New Yorkers don't often end up with a naked scoop on a sugar cone, and that's because we expect the works from our favorite ice cream shops—and no, we’re not just talking sprinkles. Options at the best ice cream shops for kids in New York City range from the whimsical (think gelato in the shape of a flower) and the obsessively pure (locally sourced milk pasteurized and infused on-site) to the just plain bananas (care for some Sriracha on your sundae?). Don't worry—they all offer classic favorites, too. See our Time Out Kids ice cream taste test to see local kiddos taste some of the city's quirkier flavors while you're at it, and if you're also in need of a more substantial snack, visit one of the best 50 family restaurants in NYC or cruise our list of New York pizza for families.
This ice-cream paradise brings your kids' favorite treat to the next level with an ever-rotating menu of outrageous flavors crafted on-site from the freshest ingredients. Figuring out what to order is the hard part—we suggest the Munchies, with pretzels, potato chips, Ritz crackers and mini M&Ms. You could order your ice cream in a plain ol' cup, but why would you when you can get it on a warm brownie? The new location in Gowanus has booths and counter seating, but take your treats up to the outdoor roof deck where the kids can pedal an ice cream–churning bike and take in stunning views of the Manhattan skyline frame by the Gowanus Canal below. The shop is also home to a huge production facility; little ones (and their parents) will love watching the ice cream being made. Get excited for a new outpost at Bubby's High Line in the Meatpacking district, opening spring 2016!
The fact that inspiration for this new ice cream shop came from its pregnant co-owner’s midnight food cravings explains a lot: Here, you’ll find kooky combos like chorizo caramel swirl (you’ll swear you just ate Brazilian) and a spicy lime tarragon sorbet made the old-fashioned way. Milk, which is locally sourced and pasteurized in-house, is infused with flavor even before the freezing process begins. Inspired by old-school soda fountains, Mason fills the lofty beige room with vintage accents, including a chalkboard menu, custom wooden stools and dangling schoolhouse lights. Steer kids to the maple bacon pecan, mango or aromatic strawberry lavender sorbet, or splurge for the to-die-for cornbread sundae, topped with blueberry compote, maple syrup and bacon-scented whipped cream, and nab a seat at the red-topped counter for house-made sodas and thick shakes spun from the daily offerings.
We're on the fence as to whether our favorite invention from Momofuku pastry chef Christina Tosi is her crack pie or the ice cream version of her silly-brilliant, much-copied dessert invention, the Cereal Milk shake. Like the addictive drink after which it's named, the ice cream base is made by steeping toasted Corn Flakes in organic whole milk to give it its familiar yet decadent, trademark flavor and adding a bit of salt and sugar; then it's poured whipped in the soft-serve machine. Have your cone garnished with toasted Corn Flake crunch, which adds both flavor and bite to the creamy indulgence
Ice cream "petals" fashioned into rose blooms are the signature of this Italian gelateria, the first U.S. location of a large European chain. Pick a few flavors for your flower-shaped gelato—the shop offers 22 of them, including chocolate-hazelnut, amarena cherry and Brazilian coffee. The artisanal scoops boast top-notch ingredients, such as organic eggs, Madagascar bourbon vanilla and Ecuadoran Grand Cru chocolate.
If you're trying to keep on top of your family's daily fat allowance but are overcome with a need for the comfort of creamy, house-made ice cream, head to the West Village's Victory Garden, a shop that feels like it belongs in the countryside. Its soft-serve, made from local goats' milk and other farm-fresh ingredients, is inspired by Anatolian dondurma, a supersmooth yet toothsome ice cream frequently flavored with herbal treats like lavender or mastic, a Mediterranean plant resin. Owner Sophia Brittan, who chose goat milk over cows' for its lower fat content, easy digestibility and flavor, offers several flavors year-round—among them kid favorites salty caramel and chocolate, which can be swirled together in a cone or cup (pictured), plus our personal favorite, Tangy Goat Milk (technically, this one's a frozen yogurt but don't tell the kids).
Ice-cream truckers Doug Quint and Bryan Petroff offer their quirky soft-serve creations in a small East Village shop—the pair pads their menu with sweet treats from flea-market friends: La Newyorkina (ice pops), Melt Bakery (ice cream sandwiches) and Danny Macaroons. Bonus: This location boasts a giant unicorn mural bedazzled with 6,000 Swarovski crystals.
This Brooklyn ice cream shop relocated to the East Village, but the flavors didn’t change. Enjoy classic picks like Vanilla and Chocolate alongside the more quirky Wasabi. Ginger, Corn, Tiramisu and Black Sesame. There's also non-fat and no-sugar-added ice cream in addition to frozen yogurt! Last but not least, little ones will be happy to know that they can sample any flavor they want before selecting their perfect cone.
The small-batch wares at this Brooklyn mini-chain are crafted on a Hudson Valley farm from organic dairy and sugar. Kids can top the cold stuff with all-natural, often locally harvested toppings, including honey, hot fudge, sea salt, Nunu chocolates or, for the very adventurous, balsamic vinegar.
Il Laboratorio del Gelato offers a huge selection of handmade, small-batch gelato. The kiddos may prefer flavors like dulce de leche, chocolate, passion fruit and watermelon while the grownups might go for orange hibiscus, coconut, bourbon pecan or baileys. The shop also offers super unusual picks like avocado, cashew, earl grey and celery for adventurous eaters.
Morgenstern offers a contemporary twist on your average ice cream parlor, boasting serious attention to texture, flavor and use of natural ingredients. The ice cream hotspot offers ice cream cakes in addition to ice cream flavors like Blueberry Labne, Coffee Caramel, Strawberry Durian and Salted Pretzel Caramel.
Perfect for little ones who just can’t decide between a soft baked cookie and a cold summery treat, the crafty Melt Bakery serves up a delicious dose of both. As the only shop in the city that sells ice cream sandwiches exclusively, you might expect business to lag behind other, more traditional shops, but owner Julian Plyter is confident in two things: “They’re perfect for kids because they aren’t messy at all. Parents love that!”—plus, he swears he makes the only (correct) Snickerdoodle in Manhattan. Kid favorites here include the Lovelet, a red velvet whoopee pie with cream cheese ice cream and the Classic (with chocolate chip walnut cookies). Most sandwiches also come in mini sizes.