There’s nothing better on a hot summer day than an ice cream cone. Even as the weather cools, sometimes there’s nothing that hits the spot quite like a frozen treat. While Des Moines has its fair share of chains like Dairy Queen, the metro is also full of amazing locally owned shops catering to customers with a sweet tooth. If you’re searching for a sweet frozen treat in central Iowa, you won’t want to miss this list of the best ice cream shops in Des Moines.
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1. Classic Frozen Custard
There’s a reason that the slogan at Classic Frozen Custard is “once you lick it, you’ll love it.” This southside custard shop has a rotating menu of flavors that are made fresh daily. Ice cream lovers can order custard in cones, shakes, sundaes and malts, but come hungry: The portions at Classic Frozen Custard are notoriously large.
Classic Frozen Custard, 4000 SE 14th St., Des Moines
2. Black Cat Ice Cream
While Black Cat Ice Cream got its start as a hole-in-the-wall ice cream window inside the Gaslamp in downtown Des Moines, bigger things are in its future. After a period of time without a storefront, the fan favorite craft ice cream makers are moving into a new location in the Drake neighborhood.
With unique flavors like Saturday Cereal and Chocolate Ghost Chili, Black Cat Ice Cream is a shop worth visiting. Plus, if you’re feeling indecisive, they also offer ice cream flights.
Black Cat Ice Cream, 2511 Cottage Grove Ave., Des Moines
3. Snookies Malt Shop
One of the first signs of spring in Des Moines is the day that Snookies Malt Shop opens for the season. This Beaverdale favorite serves up classic soft serve ice cream with a range of dips, toppings and sundae combinations available.
On a summer evening, it’s not uncommon for the line at this popular shop to wrap around the building. Snookies also serves free pup cones for your furry friend!
Snookies Malt Shop, 1810 Beaver Ave., Des Moines
4. Dairy Zone
Opened in 1990, Dairy Zone is an eastside favorite for frozen treats of all kinds. From classic cones to ice cream tornados with a variety of mix-ins available, there’s something to satisfy every sweet tooth here.
Dairy Zone, 2219 E. University Ave., Des Moines
Related tour: Still hungry? There’s a Beer & Bites downtown Des Moines tour!
5. Bauder’s Pharmacy
If you’re searching for a classic soda fountain, Bauder’s Pharmacy is the place for you. This Des Moines institution offers ice cream, sundaes, shakes and malts at a classic ice cream counter. Grab a stool at the bar and enjoy an afternoon treat in a nostalgic environment.
Bauder’s also makes one of my absolute favorite treats sold at the Iowa State Fair: A fudgy peppermint ice cream bar.
Bauder’s Pharmacy, 3802 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines
6. The Outside Scoop
While they have brick-and-mortar locations in Indianola and Ankeny, The Outside Scoop got its start as a bright pink ice cream truck. This local favorite makes small batch ice cream from scratch and can be found parked around downtown or at special events across the metro.
The Outside Scoop pairs classic flavors alongside funkier options like goat cheese with roasted cherry so this truck has something for everyone.
The Outside Scoop, 602 N. Jefferson Way, Indianola, and 2410 SW White Birch Drive, Ankeny