There is no place like Chicago in the summertime. Because it’s cold for more than half the year, people in the area take advantage of the warm weather and soak up the sun while they can. One of the best things about summer is ice cream on a hot day, and Chicagoland has some amazing, unique options.
Here are Chicago’s best ice cream shops in no particular order:
Black Dog Gelato is a local favorite gelato shop that serves homemade gelato with unique flavors like Goat Cheese Cashew Caramel and Blueberry French Toast. They have cute outdoor seating with plenty of shade when the weather is nice, and they often do collaborations with local chefs.
Nearby Playground/Park: Commercial Club Park
2. Margie’s Candies
Margie’s Candies is the ultimate sundae stop and old fashioned ice cream parlor that serves epic ice cream sundaes. If you’re looking for a classic banana split with thick hot fudge or an instagram-worthy monster sundae, Margie’s is an experience for the whole family. They have two locations on the north side of Chicago.
3. Cone Gourmet Ice Cream
Cone Gourmet Ice Cream is a family-owned gourmet ice cream shop with an Irish twist. The owner was born and raised in Ireland, so you can definitely see some Irish influences in the menu, like the “Shamrock” which is soft serve covered with Lucky Charms! They serve European Style soft serve ice cream, homemade ice cream sandwiches, and you can even get a root beer float! Check them out in the West Loop!
Original Rainbow Cone is a Chicago classic, and it’s known for their specific flavor combination. Each ice cream cone has scoops (or slices they call them) of chocolate, strawberry, orange sherbet, Palmer house (vanilla with cherries and walnuts), and pistachio ice creams. The original location is a south side institution in Beverly. Now they have multiple locations around the city and suburbs, and occasionally you’ll see a Rainbow Cone ice cream truck!
Shawn Michelle’s Homemade Ice Cream is an essential stop for anyone with a sweet tooth. This Black-owned business makes delicious ice cream in classic flavors, like vanilla and strawberry, but also more gourmet flavors like black walnut, Jamaican rum raisin, and banana pudding!
Nearby Playground/Park: Robert Taylor Park
Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream is one of the best ice cream places to visit if you’re an ice cream purist. The ice cream is considered “super premium” quality, which has to do with standards concerning overun and butterfat. It’s made in Wisconsin, America’s Dairyland, so they know a thing or two about ice cream. They have a wide variety of flavors including butter pecan, black licorice, Door County cherry, and more! The location on Devon often decorates the store with fun themes, so the ambiance is just as worthy of a visit as the ice cream!
Nearby Playground/Park: Caldwell Woods
Windy City Sweets is one of the best places if you’re craving a sweet treat. This family-owned candy shop has gourmet chocolates, candy, and nuts in addition to delicious ice cream. It’s a great spot if you’re looking for gifts or unique ways to spend an afternoon.
In my opinion, Pretty Cool Ice Cream is one of the top ice cream shops in Chicago. They are known for their ice cream bars that are the perfect tasty treat! They have unique flavors, like peanut butter potato chip, Chicago Mix popcorn, and my personal favorite, icicle pie pops. The icicle pie pops are made in collaboration with Bang Bang Pie Shop, a legendary Chicago pie shop, and the ice cream is coated with a cinnamon-graham cracker shell.
They have more standard popsicles, and vegan options as well. You can place orders online in advance from their online pop shops or order local delivery.
While La Michoacana actually means someone from the state of Michoacán in western Mexico, it has become associated with Mexican ice cream parlors that famously sell paletas. There are thousands of La Michoacanas around the country, but interestingly, they are not franchised, and they are all independent businesses that use that name.
So while I can’t speak to many La Michoacanas and their quality, the locations in Pilsen and Oak Lawn are delicious! They serve fresh fruit paletas, similar to popsicles, cream paletas, similar to ice cream bars, and other delicious Mexican desserts.
Nearby Playground/Park: Harrison Park
10. Eli’s Ark
Eli’s Ark is all over Instagram, and for good reason. This gelato shop serves delicious gelato with adorable animal faces. You pick your flavor, whether you want a cup or a sugar cone, and then you pick your “animal”. The traditional shapes are bear, doggy, unicorn, bunny, piggy, and chicken, but they also have special shapes occasionally. It’s definitely a one-of-a-kind ice cream store!
Nearby Playground/Park: Walsh Park
11. Sugar Shack on 26th
Sugar Shack on 26th is a decadent ice cream shop in Bridgeport that’s known their funnel cake sundae. A freshly made funnel cake with soft-serve ice cream and your choice of toppings will be one of the highlights of your summer!
12. Vaca’s Creamery
Vaca’s Creamery is entirely vegan, which is a little ironic because “vaca” means “cow”, but I’m sure the name is meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek. Everything in the store is completely dairy-free and egg-free, from the vegan soft serve to the homemade waffle cones. You can also get delicious magic shells on top of your soft serve. The picture above is peanut butter soft serve with a chocolate shell.
Nearby Playground/Park: Welles Park
Lickity Split is an old-fashioned ice cream parlor that only serves a few ice cream flavors: currently strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla custard. They specialize in banana splits, concretes, malts, and old fashioned candy.
Nearby Playground/Park: West Ridge Location: Indian Boundary Park
Bombo Bar is the brainchild of Top Chef Fan Favorite, Fabio Viviani and the name actually pertains to bombolonis, Italian hopeless donuts. It’s a walk-up window in the West loop that serves bombolonis, in addition to housemade gelato, gelato shakes, and even four dessert options for dogs!
15. Sugar Junkie
Sugar Junkie is an edgy walk-up window gelato shop in Lincoln Park. Chef Amy Arnold makes iconic gelato cookie sandwiches, gelato shakes, and flavor-packed gelato. She’s always experimenting with new flavors using the finest and freshest ingredients.
Nearby Playground/Park: Lincoln Park
Baobing is a fantastic walk-up window connected to Chef Stephanie Izard’s Duck Duck Goat. This seasonal spot serves cocktails and Taiwanese shaved ice dessert concoctions, called Baobing, that are droolworthy! Everything Stephanie Izard creates is scrumptious, and Baobing is no exception. They have a simple kid’s cup with vanilla ice cream and sprinkles for the kids who want something simple!
17. The Freeze
The Freeze is a vintage soft-serve joint that serves dipped cones, slushies, “Freezies” which are similar to Blizzards from Dairy Queen, and they also have burgers, hot dogs, and fast food staples.
Scooter’s Frozen Custard is a family-owned ice cream shop started by a husband-and-wife duo who left the corporate world behind to pursue a business where they made people happy every day. What makes people happier than frozen custard? They make the custard fresh every day, and they always serve chocolate and vanilla, plus a flavor of the day. They also have concretes, sundaes, shakes, floats, and an adorable kid’s option called “Worms & Dirt”.
19. Cafe Cremerie
Cafe Cremerie is little European oasis in the heart of River North. They serve pastries, European-style sandwiches and, most importantly, gelato. They have an option for an adorable gelato bear for kids! They also serve ripieni, which is fresh fruit sorbet in the fruit shell. If you’re looking to transport yourself to Italy for an hour while enjoying some sweet treats, Cafe Cremerie is the perfect spot.
Kurimu is a Japanese-inspired ice cream shop that serves soft-serve and ice cream in some different flavors than you usually see in the United States like roasted white sesame, purple yam, and miso sweet. They have more traditional flavors like vanilla and chocolate for the less adventurous eaters, too!
They have a current collaboration with Peanuts, so you’ll see Snoopy and the gang on the walls and throughout the store right now. Before the Peanuts collaboration, they had a Care Bears collaboration. I can’t wait to see who they collaborate next!
21. Frio Gelato
Frio Gelato is an Argentine gelato shop that serves “helado” popular in Argentina. I studied abroad in Argentina in college, and I can vouch that this place is authentic. They have flavors like dulce de leche, malbec con frutos rojos, and yerba mate, which are integral to Argentine culture.
The only thing missing is a beef-flavored gelato….but that doesn’t sound great. My favorite flavor is the tramontana which is vanilla ice cream with milk caramel and chocolate chips, and it’s served at most ice cream shops in Argentina.
Nearby Playground/Park: Evanston Location: Raymond Park
Kilwins is an old-fashioned candy store and ice cream shop that started in 1947 and now has franchises all over the country. They serve homemade candy, original recipe ice cream, and they haven have ice cream cakes!
23. Taiyaki Chicago
Taiyaki is a traditional dessert in Japan that translates to “fried fish”. It’s homemade cake shaped like a fish with your choice of filling, either red bean, nutella, or peanut butter. Then your choice of soft serve is served on top, and then you pick additional toppings if you’d like. Because they use coconut oil instead of milk, their soft serve is dairy-free ice cream!
Nearby Playground/Park: Lincoln Park
Legend Tasty House is arguably the best place to get Thai rolled ice cream in the city. Located in the heart of Chinatown, just south of downtown Chicago, Legend Tasty House serves authentic Thai rolled ice cream in fun flavor combinations like key lime pie and Fruity Pebbles, and banana and Nutella.
Nearby Playground/Park: Ping Tom Memorial Park
Annette’s Italian Ice is one of those local ice cream shops that doesn’t have any gimmicks, but it just serves delicious Italian ice and great scoops of ice cream that will satisfy ice cream purists.
26. Sideshow Gelato
Sideshow Gelato is a new circus museum, gelato shop, and performance space in Lincoln Square. They perform card tricks, juggling, show films, and serve artisanal gelato with vegan options. It’s the perfect combination of tasty and weird!
Nearby Playground/Park: Welles Park
This artisanal ice cream shop has multiple locations throughout the city and is known for their creative and delicious flavors like Gooey Butter Cake and Brambleberry Crisp.
28. Paolo’s Gelato
Paolo’s Gelato is created by Pawel Petrykowski, who moved to Chicago from Poland in 2019. He spent over a decade honing his craft, and he makes everything from scratch. He serves unique flavors like milk chocolate with porcini mushrooms, and vegan sorbet made with spinach and tangerine. They also serve hot chocolate and specialty coffees.
Nearby Playground/Park: Eckhart Park
29. Scoops Ice Cream
Scoops is a fantastic way to have some summer fun in Chicago. In addition to good food, they have funnel cakes, ice cream cakes, and lots of ice cream flavors that you can even get in a chocolate-dipped waffle cone! They also have ice cream sundaes, including my all-time favorite, a turtle sundae.
The Museum of Ice Cream is the best way to impress a true ice cream aficionado. Located in the heart of downtown, this instagram-worthy pop-up museum has tasting stations throughout the tour, and large-scale interactive installations like mini golf, carnival games, and more.
One of the tasting stations features a chicago-style hot dog made completely out of ice cream, and it was truly bizarre. The experience culminates with a sprinkle pool that is one-of-a-kind!
The museum is a bit expensive, and the tasting stations come up fast. It’s smaller than I expected it to be, and it was pretty difficult with a stroller. With that said, my 3-year-old had a blast, and it was a great one-time memorable experience.
Located in nearby Forest Park, The Brown Cow is a charming old-school ice cream parlor that’s been serving up homemade ice cream and soda fountain drinks since 2004.
Covered Bridge Creamery in the Chicago suburb of Long Grove serves the finest Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream from Madison, Dark Matter Coffee, and they’ve been voted the number one ice cream shop in Illinois! Long Grove as adorable food festivals, including Chocolate Fest and Strawberry Fest, so this could be the perfect treat after a fun festival.
Nearby Playground/Park: Children’s Park
This Wilmette-based ice cream shop has been a local favorite since 1935, offering homemade ice cream in flavors like Cookies and Cream, Banana Fudge Ripple, and Coffee Toffee. Legend has it that Al Capone was a frequent customer!
Nearby Playground/Park: Illinois North Shore Playground
34. Eiffel Waffle
Eiffel Waffle is one of my favorite spots for dessert, because not only do they have ice cream, but you get a freshly made bubble waffle with it! They have a variety of flavors, toppings, and you can pick different sizes, too!
35. Dairy Star
Dairy Star was a former dairy queen turned into a family-owned ice cream shop. They have only a few flavors of ice cream, but 13 different dips, many toppings, as well as sundaes, parfaits, and slushies.
Nearby Playground/Park: Central park
Charilie’s Silver Spoon Creamery is a family-owned ice cream shop in Aurora that uses the freshest ingredients to make high-quality ice cream.
Nearby Playground/Park: McCarty Park
Petersen’s has been serving hand-packed ice cream and fresh waffle cones for over a hundred years in historic Oak Park. It’s a must-visit for anyone who wants to taste scrumptious ice cream while being transported to the past.
Nearby Playground/Park: Austin Gardens
Gina’s Italian Ice has been a fixture of Berwyn for over 41 years. They serve homemade, refreshing Italian ice that will cool you off and make you smile.
Nearby Playground/Park: Euclid Square Park
Tate’s has been making homemade ice cream in adorable LaGrange for over 30 years and is a favorite amongst locals.
Nearby Playground/Park: Gordon Park
Kimmer’s is a beloved ice cream shop with three locations around Chicagoland. They are known for their sprinkle cones and specialty flavors like chocolate chip cookie dough and cinnamon roll.
41. Fuel and Creme
Fuel and Creme is a permanent food truck. on the prairie path bike trail in Villa Park. It’s the perfect place to stop on a family bike ride, and not only do they have ice cream, they have a full menu, alcoholic beverages, and dole whips!
Nearby Playground/Park: Prairie Path Bike Trail, Lions Park
Hooyahs has a large fan base for a reason. They serve a huge variety of ice cream flavors, and they have some unique creations like ice cream flights, and “Ships and Dip”, which is essentially ice cream nachos.
Nearby Playground/Park: Sunrise Park
43. Dairy Dream
Dairy Dream is a drive-in ice cream place in Libertyville with over 28 different flavors of soft serve! They serve flurries, sundaes, and have lots of toppings. They also serve hot food like burgers, chicken tenders, and hot dogs.
Nearby Playground/Park: Nicholas Dowden Park
Dairy Bar has been in Glenview since 1955, and they serve soft serve with mix-ins, shakes, ice cream bars, and more!
Nearby Playground/Park: Jackman Park
Milk House Ice Cream makes farm fresh ice cream, and they also serve ice cream pies and cakes. They have an ice cream truck that can be rented for parties, and they’ve many awards since their opening in 2015.
Nearby Playground/Park: Pingree Grove Forest Preserve
46. Julie Ann’s
Julie Ann’s is a frozen custard place that serves concretes, and they even have vegan custard!
Nearby Playground/Park: Ladd Park
Capanarri Ice Cream is a family-owned and operated shop that makes super premium ice cream from the freshest ingredients. They have award-winning flavors like black raspberry chip, and Irish coffee and pumpkin. They serve ice cream bars, cakes, flights, and more.
Nearby Playground/Park: Burning Bush Trails Park
Plush Horse is an ice cream place with over 70 homemade flavors, monster sundaes, dipped cones.
Nearby Playground/Park: Forty Acres Woods
49. Triple Scoop’d
Triple Scoop’d Ice Cream in Park Ridge serves Capanarri ice cream, and the offer ice cream flights. They also serve, donuts, sundaes, and shakes.
Nearby Playground/Park: South Park
Daisy’s Malt Shoppe serves Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream, and they serve ice cream sundaes, cakes, shakes, and more!
Nearby Playground/Park: Ketchup and Mustard Playground