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|10 Best Ice Cream Experiences in the US Add Extra Family Vacation Fun.
The list of the best places to hear an ice cream story sample premium ice cream includes ice cream factory tours, working dairy farms, unique ice cream parlors and an ice cream museum.
Here’s the scoop. As if anyone really needs an excuse to enjoy ice cream, July is always National Ice Cream Month and across the US ice cream makers feature new flavors and super summer celebrations with deliciously creamy cone-topping treats. While everyone has a favorite ice cream and perhaps a favorite ice cream parlor, I think it is always fun to make a new discovery with your kids because there is more to ice cream than cones, sundaes, and shakes. I have assembled a short list of places to share a mini ice cream experience and enjoy the taste of summer. My list includes our family favorites - Kelley Country Creamery in Wisconsin and Graeter’s in Columbus, Ohio - as well ice cream icons Blue Bell and Ben & Jerry's.
Kelley Country Creamery’s near Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
Anchored by a 1860s dairy farmstead, the Creamery is a special treat for families who want to watch yummy ice cream being made while enjoying an extra creamy scoop or two. The Scoop:
The ice cream is produced from farm-fresh, non-homogenized milk provided by the cows in residence. From the sun porch it’s possible to see the daily activities of a working dairy farm. Tempting Flavors:
Banana Nut French Toast and Barnyard Bash. Bonus Points:
On the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month listen to ’50s and ’60s music with DJ Rob Peterson. (W5215 County Road B Fond du Lac, WI 54937. (920) 923-1715 or KelleyCountryCreamery.com
The Farmer’s Cow Ice Cream in Connecticut.
An alliance of dairy farms provides the freshest cream, milk for Farmer’s Cow Ice Cream. The Scoop:
Each participating farm has the ability to craft luscious flavors meant to be shared with ice cream lovers of all ages. The latest selection can be found at the Farmer’s Cow Calfé & Creamy dairy bar. Tempting Flavors:
Heifer Nutter Peanut Butter Cup and Muddy Boots Knee Deep in Chocolate Ice Cream. Bonus Points:
The participating farms also have free, seasonal farm events, farm tours, and farm fresh produce for sale. (86 Storrs Road, Mansfield, CT 06250. 860-450-8408 or toll-free 1-866-355-COWS or www.thefarmerscowcalfe.com
Homeland Creamery near Julian, North Carolina.
An American farm adventure complete with ice cream, what could be better for summer fun? The Scoop:
The mini adventure begins with a classic hayride with a chance to see the herd and perhaps the resident llama or donkeys. Guests are invited to assist in bottle-feeding calves and when timing is right, observe the daily milking of the pasture-raised, hormone-free cows. Those who wish may try to hand milk a cow replica named Miss Betty. The agri tour concludes with luscious, made-on-the-farm ice cream, of course. With only two tours per day (March through November) a reservation is essential. Tempting Flavors:
Lemon Crunch or Apple Pie. Bonus Points:
Even if a tour is not available the country store onsite sells ice cream, cheese, butter and assorted farm-fresh products from the area. (6506 Bowman Dairy R. Julian, NC 27283. (336) 685-0470 or www.homelandcreamery.com
Turkey Hill “Ice Cream” Experience in Pennsylvania.
From silk to milk, this creamery and interactive museum in Lancaster County is located in what was once a silk mill so it gets high being earth friendly as well as family friendly. The Scoop:
The facility houses a sequence of interactive activities (milk a mechanical cow) providing visitors tors with fun facts about Turkey Hill ice cream, iced tea, and the working dairy. In addition to free samples of iced tea and ice cream, visitors have the chance to create their own ice cream flavor on the spot in an ice cream tasting lab. Tickets may be purchased on line. Children four years of age or younger may visit at no cost and there are discounts offered to seniors. Tempting Flavors:
Muddy Sneakers and Woopie Pie. Bonus Points:
Throughout the year Turkey Hill holds family friendly events including pumpkin painting, Mitten Tree and Ice Cream with Santa. (301 Linden Street, Columbia, PA 17512. Toll-free 1-844-847-4884 (1-844-VISIT-TH or www.turkeyhillexperience.com
Berkey Creamery at Penn State University.
The Food Network, Nickelodeon, and PBS have all featured Berkey Creamery, a.k.a “Ice Cream U”, the place where Ben and Jerry got their start. The Scoop:
The Creamery offers the largest university level ice cream making program in the U.S. While there is no ice cream tour, it is possible to watch the production from a viewing gallery. The facility produces almost 100 ice cream flavors, plus frozen yogurt and sherbet flavors. Tempting Flavors:
Goo Goo Cookie Cluster and August Pie. Bonus Points:
From the Creamery’s store it is possible to enjoy the latest ice cream flavors or arrange to purchase flavorful quarts to take home with the help of dry ice available on site. (119 Food Science Building University Park, PA. (814) 865-7535, 865-9513 or Berkey Ice Cream Experience
Blue Bunny Ice Cream in Iowa.
More ice cream is made in Le Mars, Iowa than anywhere else on earth giving it the delicious honor of being the “Ice Cream Capital of the World” and the home to Blue Bunny – the ice cream, not the rabbit. The Scoop:
While it is not possible to tour the ice cream factory, it is possible to visit the museum and ice cream parlor in downtown Le Mars. The location displays the story of Blue Bunny through a series of interactive kiosks, and photos. More importantly it is within a classic American ice cream parlor atmosphere with more than 100 tempting ice cream options. The museum is part of the ice cream parlor atmosphere so admission is free. Tempting Flavors:
Bunny Tracks vanilla with peanut butter filled chocolate bunnies or perhaps Huckleberry. Bonus Points:
This is the place to get a Kryptonice Cream Sundae. (115 Central Ave NW Le Mars, Iowa. (712) 546-4522 or www.bluebunnyicecreamparlor.com
Blue Bell Creamery in Brenham, Texas.
If Blue Bell is your family’s favorite ice cream, then a visit to the factory is the perfect experience to share. The Scoop:
Ice cream factory are conducted in Brenham as well as Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and Sylacauga, Alabama. The guided 30-minute tours include a short video about the making of Blue Bell ice cream; provide a peak at the production facilities, and conclude with a serving of ice cream – choose from 16 flavors. Children age five or younger may join the tour at no cost and discounts are offers for seniors. Tempting Flavors:
Dessert Trio and Magic Cookie Bar Ice Cream. Bonus Points:
Skip the tour and get a generous scoop of ice cream for a dollar in the parlor. (1101 South Blue Bell Road Brenham, Texas 77833 Brenham, Texas or www.bluebell.com
Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream in Waterbury, Vermont.
I never think of Vermont without, thinking of ice cream thanks to Ben & Jerry’s. Any day is made better with a smile and a scoop of deliciously creamy ice cream with a silly name. The Scoop:
The mother ship in Waterbury serves up premium American ice cream with slightly quirky and often whimsical names. The 30-minute factory tours begin every half hour all year long offering a glimpse of the flavor of the day being made and concluding with ice cream, of course. A modest admission is charged for adults but children 12 or young tour for free. Tempting Flavors:
Cluster fluff involving peanut butter and Late Night Snack involving potato chips. Bonus Points:
During the summer season Ben & Jerry’s has a free outdoor movie fest. Check the website for details. (281 Waterbury-Stowe Road, Route 100 Waterbury, VT 05676. Toll-free 1-866-258-6877 or www.benjerry.com
Velvet Ice Cream in Utica, Ohio.
The classic flavors of summer may be enjoyed at Ye Olde Mill the home of Velvet Ice Cream for more than 100 years. The Scoop:
During the 30-minute walking tour visitors may watch one of the 50 flavors being produced from the production viewing gallery and learn about the seven steps it takes to make Velvet ice Cream. The perfect complement to watching the ice cream being made is the old-fashioned ice cream parlor where the ice cream choices are many. Tempting Flavors:
Turtle Tracks or Buckeye Classic with Buckeye candies. Bonus Points:
Kids will enjoy the petting zoo, playground and a working grist mill. (Ye Olde Mill 11324 Mount Vernon Road Utica, OH 43080. (740) 892-3921, toll-free 1-800-589-5000 or www.velveticecream.com
Graeter's Ice Cream in Columbus, Ohio.
For ice cream lovers, Graeter’s has been is heaven on earth for more than 100 years and for five years I lived within five minutes of the Graeter’s store/factory on Bethel Road and naturally every celebration included ice cream. The Scoop:
The story is a good one. They are known for making ice cream using the French pot process that makes only two gallons of ice cream at a time. There is a self-guided tour as well as a free, 20-minute guided tour that includes a video, a glimpse of the unique process, and best of all a delicious sample. The extra benefit of this location is the children’s play area. Call to schedule a guided tour. Tempting Flavors:
Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip and Buckeye Blitz and several gelato choices. Bonus Points: Did I mention they have a bakery and also make designer sweets? Hint - look for their signature chocolate marshmallow hearts. (2555 Bethel Road, Columbus, OH 43220. (614) 488-3222 or www.graeters.com
Content researched and created by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for theFamilyTravelFiles.com. Images courtesy Kelley Country Creamery and TopNotch Resort & Spa. Copyright 2014.