10 Philadelphia-Area Ice Cream Shops

Local spots to get your favorite summer treat


Photo By Mieke Campbell On Unsplash

Photo by Mieke Campbell on Unsplash

Although there’s plenty of debate about ice cream’s origins, Philadelphia definitely played a key role in popularizing the tasty treat in the United States.

From Ben Franklin serving it during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 to George Washington buying a “cream machine for ice” to future first lady Dolley Madison serving ice cream at the White House in the early 1800s (she lived in Philadelphia before marrying James Madison and is believed to have served ice cream to guests here), ice cream in Philly has always been a thing. All this is according to the Franklin Fountain website. More on them shortly.

A former White House chef named Augustus Jackson began selling ice cream locally in the 1820s. About 20 years later, Nancy M. Johnson received a patent for an “artificial freezer,” which served as an ice cream maker. In 1861, Bassetts Ice Cream came into being and still exists today. We’ll get to them soon, too. Breyers, which is no longer based locally, debuted five years later.

But enough history. Let’s talk about where to get ice cream today. Granted, even the worst ice cream is pretty good and — at least in this department — your children probably don’t have discerning tastes, but if you want to check out 10 top-notch ice cream providers that might have extra appeal for kids, read on. Note: National chain ice cream shops aren’t included here and, yes, we’re aware that we’ve missed plenty of other worthy scoop shops.

Bassetts Ice Cream
Bassetts has been in the Reading Terminal Market since it opened in 1892 and it’s survived for a reason — the ice cream is dense, creamy and delicious. Plus, your kids, if they’re a bit older, may like the overall market chaos, complete with dozens of food stands that make for a great lunch. Belly up to the original marble counter and try classics like butterscotch vanilla or newer concoctions like Guatemalan Ripple. 45 N. 12th St. Philadelphia. 

Franklin Fountain
The aforementioned purveyors take their history seriously. Their popular Old City store is a spot-on recreation of a turn-of-the-century (the century being the 20th) ice cream parlor, complete with tin ceilings and other period décor. Oh, and the ice cream is excellent, too. Enjoy regular cones, sundaes and other creative creations, as well as seasonal items and a variety of old-fashioned flavored sodas. 116 Market St., Philadelphia. 

Franklin Ice Cream Bar
We’d be remiss to not mention the sibling store a couple doors down. Ice cream bars are the thing there, but a few other items are on the menu. And pro tip: The lines often are shorter than at the mothershop. 112 Market St., Philadelphia. 

Weckerly’s Ice Cream
Weckerly’s only dates to 2012, but its ice cream sandwiches have already built a big following and are available in some gourmet markets and on some restaurant menus, too. Scoops of ice cream, pints and ice cream sandwiches all made with local, seasonal ingredients, are available at the Fishtown storefront. 9 W. Girard Ave., Philadelphia.

Custard & Cakes Creamery
This classic family-owned neighborhood ice cream joint in Roxborough has earned legions of fans since it debuted in the 1950s. It’s all made in house and soft serve rules the day, although hard ice cream is available, along with milkshakes, water ice and a few other things. Custard & Cakes is open seasonally, so get some now because after October you’re out of luck. 5461 Ridge Ave., Philadelphia.

Somerset Splits
This old-school favorite is kind of the Port Richmond version of Custard & Cakes Creamery, although the main draw is hard ice cream from Bassetts, available in cones, floats, sundaes and splits. 2600 E. Somerset St., Philadelphia.

La Michoacana Ice Cream
If you’ve enjoyed a day at Longwood Gardens, consider a quick detour to nearby Kennett Square. There you’ll find La Michoacana Ice Cream,
which features homemade ice cream that nods to the heavy Mexican influence in the area. Sample some unusual flavors such as corn (trust me!), avocado and mamey (a fruit native to Mexico). Great ice pops, too. 231 E. State St., Kennett Square.

Zwahlen’s Ice Cream & Chocolate Co.
This family-run business is in Audubon, not far from Valley Forge National Park. Owners Marty and Melanie Low did lots of research prior to opening the business and built the store to look like a Swiss chalet. There’s a different flavor of the day and some other desserts, too, including plenty of chocolate. 670 Shannondell Blvd., Audubon.

Woodside Farm Creamery
The Mitchell family first established a dairy farm in Hockessin, Delaware, in 1796. Seventh-generation Janet and Jim Mitchell opened the creamery in 1996 and offer all sorts of classic ice cream flavors, as well as ice cream pies and cakes, milkshakes, banana splits and so on. Eggs, grass-fed beef and cheese is available, too. 1310 Little Baltimore Road, Hockessin, Delaware. 

Scoop DeVille
If you’re roaming around Philadelphia, Scoop DeVille offers locations in both Center and Old City (with more coming) for its custom blends. Kids will enjoy starting with one of a dozen ice cream or frozen yogurt bases, picking from nearly 100 mix-ins and then adding a topping. 111 S. Independence Mall E. (The Bourse) and 1109 Walnut St.

Categories: Attractions & Events