So who has the best ice cream in Atlanta? I set out to find out. Because what can be better on a hot summer day (or a cold winter day, or a mild fall day, or just about any day) than ice cream. It’s my favorite food. My go-to sweet treat. See if you agree with our selections, and if not, let us know your favorite.
Best Ice Cream in Atlanta (and Georgia)
My love of ice cream may stem from the memories I associate with the dessert. Birthdays and milestones were always celebrated in my family with a Carvel ice cream cake. Carvel had the best cakes because they never bothered with the cake part, it was just pure ice cream, and those amazing chocolate crunchies that separated the vanilla and chocolate flavors.
When I was younger, my mother let me play hooky from school one day every year and we’d go shopping. I don’t know that we ever bought anything except an ice cream cone from Friendly’s, a chain in the mid-Atlantic. It’s one of my favorite childhood memories.
Now when we travel to Maryland for my boys lacrosse tournaments, I always make them stop with me for a mint-chocolate chip cone with chocolate sprinkles at Friendly’s. If I’m feeling a little crazy, I’ll go with the rainbow sprinkles. They never complain.
Ice cream has matured since I was a kid. It’s not just a simple vanilla or chocolate cone anymore. Atlanta has some A.MAZ.ING places with lots of different flavors and types of ice cream. So without further ado, here are some of our favorites. Did we miss yours? Let us know your favorite and why.
Best Ice Cream in Atlanta
To be fair, I have not been to all of these places. Some have been recommendations from other people. If I’ve been, I’ll tell you what I liked best.
I had a sample of Honeysuckle Gelato at an Atlanta Magazine Taste of Atlanta event. There were several ice cream places there, but I can’t remember any of them. Once I tasted Honeysuckle, it was all over. I felt bad for the ice cream booth a few spaces down from Honeysuckle. I’m sure they were good, but nothing even came close to these guys. My son asked for a pint as a birthday gift. All that goodness doesn’t come cheap.
I’ve decided I really like frozen custard, maybe even more than hard packed ice cream.Vintage Frozen Custard is a throwback walk-up frozen custard stand you’d expect to see on a country road. Instead, it’s in an unlikely location, the Westside Corridor of Atlanta, sandwiched between mid-rise condos, salvage yards and restaurants. I’ve passed it a few times going down Howell Mill Road and each time it caught my eye. When I decided to embark on an ice cream tour of Atlanta, Vintage Frozen Custard was an obvious first stop, here’s more on our visit.
Lesli recommends going early on weekends. They may run out of ice cream and close their doors. You don’t want to be stuck on the outside looking in.
Butter and Cream
416 Church Street | Decatur, Georgia 30030 | 404.378.7272
According to Katie Christof, of Explore Georgia, Butter and Cream is her favorite super creamy, rich ice cream, with a consistency close to frozen custard. The butter pecan and bourbon toffee are favorite classic flavors they have year round.
2469 Piedmont Rd. NE | Atlanta, GA 30324 | 404.237.8689
If you like your ice cream a little more old-school, try Zesto’s Drive-In (you can also eat-in). Zesto’s is a local family owned business that has milkshakes, malts, floats and sundaes, but most kids get a soft-serve vanilla or chocolate ice cream cone. My favorite is a Nut Brown Crown, your choice of vanilla, chocolate or twist soft serve ice cream dipped in rich milk chocolate that hardens on the ice cream. I like to get mine rolled in nuts too. In addition to good ice cream, I like to support Zesto’s because owners Jimmy and Leigh Ann Lividitis are friends of mine and just good people who give a lot to their community. Plus you won’t need to take out a loan to buy the family an ice cream here.
Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop
4600 Roswell Road | Sandy Springs 30342 | 404.975.3822
OMG, this is totally on my list to try. Pie and ice cream are such an awesome combination, but the problem with pie a la mode is you end up finishing one or the other first. Not with a Cloud 9 pie a la mode treat from the Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop. First pick one of nine mini-pie flavors that are made from scratch daily. The server flips it upside down into a big scoop of vanilla or chocolate ice cream, and then hand mixes it until the concoction comes together with a little pie and a little ice cream in every bite.
720 Morosgo Drive, Suite 110 | Atlanta, GA 30324 | 404.262.3333
Word has it this Buckhead cheescake cupcakery also does amazing milkshakes. Hmmm, that would be something to know about.
Ricoleta Paletas Y Helados
245 Veterans Memorial Highway | Mableton GA 30126 | (678) 865-7224
Take a trip south of the border here in Atlanta. Ricoleta specializes in homemade Ice cream and popsicles made just like in Mexico, with real fresh fruit.
Want your cake and ice cream too? Then try Lolli Bop Sweet Shop’s cake bottom sundae. I’m partial to a handcrafted ice cream sandwich. Who can resist yummy ice cream between two homemade chocolate chip cookies? Not me.
Best Rolled Ice Cream in Atlanta
8 Degrees Fahrenheit
Rolled ice cream is the hot new thing. Lesli tried it out at 8 Degrees Fahrenheit. In addition to good ice cream, she and her boys really enjoyed the show. Check out her review here.
Sweet Charlie’s Rolled Ice Cream
3872 Roswell Road | Atlanta 30342
In June 2017, Philadelphia-based Sweet Charlie’s rolled into Buckhead with its first-ever franchise location. After mixing in toppings, the ice-cream chef spreads the sweet, creamy concoction out on a stainless steel plate, and then uses a spatula to curl the ice cream into rolls. We hear the Tall Charlie, an ice cream roll of your choosing on a warm, long, glazed donut that is oven-baked fresh daily, is a favorite, but we have yet to try it.
Best Ice Cream in Georgia
I love to travel through Georgia, and I break for ice cream. In addition to my own experiences, I polled the folks at Explore Georgia. They travel the state even more than I do, and have some great out-of-the-way recommendations.
212 E. Broughton St. | Savannah, GA | 912.234.4442
Leopold’s is a Savannah classic. The ice cream melts just enough to truly taste the flavors. The secret could be the cream they use. Leopold’s is very picky about their cream. They also use premium local ingredients, like honey from the Savannah Bee Company, and chewies from Gottlieb Bakery. Here’s what you need to know before you head to Leopolds.
You may come for the homemade sour dough crusted pizza with a dizzying array of fresh ingredients and combinations, but you’ll be leaving raving about the homemade ice cream. Bob makes the fresh ice cream in house and tries to keep vanilla, chocolate and cookies and cream on hand every day. We recommend stepping out of the box with the flavor of the day. How does chocolate jalapeno ice cream sound? Maybe something a little less spicy, like Baptist Communion Sorbet, or just plain old milk and honey. You can’t go wrong.
Southern Belle is a favorite place to pick fresh strawberries. They use those fresh strawberries in their homemade ice cream too – YUM!
I don’t know what Bobby Salter puts into his soft-served peanut ice cream, but it is wonderful and I’m not really a huge peanut fan. I go back to Plains just for the ice cream.
This was a recommendation from someone at Explore Georgia that is from Musella. I recently tasted this gem myself. Pull up a rocker in this old fashion peach stand and watch them sort the crop on the assembly line, or turn your chair around and watch the cars go past on the country road. Either way, the peach ice cream here is worth a stop. It’s even worth the drive. (Musella is just west of Macon)
The Rock Ranch is owned by the Cathy Family of Chick-fil-A fame. Their strawberry ice cream is a combination of that fantastic Chick-fil-A ice dream and fresh strawberry puree. Well, if I must.
Lawson Peaches Roadside Stand
8545 Valdosta Hwy. | Morven, GA 31638 | 229.775.2581
797 W Macedonia Church Rd. | Oxford, GA 30054 | 770.597.6346
The strawberry slushy is what you want to get here. It’s like the best virgin strawberry daiquiri you’ll ever have.
Although they have peach and strawberry here, get the blueberry. And maybe some pecans. Mmmm.
Delicious Store Bought Ice Cream in Atlanta
Mayfield Creamery. The Mayfield Creamery milk processing plant is in Braselton Georgia and they offer tours. The ice cream plant is in Tennessee. But you can still buy a cone of delicious Mayfield ice cream at the Georgia plant. Or, just pick some up at your local Kroger, Publix, Walmart, Target, Piggly Wiggly or Ingles stores. The limited edition banana pudding ice cream tastes just like banana pudding, only better because it’s ice cream. It even has chunks of vanilla wafer.