Two kids and dog eating ice cream on bench in Stillwater

43 Must-Visit Minnesota Ice Cream Shops

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Leo's Malt Shop in Stillwater is one of Minnesota's many must-visit ice cream shops / Paul Vincent

43 Must-Visit Minnesota Ice Cream Shops

By Erica Wacker

Few things go better together than summer vacation and a trip to the local ice cream shop.

On a hot day, it's hard to beat a cold scoop from a Minnesota ice cream venue, whether it makes its own flavors or just adds a special touch (like a jelly bean at the bottom of every cone).

Here’s a sampling of some of the state's most popular ice cream shops for whenever your next craving hits. 

A ice-cream cone held up in front of a stylized Minnesota map

Ice cream is a Minnesota vacation staple / @prairiestylefile

Minneapolis-St. Paul Area

Selma's Ice Cream Parlor, Afton

This classic ice cream shop has been a popular destination for many years in this quaint village in the St. Croix River Valley.

Two Scoops, Anoka

This downtown shop features super premium ice cream in a wide array of imaginative flavors, which change weekly — try the Fat Elvis, "sweet banana ice cream all shook up with a salty peanut butter ripple and rich chocolate chips" — plus malts and sundaes.

Mabel's Ice Cream, Bayport

Blocks from the scenic St. Croix River, this adorable downtown shop serves dozens of rotating flavors, made at Cedar Crest just across the border in Wisconsin.

Big Dipper Creamery, Blaine & North Oaks

More than 50 handcrafted flavors ranging from classic chocolate chip to s'mores and salty caramel make this family-owned shop a local favorite.

What's the Scoop?, Buffalo

New to downtown Buffalo, this family-owned shop serves 40 flavors of Cedar Crest ice cream, perfect for bringing to a nearby splash pad or Buffalo Lake.

Adele's Frozen Custard, Excelsior

Adele's has more than 80 flavors of custard made with fresh ingredients, but only makes a few each day. Check out its monthly calendar to find out if today's featured flavor is going to be Grasshopper Pie, Butter Pecan or Blackberry Cheesecake. 

Licks Unlimited, Excelsior

Near Lake Minnetonka, this little shop is a great place to get off the boat and grab some ice cream. Choose from a wide variety of flavors, including Zoreo — chocolate/marshmallow ice cream with Oreo pieces.

Chill Ice Cream Studio, Farmington

Come for the Chocolate Shoppe ice cream (a popular import from Wisconsin), stay for the '80s arcade games!

Schoony's Malt Shop & Pizzeria has old fashioned ice-cream in Taylors Falls / Lucy Hawthorne Photography

Schoony's Malt Shop & Pizzeria has old fashioned ice-cream in Taylors Falls / Lucy Hawthorne Photography

Schoolhouse Scoop, Hastings

Try any of the 32 hand-dipped premium flavors or shoot for the Hall of Fame if your group can eat 16 scoops in 30 minutes or less.

Nita Mae's Scoop, Marine on St. Croix

Tucked away behind the historic Marine General Store, Nita Mae's Scoop features a back patio with a view of the Marine Mill Stream.

Milkjam Creamery, Minneapolis

The hippest spot in town for a scoop, Milkjam serves flavors you won't find anywhere else, like Thai Tea, Pineapple Lychee sorbet, and a Cereal Killers combo of orange coriander milk and candied Fruity Pebbles. 

Pumphouse Creamery, Minneapolis

This tiny shop features ice cream made from all-natural ingredients, plus homemade caramel and butterscotch sauces.

Sebastian Joe's, Minneapolis

A local institution with locations in Linden Hills and Lowry Hill, Sebastian Joes' makes hundreds of ice creams and sorbets, ranging from basil vanilla in the summer to salty caramel year-round, as well as vegan and kosher varieties.

Honey & Mackie's, Plymouth

This shop became an instant hit thanks to its homemade, creative flavors like gingersnap and honey, horchata, and lemon poppy blueberry.

Cone Brothers Ice Cream, Richfield

A 1950s-inspired ice cream shop offers more than 20 flavors in this first-ring Minneapolis suburb.

Cold Front, St. Paul

For ice cream lovers who could use a jolt of caffeine, head to Cold Front in Mac-Groveland for deliciously old-school fountain drinks, premium ice cream and exceptional coffee daily from morning until night. The super-premium ice cream flavors come courtesy of Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream in Madison, WI, while coffee drinks are made with locally roasted Bootstrap Coffee beans. 

Treats, St. Paul

What do you get when you mix Fruity Pebbles, Froot Loops, Trix and berries with soft serve, then top it with gummy bears? This and other cereal-centric concoctions are the focus at Treats cereal bar on St. Paul's Grand Avenue, a block away from another capital city favorite, Grand Ole Creamery.

Nelson's Ice Cream, Stillwater

Nelson's has 40-plus flavors of ice cream, but is especially known for its HUGE portions. On a hot summer evening, the line extends down the block. There's also an outpost in St. Paul.

The Social, Victoria

This old-fashioned ice cream parlor serves 24 flavors and overlooks Steiger Lake.

Cup and Cone, White Bear Lake

Family operated, this ice cream shack serves soft-serve ice cream and sherbets. A favorite with locals, it draws a line every evening.

Bridgeman's Ice Cream Parlor, Woodbury

With roots that reach all the way back to 1936, Bridgeman's Ice Cream Parlor specializes in both traditional and tricked-out sundaes — everything from a familiar banana split to a daring Gray Duck combo of licorice ice cream, marshmallow cream and crunchy marshmallows, topped with whipped cream and a cherry.  

Northwest Minnesota

Big River Scoop, Bemidji 

Located right across the street from Lake Bemidji's iconic Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues, Big River Scoop offers a "canoe"-sized sampler that includes five mini scoops of such flavors as burnt butterscotch, Zanzibar chocolate, and bourbon pecan pie. 

Dairy Queen, Moorhead

The Dilly Bar was invented here in 1954, and the annual reopening of this walk-up shop draws lines every spring. Not your average DQ, the menu features hard-to-find treats like Chipper sandwiches, Mr. Malties, Monkey Tails and more.

Muskie Waters Company, Nevis

Near the Heartland Bike Trail, this adorable shop offers cones, sundaes, malts and shakes, as well as candy and souvenirs.

Molly Poppin's, Park Rapids

Come for more than 20 flavors of gourmet popcorn, stay for the small-but-mighty list of sweet and savory (maple bacon anyone?) ice cream. 

Tara's Wharf Ice Cream Shop in Ranier

Tara's Wharf Ice Cream Shop in Ranier / Karen Kaufenberg

Northeast Minnesota

Gordy's Warming House, Cloquet

Warm up with coffee, then chill out with 32 flavors of ice cream. If you're still hungry, the famous Gordy's Hi Hat burger joint is next door.

Northern Grace Ice Cream, Cook

This mobile operation serves a dozen Cedar Crest and Kemps flavors in generous scoops, with a portion of the proceeds going to a local food bank and several non-profits selected by owner/part-time pastor Brian Burton. 

Love Creamery, Duluth

Head to the Lincoln Park Craft District for Love Creamery's crave-worthy ice cream, handcrafted with local ingredients in small batches on premises. 

The PortLand Malt Shoppe, Duluth

Just off the Lakewalk, the Malt Shoppe serves cones, sundaes, floats and malts within view of the big ships on Lake Superior. Open spring through fall.

Superior Creamery, Grand Marais

Alex Giudice and Christine Sayler moved from Alaska to the North Shore to be close to the outdoors and pursue their small-batch ice cream dreams with dynamic flavors like salted honey comb, sweet cream, and a riff on the rich porter of Grand Marais' own Voyageur Brewing

Pier 77 Mini-Golf & Creamery, Tower

This cute north woods-themed mini-golf course is tucked into the birch forest along the shore of Lake Vermilion, and the little cafe has soft-serve ice cream, malts and root beer floats.

A red a-frame ice-cream shop called Dairyland in Fergus Falls

Dairyland in Fergus Falls / Lisa Meyers McClintick

Central Minnesota

Lake Country Crafts & Cones, Crosslake

The front of Lake Country is an ice cream shop with cups, cones and shakes, the back features crafts and tchotchkes. Every cone comes with a jelly bean at the bottom!

Dairyland, Fergus Falls 

An old-fashioned seasonal shop that serves malts, shakes, sundaes and more in an adorable red building.

The Chocolate Ox, Nisswa

Open seasonally, this candy and ice cream shop is a favorite stop for Brainerd Lakes area vacationers, with locations downtown and at Grand View Lodge.

Tip Top Dairy Bar, Osakis

Opened in 1955, this walk-up spot is a classic, offering freshly made ice cream, malts and sundaes, plus burgers.

Mr. Twisty, St. Cloud

Open seasonally, Mr. Twisty offers a variety of Italian ice flavors and specialty items daily, as well as other foods and snacks.

Flight of ice cream at Flapdoodles in Rochester

A flight of ice cream at Flapdoodles in Rochester

Southern Minnesota

Scoops Ice Cream, Elysian

A convenient, flavorful stop for cyclists right across from the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail; it serves both soft-serve and regular ice cream. Bike rentals also available!

Dairy Freeze, Fairmont

Serving yummy, affordable ice cream, Dairy Freeze has been a staple in Fairmont since 1952.

Another Time Ice Cream Parlor, Lanesboro

You can't miss the pink exterior of this Lanesboro ice cream shop, not far from the Root River Trail and adjacent to several antique stores, galleries and a photo-worthy dining car.

Mom & Pop’s, Mankato

The variety at Mom & Pop's includes 32 flavors of hard scoop ice cream, plus soy, non-fat yogurt, sherbet, no sugar added and Italian ice, served in a dish with a freshly made waffle wedge. Espresso drinks, fudge, smoothies and 1919 Root Beer are also on the menu.

Flapdoodles, Rochester

More than just a fun name, Flapdoodles serves a ton of flavors, from gingerbread to cranberry swirl, and was voted best ice cream in Rochester.

Lakeview Drive Inn, Winona

Car hops still take your tall ice cream cone orders at Winona's oldest restaurant, a blast from the past that also specializes in frosty glasses of homemade root beer and comfort food classics. 

Penguin Zesto, Winona

Soft-serve ice cream cones, sundaes, shakes, malts, floats and slushes are just some of the frozen treats made on-site. Try the Paddle Wheels, which are ice cream sandwiches dipped in chocolate and covered with a mix of nuts and sprinkles.

Erica Wacker

Erica Wacker is a Midwesterner through and through, growing up in Illinois, going to college in Wisconsin, and settling down in Minnesota. She loves to run, travel with her family, and go to concerts to relive her youth.