to have our families meet for ice cream. If anyone is looking for a fun Jasper County Iowa day trip you could get ice cream at Goldie's and then drive out to the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge. With a little luck you might see some buffalo and maybe an elk or two.

    1. I will! Goldies is such a fun place and we have never been to the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge before.

  2. This is a fantastic list. No one has to tell me to eat more ice cream:) Happy to eat least visited two places on your list. Love the photos!

    1. Thanks Jeni! You'll have to road trip down to Iowa to visit more ;)

  3. I really need to start spending the summers with your family. I can be an honorary kid for a few months right? I'll help with chores!

    1. Come on over! I'm sure my kids would appreciate the chore help ;)

  4. Don't forget Country View Dairy near Hawkeye, Iowa where you can always find soft-serve frozen yogurt made right on the dairy farm and cups and cones are only One buck!

  5. If you haven't been there, try Sweet Treats outside of Jewel, east of town on the way to the interstate. Very good.

    1. We finally made it to Sweet Treats in 2020!

  6. Nice compilation. Have you ever tasted the custom treats at Black Cat Ice Cream in Des Moines? It's a little hole-in-the-wall that has some amazing flavors.

    1. No we haven't! We'll have to add it to the list!

  7. What a comprehensive list! Ice cream is my favorite! Saving for our next trip to Iowa!

    1. Thanks Lori! We've been having fun creating the list over the years!

  8. Your map has no stops in SW Iowa?! That is a tragedy! Udderly Delicious in Atlantic, IA is new and amazing!

    1. I know! We need to make it that direction and I'll add Udderly Delicious to our list of places to try.

  9. What a fun toad trip! I’ll have to keep this list handy on my next Iowa trip!

    1. So many great ice cream spots to try. Many are seasonal so double check if they're open before your visit!

  10. Replies
    1. And our list to visit continues to grow every year too. We have lots more of delicious Iowa Ice Cream spots to still travel to!

  11. Billy’s Ice Cream Store in Adel, Ia. The locals favorite. ;)

  12. The Shell Rock Scoop says "THANK YOU" for putting us on the list!!! Stop in any time!

  13. Welcome to SEO Ads Lab, a leading "SEO Agency Baltimore" dedicated to helping businesses thrive in the digital landscape. Our team of experts specializes in crafting tailored SEO strategies that drive real results.