Forget chocolate & vanilla—these 12 Iowa ice cream shops offer funky flavors

Forget chocolate & vanilla—these 12 Iowa ice cream shops offer funky flavors

Photo courtesy of Courtney Cook/Unsplash.

By Katie Giorgio

July 11, 2024

You scream. I scream. We all scream for ice cream. Especially now, as we celebrate National Ice Cream Month all July.

Lucky for us here in Iowa, there are a whole host of tasty ice cream shops where you can scoop up a delectable cold treat. And we aren’t just talking about a scoop of vanilla or chocolate. These ice cream parlors have some funky flavors that are sure to surprise and delight your taste buds. While we would have liked to have tried all this ice cream ourselves (trust us…we will eventually, we just didn’t have time before the month of July kicked off!) we asked for recommendations from our friends around the state to make sure we had every corner covered.

Here’s a list to get you started as you enjoy National Ice Cream Month. Whether you grab a cone or enjoy your scoops in a bowl, we promise it will be cool and sweet! 

Black Cat Ice Cream

2511 Cottage Grove Ave., Des Moines

This hand-crafted, small-batch artisanal ice cream shop is a must-visit when you’re in the Des Moines area. They utilize grass-fed natural dairy and ingredients sourced from local producers to create their one-of-a-kind flavors. You might find you can grab a scoop of Cha Cha’s Pink Champagne Cake, oatmeal cream pie, cucumber mint lemonade sorbet, or creme brulee.

The flavors do change daily so double-check their website or social media before you head out, or simply wait to be pleasantly surprised. 

Dan and Debbie’s Creamery

1600 Main St., Ely

Just off the bike trail in the heart of Ely is Dan and Debbie’s Creamery. This family-owned ice cream shop also sells the other farm-fresh dairy products (like yummy cheese curds!) that you can see being processed in the creamery viewing window right inside the shop. Their ice cream is delicious too. The strawberry rhubarb pie ice cream comes highly recommended and you simply can’t miss out on the peaches & cream, lemon poppy seed, and the key lime pie ice cream flavors when they are in season.


811 S 1st Ave., Iowa City

25 E. Cherry St., North Liberty

With locations in Iowa City and North Liberty, Heyn’s has been delighting ice cream lovers in Eastern Iowa since it first opened in 1989.

Heyn’s makes their own premium ice cream, using 14 percent buttermilk fat content, which is 4 percent more than the minimum needed. This makes Heyn’s ice cream denser and creamier, which makes it an especially delicious treat. Try the blueberry cheesecake, cappuccino chunk, or the monster mash (which is vanilla ice cream with cookie dough, peanut butter chunks, and M&Ms.) You really can’t go wrong. 

Hall’s Ice Cream

2002 Avenue L, Fort Madison

What’s fun about Hall’s Ice Cream in Fort Madison is that there is a different flavor of soft serve every day of the week, plus chocolate and vanilla of course. We hear the strangest flavor is black walnut soft serve, while the peach and cherry come highly recommended.

Check their social media posts for the full line-up of flavors throughout the rest of July and months to come. They also make dilly bars, ice cream sandwiches, and what they call fudge buckets (yes, you should try one!) with different flavors of ice cream, such as peanut butter, caramel, monster cookie, and more. 

Kool Moo 

1020 Old Marion Rd., Cedar Rapids

Kool Moo in Cedar Rapids makes the list as it has one of the tastiest dairy-free options around, Dole Whip. This sweet treat is available in several rotating flavors (check their social media page before you visit) and feels like biting into a tropical vacation.

We promise it’s worth the visit to this fixture on the Cedar Rapids ice cream scene (although under new ownership in the last couple of seasons.) Walk up and order at the window and then enjoy your ice cream treat (they have delicious soft serve twists, too) while also taking a peek at their new mural on the side of the building. 


518 North Federal Ave., Mason City

Birdsall’s has been a sweet fixture in Mason City since first opening in 1931. Today, they are still serving up delicious hard-packed ice cream for locals and visitors alike.

They have a whole slew of delicious flavors to dish up in a cone or cup. Give banana fudge, Heath caramel, praline pecan, or black walnut a try. Their most popular flavors, besides vanilla, are “chippermint,” cotton candy, and peach. Alternatively, you can order up a shake, malt, root beer float, or banana split. Any of the above can be enjoyed right at their old-fashioned ice cream parlor counter. We definitely like their motto: life is short, eat ice cream!

Udderly Delicious

700 Walnut St., Atlantic

There’s something nostalgic about a walk-up ice cream shop. Udderly Delicious in Atlantic will serve up that nostalgia along with some delectable ice cream. Their soft-serve twists are very popular. Hopefully you can grab a limited summertime flavor, like peach. Their concrete creations and sundaes are delicious as well. Bonus points for being able to order an old-fashioned coney dog while you’re there!

Sugar Bowl 

410 W Water St, Decorah

Sugar Bowl in Decorah has really carved out a name for themselves on the ice cream scene thanks to their decadent sweet treats. You might try Ultimate Oreo, which is made with boat-loads of whole Oreos and can even be served between two gluten-free monster cookies. Or you can try raspberry rhapsody, which is black raspberry ice cream swirled with a sweet raspberry ripple and heavenly chocolate-covered raspberry cups. They recommend it in a blue corn chip waffle cone.

Can’t decide what flavor to try? Don’t worry, because Sugar Bowl serves ice cream flights where you can four, six, or twelve ice cream flavors from their tempting lineup. Their ice cream nachos are a fun treat as well. 


1230 West Locust St., Davenport

2419 East 53rd St., Davenport

3515 Middle Rd., Bettendorf

114 North 1st St., Eldridge

Whitey’s has been ice cream king in the Quad Cities area for decades, first opening in 1933! Whether you grew up enjoying a scoop of their bubble gum ice cream (confession…I always saved all the bubble gum pieces to enjoy when I was done with the ice cream scoop!) or you are trying it for the first time, you won’t be disappointed in a visit to Whitey’s. They have several locations around the Quad Cities, where you can sample some of their signature flavors like mint chocolate chip, Mississippi mud revel, mango raspberry, or gummy bear. 

Here’s the Scoop

1104 Mound St., Davenport

204 Jones St., Le Claire

Another tasty handcrafted gourmet ice cream spot in the Quad Cities area is Here’s the Scoop, which has locations in Davenport and Le Claire. They have been serving up ice cream since 2017 and also have an ice cream truck you can find around town as well.

Pick out a scoop–we recommend banana crunch, orange pineapple, strawberry balsamic, or Mexican raspberry dark chocolate–and enjoy it in a homemade waffle cone or bowl or a cup. 

Bliss Ice Cream

198 Main St., Dubuque

When in Dubuque, stop by for a scoop at Bliss Ice Cream. Located in the heart of downtown, they have a nice variety of flavors on offer from those for coffee and chocolate lovers, to fruity (blackberry lemon bar and strawberry cheesecake) and fan favorites (maple nut and coconut almond bliss.) There are also several dairy-free options (black cherry and blue moon are both made with oat milk) and some flavors that will make you feel like a kid again, like the cotton candy twist. 

Zaltes Ice Cream

229 Bennet Ave., Council Bluffs

When you are in Western Iowa, don’t forget to pop into Zaltes Ice Cream in Council Bluffs. You’ll always find fun and surprising flavors. The kids are sure to love Double Bubble bubblegum ice cream. Their butter brickle is hugely popular. And then there are funky flavors like goat cheese + apricot + pistachio. Plus, they have dairy-free options like dragon fruit sorbet and dairy-free vanilla.

Zaltes serves fresh, hard-packed, home-churned ice cream that is made from scratch with fresh ingredients. They also dish up decadent and safe-to-eat raw cookie dough. 

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.Forget chocolate & vanilla—these 12 Iowa ice cream shops offer funky flavorsForget chocolate & vanilla—these 12 Iowa ice cream shops offer funky flavors

  • Katie Giorgio

    Katie Mills Giorgio is a freelance writer, editor, and nonprofit professional living and working in her hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She’s written for a wide variety of publications, including,, and U.S. News & World Report. 100 Things to Do in Cedar Rapids Before You Die, her first book came out in October 2022. Learn more at or follow her on Instagram at @ktmgiorgio.

Seafood in Iowa City: 5 top spots

Seafood in Iowa City: 5 top spots

Good seafood in Iowa City? You bet, it's a thing. Seafood aficionados in Iowa City are in luck, because they can choose from an array of restaurants...

Related Stories
Share This