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New York City Travel Guide

The 12 Best Places for Ice Cream in New York City

A scoop of advice.

New Yorkers are spoiled with just about every culinary delight, whether sweet or savory, and ice cream is no exception. From Italian-born women who grew up in mom-and-pop gelato shops to Pennsylvania natives who started driving ice cream trucks at age 16, entrepreneurs know that Brooklyn and Manhattan, in particular, have no shortage of patrons eager to discover their new favorite scoop of rich ice cream, smooth gelato, or sweet Italian Ice.

Each of the following spots has found a way to stand out, whether it be by focusing on using South Asian spices or being a bold traditionalist in a market where so many seem determined to come up with something more creative than the competition.

Consider this your guide to the best places to get your ice cream fix in New York this summer.

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Ample Hills Creamery

 Ample Hills Creamery started in Brooklyn and also has locations in Manhattan and Queens. The idea here is to offer flavors that take us back to childhood. Cereal-inspired flavors include ‘Snap Mallow Pop,’ which is an ode to Rice Krispie treats, while ‘O Captain My Captain’ looks like a birthday cake thanks to the infusion of Fruity Pebbles. There are also vegan options like ‘Underneath the Mango Tree’ and ‘Caught in the Rain,’ which is a nod to Rupert Holmes’ 1980 “Pina Colada Song.” It contains a bit of rum and is more dense than your typical sorbet.

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Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory

In a city where ice cream makers often seem determined to outdo one another with creative ingredients, Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory is an old-school ice cream shop that does not try to be anything else. Like the two old-school pizza parlors you’ll find across Old Fulton Street, Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory keeps it simple, which means offering eight flavors that have been on the menu since its opening in late 2001. Uniquely, nothing you try will be more than 72 hours old, meaning all their ice cream is impossibly fresh.

The building that once housed a Texaco station is within the Fulton Ferry Historic District. After grabbing your scoop(s), you’ll want to have a seat and take in the view of the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges while enjoying vanilla, chocolate, or what founder Mark Thompson refers to as the “exotic flavors.” These include coffee, chocolate, and peach, which is the Pennsylvania native’s personal favorite. The recipes do not include eggs, and batches are made daily. 

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Dolce Brooklyn

Dolce has been around for a decade and is well worth the short walk from the F/G line. Sitting at one of the outdoor tables with a cup of salted caramel gelato and lemon sorbetto will make you want to pack up and move to Carroll Gardens. More than half of the 12 flavors change frequently, while cookies and cream, chocolate, and fior di latte are among the handful of proven crowd-pleasers. The latter is perfect for an affogato.

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il laboratorio del gelato

A true gelato aficionado couldn’t get bored with il laboratorio del gelato, even if he or she lived next door. The flavors tend to be straightforward, and there are dozens of them across the city. Cucumber and carrot both taste like a refreshing, frozen version of the real thing, although slightly sweeter. The smooth Thai Chili Chocolate goes down smooth before gently tapping the back of your throat with spice. B-side flavors like cheddar cheese may be pushing the limits for some, but the classics like salted caramel and birthday cake never disappoint. Sorbet flavors here are dairy-free

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L'Albero Dei Gelati

L’Albero Dei Gelati is to Park Slope what Dolce is to Carroll Gardens. It’s one of those Brooklyn neighborhood spots where you can get a sense of what it would be like to live there. Italian for “the gelato tree,” this is the closest you’ll get to a gelateria in Northern Italy. Owner Monia Solighetto grew up in the business, which now has a handful of locations on three continents.

The 18 flavors lean towards traditional, with options like asparagus and yellow bell pepper mixed in occasionally. No matter which flavor you try, you won’t have to guess what’s melting in your mouth. The pear sorbetto tastes like a thick pear smoothie, while the tiramisu has ladyfingers mixed in, putting most takes on the dessert to shame. Almond is made with almond milk and rivals any dairy flavor.


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L'Arte del Gelato

Founder Francesco Realmuto started L’Arte del Gelato at the Chelsea Market in 2005, where you can still enjoy local favorites like pistachio and olive oil. Both are infused with namesake ingredients from his native Sicily.

L’Arte del Gelato has since expanded as far south as the Seaport District and One World Trade Center. Stracciatella and pistachio may be the signature flavors, but the lemon and Agrumi di Sicilia sorbets are also must-try. Both get their flavors from freshly squeezed juice, with the latter being what Francesco refers to as “orange with enough lemon to get the ideal acidity level.”

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The name Malai means “cream of the crop,” And here, you’ll find South Asian-inspired flavors that are the most unique in all of NYC. The compact Smith Street parlor rotates 12 scoop flavors plus two soft serves. Malai is the kind of place that will make you want to skip dessert at dinner and instead end your evening in Carroll Gardens with a scoop of Sweet Roti & Ghee or Rose with Cinnamon Roasted Almonds.

While flavors change with the seasons, standout permanent options include Royal Cinnamon with Black Salt Caramel and Orange Fennel. If you think vanilla ice cream is boring, try the Sea Salt Vanilla. If you are looking to add a little spice to your chocolate scoop, the red chili in Red Chili Chocolate hits the back of your throat ever so slightly after a few seconds. There are ten plant-based options, and no eggs are used in any of the ice cream flavors or frozen desserts.

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Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream

With nearly 50 flavors on offer at the flagship Houston Street location, Morgenstern’s can seem overwhelming at first. But the options are broken down into more than a dozen sections, including Citrus, Sorbets, and Coffees. The online menu even reveals the year each flavor was introduced and includes pictures. Recent must-try flavors include Dulce de Leche Graham Cracker Caramel and Yuzu Poppy Seed. For something more decadent and with a hint of citrus, try the Olive Oil Chocolate Orange.

On the Lower East Side, Morgenstern’s BANANAS is unmissable thanks to the bright banana-yellow storefront on an otherwise short and unremarkable stretch of Rivington Street. Here, the focus is on (eight) non-dairy, soft-serve flavors, some of which are vegan.

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Sugar Hill Creamery

Sugar Hill Creamery is a Harlem institution that also has a kiosk at the Time Out Market in DUMBO. There’s a different menu for each of the four seasons, with a handful of classics available all year. The flavors are as memorable as their quirky names.

‘Sweet Socialism’ is a smooth plant-based sorbet perfect for anyone who finds traditional chocolate ice cream to be overly dense. ‘Hello, New World’ celebrates Sugar Hill’s fifth anniversary and includes Americana classics like Oreo cookies (invented in nearby Chelsea) and vanilla wafers mixed in sweet caramel ice cream.


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The Lemon Ice King Of Corona

Of the classic NYC Italian Ice spots, The Lemon Ice King of Corona stands out the most. This stand-alone spot has been serving Italian Ice to Corona and the rest of Queens for over 60 years. You may have seen it in the opening credits of The King of Queens.

Patrons line up under the blue and white awning seven days a week from late morning to late evening with cash in hand to grab a $2 cup of one of the more than two dozen flavors. Although lemon is in the name, grape, watermelon, and almond are equally refreshing. As there’s no mixing of flavors, it makes the most sense to get two or three at a time.  

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Tipsy Scoop

Started in 2014, Tipsy Scoop now has barlours in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens. Barlour refers to an ice cream parlor for adults only. Most concoctions contain five percent alcohol. Of the established Manhattan and Brooklyn locations, the latter (located in Williamsburg) is the larger of the two.

Hit flavors like Raspberry Limoncello and Spiked Hazelnut Coffee are available in pints to go, but you really owe it to yourself to try one of the artfully decorated four-flavor flights or boozy sundaes in barlour. If the latter piques your interest, classes are available in all locations, with Brooklyn having the best variety.

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Van Leeuwen Ice Cream

Of all the NYC scoop shops that started in New York post-2000, Van Leeuwen has the most locations. The majority of the more than two dozen scoop shops are in Manhattan, but you can also find locations as far east as Astoria and as far south as Park Slope. The shops have a couple dozen scoops available, with at least a quarter being vegan.

Honeycomb is perhaps the signature Van Leeuwen flavor. It started as something seasonal but is now omnipresent. And there’s no actual honeycomb in it. Instead, this must-try flavor is made with crunchy caramel candy.

Among the vegan flavors (which use coconut and cashew instead of egg), the Vegan Churros & Fudge stands out thanks to the chocolate fudge, which compliments the more subtle cinnamon taste and churro chunks.