Best Cities for Ice Cream

What’s more universal — at least in the dessert world — than ice cream? The average American eats 23 pounds of ice cream a year. It’s a $71 billion-a-year industry churning out 1.6 billion gallons of the stuff for us annually.

But if you love ice cream — whether scooped, soft-served, rolled or split — where’s the best place to live to get the best variety, the best availability and the best accessibility of that frozen wonder? Which cities love ice cream the most?

We studied every city in the nation with over 115,000 residents, numbering nearly 250. For each, we determined where it’s easiest to get a hold of a cone. We totaled up the number of ice cream parlors in each city, calculated how many were available per capita and how many there were per square mile. We gave each a weighted score and ranked them all to determine which were best. These are the top 10 best cities for ice cream lovers in America.


When Coral Springs residents are in the mood for ice cream, most head to Larry’s Ice Cream, a beloved spot since 1986. The oldest ice cream parlor in the city, it’s known for its prize wheel customers can spin to win free ice cream.

On the flip side is Let’s Chill, one of Coral Springs’ newest spots. Its artisanal ice cream comes in all-natural flavors like strawberry cheesecake, matcha tea and key lime (this is Florida, after all). The Iraq- and Afghanistan-veteran-owned shop also offers alcohol-infused flavors, including run raisin, margarita and Bailey’s chocolate.

Other popular Coral Springs creameries include The Magic Cow, Kilwins Chocolate and Cherry Smash. And, as a resort city, there are plenty of chain options like Cold Stone, Carvel, Haagen-Dazs and Dairy Queen. Looking for something more international? Cieladito’s Mexican Ice has south-of-the-border flavors like mango, soursop and tamarind.


In 1928, George Whitney took two oatmeal cookies, shoved a scoop of vanilla ice cream between them and dunked the whole thing in dark chocolate. The It’s-It ice cream sandwich, a San Francisco tradition, was born. And the Bay Area has never looked back.

San Francisco’s oldest ice cream parlor, in fact, dates back even further. In business in the Mission District for over a century, St. Francis Fountain continues operation today. And, of course, the Original Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop is among the most famous and popular dessert spots in the entire country for chocolate lovers.

The most populous city in the top 10, San Francisco offers the third-most ice cream parlors per square mile in the nation. But it ranks just 150th in parlors per capita, the fewest in the top 10. You can visit some of the Golden Gate city’s best spots at The Baked Bear, Bi-Rite Creamery, Mitchell’s, The Ice Cream Bar, Humphry Slocombe and Mr. & Mrs. Miscellaneous.


This small Indiana college town (the smallest city in the top 10) has the third-most ice cream parlors per capita in the entire nation. While not a booming metropolis, or anywhere near one, Evansville represents the traditional, old-fashioned blue collar ice-cream-after-Sunday-supper values of the Midwest.

John Cougar Mellencamp, the ’80s roots rocker, grew up a couple hours away in Seymour. In “Jack & Diane,” his classic tale of Middle America, Mellencamp sings of “suckin’ on chili dogs outside the Tastee Freez.” That was ice cream in the Midwest. And, in Evansville, you can visit the closest thing to that, at TF Ice Cream, in a former Tastee Freez location, serving ice cream since 1953. Another favorite long-serving shop is Zesto, a tradition dating back to 1949.

There are plenty of other spots in Evansville to take the tee-ball team after the big game or the middle school first date on a summer Friday. Try a scoop at Milk & Sugar Scoop Shoppe, Lics Deli and Ice Cream or Emge’s Deli & Ice Cream.


While Miami gets all the attention, Fort Lauderdale offers its pristine beaches, festive nightlife and incredible cuisine on par with Miami with half the fanfare. Comparatively, Fort Lauderdale is more laid-back, relaxing, family-friendly and affordable.

And, while Miami’s ice cream scene is flashy, decadent and made for Instagram, Fort Lauderdale’s casual and old school beach resort vibe shines through. And nowhere is that more true than at Jaxon’s Ice Cream Parlor. Jaxon’s, on the outskirts of town, has been the go-to ice cream parlor in the Magic City for generations. And, a newer spot with traditional vibes is Wilton Creamery. Customers test each handmade flavor in a small batch, then vote on them.

But that doesn’t mean that ice cream in Fort Lauderdale is all traditional. Localicious Caribbean Ice Cream offers tropical flavors like dragon stout, grapenut and watermelon. Yo Mama’s Ice Cream is known for its abundance of toppings and its ice cream taco. And, Chill-N Nitrogen Ice Cream is made-to-order right in front of you, flash-frozen with nitrogen.


In Gateway City, any discussion begins and ends with the frozen custard at Ted Drewes. Frozen custard, simply, is ice cream plus egg yolks for thickness and creaminess. And, in St. Louis, that’s been a dessert staple since 1930.

But while St. Louisans love Ted Drewes, it’s not technically ice cream. No worries, St. Louis still has you covered. Ice cream has a deep history here. In fact, the ice cream waffle cone itself originated at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. Perhaps the most historic ice cream parlor in the STL is Crown Candy Kitchen, founded in 1913. They make the ice cream on-site in an antique copper candy kettle with 14 percent butterfat.

There are plenty of other favorites in one of America’s most iconic ice cream towns. Clementine’s Naughty and Nice Creamery offers a variety of all-natural and alcohol-infused ice cream flavors. Ices Plain & Fancy features nitrogen-frozen ice cream. And, many are partial to their local spots like Jilly’s Cupcake & Ice Cream Bar, Tower Grove Creamery and Nudo House.


While they are our future, college students are still kids. And, what better way to connect to still being a kid while away at school than with ice cream? Cambridge is home to Harvard and MIT and some great ice cream. At just six square miles, it’s the smallest city in the country with over 115,000 residents. But within those borders, there are a dozen ice cream parlors, good for the second-highest density in America.

Very few students in Cambridge would argue that the best ice cream in Cambridge is at Toscanini’s Ice Cream, if not the best in greater Boston. The Kendall Square staple is known for its approachable gourmet flavors, including its famous burnt caramel. Other favorite ice cream spots include Christina’s Homemade Ice Cream at Inman Square and Amorino Gelato in Harvard Square.

More proof that Cambridge is a city for ice cream lovers? At Harvard, you can take a lecture class called The Science of Ice Cream.


Nothing beats the desert heat better than frozen dessert. The best city for ice cream in the west is found in Las Vegas. Ice cream shops are always popular in tourist towns (see more below), and Vegas is no exception. Despite being the 29th largest city, it has the fifth-most ice cream parlors in the nation. In fact, with 156, it has more than any other city in the top 10.

But this is Las Vegas, so never expect the expected. Tourists are always looking for unique, and that’s even more so in Vegas. Lappert’s Ice Cream offers Pacific and Latin flavors like Hawaiian sea salt caramel and Manila mango. Secret Creamery draws raves with flavors, including pandan coconut and blueberry goat cheese. And, at Creamberry, you can choose over 20 ice creams and 50 toppings wrapped in multiple layers of multiple flavors of cotton candy.


The best city for ice cream in the north is Pittsburgh. Brought over from Europe by Quakers, ice cream was historically a city food. Served fresh as it’s made, it became a cheap, easy treat after a hard-working day. Pittsburgh’s steel workers could cool off at the end of the day with street ice cream, and go home and enjoy it with their families.

But today’s Pittsburgh isn’t smog and steel mills anymore. It’s a vibrant, friendly, modern city, and one of the top food cities in the nation. And, it’s much more than putting fries on your sandwich. Even wintery cold half of the year, it’s still a great ice cream city that marries newfound stylishness with old-world tradition.

That integration is among some of the Steel City’s best ice cream parlors, many of them generations old. The O.G. is Klavon’s Ice Cream Parlor. Founded in 1923, it was a local staple until it closed in the 1970s. Thankfully, eight of the original owners’ grandchildren resurrected it in 1999. And, just as famous and old is Gus & Yiayia’s. On the other side of the river, they’ve been making handmade syrups since 1934. And, over at Antney’s Ice Cream, you can find the best ice cream over pizzelles — a Pittsburgh staple — in the city.


The formula that landed Orlando No. 2 among best cities for ice cream isn’t difficult to decipher. Take one scoop of family tourists and one scoop of hot Florida weather and put them in a cone. Orlando is one of the most visited cities in the world. All of those tourists going to all those restaurants all need to find something sweet after each vacation meal.

Overall, Orlando has the sixth most ice cream parlors of any city despite ranking 72nd in population. It’s second among the top 10 with 154. That gives it the top spot for most parlors per capita with 53.5 per 100,000 residents.

But, Orlando isn’t just a tourist town, it’s a theme park town. And, that’s where you’ll find most of, if not the most famous, ice cream parlors. There are nearly three dozen at Disney World alone. Among the best is Plaza Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street USA, L’Artisan des Glaces at EPCOT and Beaches & Cream Soda Shop at Disney’s Beach Club. Add to that the many ice cream shops at Universal Orlando like Hop on Pop Ice Cream Shop at Islands of Adventure, Gelateria at Loews Portofino and Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour in Diagon Alley


Miami has the warmest climate of any major city in the U.S. It tops out with an average daily mean temp of 77 degrees. And, the city has large populations of demographics of people who love ice cream, including kids, seniors, Latinos, college students and tourists. Whether it’s a scoop on the beach or while drinking cafécito in the afternoon, a trip to the ice cream parlor is a beloved activity in Miami.

In many ways, Miami is a Cuban town. It has more Cuban immigrants than any other city, and over half of residents claim Cuban ancestry. And, all those Cubans have brought Cuban flavors to the local cuisine. So, why should ice cream be an exception? Just ask fans of Azucar Ice Cream Company. The decade-old Little Havana parlor has introduced flavors like café con leche, el mani loco and mantecado and ice cream made with guava, mango and mamey to the local palate.

The top of the best cities for ice cream, Miami offers the most parlors per square mile with 3.33. That’s over a full integer more than No. 2. It also features the second-most parlors per capita. Some favorite spots include Dasher & Crank, Sweet Melody, Taiyaki and Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlor with their famous kitchen sink sundae.

The 50 best cities for ice cream lovers

While the top 10 are certainly the best of the best, there are plenty of great ice cream towns across the nation. But, where are the best cities for ice cream lovers, cones down? It’s California where 16 of the top 50 cities lie. Right behind is Florida, with eight.

And what’s the city with the most ice cream parlors overall? Well, that’s New York City, of course, with 450. While that earns N.Y.C. the fifth-most per square mile, that’s only 230th per person, giving it an overall rank of just 20th. Here are the rest of the top 50 best cities for ice cream. You can find your own personal ice cream heaven by checking out rental listings in these Sundae cities on Apartment Guide.

Rank City, State Ice Cream Parlors 2019 Population Land Area, Sq Mi Per Capita, 100k Per Sq Mi Per Capita Score Per Sq Mi Score Total Score
1 Miami, FL 120 467,963 36 25.64 3.33 22.95 50.00 72.95
2 Orlando, FL 154 287,442 102 53.58 1.51 50.00 22.53 72.53
3 Pittsburgh, PA 73 300,286 55 24.31 1.33 21.65 19.78 41.44
4 Las Vegas, NV 156 651,319 136 23.95 1.15 21.31 17.07 38.37
5 Cambridge, MA 12 118,927 6 10.09 2.00 7.88 29.92 37.80
6 Saint Louis, MO 65 300,576 62 21.63 1.05 19.05 15.58 34.63
7 Fort Lauderdale, FL 37 182,437 35 20.28 1.06 17.75 15.71 33.46
8 Evansville, IN 29 117,979 44 24.58 0.66 21.92 9.72 31.63
9 San Francisco, CA 77 881,549 47 8.73 1.64 6.57 24.47 31.04
10 Coral Springs, FL 24 133,759 24 17.94 1.00 15.49 14.85 30.34
11 Torrance, CA 22 143,592 20 15.32 1.10 12.95 16.36 29.31
12 Clearwater, FL 22 116,946 26 18.81 0.85 16.33 12.53 28.86
13 Pasadena, CA 23 141,029 23 16.31 1.00 13.90 14.85 28.76
14 Alexandria, VA 19 159,428 15 11.92 1.27 9.65 18.87 28.52
15 Cincinnati, OH 58 303,940 78 19.08 0.74 16.59 10.99 27.58
16 Tampa, FL 79 399,700 113 19.76 0.70 17.25 10.32 27.57
17 Sugar Land, TX 23 118,488 32 19.41 0.72 16.91 10.61 27.52
18 Rochester, NY 32 205,695 36 15.56 0.89 13.18 13.18 26.35
19 Huntington Beach, CA 27 199,223 27 13.55 1.00 11.23 14.85 26.09
20 New York, NY 450 8,336,817 303 5.40 1.49 3.34 22.16 25.50
21 Orange, CA 21 138,669 25 15.14 0.84 12.78 12.44 25.22
22 Anaheim, CA 47 350,365 50 13.41 0.94 11.10 13.95 25.05
23 Allentown, PA 16 121,442 18 13.18 0.89 10.87 13.18 24.05
24 Syracuse, NY 20 142,327 25 14.05 0.80 11.72 11.84 23.56
25 Berkeley, CA 11 121,363 10 9.06 1.10 6.89 16.36 23.25
26 Santa Clara, CA 16 130,365 18 12.27 0.89 10.00 13.18 23.17
27 Springfield, MO 33 167,882 82 19.66 0.40 17.15 5.85 23.00
28 Atlanta, GA 81 506,811 133 15.98 0.61 13.59 8.96 22.55
29 Pearland, TX 22 122,460 47 17.97 0.47 15.51 6.84 22.35
30 Gainesville, FL 25 133,997 61 18.66 0.41 16.18 5.96 22.14
31 Naperville, IL 23 148,449 39 15.49 0.59 13.11 8.67 21.79
32 Salinas, CA 18 155,465 23 11.58 0.78 9.32 11.58 20.90
33 Santa Ana, CA 27 332,318 27 8.12 1.00 5.98 14.85 20.83
34 Ann Arbor, MI 17 119,980 28 14.17 0.61 11.83 8.93 20.77
35 Tempe, AZ 26 195,805 40 13.28 0.65 10.97 9.58 20.55
36 Garden Grove, CA 16 171,644 18 9.32 0.89 7.14 13.18 20.31
37 Baton Rouge, LA 35 220,236 77 15.89 0.45 13.50 6.64 20.14
38 Fullerton, CA 16 138,632 22 11.54 0.73 9.29 10.74 20.03
39 Long Beach, CA 43 462,628 50 9.29 0.86 7.11 12.74 19.85
40 Lubbock, TX 44 258,862 122 17.00 0.36 14.57 5.22 19.79
41 McAllen, TX 22 143,268 48 15.36 0.46 12.98 6.69 19.67
42 Chicago, IL 210 2,693,976 228 7.80 0.92 5.66 13.66 19.32
43 Provo, UT 18 116,618 42 15.44 0.43 13.06 6.24 19.30
44 Pembroke Pines, FL 21 173,591 33 12.10 0.64 9.83 9.37 19.20
45 Sacramento, CA 62 513,624 98 12.07 0.63 9.80 9.32 19.12
46 Yonkers, NY 16 200,370 18 7.99 0.89 5.84 13.18 19.02
47 El Monte, CA 9 115,487 10 7.79 0.90 5.66 13.35 19.00
48 Bridgeport, CT 13 144,399 16 9.00 0.81 6.83 12.03 18.86
49 Irvine, CA 37 287,401 66 12.87 0.56 10.58 8.23 18.81
50 Richmond, VA 31 230,436 60 13.45 0.52 11.14 7.57 18.71

The 10 worst cities for ice cream lovers

While we all scream for ice cream, in some places, you’ll have to scream a little louder. Like Massachusetts. The two worst cities for ice cream lovers in the nation are both in Central Mass, Boston exurb Worcester and the capital of Springfield.

At fourth-worst is Detroit. Despite being the largest city in the bottom 10, and one of the largest in the nation, the Motor City sports just 30 parlors. By comparison, similarly-sized cities Nashville and Oklahoma City have 50 and 59, respectively. Here’s the rest of the sad, melted, flavorless bottom 10.

Rank City, State Ice Cream Parlors 2019 Population Land Area, Sq Mi Per Capita, 100k Per Sq Mi Per Capita Score Per Sq Mi Score Total Score
240 Laredo, TX 12 262,491 89 4.57 0.13 2.54 1.82 4.36
241 North Las Vegas, NV 12 251,974 101 4.76 0.12 2.72 1.58 4.30
242 Fairfield, CA 5 117,133 37 4.27 0.14 2.24 1.82 4.07
243 Norfolk, VA 9 242,742 54 3.71 0.17 1.70 2.30 4.00
244 Memphis, TN 30 651,073 315 4.61 0.10 2.57 1.22 3.79
245 West Valley City, UT 5 135,248 36 3.70 0.14 1.69 1.88 3.57
246 Detroit, MI 18 670,031 139 2.69 0.13 0.71 1.74 2.45
247 Sunnyvale, CA 3 152,703 22 1.96 0.14 0.01 1.84 1.85
248 Worcester, MA 4 185,428 37 2.16 0.11 0.20 1.42 1.61
249 Springfield, MA 3 153,606 32 1.95 0.09 0.00 1.20 1.20


Cities were ranked on a weighted scoring system using both per capita (100,000 residents) and per square mile measures of the number of ice cream parlors per location. Both measures were given equal weight. Final rankings are based on a city’s total score.

Data on ice cream parlors is from commercially available business listings. Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and’s multifamily rental property inventory as of May 2022. We use a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.

The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

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