What’s better than a day trip highlighted by a sweet, cool treat? Ontario boasts an amazing variety of unique ice cream offerings, so pick a spot and head out on the road.
Kawartha Dairy, Barrie
You’ll be spoiled for choice at this stop on your way to or from cottage country. Sample dozens and dozens of flavours – some common, some more experimental and unique to Kawartha Dairy. You can check the website before you go for their most recent inventions and seasonal flavourings. The superstore also sells local foods, such as bbq sauces and honey. Expect line ups but experienced scoopers keep things moving quickly.
Custom Creamery, Carp
With 16 of their 60 flavours (often a vegan option or sorbet, too) in rotation at any given time, this shop is found in charming Carp. Its owners have a vast knowledge of ice cream – one even graduated from the Ice Cream Technology program (did you even know there was such a thing?) at the University of Guelph. Try a scoop of cotton candy or London fog next time you’re in the capital region.
Pom Pom Treat Hut, Thornbury
It’s all about location, location, location. You can’t miss the yellow square hunt next near the Thornbury pier. London Dairy ice cream, homemade popsicles, ice cream sandwiches, and milkshakes are all on the menu, and feature local and seasonal ingredients. Grab a scoop, play some ping pong, and take a stroll along the waterfront.
Big Bay Ice Cream, Wiarton
Looking more like a modest home than a commercial establishment, this general store is well-known in the Wiarton area for its homemade ice cream. Sample one of the 10 flavours offered each day (there are 85 housemade flavours total), including coconut ice, gingerbread, lavender, and maple walnut.
Three Cows and a Cone, Little Current
There aren’t many places you can get Farquhar’s Ice Cream (a fourth generation dairy in Espanola), and this little spot on Manitoulin Island is one of them. Simple, classic flavours are the name of the game here. And it you want something savoury, try their chip truck – 3 Cows Fries – right next door.
Downtown Ice Cream Shop, Merrickville
Merrickville’s great popularity with daytrippers is due in part to the diversity and quality of its shops. A must-visit store – particularly for a sweet tooth – is the Downtown Ice Cream Shoppe . This shop has dozens of ice cream and gelato flavours made by the proprietor (who studied at Cordon Bleu), including cranberry loves raspberry, beet-o-rama, totally tubular tarragon, and seasonal strawberry with caramelized onion!
Frozen Cow, Dorchester
A tiny, charming building attached to an old silo, the Frozen Cow serves up Kawartha Dairy classics like Moose Tracks. However, it is the lovely surroundings – picnic tables situated in a quiet woods overlooking a mill pond, a small waterfall, and community trail – that make this the perfect spot to stop for a driving break when you’re near London.
Moo Shu Ice Cream, Ottawa
You’ll find truly unique, small batch flavours from the talented team at this shop. Asian influences are often paired with ingredients from local brewers, jam makers, and roasters. Offerings like black sesame, milk tea, and milk bread ensure you’ll try something you’ve never had before (perhaps in a bubble waffle cone).
Mapleton’s Organic, Moorefield
You can’t get any closer to the source than this farm café near Drayton. Natural flavours, such as maple, lavender, and pumpkin provide earthly tones that balance the sweetness perfectly. And best of all, step next door to the barn to watch the Holsteins self-milk. Fascinating to see how technology is making life better for cows and farmers. For kids, just outside there are gardens to explore and farm animals to say “Hi” to.
Slickers Ice Cream, Bloomfield
Love the classic duo of a scoop of ice cream with a slice of apple pie? Now you can combine them into one dessert with the apple pie ice cream from Slickers in the Prince Edward County village of Bloomfield . With small batch, homemade flavours, such as peanut butter and honey and campfire, it’s no wonder this is a must-visit location for vacationers and locals during the warm months. Get a scoop in a waffle cone or have them whip up a milkshake with their original blue Hamilton Beach machine. This is the perfect place to go after a visit to the ever-popular dunes of Sandbanks Provincial Park.
Perhaps vegan ice cream sounds like an oxymoron to you, but loyal customers agree that you can’t tell this shop’s creations aren’t the real deal. There are tempting cones, milkshakes, and sundaes, including strawberry shortcake, peanut butter chocolate, and cookie dough. There’s no front door – just a window on a colourful building where you order and pick up your treat.
Red House Ice Cream, Bruce Mines
Many ice cream parlours serve Chapman’s ice cream, but this northern joint really takes the traditional scoop to the next level with its custom mix ins and toppings (many locally sourced). Try a ‘Salty Dog’ with butter tart sauce, chocolate hard shell, and sourdough pretzel or ‘The Big Mackenzie’ with homemade maple marshmallow, maple cream fudge, maple syrup, and bacon.
Elliott’s, Sault Ste Marie
Enjoy house made hard and soft ice cream, all with dairy products produced right here in Northern Ontario, especially sublime when combined with locally grown seasonal fruit, maple syrup, and honey. What they’re most famous for is their dipped cones, which might be covered in pop rocks, fruity pebble cereal, cotton candy, and rainbow swirl.
Prime Gelato, Thunder Bay
Okay, so gelato isn’t technically ice cream. However, if you’re a fan of the cold white stuff and are in the vicinity of Thunder Bay, this is a must stop. They’re all about the natural and local ingredients here – no artificial colours, preservatives, corn syrup, or artificial flavours. The shop and manufacturing facility also offers pints to go, so you may want to take home a flavour or two like coldbrew and cacao nibs, wild blueberry and lemonade sorbet, or coconut lime.
White Mountain Ice Cream, Kingston
When a place has been around for decades, you know there’s a reason. For White Mountain Ice Cream, that reason is its delicious homemade hard and soft ice cream. Brownie, cookie dough, and espresso toffee as well as many other mix-ins combine with the creamery’s signature vanilla base to form delicious treats.
Broderick’s Ice Cream Parlour, Port Stanley
There’s nothing better than an ice cream on a trip to the beach. So next time you visit one of Lake Erie’s most charming beach towns, stop by Broderick’s. This little shop is full of 1950s dairy bar charm, with stools next to the black and white chequered countertop and flavours handwritten on a chalk board. Dozens of flavours selected from a variety of brands are sure to tempt anyone.
Belly Ice Cream, Huntsville
With product developed by a former chef, this shop only produces high-end, unique ice cream options. This cottage country favourite offers flavours like blackberry Earl Grey, carrot cake, Muskoka smores, and rhubarb ginger.
Avondale Dairy Bar, Niagara on the Lake
It’s all about the quality of ingredients and love that go into each scoop at this dairy bar. Made the old-fashioned way, this ice cream is blended daily by hand. Over the course of a year, there are about 100 flavours offered, including bananas foster, pineapple upside down cake, and graham cracker fudge.
Holy Cow, Sault Ste Marie
Stop when you see an upright cow giving a ride to another cow on its shoulders. Then you know you’ve arrived at the ice cream shop for Lock City Dairies. The 40 flavours aren’t the only choices – you can also mull over a waffle cone, cup, or donut cone – yes, a cone with the sugar-covered, fluffy texture of a donut.