Few things in are more satisfying on a hot summer day than ice cream. New Englanders love ice cream and eat it all year long in shops, stands, and at-home pints in every corner of all six states, but some stand experiences are extra-special. It wasn’t easy, but here are our editor-approved picks for the best ice cream stand in every New England state.
Need more outdoor travel ideas? Find these picks, plus more than 120 of the best things to do, places to eat, and places to stay that celebrate the great outdoors in The Best of New England: Outdoor Edition.
Standing in line for a scoop, you may well spot the herd of cows in the nearby rolling hills that call Ferris Acres home. This luscious ice cream is made daily in inventive flavors, drawing locals and visitors alike since the creamery was founded in 2003.
Ice cream lovers will find this gem of an ice cream stand, which has been making its own full-flavored product since opening in 2013, on the shores of Sabbathday Lake. Owner and acclaimed Maine chef Krista Kern Desjarlais makes a firm commitment to using milk and cream from nearby dairy farms, a dedication that pays off in the finest, freshest ice cream possible. While grabbing a cone, visitors can also opt to use the boating, tubing, or picnicking facilities at nearby Outlet Beach.
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To see a family farm at its best, stop at Richardson’s, where a family member has milked cows every day since 1695. To taste ice cream at its best, order a cone from the farm’s ice-cream stand. Richardson’s has been making super-premium ice cream (16 percent butterfat) for nearly 70 years, focusing on perfecting classics like vanilla and chocolate while expanding the flavor offerings to include grapenut custard, frozen pudding, peanut butter Oreo—more than 50 kinds in all. Bonus: After getting your licks in, you can check out the adjoining mini-golf courses, driving range, and batting cages.
While the atmosphere at Sanctuary Dairy Farm lends itself to a day of outdoor family fun—with farm animals, trees for climbing, and yard games—the ice cream is the thing that’s not to be missed. And after all, it’s not every day you’re served scoops out of a converted sheep barn! Find hard ice cream, gelato, soft-serve, and sorbet in a range of flavors from standard to extravagant, but the one concoction that no self-respecting New Englander should miss is the maple ice cream flavored with real New Hampshire syrup and mixed with chunks of maple candy and homemade fudge.
Not only is the venue cool (a 1966 Streamline trailer), but the scoops are phenomenal: The milk and cream are sourced from cows steps away, the ice cream base is homemade, and trimmings from goods made in the on-site bakery are often folded into the final concoctions.
Founded in 2007, Vermont Cookie Love runs a year-round shop and production facility that sells fresh-baked cookies and frozen cookie dough, but it’s the maple creemees, sold from the seasonal walk-up ice cream, that make this place a summertime rock star. Also on offer is Vermont’s own Wilcox Ice Cream, topped with house-made whipped cream, hot fudge, and salted caramel or sandwiched between two cookies in a chewy, creamy pièce de résistance.
Did we miss your favorite? Leave your picks for the best New England ice cream stands in the comments below.