Endless summers in Los Angeles mean nonstop cravings for the best ice cream around. Not key lime pie, not jelly donuts—ice cream. When temperatures climb and the Santa Ana winds roll in, treat yourself to the city’s tastiest frozen treats—there are plenty of options to choose from after a hike or even a sweaty yoga class. After all, what’s the point of a great workout sesh if you don’t indulge?
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L.A.’s best ice cream shops
The immaculate, all-white shop gets as creative with its ice cream flavors as its big sister cupcake bakery, which sits right next door (you know, by the cupcake ATM machine; totally normal). A rotating list of flavors is offered each week, with red velvet, Cap’n Crunch and salty caramel ranking as the most popular flavors. Just show up ready to wait in line—and keep your eye out for celebs who swear by the famed ice cream shop.
Santa Monica darling Sweet Rose Creamery’s empire is growing, now with six locations around town. Not one to play favorites, executive chef Shiho Yoshikawa brings her signature seasonal flavors to them all, where visitors can choose from farmers-market-inspired flavors such as basil, sweet corn, and ginger with caramel ripple. Classic options are on the menu as well—vanilla, salted caramel and fresh mint are all staples—but if customization is your thing, try adding one of Sweet Rose Creamery’s house-made toppings, like pecan crumble or cacao nibs.
As one of the best NYC imports to make its way to L.A., Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream operates both an ice cream truck (parked in Venice and in front of DTLA’s the Broad) and brick-and-mortars (the Arts District, Culver City and Franklin Village). The company makes star-quality ice cream in continually rotating flavors such as pistachio, earl grey tea, espresso and mint chip. Their vegan ice creams flip the stereotype of lackluster dairy-free options on its head—here, the use of raw cocoa butter makes it creamy and rich (try the chocolate peanut butter).
There are plenty of artisanal ice cream shops at our disposal in L.A., but this might be the first one that inspires us to hop on a plane. The scoops at Wanderlust Creamery in Tarzana, Atwater Village and Venice include Thai iced tea, Vietnamese coffee, and a truly phenomenal (and vegan) sticky rice with mango—essentially, the vacation you’ve been meaning to take. Everything is made in-house, including flavored cones (we’re partial to the ube and green tea options). Make the trip for a couple scoops—you won’t even need your passport.