best ice cream in new jersey
© / JohnnyGreig

National Ice Cream Day is this Sunday, July 19th. No better way to celebrate than sampling some of our reader favorites! With COVID-19 concerns, places are currently only open for walk-up and takeout orders, but that shouldn’t stop you from cooling off with the sweet treat. Readers shared with us their favorite Jersey ice cream joints (and we’ve added a few of our own, too). From must-try flavors to old-fashioned shakes and sodas, these ice cream parlors are the best of the best. Now, get out there and chow down!

For the best ice cream at the Jersey Shore, here’s where our readers recommend you visit.

Reader’s Picks:

Applegate Farms (Montclair)
If you’re craving some great ice cream with a side of history, check out Applegate Farm. Housed in the original, 1848 farmhouse, this 166-year-old shop has survived the Civil War, Great Depression, and two World Wars, all while growing from simple dairy barn to one of the East Coast’s largest ice cream outlets. Scooping over 50 flavors of ice cream, sherbet, Italian ice, and sorbet, plus seasonal options—like peppermint stick and pumpkin ice creams—it’s no secret why readers can’t get enough.

Bischoff’s Ice Cream & Candy (Teaneck)

Visiting Bischoff’s Ice Cream & Candy is like stepping into another era. With “great ‘50s style parlor decor,” according to Lisa, Midland Park, along with homemade ice cream, sundaes, and floats, it is clear why this shop has lasted over 80 years. Better yet, lunch comes with free ice cream!

Cliff’s Homemade Ice Cream (Ledgewood)

A neighborhood staple for nearly 40 years, readers like Cynthia, Stanhope, can’t get enough, telling us, “It’s been a local favorite since I was a kid. Great location, and always great ice cream!” With more than 60 unique flavors to choose from—including Morris County Mud (yes, it’s as chocolatey as it sounds), Peanut Butter Pretzel Madness, and 2013 National Ice Cream Retailers Association contest-winning Fresh Strawberry—Cliff’s got a little something for everyone.

Denville Dairy (Denville)

Since opening 30 years ago, this family-owned dairy has been selling their homemade ice cream and cakes, plus a wide selection of pints and quarts so that fans can have a scoop of Denville anything, anywhere. Patrizia, Rockaway, tells us, “Prices are good, and they have amazing flavors.” Over 30 amazing flavors, that is! Okay—who’s up for a scoop of Banana Freckle (aka banana and chocolate) or Grandma’s Oatmeal Cookie?

Gelotti Homemade Ice Cream & Italian Ice (Paterson)

Gelato, ice cream’s Italian cousin, is better for all the right reasons: less fat and a richer, creamier taste. Serving New Jersey since 1984, Gelotti’s never fails to produce unique, quality frozen treats and flavors. From Amaretto and Tiramisu to Apple Pie and Nutella, Gelotti’s can satisfy any craving. With weekend specials and a constantly updated menu, it’s no wonder why Meghan, Clifton, named Gelotti’s the “best ice cream/gelato/ice ever!”

Hoffman’s Ice Cream (Spring Lake)

What began as one of the Garden State’s first Carvel shops way back in 1955, Hoffman’s has grown into a dessert destination in its own right. “Their ice cream is delicious, with a big variety of flavors,” says Christine from Howell, of their 40 homemade (and unique!) flavors—like Jersey Monkey (banana ice cream, peanut butter, and chocolate chips, anyone?)  and Cookie Monster. Did we mention they deliver anywhere in the country?

Holsten’s Brookdale Confectionery (Bloomfield)

You may recognize this old-fashioned ice cream parlor as the set of “The Sopranos” series finale, but our readers know it as one of the best dessert stops around. Sticking close to its 1939 soda shop roots, the Holsten’s menu features black and white sodas, egg creams, and sundaes, all of which are made with homemade ice cream. Don’t forget to ask about their homemade chocolates and fudge!

Magic Fountain (Bayonne)

Arguably Bayonne’s pride and joy, Magic Fountain’s homemade ice cream is indeed magical. From open to close during the season, there is always a line of patrons waiting to get their frozen fix. Enjoy a classic soft serve with sprinkles, or be swept away with an out-of-this-world “hurricane”—ice cream mixed with whatever your hungry heart desires.

best ice cream in new jersey
Magic Fountain Summit / Staff photo

Magic Fountain (Summit)

For cones piled high with homemade ice cream and cups brimming with refreshing Italian ice and fat-free frozen yogurt, there’s no better stop than Magic Fountain. Scooping large servings at family-friendly prices, this old-fashioned, drive-up shop receives rave reviews for its delicious, frozen treats, especially the Magic Blends (think a creamier, homemade version of Dairy Queen’s Blizzard).

The Original Kohr Brothers Frozen Custard (Wildwood)

In 1919, the Kohr brothers set up a booth on the Coney Island boardwalk, hoping to sell some of their homemade custard. Little did they know they’d sell a whopping 18,460 cones in just two days! One hundred years later, the original recipe is still a favorite, now on Wild Wheels Pier. The main draw? For Kelly of Budd Lake, it’s “nostalgia.”

Polar Cub (Whitehouse Station)

From frozen yogurt to ice cream, this local mom-and-pop shop can do it all, and, better yet, at family-friendly prices. Our readers are crazy for Polar Cub’s creamy soft-serve, extra thick milkshakes, and special flavors, including banana and pumpkin.

Thomas Sweet (New Brunswick)

Since opening its doors in 1979, this Victorian-style ice cream shop has been a favorite stop for kids and adults alike. Serving up house-made ice creams, pastries, and specialty coffees (not to mention the treats in their chocolate store!), it’s no wonder why readers like Stephanie from Springfield, can’t get enough. “Thomas Sweet makes the best ice cream. Love their bend-ins!”

The Towne Scoop (Verona)

The vintage parlor and bow tie-outfitted scoopers may be The Towne Scoop’s trademarks, but the store’s true claim to fame is its delicious ice cream. Our readers love the over 20 flavors of ice cream, frozen yogurt, and Italian ice, plus the 18 toppings to mix and match. So head on over or wait for them to come to you—They’ve got two trucks loaded with ice cream and ready to make an appearance at your next summer bash.

Vanilla Bean Creamery (Cranford)

Run by Ice Cream University (yes, it’s real) grad Ralph Kopelman, this shop is scooping 32 ice cream flavors—plus a special flavor of the week, Italian ice, and sorbet—all of which are handmade on the premises daily. As if that’s not enough, the Creamery loves to experiment with exotic ingredients, giving way to awesome flavors, including Chocolate Pretzel Crunch and Coconut Almond Joy.

Editor’s Picks:

Bent Spoon (Princeton)

Sweet corn ice cream, anyone? How about strawberry saffron sorbet? Those are just two of the many off-the-beaten-path seasonal flavors that make Bent Spoon a must-visit. Even better, all those interesting additions are often sourced from local farmers. Of course traditional options are plentiful here, too, but staff are great about allowing tastes for the less adventurous, so encourage the kids to try a flavor they’ve never had before. If you’re craving something cakey, you’re in luck—the cupcakes here are off the charts and have an obscene amount of icing (and a cult-like following).  Note: Cash only.

Mark & Julies’ Homemade Ice Cream (West Orange)

Now in its 20th year, Mark & Julie’s is a favorite spot to sit and enjoy a cool treat all year round. There are 52 flavors of homemade ice cream to choose from, including special seasonal and holiday flavors, and perennial kid favorites, like cake batter and bubble gum. There is also a selection of sugar-free, fat-free, and low-fat ice creams and yogurts, and dairy-free Italian ices and sorbets. Shakes, sundaes, and banana splits are all on offer, as are coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and baked goods. Parking can be a little difficult as there is only a small lot outside the shop.

Scoops the Ice Creamery (Scotch Plains)

Scoops The Ice Creamery has been an ice cream destination for families for close to 25 years.  It is not a franchise – the one and only Scoops is located on Route 22 in Scotch Plains. All hard ice cream flavors are made in-store and there are over 50 flavors to choose from at a time plus soft serve, fat free ice cream and Italian Ice.  Kids rave about the original flavor “Smurf”–a blue raspberry ice cream with mini marshmallows. For birthday cakes, there is a cake artist on staff that can draw anything including Zombies, Dora the Explorer, Elmo and all the Frozen Characters. Scoops employs local high school and college students and guarantees friendly service (even though the lines in the summer can get long.  Scoops is open daily year round and there are tables inside and outdoors–perfect for a warm summer night.

South Street Creamery (Morristown)

Even though there is a full menu of sandwiches, crepes, soups and more, the homemade ice cream is the main attraction at this charming Morristown cafe. Favorite flavors include Grandma’s Kitchen, described as “everything you’d love your Grandma to have in her kitchen…cookie dough, frosting, and cake batter.” There’s also gelato, sherbet, sorbet, non-fat yogurt and sugar free ice creams. Also on offer are gourmet coffees, chilled and warm drinks, fresh baked goods and a wide variety of fudge. They also create custom ice cream cakes and catered make your own sundae parties. On summer nights there is often a long line, and be prepared: parking in the area can be a challenge at times as well.

Van Dyk’s Homemade Ice Cream (Ridgewood)

The warmer the weather, the colder the craving. During summer, ice cream is a staple food; kids and adults alike constantly wish to wrap their hands around a cone piled high with icy goodness. Van Dyk’s in Ridgewood is famous for satisfying these chilling cravings with their unforgettable homemade ice cream. With a parking lot as packed as customers’ bellies, this hole-in-the-wall creamery leaves no stone unturned in the ice cream business: portions are huge, flavors and toppings are vast, and there are smiles (sometimes dripping) all around. Aside from serving up sizable scoops and colossal cones, Van Dyk’s is unique for generous mix-ins: peppermint pieces, whole cherries, chocolate chunks—the list goes on! This little-big ice cream parlor, hidden in a residential area, will give your hot summer a much needed taste of winter.

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