Sunday, July 16, 2017

Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip

Besides July being National Ice Cream Month, today is National Ice Cream Day!  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 the last few years my family has gone on an Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip in honor of National Dairy Month.  I thought today would be the perfect day to share about all of the ice cream shops we've gone to so far!
Celebrate National Ice Cream Month by going on an Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip.  Check out these 16 Iowa ice cream shops for your next road trip.

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 farm decided they needed to diversify their farm 15 years ago 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.

Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor, LeMars

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 sundae.

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!

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!

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.

Our family loved traveling to Clarksville on our Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip last year to tour New Day Dairy, a robotic dairy farm, and to cool off with some ice cream at Baking Memories.  Baking Memories serves several flavors of Blue Bunny ice cream served any way you like it - cone, cup, shake or sundae.  (Due to flooding, Baking Memories has closed.  We now recommend you travel to The Shell Rock Scoop in the neighboring town of Shell Rock, Iowa after you visit New Day Dairy.)

Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip - nostalgic Ahoy Fountain in Eldora
Ahoy Fountain is located in Downtown Eldora
It is a fun 1950's soda fountain shop
Ahoy Fountain, Eldora

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 - 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 the giant ice cream cone
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.

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.

Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip - Dariette in Fort Dodge
We were happy we finally made it to the Dariette this year
on our annual Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip
The ice cream was delicious!
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.

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.

So where to next?  What Iowa Ice Cream Shops do you recommend our family visits next year on our June Dairy Month Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip?  I can't believe next year will be the 5th year!  Remember to Comment for a Cause!


  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.

  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.