120 Manalapan Ave., Freehold
Sure, they’ve got delicious versions of your standard chocolate and vanilla twist, but this 60-year old soft-serve specialist also offers up inventive flavors like Chocolate Covered Banana, Blueberry Pancakes and Muddy Boots (vanilla with caramel swirl and brownie bites). Make sure to bring cash if you’re grabbing a scoop! And if you want more than just sweet treats, there’s a restaurant in the back serving up classics like hot dogs and hamburgers.
616 Grove St., Upper Montclair
You can’t miss this place—between the giant bright red barn and the big line of cars waiting to snag a parking spot, Applegate Farm is a big part of summer in Montclair. In business since 1848, this shop features over 50 flavors served from a row of old-school to-go windows. Summer favorites include Graham Central Station (graham cracker ice cream, graham crackers and chocolate covered candy pieces) and cantaloupe—vanilla ice cream with, you guessed it, sweet cantaloupe chunks mixed in.
2. Holsten’s Brookdale Confectionery (Bloomfield)
3. Mark & Julie’s Homemade Ice Cream (West Orange)
4. Strawberry Fields (Maplewood)
5. TIE Nasto’s Ice Cream (Newark) & Towne Scoop (Verona)
34 Broadway #A, Denville
Loved for its hard and soft flavors of creamy homemade ice cream, Denville Dairy specializes in unique flavors like Banana Freckle (aka banana and chocolate) and Grandma’s Oatmeal Cookie (a flavorful combo of oatmeal and chocolate chips). This hometown hub also has sugar-free and non-fat options (so the kids don’t get to have all the fun). If a great egg cream is what you’re after, no need to travel to Brooklyn—they’ve got an outstanding one right here. Don’t let the long lines dissuade you either—customers take a number and it goes fast.
Van Dyk’s Homemade Ice Cream
145 Ackerman Ave., Ridgewood
This hole-in-the-wall ice cream spot is tucked away in a tree-lined residential neighborhood and is known for its mint chocolate chip and specialty homemade flavors like vanilla peanut butter swirl, peppermint chip and cake batter. Come hungry—the scoops are big!
Zita’s Homemade Ice Cream & Italian Ice
1790 Springfield Ave., New Providence
Focused on soft-serve yogurt, hard ice cream and Italian ices, this shop has received top honors at the NJ Ice Cream Festival for its s’mores flavor. The staff is constantly inventing new combinations, like Mint Lightning (a white mint ice cream with brownie chunks, fudge and mint cookie balls) or their signature 91716—vanilla ice cream stuffed with chocolate chips, chocolate-covered pretzels, peanut butter and caramel (see if you can get them to tell you what the name means). They also have sugar-free ice cream and yogurt options, and all the delicious treats can be enjoyed al fresco out on the patio.
Looking for more great ice cream places? We've got our full list of Golden Popsicle winners listed by location: