It’s nearly summer, and yes, we’re screaming for ice cream. The seasonal appearance of the ice cream push cart goes back to the early days of the 20th century. But the timeless allure of a travelling truck of frozen ice cream treats, sandwiches, and shakes remains as strong as ever to young and old alike. Today’s ice cream trucks in the USA feature products made with artisanal methods, locavore ingredients and a passion for bringing people together in a common love of sugar, cream and deliciousness.
Big Spoon Creamery – Birmingham, AL
From ice cream trike, to truck, and now storefront in Avondale, Big Spoon spreads its mission of building community through the common love of small batch, artisan ice cream. Choose from yummy seasonal flavors like Lemon Buttermilk Poppy Seed, Honeysuckle Blackberry, or Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
Zsa’s Gourmet Ice Cream – Philadelphia, PA
Enjoy a scoop of the signature black magic in a cone, or go all out with a two-handed sandwich of vanilla ice cream between salted toffee almond grahams. Scoops or pints are served from a roving retro blue 1963 International Harvester van, aptly named Gatsby.
Parfait Organic Artisan Ice Cream – Seattle, WA
Home of the farm-to-cone, Parfait is committed to housemade everything (including the sprinkles). They use locally sourced ingredients from farms in the Washington area, and grow many of the herbs and berries used in their ice cream, including lavender, mint and rosemary. Enjoy seasonal treats at their best, like Local Strawberry, Peaches & Cream, and vegan apricot sorbet.
Sea Snacks LLC – Casco Bay, Maine
Ice cream sur mer! All that sailing in the sun can make one crave cool iced treats. Sea Snacks LLC comes to the maritime rescue with its 20-foot Mako ice cream boat, found in the waters of Casco Bay, Maine. Sea Snacks is stocked with old-school favorites like Klondike bars, Italian ices, and ice cream sandwiches. Boaters should be in search of a colorful pink and blue ‘Ice Cream’ flag in the Bay.
Sticks and Cones Ice Cream – Charlotte, NC
Charlotte is graced with two soft serve ice cream trucks to meet local demand. The Sticks Truck offers regular ice cream delights, while the Cones Truck has specialty creations, including the Carolina Gold. This sundae features ribbons of chocolate, caramel and white chocolate sauce, topped with crushed homemade vanilla wafers.
Coolhaus Ice Cream Sandwiches – Los Angeles, CA; New York City, NY; Austin + Dallas, TX
Take one beat-up postal van turned food truck and you’ve got the makings of an ice cream empire. Coolhaus creators paired homemade cookies and ice cream, combining them into ‘cool houses’. These innovative sandwiches – ‘sammies’ – are named after famous architects, like IM Pei-nut Butter, and served in edible wrappers. Coolhaus has 10 mobile ice cream trucks and carts through the U.S., and will scoop for corporate events and weddings too.
Fifty Licks Handmade Ice Cream – Portland, OR
Passion for food science is behind the French custard-style ice cream base made from scratch, without chemical stabilizers or fake anything. Local ingredients are seasonally sourced from the Portland Farmers Market. Flavors scooped from a cheerful blue truck can run exotic, from Blackstrap Gingersnap to Thai Rice. The founder’s passion began with beer, so naturally, the 21+ only Chocolate Porter Beer Float is a must sip.
Twirl and Dip Ice Cream – San Francisco, CA
Located in Golden Gate Park near museums and the Japanese Tea Garden, Twirl and Dip serves up natural soft serve in a twirly swirl of organic vanilla bean and organic chocolate ice cream. The cones are dipped into dark chocolate, or topped with handmade toppings and sauces. Fresh fruit ice lollies are also available in seasonal flavors like watermelon lemonade.
The S’Cream Truck – Los Angeles, CA
The bright retro-fitted mail truck serves up all natural and hormone free ice cream on the go. Their signature product is the S’Cream Ball, an ice cream ball on a stick dipped into the chocolate topping of your choice. Also available in a S’Cream Cup, should the stick prove to be a challenging eat.
Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream – New York City, NY
They do things on a grander scale in NYC! Van Leeuwen has not one but six trucks offering frozen treats with ingredients that are naturally sourced. Unique flavor combinations change seasonally, including Ube with Coconut Jam, Passion Fruit Layer Cake, or Sweet Sticky Black Rice. Interested in trying this at home? The Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream Cookbook shares over 100 vegan and classic recipes and stories of ice cream truck life.
Treatbot Ice Cream Truck – San Jose, CA
Sing for your sweets in San Jose. Treatbot serves up handmade ice cream with a side of karaoke in a can’t-miss-it fire engine red truck. Choices include unique flavors like Eastside Horchata, Macapuno (a mutant Philipino coconut), and the signature 408 – named after a California phone code – that combines caramel ice cream, fudge, and Oreo cookies.
Hello! Ice Cream – Ann Arbor, MI
Hello! specializes in Italian-style ice cream (less cream and air than in the regular version), served from a bright 1965 International Metro van named Ingrid. Operating in summer months, Hello! serves up gelato, sorbetto and other Italian desserts in traditional flavors like pistachio, zabaglione, and espresso.
Claudia Laroye is a travel writer and editor based in Vancouver, Canada. An avid and curious traveler, Claudia has written about family, adventure, and luxury experiences for local and national publications since 2010. Claudia is the Contributing Editor of Twist Travel Magazine, and has written for WestJet Magazine, Lonely Planet, Fodor’s, Travelzoo, Westworld, Family Fun Canada, Travel Mamas and Dreamscapes magazine. She is the founder of family travel site The Travelling Mom. You can find her on Instagram at @thetravellingmom.
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