After surviving the hottest month on record, Iowans deserve a delicious scoop (or four) of ice cream to beat the heat.
But where can one find the best ice cream in town? Well, we agree with Kathy H., who wrote, “Everywhere. There is no bad ice cream.”
Ice cream parlors are the sweetest solution to Iowa’s hot summers, and thanks to our Starting Line Facebook friends, we now have 106 ice cream parlors to try this summer.
The top 3
The Wells Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor in Le Mars — home to the “ice cream capital of the world” — took first place in the comments.
The parlor earned its title in 1994 after being recognized for making more ice cream by one manufacturer in one location than anywhere else. If you take a trip to Le Mars, you can find all 50 ice cream sculptures throughout the town, try one-of-a-kind ice cream treats, and have fun with interactive exhibits. The two-story parlor is not one to miss!
Following Blue Bunny was Whitey’s Ice Cream, located in Davenport, Bettendorf, and Eldridge—the perfect parlor for our southeasterners!
Dan and Debbie’s Creamery in Ely came in at third place. The locally owned family dairy farm provides farm fresh ice cream for all to enjoy.
Now, before we get to the top 30 parlors on the list, there are some honorable mentions in the comments from Iowans like Kristie B., who admitted she’s not a fan of going out for ice cream.
“[The] Blue Bunny in my Freezer!” Kristie responded. “Not a people-y person!”
We’re pretty jealous of Saba S., who makes her own ice cream: “[In] my kitchen, soft serve pistachio!” Saba wrote.
A special shout out also goes to the Creamery on North Main Street in Charles City, which was Steve H.’s favorite ice cream shop 60 years ago.
Tammy M. didn’t name her favorite shop; instead, she gave a certain type of ice cream parlor for Iowans to look for.
“Wherever you can find a locally-owned ice cream store,” Tammy said.
30 Top Ice Cream Parlors in Iowa
Click here for our readers’ full list, which includes over 100 local ice cream shops across the state of Iowa.
In alphabetical order, here are Iowans’ top 30 favorite ice cream destinations this summer:
- Bauder’s & Donut King, Des Moines
- Big Kahuna’s, Boone
- Birdsall’s Ice Cream, Mason City
- Black Cat Ice Cream, Des Moines
- Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor, Le Mars
- Cedar City Creamery, Cedar Falls
- Classic Frozen Custard, Des Moines
- The Dairy Mart, Glidden
- Dan & Debbie’s Creamery, Ely
- Dari Sweet, Mount Ayr
- The Dariette, Fort Dodge
- Doozies, Council Bluffs
- 4 Queens, Cedar Falls/Evansdale/Waterloo/Waverly
- Franklin County Fair’s homemade ice cream, Hampton
- Graham’s Dairy Freez, Ottumwa
- Grandpa’s Homemade Ice Cream, Burlington
- Heyn’s Ice Cream, Iowa City/North Liberty
- Hinterland Dairy, Donnellson (“They are a family-owned working dairy!” – Laura Z.)
- Home Sweet Cone Ice Cream, Waukee
- Jersey Freeze Ice Cream, Monroe
- The Milk House, Reinbeck (“Old school atmosphere with original counters from when it was a soda shop” – Janet J.)
- The Nutty Bar Stand, Arnolds Park
- The Outside Scoop, Ankeny/Indianola
- Over the Top, Pleasant Hill
- Snack Shack Treats N Eats, Fort Dodge
- Sugar Bowl, Decorah
- 2 Scoops Ice Cream, Waterloo
- Udderly Delicious Ice Cream, Atlantic
- WW Homestead Dairy, Waukon
- Whitey’s Ice Cream, Bettendorf/Davenport/Eldridge
by Grace Katzer
If you enjoy stories like these, make sure to sign up for Iowa Starting Line’s newsletter.
Iowa Starting Line is part of an independent news network and focuses on how state and national decisions impact Iowans’ daily lives. We rely on your financial support to keep our stories free for all to read. Find ISL on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.