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Five Best NYC Ice Cream Shops | The Best Ice Cream in New York City

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When most people think of eating in New York City, they think of starting their morning with a bagel or chowing down a slice of pizza, but what if I told you that the city that never sleeps is filled with phenomenal ice cream shops? I deem this to be true, and I’ve had a lot of ice cream throughout my lifetime. 

It wasn’t easy to select my favorites, since I have come to love so many shops after living in New York City for nearly 20 years, but these NYC ice cream shops are ones you definitely must try if you find yourself in the city, or even if you live there and haven’t had an opportunity to yet. 

Visiting other destinations in the region? Check out our other delicious guides:

While in New York City don’t miss out on activities that will help immerse yourself in the city (hurry while they’re hot!):

The Five Best NYC Ice Cream Shops

Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain

513 Henry Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231 // +17185226260

Brooklyn Farmacy has been serving sweet treats to Brooklynnites and beyond since 2010. Once you step inside Brooklyn Farmacy, you will feel transported back in time as this eatery sits in an actual apothecary store from the 1920s. Brooklyn Farmacy is known for its specialty sundaes including “Sir Twix-A-Lot” which consists of “shortcake & cold caramel with vanilla ice cream encased in a milk chocolate shell sprinkled with fleur de sel salt” and “Potato Head” which is made up of “vanilla ice cream, peanut butter, warm caramel, north fork potato chips, and fresh whipped cream”.

NYC Ice Cream Shops: Sundae

In addition to the specialty sundaes, the menu also offers milkshakes, ice cream floats, egg creams, and sorbet for those who opt for a dairy-free option. This establishment is the total package with an aesthetically pleasing ambiance and desserts. However, if you’re looking to dine in, try to go during the week during the day to avoid having to wait for a seat. However, if you do end up having to wait, it is definitely worth it. The ice cream is impeccable, the service is comparable to the dessert you’re getting, and the volume of other people in the vicinity from my experience.

However, even if you do end up waiting a couple of minutes for your food, the shop has an assortment of board games you can play (if available) to keep yourself entertained while waiting. 

Van Leeuwen

1250 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10020 (Rockefeller Center Flagship) // +19173882904

Although Van Leeuwen has locations in a couple of major cities across the U.S. there are 19 NYC ice cream shops including Boerum Hill, East Village, Greenpoint, Hudson Yards, Nolita, Prospect Heights, Rockefeller Center, and SoHo, to name a few.

This chain is recognized for its variety of different kinds of ice creams and unique flavors. Some of my favorite flavors include “Chocolate Fudge Brownie,” “Honeycomb,” “Cookies & Cream,” “Brown Sugar Chunk,” and “Praline Butter Cake.” Although I have yet to try any vegan flavors, there are plenty to choose from, including “Vegan Peanut Butter Honeycomb,” “Vegan Pistachio,” and “Vegan Choc Chip Cookie Dough” to name a few.

Whenever I visit one of their locations, I typically order a brownie sundae with a scoop of “Chocolate Fudge Brownie” and “Cookies & Cream” with some whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles to top it off. What is really great about the Van Leeuwen stores is that not only can you get a cup or cone to sit and enjoy during the time you’re in the shop, but there are also freezers stocked with pints you can buy and bring home with you to enjoy at a later time.

NYC Ice Cream Shops: Brownie Sundae

In addition to the delicious ice cream these stores offer, I love the ambiance, the minimalist vibe, and the pastel color scheme. This place is great if you’re craving a late-night sweet, as most shops are open from 11 am-12 am Sunday-Thursday and 11 am-1 am on Friday and Saturday. 

Milk & Cream Cereal Bar

159 Mott Street, New York. NY 10013 (406) 686-6695

Milk & Cream Cereal Bar is definitely not your average ice cream shop, but one you need to check out on your next visit to New York City. There are three locations: New York City Flagship on Mott Street, Jersey City (not technically in NYC, but super close), and Astoria Queens. I have only ever been to the Mott Street location, where I have had pleasant experiences every time.

This establishment is among the best NYC ice cream shops because of its menu offerings. You can create your own ice cream cup or cone by choosing a flavor of ice cream and your favorite cereals like “Apple Jacks,” “Fruity Pebbles,” “S’mores,” “Fruit Loops,” and “Cinnamon Toast Crunch” to name a few to blend with the ice cream. The fun doesn’t stop there. After you choose your ice cream flavor and cereal blend, there is a plethora of toppings one can select ranging from a variety of fruits and nuts all the way to cookies and candies such as brownie bites, chocolate teddy grahams, or M&Ms.

NYC Ice Cream Shops: Ice Cream Cup

If you would prefer to order one of their signature combination specials, you can do that, too. I enjoy the “Cookie Crisp Carnival” which is a blend of Cookie Crisp, cookie dough,and Oreos, topped with cookie crunchies and cookie dough. However, there are plenty of other specials such as “Froot Berry Bliss” and “Apple Jack Avalanche.”  If you head into one of the locations, but don’t feel like enjoying a treat on the spot, you can also pick up some of their signature combination pints.

Make sure to snap a photo of your treat because they definitely will make your Instagram feed pop. There is a nice little seating area outside of the establishment as well where one can people-watch while enjoying their treat. 

Mister Dips

89 South St, New York, NY 10038 (no phone number)

Dipped ice cream is amazing, but often overlooked. If you’re craving some soft serve, Mister Dips is one of the NYC ice cream shops to visit. Although I have only been to this establishment once, I had a really great experience. The menu has a variety of soft serve dipped cones including: “Berry Gibbs,” “Chocolate P.B.D.” and “Summer Patriot”.

I ordered a specialty dipped cone called “Winnie The Pooh Berry” which is a soft serve cone with honey nut ice cream, butterscotch-berry dip, and bumble bee candies. This is a limited edition cone available at the Pier 17 Seaport location through July 24, 2022. The dip was very sweet and delicious. I also tried one of the “thick-aaazz” milkshakes. I chose the “Choco-Pudding Pop” and enjoyed every sip.

The milkshakes come in one size, so if you’re looking for only a little treat, I’d recommend one of the dipped cones as the milkshakes are quite large. The aesthetic of this place is also super trendy and modern filled with lights and digital billboards.

NYC Ice Cream Shops: Milkshake

There are two New York locations: one at the Seaport on South Street in Manhattan and another on N. 12th Street in Brooklyn. For a smaller shop, the place was really crowded on a weeknight when I visited. 

Big Gay Ice Cream

207 Front Street, New York, NY 10038 // +12678868024

Big Gay Ice Cream is known for its use of high-quality ingredients and uniquely-titled treats such as the “Salty Pimp,” “Rocky Roadhouse,” and “Monday Sundae.” This place has everything from milkshakes to sundaes to truckers which is their version of classic ice cream truck sandwiches, but better. If you’re looking for a non-dairy sweet, they offer Paletas, which are Mexican fruit pops.

NYC Ice Cream Shops: Sundae

My favorite treat is the “Rocky Roadhouse” which is a chocolate ice cream cone rolled in a Rocky Roadhouse topping consisting of mini marshmallows, toasted almonds, and chocolate bits. I love that they provide you with a little boat since they know it can be quite heavy and messy to carry around, especially on a hot summer day. In addition to the ice cream being sweet, the team members are always incredibly sweet and accommodating, even when the lines can get pretty crazy at times, especially during the summer months.

Big Gay Ice Cream has three locations in New York City. There is one at Madison Square Garden, one at the South Street Seaport, and another one on the Upper West Side. If you’re at the South Street Seaport, you should make it a priority to visit Big Gay Ice Cream and Mister Dips, especially if you have a big sweet tooth as they are conveniently located in close proximity to one another. Definitely one of the best NYC ice cream shops.

Summary: NYC Ice Cream Shops

One should not overlook the wonderful ice cream shops that New York City has to offer. The shops above are only a few of the city’s best, so if you’re looking for a sweet treat, be sure to consider these options first. Make sure to call the stores ahead of time in case the menu changes or to ensure the flavor you’re wanting to try is in stock that day. The last thing you’ll want to do is wait in the heat for ice cream to be told the flavor you’ve been craving is unavailable that day. 

New York City really does offer it all and especially goes above and beyond at its ice cream shops, so make sure to take advantage of their sweetness if you can. 

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