Whether it’s a nostalgic Orange Creamsicle or piled-high sundae, Americans love ice cream – and fantastic parlors and stands across Idaho are creating brilliant flavors with ultra-creamy textures and even sweeter handmade cones to entice us. Of course, when it comes to this classic all-American treat, it’s hard to pick a favorite – how about a scoop of everything? Here are the best of the best. In no particular order:
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Ice Cream Alley, McCall
This local staple may be somewhat hidden away in an alley - literally - but the line wrapping around the corner will always give away where the best ice cream in McCall is. In fact, take a stroll down to the Payette Lake shore and nearly every visitor to McCall's city center beach will be holding a cone (or three) in their hands. Of course, if sticky fingers aren't on the agenda, delicious shakes, malts, sundaes, and splits can be found here as well - and the "mountain-size scoops" are worth the hype.
Address: 310 E Lake St, McCall, ID 83638
2. Sarsaparilla Ice Cream Parlor, Idaho City
In a town known for pie, this local favorite keeps topping lists for good reason. Handmade local ice cream gets dolled up in toppings finery: sprinkles, berries, and milk for delicious shakes or traditional scoops.
Address: 101 Montgomery St, Idaho City, ID 83631
3. Panhandle Cone & Coffee, Sandpoint
This small, lakefront town is home to a number of fabulous eateries, but what sets PC&C above the crowd is their emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients and handmade preparation. Every unique, creative, drool-worthy flavor is mixed on-site; toppings - like apple pie, blueberries, and cookies - are all sourced from within the community and from local farms. Unless, of course, it's a top-notch, gourmet ingredient like Ugandan Vanilla Beans. Either way, rotating flavors and endless options mean you'll always find a new flavor to try!
Address: 216 N First Ave, Sandpoint, ID 83864
4. Reed's Dairy, Idaho Falls
Is there anything better than eating ice cream so fresh and creamy that you know it was churned that same day? Or, even better, being able to meet the generous milk-makers themselves? At Reed's, you can. Ultra fresh ice cream in a variety of standard flavors is made right on-site, and you can even visit the cows themselves who make it happen! Reed's is so beloved that you'll find their ice creams served up in many of Idaho's favorite local parlors.
Address: 2660 W Broadway St, Idaho Falls, ID 83402
5. Dockside Restaurant, Coeur d'Alene
In a world of traditional ice creams, cones, and delicately plated sundaes, Dockside serves its own type of dessert: a sundae on steroids. Combining all the wonderful, classic gooness of a sundae with the layer upon layers of deliciousness often found in trifles - plus some custard thrown in - few people are able to finish these epic desserts.
Address: 115 S 2nd St, Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814
6. Smiley Creek Lodge, Stanley
Set in the heart of one of Idaho's most stunning landscapes, the Smiley Creek Lodge is a charming staple in the Sawtooth Valley. But for those who want to enjoy a fresh dairy treat with their breathtaking mountain views and cozy cabin nooks, the ice cream parlor here is to-die for. Delicious hand-dipped milkshakes and a variety of ice cream flavors will keep you smiling - literally - every minute of your stay!
Address: 16546 N Highway 75. Sawtooth City, Idaho
7. Cloverleaf Creamery, Buhl
This old-school, glass-bottle mom and pop ice cream shop and its namesake dairy is second-to-none. With more than a few (try a few dozen) hand-churned and hand-scooped flavors to choose from, you'll be in cone heaven. Try the Cowboy Crunch (butter cream ice cream with chocolate and caramel swirls, plus a healthy dose of Heath bars), or the Mixed Berry Cheesecake! The mooing cows nearby will clue you in that the proof is in the fresh pudding -- er, ice cream, that is. And if one cone isn't enough, just take home a whole half gallon! Be sure to try some of their other dairy products while you're there.
Address: 205 Broadway Ave S. Buhl, ID 83316
8. Joy Ice Cream, Moscow
Boasting 24 flavors and a business model that goes straight back into the community, there's a lot to love about this little hidden gem in Moscow! Plus, when the waffle cones are made right in front of you, and dipped in chocolate and sprinkles upon request (or crunched into a delicious Waffle Cone Sundae, pictured above), it's hard to not scream for ice cream every day.
Address: 137 East 2nd St. Moscow, Idaho
9. Rainey Creek Country Store, Swan Valley
Thousands of folks flock to the "middle of nowhere" every year to grab a cone of Idaho's most famous ice cream: world-famous square-shaped scoops from Rainey's. This small town (Pop. 200 or so) country store is practically an institution with how positively loved these geometric dairy treats are, plopped down into sweet and tasty cones. Dozens of flavors of local Farr's ice cream will knock your socks off (the rainbow Play-Doh is always a hit, but Chocolate Pretzel, Banana Split, and huckleberry are just the start!), with classic flavors to appeal to your inner nostalgia. Make it your new family tradition!
Address: 2997 Swan Valley Hwy. Swan Valley, ID 83449
10. Abi's Artisan Ice Cream, Coeur d'Alene
While parlors that make their own ice cream these days are rare, Idaho is fortunate to have quite a few. But gems like Abi's Artisan ice cream get a class of their own. Ice cream is made by hand daily in-house, and ingredients are lovingly baked by Abi herself as well. Oatmeal cookies, housemade lemon curd... it's so fabulously fresh, you can taste the difference!
Dozens of changing flavors are constantly being introduced, so you're guaranteed to find a new creative flavor to fall in love with. Maybe Mango Cilantro Sorbet? Malted Vanilla Toffee Chocolate Chip? Honey Lavender? Picante Chocolate? Of course, if a scoop or two isn't what you're in the mood for, Abi also crafts ice cream sandwiches by hand and mixes up ice cream whipped drinks... with dairy-free and vegan options, of course. Wow!!
Address: 112 N 4th St. Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814
The flavors of summer have never been sweeter. Idaho is a big state, though! Do you have a favorite ice cream shop that we need to try? Let us know!