Vanilla? If that’s your scoop. But these Pacific Northwest ice cream shops are dishing up a flavor-packed array of cold treats that go way beyond the bean. Discover six of the best ice cream joints in the San Juans, Victoria, Vancouver, and Seattle.
Clever Cow Creamery
Located in the heart of Orcas Island’s Eastsound, this quaint shop features more than 30 rotating flavors of ultra-creamy homemade ice cream. Traditional shakes and sundaes are also available, as are the delightfully caffeine-loaded affogatos (a scoop of ice cream topped with a shot of espresso).
Lopez Island Creamery
More than 20 years ago, Lopez Island Creamery started churning handmade ice cream — one batch at a time. Operating out of a kitchen no bigger than a bedroom, they developed flavors by trading samples for feedback. Today, this island gem is known for having some of the best ice cream in the Seattle area. You can find their cold treats at retail stores and restaurants throughout the Pacific Northwest, including the Lopez Village Market and San Juan Food Co-Op.
Creative flavors; locally-sourced, organic ingredients; and a proclivity for booze-infused scoops have earned this Victoria ice cream joint a country-wide following. (In a 2016 BuzzFeed poll, Canadians rated Cold Comfort the fifth best ice cream in all of Canada!)
Favorite flavors include Gin and Tonic (made from local gin and local tonic concentrate), Avocado, and Cinnamon Toast. Those with dietary restrictions will be pleased by their selection of dairy free, (unofficially) “gluten-free” ice cream sandwich cookies, vegan, and occasionally available diabetic friendly selections.
Jackson’s Ice Cream
If you believe in floating on a flavor-packed sugar high, Jackson’s Ice Cream is just for you. Located at Victoria’s Fisherman’s Wharf, this ice cream stand offers a variety of scooped and soft-served treats. They even have a kid-size menu perfect for your little ones.
Brown Paper Packages
This Vancouver dessert stop makes the kind of ice cream sandwiches that make grown men giggle like schoolgirls. Scoops, pints, floats and sundaes are also available at Brown Paper Packages. But really, why would you not opt for your creamy ice cream to be wedged between two detectibly soft cookies? As the name would suggest, sandwiches come wrapped in brown paper. Sandwich flavors lean towards grown-up, with a constantly changing selection that may include raspberry with chocolate cookies and cardamom with lemon almond cookies.
Heavy on the milk and light on the air, Bella Gelateria’s gelato is well-known for its ultra-creamy texture. Located just blocks from Canada Place in downtown Vancouver, it’s the perfect sweet treat to enjoy while out for a sunny stroll. Favorites include hazelnut and stracciatella (chocolate chip). But don’t overlook their seasonal varieties, such as summer strawberry.
Bluebird Ice Cream
Travel back to the time of soda fountains, where jovial banter with your ice-cream wielding bartender is the norm. At Seattle’s Bluebird Ice Cream, you’ll find vintage kitchen gadgets and diner-style glass sundae cups and sweet homemade waffle cones loaded with inventive flavors. This micro-ice cream chain offers small-batch flavors range from Elysian stout and snickerdoodle to Meyer lemon and dark chocolate cherry cabernet.
Fainting Goat Gelato
While well-known Molly Moon’s may be down the street, Seattleites have developed a love for Fainting Goat (thanks to its shorter lines and ultra-creamy gelato). Family-owned and operated, each batch is made in-house with locally-sourced organic milk. Flavors rotate daily, but may include bilberry, spicy chocolate, and sour cherry swirl.