Did you know that ice cream used to only be a treat for the D.C.-area elite? In 1784, George Washington splurged on a “cream machine for ice” and made sure Mount Vernon’s kitchen was stocked with 10 ice cream pots. These days, thankfully, ice cream is widely available all over the DMV — and for a much cheaper price than what Washington paid. In fact, there are so many ice cream shops across D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia that it was hard to narrow down a list.
These 10 are particularly well-loved spots, with a far-ranging variety of both unusual and classic flavors, many of which are handmade with local ingredients.
Ice Cream Jubilee is all about the flavors. Even its “classic” options are unusual: Thai iced tea, banana bourbon caramel and honey lemon lavender are all often on the menu. Each of its three locations — two in D.C. and one in Arlington — also offers a rotating selection of seasonal flavors.
Thoughtfully made by hand with ingredients from sustainable local suppliers, the ice cream at Mount Desert Island in D.C. is remarkably creamy and flavorful. The fruits, herbs and vanilla pods they use are fresh and real – no artificial flavoring here – and you taste it.
This well-loved old-fashioned Georgetown ice cream shop has a long list of flavors and toppings. If you order one of their signature blend-ins, they’ll mix up to three toppings of your choosing into your ice cream. Thomas Sweet also offers frozen yogurt, chocolates and fudge for those with an extra sweet tooth.
Susan Soorenko founded Moorenko’s in 2002 to provide pure, tasty ice cream to her children. After studying with ice cream experts in New York and a gelato maker in Italy, she created the creamy and rich ice cream available at this Silver Spring spot (and in grocery stores across the area) that your children can now enjoy, too.
This Rockville store boasts unique Caribbean ice cream flavors, including guava, lychee and soursop, in addition to classics like vanilla, chocolate and butter pecan. York Castle Tropical Ice Cream is a local favorite with offerings that you can’t find just anywhere else.
Started by a Bethesda mother-daughter team, Sarah’s Handmade Ice Cream uses primarily local ingredients for their small-batch, all-natural recipes. What’s even sweeter is that Sarah’s is committed to serving the community; throughout the pandemic, they donated hundreds of ice cream scoops to local hardworking healthcare workers.
A perfect stop after a day hiking with the kids at the nearby Great Falls Park or Scott’s Run Nature Preserve in Northern Virginia, Great Falls Creamery is a family-friendly shop with low prices and friendly service. While the main attraction is the ice cream, the creamery also sells local treats, including baked goods, maple syrup and other dairy products.
Opened in 2015, this Falls Church shop is big enough for an ice cream freezer and an extensive collection of retro character toys — and that’s about it. Enjoy your cup, cone, milkshake or cookie sandwich, made from ice cream sourced from Woodside Farm Creamery in Delaware, at nearby Mr Brown’s Park.
These recipes date back to the 1940s, when Ray “Pop” Giovanni served his ice cream to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt at the White House. This old-fashioned Alexandria shop continues his legacy, offering specialty sundaes and a long list of flavors.
The oldest ice cream shop in downtown Alexandria, operating for over 30 years, The Creamery makes their ice cream and frozen custard daily with quality local ingredients. They offer southern regional flavors, including orange chocolate chip, lemon custard and banana pudding.
This story originally appeared in our June 2021 issue.