PHLGuide

The Best Ice Cream & Frozen Treats In Philadelphia

Where to get a creamy, frozen, swirly dessert in Philly.
The Best Ice Cream & Frozen Treats In Philadelphia image

photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo

Philly has a history of fantastic frozen desserts, including (but not limited to) the Choco Taco and of course, water ice. But sometimes you just really need something creamy and silky smooth on a hot day. Fortunately, Philadelphia is also home to great ice cream, popsicles, and chilly sandwiches, whether on the go or after an epic meal. So we put together this list—the 18 best places for bingsu, shaved ice, soft serve, sundaes, and more. 

THE SPOTS

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

Ice Cream

Rittenhouse

$$$$Perfect For:Walk-InsTakeawayLiterally EveryoneQuick EatsDessertSerious Take-Out Operation
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A good cup or cone of soft serve makes you feel like you walked in with the A/C cranked up after a sweltering day. That’s exactly how we feel after eating at 1-900-ICE CREAM, making it the best soft serve in town. The Rittenhouse and Fishtown locations serve creamy, delicious flavors like sort-of-salty chocolate, birthday cake batter, and Dankaroo (with cookie crumbles and a frosting shell) as well as ice cream bricks and several take-home pints.

Both The Franklin Fountain and The Franklin Ice Cream Bar are full of antiques that make you feel like you’ve stepped into a 1920s ice cream parlor (or happen to be on the set of Peaky Blinders). But aside from the time warp, this place is pretty unique—all your scoops or cones come in their signature Chinese takeout boxes, and it’s some of the best ice cream in town. We prefer their soft serve, which you can have dipped in chocolate, covered with sprinkles, or doused in old-school hot fudge. However you order it, it’s special, just like all the players on your third-grade soccer team.

There might be other places in Reading Terminal Market that serve ice cream, but none of them matter next to Bassett’s. The stand has been in the same place at the front of the market since 1892, which means it predates college basketball, the rotary dial, and airplanes. All of their flavors are super rich and creamy, like butter pecan, raspberry truffle, and a kind-of-spicy cinnamon. They usually have a line, but it moves quickly, so don’t wander off just because the bakery across the way has no wait.

Weckerly’s is an old-fashioned scoop shop on Girard in Fishtown. And given how delicious it is, it doesn’t get nearly as much foot traffic as it should. They specialize in small batches of seasonal flavors, like honeysuckle and cinnamon toasted oats, which means you don’t really know what you’re going to get when you walk through the door—but we’ve never had a flavor that we don’t love. The best thing they do here is their ice cream sandwiches, which change just about as often as their flavors do, and have ridiculous crusts made out of things like shortbread and coffee cake.

This small Passyunk Square ice cream shop is probably the most popular one in the neighborhood. And the crowds aren’t wrong—it’s f*cking delicious. You can get waffle cones, pints, and ice cream sandwiches packed with flavors like cookie butter, Earl Grey with honeycomb, and Girl Scout peanut butter cookie. While many places try to do unique flavors like this, very few shops succeed in such a way that we could happily come back day after day. 

Fishtown’s Float Dreamery doesn’t have a shop. You order the daily flavors from a small window, so it’s very much like waiting behind the curtain for The Wizard of Oz to grant you a wish (except instead of Auntie Em and a dry prairie you get vegan ice cream magic). You can get one scoop for $5, two for $9, and a perfect ice cream sandwich like tahini chip and vanilla for $6. If you’re dairy-free, it’s a slam dunk place to get flavors like mint birthday chip, lychee, ube, and mango. Just a tip—they make small batches and sell out quickly, so get there when they open at noon. 

photo credit: Gran Caffe L’Aquila

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Gran Caffe L’Aquila is an Italian spot in Rittenhouse that's open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but the real reason to come here is for the gelato. They have endless flavor options, and each spoonful has the perfect ratio of creaminess,  richness, and mix ins. If you can’t think of which flavor to go for, just know that the salted caramel will haunt your memories for weeks and will drive you to make some excuse for stopping by (like there’s a “g” in your cat’s name and one in gelato, so it must be fate).

You can get all kinds of frozen treats at this Passyunk Ave. shop, from the best sorbetto and gelati in town to cinnamon-sugar donut and strawberry cheesecake-flavored sundaes. They also have some inexplicably smooth soft serve. Top your cup of twisty vanilla or chocolate with sprinkles, chocolate syrup, chocolate toffee bits, or a crunchy graham cracker dust they call “unicorn crumble.” Check out their Instagram if you need inspo.

In this town, we may think the end all, be all of ice cream creativity is rooted in twists, dips, or sprinkles (possibly jimmies depending on where you’re from). But at Manayunk’s Crust Vegan Bakery, not only do they have soft serve flavors like Thai tea ice cream, but you can put it in coconut, dark chocolate, and French vanilla waffle cones. They also have ice cream sandwiches, and if you want to really get wild, you can still make it a twist or top it with rainbow sprinkles in the end. 

Head to the side window at Small Oven Pastry Shop and choose from flavors like pistachio, honey peanut butter, cider donut, and hazelnut praline. The options here rotate weekly, so make sure you check their online calendar or you may hold up the line while trying to decide. The smooth ice cream is a great way to close out a meal here after you’ve taken down one of their classic Philly pork sandwiches.

C&C Creamery in Manayunk always has a line of people holding cones and cups full of their excellent vanilla, chocolate, twist, and pineapple Dole whip soft serve. It’s no surprise—it’s a Philly classic. The sizes here range from kiddie to a $4 large that’s a towering three-and-a-half scoops. And for just a few bucks, it’s a great deal that’s big enough to split between two people. 

Cloud Cups is a clear Fishtown standout. From the unconventional flavors—we love the mango chamoy and the banana pudding—to the anime action figures, everything inside this gelateria makes it one of the best dessert spots in the area. The flavors change weekly, but we can guarantee you’ll find something you like inside the small, cloud-print-covered shop. Open until 10pm on weekdays and 11pm on weekends, it’s a no-brainer to line up for a few creamy scoops after dinner in the neighborhood.

Do you remember when you were a kid, and your parents promised you an ice cream cone in exchange for doing something insufferable (like hugging a weird distant cousin)? Well, if the bribe involved Passyunk Square's La Guerrerense, their success rate would’ve been 100%. The Mexican ice cream shop has a sweet cream base, so it’s thick, but still smooth and rich. They have over 25 flavors, including standards like vanilla and chocolate, but where they make their mark is with ones like gansito, mamey and guava, and piñon and papaya.  

The twisty treats at Twistee Treat are literally the shape of a giant ice cream cone. So when standing in line, you get a nice preview for whatever soft serve you’re about to grab. The cash-only Northeast spot has vanilla, chocolate, swirls of orange cream, and a few other rotating flavors that you can get every day. A cone of their smooth and subtly sweet soft serve is perfect for a short trip to the waterfront at nearby Lander’s Point Park, where you can watch people cross the bridge into the land of endless diners and pumped gas.

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Suggested Reading

The Best Water Ice In Philly image

The Best Water Ice In Philly

When the heat hits and you know no other frozen treat comes close, try these nine water ice spots for Philly’s favorite dessert.

John's Water Ice image

John's Water Ice is an Italian Market-adjacent spot that's been around since 1945. Here you can get some of the best water ice in Philly on a hot day.

1-900-ICE-CREAM image

1-900-ICE-CREAM is a small shop in Rittenhouse that makes the best soft serve in Philly.

Weckerly’s Ice Cream  image

Ice cream sandwiches and a rotating list of seasonal flavors make Weckerly’s one of the best scoop shops in town.

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