This post was last updated on July 15th, 2022
The thought of ice cream is pure nostalgia for me. Much of my childhood summers could find me standing in line at the local ice cream shop, slurping cones on the front step of my house, or rolling along in my dad’s truck with a cookie dough blizzard from the nearest DQ.
Pure nostalgia – and pure deliciousness. There’s just something about a scoop of ice cream. I think ice cream might actually be my love language. And while comfort food for most people might conjure up images of hearty soups, macaroni, and cheese, or a tender roast, ice cream is where it’s at for me.
I’ve rounded up some of my very favorite Twin Cities ice cream shops below. Believe me when I say it has been my absolute pleasure.
Cup and Cone
2126 4th St, White Bear Lake
This is the ice cream of my childhood. I grew up in White Bear Lake, and nothing screamed “summer” more than standing in line here after school or a softball game. Check out Twitter to find out each day’s flavor. Ask for your cone to be “twinkle coated” (a crunchy topping that is nutty, sprinkle-y, and delicious) or go for a Sunset Splash, the ultimate summer refreshment and made with the flavor of the day. The prices are cheap, the ice cream is delicious, and I’ve never heard anyone actually complain about standing in the sometimes block-long line.
Grand Ole Creamery
750 Grand Ave, St Paul
4737 Cedar Avenue South, Minneapolis
Another place well worth the wait in line. The line moves fast even with the difficulty of deciding between the 31 ice cream flavors offered each day. And you’ll want to come back since they make over 200 different flavors! I have to go for the waffle cone here – each is homemade, hand-rolled, and has a Whopper in the bottom (to prevent drippage, of course).
2034 Marshall Avenue, Saint Paul
1100 Second Street South, Minneapolis
This is ice cream for the flavor-conscious. No soft-serve here! Each ice cream is carefully handcrafted and bursting with flavor. Toppings are not required – each and every flavor is perfect on its own. Just ask Reader’s Digest, who in 2005 named Izzy’s the best ice cream shop in America. With each flavor being so delicious, it’s difficult to choose. Thanks to their signature (and trademarked!) Izzy Scoop, you can try that flavor you’ve been eyeing without the commitment – and that little 3/4 ounce scoop hanging out on top is nothing less than adorable.
920 Olive St. W, Stillwater
454 Snelling Ave. S., St. Paul
Their website claims to “serve up the most generous portions of any hand-scoop ice cream shop in the five-state area”. With even the kiddie-sized portions routinely larger than my own children’s heads, it really must be true! Come here ready to share and get the absolute most for your money. The Superman flavor brings me right back to my own childhood, and I dare you to order anything larger than a kiddie “scoop” – and be able to finish it in a single sitting!
The Malt Shops
313 14th Ave SE, Minneapolis
A hallmark of Dinkytown, Annie’s has one of the best malts in the Twin Cities. And don’t just come for the malts – the fries are out of this world. Go for my favorite sweet and salty combo and share a malt and an order of fries on the patio.
Snuffy’s Malt Shop
244 Cleveland Ave S, St Paul
4502 Valley View Rd, Edina
17519 Minnetonka Blvd, Minnetonka
The only place to rival Annie’s for their malts in the Twin Cities is Snuffy’s! Snuffy’s prides itself on being a retro malt shop. Have a family throwback night and go for their yummy burgers, fries, and a malt. Their prices make it an affordable family restaurant – and what kid doesn’t enjoy having an entire malt to themselves? Or make it a low-key date night so you don’t have to share.
Wonder’s Ice Cream
298 University Ave, Saint Paul
12410 Aberdeen Street #500, Blaine
1058 Burnsville Center, Burnsville
11630 Fountains Dr, Maple Grove
Coming soon to Minneapolis and the Mall of America
Dubbed “the hibachi of ice cream”, Wonders is just as much about the process as the finished project. Featuring rolled ice cream, it is fun to watch each order be made right in front of you. My daughter loved running from window to window (“Over here mommy!” “Mommy look at the pink one!” “Watch this one, mommy!”) as we watched the ingredients be poured, frozen, mixed, and rolled. Because of the process, this is another place you can expect to wait. Being able to watch definitely helps curb boredom, and there is something deliciously satisfying about posting your creation to social media once it’s complete.
2758 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis
Come for the photo op, stay for the bubble waffle. The literal waffle cone is delicious and there’s something about that melting ice cream against the warm, slightly crispy waffle. The ice cream is admittedly average, but if you love toppings, this is where you get your money’s worth. My S’mores flavor was topped with three entire roasted marshmallows and the Eye Candy comes topped complete with its own stick of cotton candy which is made in-house. It’s a bit on the expensive side but with an entire waffle and toppings like these, it’s practically a meal.
Minnesota Nice Cream
807 Broadway St NE, Minneapolis
If you love toppings, this is the place for you. Like Waffle Bar, the soft serve here is pretty average, but it’s a great vehicle for all those toppings. The cookie dough is gooey deliciousness, the fruit is fresh, you should always get the edible glitter (free!), and if they have homemade donuts that day? You are a very lucky person. Splurge on the tie-dyed fun cone if you really want your photos to pop.
Phew! I hope you find somewhere new to try or a favorite to visit again before this gorgeous summer is over. And I certainly haven’t been to every ice cream gem in the Twin Cities! Tell me – where should I venture next? What’s your favorite local ice cream shop? I’d love to add more to my list!