There’s something universally delightful about savoring a scoop of ice cream, especially on a warm day. But for those of us lucky enough to call Omaha home, the pleasure isn’t just in the scoop, but where you get it from. From vintage parlors that evoke memories of simpler times to modern establishments that experiment with daring flavors, Omaha has carved out a niche in the world of creamy delights. As a local, I have my favorites, but for anyone on the quest to discover the best places for ice cream in Omaha, this guide is your golden ticket.
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Updated: This post was first published in 2018 and has been updated in August 2023.
Criteria For Selection
Determining the best places for ice cream in Omaha wasn’t just about chasing the sweetest treat. Here’s the criteria employed to curate this list:
- Taste and Texture: At the heart of every ice cream experience the flavor. The texture, whether creamy, chunky, or a bit of both, plays a pivotal role too.
- Variety: We looked at places that offer a diverse range of flavors – from classic staples to innovative concoctions. A wide selection hints at creativity.
- Quality of Ingredients: Premium ice cream parlors source high-quality, often local ingredients. This not only enhances the flavor but supports local farmers and businesses.
- Ambiance: The environment of the ice cream parlor plays a role. Whether it’s a nostalgic trip down memory lane with vintage decor or a chic, modern setup, the ambiance can elevate the overall experience.
By considering these factors, I ensured that the list isn’t just about the best ice cream but also the best overall experience for Omaha’s ice cream aficionados.
Top 6 Places for Ice Cream in Omaha
1. Coneflower Creamery
Coneflower Creamery started as the Omaha food scene darling of ice cream shops with a small location in the Blackstone District. They’ve grown and added a second location – still a very cool looking place – in Millwork Commons. You’ll want to take pictures here, for sure.
The secret to Coneflower’s success lies in a few things, namely the use of local ingredients and their divine, made-in-house waffle cones. Wait ‘til you smell those cones.
Where they source their ingredients is an impressive list, including Burbach Dairy and Honey Creek Creamery, as well as farms like Swallow’s Nest Farm and Lone Tree Farm. Most places are located in southeast Nebraska or southwest Iowa.
Homemade flavors range from classics like cookies and cream to some seasonal options. If you want to try something “Omahan,” try the butterbrickel, which was created in Omaha in the 1920s. Coneflower deserves all the rave reviews it has received. Expect a line out the door, but also expect it to be worth the wait (though, my guilty secret is going during Husker football games – no line!).
Locations: 3921 Farnam St. and a second location at Millwork Commons, 1241 Millwork Ave.
2. Ted and Wally’s
I’m pretty loyal to Ted and Wally’s, which has a location in the Old Market and in Benson. The OG Ted and Wally’s is the Old Market location. Both have a vintage feel to them, with neon signs, old equipment and other fun decor. The family-owned shop has been around since 1984.
The flavors rotate regularly and some can be pretty radical combinations. They let you sample a few, so be a little daring and try the strangest one you can find. Maybe one with breakfast cereal in it. I’m a traditionalist and swear by their Dutch chocolate – it’s the best in the world. Yes, the world. Ted and Wally’s also typically has vegan flavors to choose from.
Locations: 1120 Jackson St. and 6023 Maple St.
3. Graley’s Creamery
Graley’s Creamery & Confections has the vintage look down to an artform. The family-owned shop has a Victorian theme to it, and along with the look, a few Victorian ice cream recipes in rotation, too. Their ice cream is homemade using locally-sourced ingredients.
I tried the Ooey Gooey Butter Cake ice cream on my first visit, but you may want to try something even more unique. And if you can’t decide on just one flavor, you can order a flight of ice cream. There’s also an assortment of floats, phosphates, and just recently, ice cream sandwiches.
Location: 147 N. Washington St., Papillion, Neb.
Perhaps you saw eCreamery on “Shark Tank”? Their Shark Bait ice cream is legendary, and well worth sampling, if not just getting yourself a waffle cone of it. You can sample other flavors of unique ice cream, gelato, and sorbet.
eCreamery is a hip place in the Dundee neighborhood with bright colors and large windows overlooking Underwood Avenue. It’s a regular stop for my family if we happen to be playing at nearby Memorial Park. For those always up for a challenge, eCreamery has the Dundee Challenge – eat 12 scoops of ice cream in 20 minutes.
Location: 5001 Underwood Ave. You may also come across their ice cream truck, which sells Carson’s Cookies, eCreamery ice cream, and the decadent combo of both, ice cream cookie sandwiches.
5. Dairy Chef
This Elkhorn, Neb., ice cream shop continues to pop up every time I ask the question, “Where’s the best ice cream in Omaha.” It has a loyal following, for sure. Dairy Chef is a soft-serve ice cream shop in a town just west of Omaha. They’re known for their insanely tall twist cones but offer so much more than that. I like their ice cream sandwiches with candy bits rolled into the sides.
Most people walk up to the ice cream shop window to order and then enjoy their treats at one of the picnic tables outside. Once a month in the summer, they’ll screen a movie outdoors, too.
Location: 3223 N. 204th St., Elkhorn, Neb.
This ice cream shop in Council Bluffs, Iowa, has a following, and like Dairy Chef, always comes up when I’m talking about homemade ice cream. They’re regularly voted The Daily Nonpareil’s Readers Choice (The Nonpareil is Council Bluffs’ newspaper). Doozie’s also wins for its location: It’s right by Lake Manawa State Park. They just completed major renovations there, and announced they’ll be open year-round. A win for everybody.
Location: 321 Comanche St., Council Bluffs, Iowa
Christy Creme is a neighborhood ice cream shop in Council Bluffs with all the usual frozen treats, plus one special draw: A rotating selection of sherbert. The flavor changes each day, giving you all the more reason to return again soon. One of their most popular times to visit is during Dog Days in August. Bring your four-legged kid with you for it.
Location: 2853 N. Broadway, Council Bluffs, Iowa
Countryside Cones is one of the newer ice cream shops to open in Omaha. It is a darling ice cream shop in the Countryside Village shopping center. You can opt for a custard or vegan cone, or for the Disney fans out there, a Dole Whip. There aren’t a whole lot of flavor options, which is one of their downfalls. But, there are several toppings to choose from to make up for it.
Location: 8721 Countryside Plaza, Omaha, Neb.
Creative Culture DIY
Creative Culture DIY is primarily an art studio to paint pottery or make a cool wreath in downtown Omaha. But, they also serve monster milkshakes. You know, the kind that comes with a slice of cake and cookie sticking out of the top. It’s way too much for one person to drink, but my kids and I tried our best anyway. Flavors include Oreo, Coffee, Birthday Cake and S’mores.
They opened in the summer of 2023 and when we visited, were still getting their bearings with things. Shakes came out one by one, with the first one being finished before the next one arrived. Luckily, everyone was painting so there was stuff to do while we waited.
Location: 1410 Howard St., Omaha
The Durham Museum
For old-fashioned root beer floats, you’ve got to go to the soda fountain at The Durham Museum. It’s one of those Omaha experiences you just have to do. If you don’t like the taste of root beer, like myself, there are phosphates and sundaes for you to try instead.
Note that it’s in a museum, so you will have to pay museum admission – might as well explore while you’re there.
Location: 801 S. 10th St., Omaha
Freezing Thai Rolled Ice Cream
For something a little different, there’s rolled ice cream. The way Freezing makes its ice cream sundaes is an impressive process, but in my opinion, the flavor isn’t nearly as good as the first three on the list.
Location: 1918 S. 67th St.
Mixins Rolled Ice Cream
Mixins Rolled Ice Cream gets even more decadent than Freezing when it comes to their sundaes. Toppings are over the top. It’s all good fun if you want a memorable sundae.
Location: 1405 Jackson St, Omaha
Zen Coffee Co.
Coffee shops aren’t my first choice for ice cream, either. But for a jolt of energy with your ice cream, head to Zen Coffee to get an affogato, which is typically vanilla ice cream (or gelato) and a shot of espresso. Zen Coffee uses Ted and Wally’s ice cream, so it’s delish.
Locations: 230 S. 25th St., suite 3; 2505 S. 133rd Plaza; and 10309 Pacific St.
When indulging in Omaha’s ice cream scene, it’s not just about where you go but also how you go about it. Here’s some inside scoop (pun intended) from locals to maximize your sweet adventures:
- Off-Peak Hours: Just like any hidden gem,Omaha’s top ice cream spots can get crowded, especially on weekends and hot summer days. If you can, visit on a weekday evening for a quieter experience. Or, as a tip I included with going to Coneflower Creamery, go on a Husker game day.
- Samples: Don’t be shy about asking for samples. Most parlors are proud of their flavors and happy to let you try before you buy. It’s a great way to discover a new favorite.
- Seasonal surprises: Keep an eye out for seasonal flavors. Local fruits and festivities often inspire limited-time offerings, and they’re worth the wait. Coneflower Creamery is one known for using fruits grown at local orchards and farms.
- Go beyond the waffle cone: While ice cream cones are iconic, don’t overlook other treats like sundaes, shakes, or ice cream sandwiches. Diversifying your order can lead to delightful discoveries.
Omaha isn’t just rich in arts and culture, but also in flavors, particularly those of the frozen delight we all love. From time-honored parlors that echo stories of the past to contemporary spots pushing the boundaries of taste, Omaha’s ice cream scene is a testament to the community’s love for genuine quality and innovation. The next time the sun shines a tad brighter or you find yourself craving a sweet escape, you know just where to go. Here’s to many more ice cream adventures in this great city!
Do any local ice cream shops sell ice cream cakes?
Yes, but not many do. Coneflower Creamery will occasionally make special order ice cream cakes. For Valentine’s Day in 2023, they offered mini ice cream cakes that served two (flavors were raspberry passionfruit and dark chocolate salted caramel). Their cakes are only available for a limited time, so order as soon as you see they’re offering it!
There’s a newer ice cream place I’ve yet to visit, and all they do is frozen cakes! D&D Ice Cream, 2626 Dewey Ave., is a small business ran by a father and daughter duo, and their ice cream cakes come in seven flavors: Big brownie, cookie dough, cookies n cream, Kraze Ande, Reese’s, Snickers, and strawberry dream.
Are there any ice cream shops in Omaha that offer dairy-free or vegan options?
Yes! Some of the best ice cream shops in Omaha have dairy-free and vegan options. Ted and Wally’s makes their vegan ice cream with pure coconut milk. Sorbet is another good, vegan bet at ice cream shops and you can usually find at least one flavor at Coneflower Creamery, eCreamery, and Christy Creme.
Centi, a gelato shop inside Hardy Coffee in the Old Market, usually has a vegan gelato and a sorbet on their menu.
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If you like this list, you’ll probably like my post about the best places to find chocolate in Omaha. Several of these ice cream shops make the list. Or branch out and seek the best ice cream in the state. Here’s a list of unique Nebraska ice cream shops worth the road trip!