Free Van Leeuwen ice cream giveaway LA Zoo with Stitch Fix Stitch Kids
Photograph: Courtesy Van Leeuwen

The best ice cream shops in NYC

Brighten your (ahem!) sundae with the best ice cream shops in NYC for kids. Smiles are guaranteed!

By Rebecca Jennings, Lee Magill, Allie Early, Dorkys Ramos, Danielle Valente and Oliver Strand
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Call before making a visit, as hours and services are subject to change. 

What does it take to be counted among the best ice cream shops in New York? The quality of the ice cream, for one. The creativity and variety of flavors, for another. But more than that, you need to have the right disposition: Ice cream is the ultimate childhood treat, the stuff of lasting memories.

In other words, the ice cream shops on this list know they're scooping up magic. It doesn't matter if your kid orders a simple vanilla soft-serve, or a eyes-bigger-than-their-stomach sundae, or one of the best milkshakes in NYC, a visit to one of these ice cream shops and old-school soda fountains will be the highlight of the day!

Our advice? Let the kiddos get some playtime in first with a visit to one of the 50 best playgrounds NYC families must visit, or one of the best water playgrounds for kids in NYC. Sometimes it's that easy to have the best day ever.

Best ice cream shops in NYC for kids

morgensterns, salted caramel pretzel standard
morgensterns, salted caramel pretzel standard
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

1. Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream

Restaurants Ice cream parlors Lower East Side

Morgenstern is a contemporary twist on your classic 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 Milk Chocolate, Vietnamese Coffee, Durian Banana and Salted Pretzel. The original location on Rivington St is going strong, while the newer and larger flagship on Houston St has plenty of outdoor seating.

Roberta’s Sticky Bun & Bacon at OddFellows Ice Cream Co.
Roberta’s Sticky Bun & Bacon at OddFellows Ice Cream Co.
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

2. OddFellows Ice Cream Co.

Restaurants Ice cream parlors Williamsburg

Here you’ll find kooky combos like chorizo caramel swirl 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. 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.

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Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream
Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream
Photograph: Roxana Marroquin

3. Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream

Restaurants Ice cream parlors Boerum Hill

This popular artisanal chainlet got its start as a pair of roving trucks. Its second brick-and-mortar location, a sunny café in Boerum Hill, is outfitted with black-walnut tables, pendant lighting and a glass-paneled facade. Kiddos will definitely dig the vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and mint chip, and for more sophisticated palates (ahem, parents), there are also picks like Currants and Cream, Ceylon Cinnamon and Gianduja. Count us in! 

Mister Dips Block Party
Mister Dips Block Party
Photo by Noah Fecks

4. Mister Dips

Restaurants Hamburgers Greenpoint

This burger and soft-serve stand operates out of a 1974 Airstream trailer that's parked on the rooftop park of the William Vale Hotel elevated promenade. There are juicy burgers, and here are waffle fries, but you're here for the “dairy dips” ice-cream cones that come in flavors like Jacker-Crax (buttered caramel popcorn with salted peanuts) and Hawaii Five-0 (Tahitian vanilla scoops with pineapple preserve and toasted coconut). A second location in the Seaport District is scheduled to open.

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962.fd.amplehills018.jpg
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

5. Ample Hills Creamery

Restaurants Midtown West

This dessert paradise brings ice cream to the next level with a rotating menu of flavors crafted from the freshest ingredients. 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 location in Gowanus has booths and counter seating, but take your treats to the outdoor roof deck where you can take in stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, or you can swing by the stand on Pier 5 at the Brooklyn Bridge Park, where the menu is smaller but the views are even more majestic.

Photograph: Courtesy Mari Spiker

6. Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain

Restaurants Ice cream parlors Carroll Gardens

This old-timey soda fountain shop offers a dreamy menu of ice creamy treats including floats with soda made in-house and Adirondack Creamery ice cream. Grab a stool at the counter and watch your sundaes be handcrafted right in front of you. You can always make a meal of it, and start with a grilled cheese or other lunch counter fare.

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Soft Swerve
Soft Swerve
Photograph: Courtesy Soft Swerve

7. Soft Swerve

Restaurants Ice cream parlors Lower East Side

As the name suggests, Soft Serve specializes in soft-serve ice cream. But it's so much more than your standard vanilla-or-chocolate setup: The Asian-inspired flavors include purple yam, Hong Kong milk tea, black sesame, matcha and so much more. Soft Swerve has four locations and counting. 

laboratoriodelgelato003.jpg
laboratoriodelgelato003.jpg
Photograph: Virginia Rollison

8. Il Laboratorio del Gelato

Restaurants Ice cream parlors Lower East Side

The long list of flavors available at this Lower East Side locale is enough to make anyone’s mouth water: lavender honey, banana chocolate chip and maple walnut, to name a few. Little ones looking for something out-of-the-ordinary can taste any of bizarre flavors like wasabi and sweet potato while the grown-ups cool off with a cup of chocolate amaretto crunch, bourbon pecan and vanilla rum.

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Toast and Jam at Davey’s Ice Cream
Toast and Jam at Davey’s Ice Cream
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

9. Davey's Ice Cream

Restaurants Ice cream parlors East Village

This colorful East Village outpost is the brainchild of graphic-designer-turned-dessert-maven David Yoo who takes his ice cream very seriously, churning out all-natural sweet cream-based parlor classics like Salted Caramel and Roasted Pistachio. But if you’re looking for high-gear decadence, go straight for their signature Peanut Butter Pie Milkshake—a heavenly blend of Mexican vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, whipped cream and an entire slice of peanut butter pie.

Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
Photograph: Ali Garber

10. Chinatown Ice Cream Factory

Restaurants Ice cream parlors Chinatown

A family-run Chinatown institution for more than 30 years, this popular scoop shop sells offbeat flavors like black sesame, lychee and avocado.

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Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

11. Big Gay Ice Cream Shop

Restaurants Ice cream parlors East Village

What started as an ice cream truck expanded into a brick-and-mortar shop in the East Village. Today, their refreshing treats can also be found in the West Village and Philadelphia’s Center City. Beat the heat with rich flavors like the Rocky Roadhouse Cone, chocolate ice cream with toasted almonds, melted chocolate chunks and mini marshmallows. If you’d rather savor their desserts slowly and over the course of several days—if you can resist devouring it all in one sitting—ice cream pints in seven flavors can be ordered order online or through retailers across New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

Photograph: Courtesy Lizz Kuehl

12. Blue Marble Ice Cream

Restaurants Ice cream parlors Greenwood

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 daring, balsamic vinegar.

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Photograph: Courtesy Dina Joanna Coloma

13. CoolMess

Things to do Birthday parties Lenox Hill

CoolMess puts hungry customers in the driver's seat and lets them choose the basics that lead to a great sundae: the foundation, a vanilla, chocolate or strawberry sorbet, followed by a myriad of toppings. Play it safe with chocolate sprinkles and gummy bears or really amp things up with Reese's sauce, Oreo cookie crumbs or chocolate pretzels. This Instagram-worthy venue is the perfect spot to host a party, so keep it mind for your little one's upcoming birthday bash!

Photograph: Courtesy Milk & Cream Cereal Bar

14. Milk & Cream Cereal Bar

News Eating

OK, OK, so this might be a cereal bar, but you have plenty of options to spice up the breakfast dish with a cone or cup of your favorite ice cream. If you so choose, we highly recommend trying a scoop of your favorite flavor and pairing it with your go-to cereal cereal (yep, unhealthy options like Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Puffs are among the options), adding a fun topping like chocolate chips or Teddy Grahams and rounding out the fun with a chocolate or strawberry caramel drizzle. 

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805.fd.momofukumilkbar01.jpg
Photographer: Virginia Rollison

15. Milk Bar

Restaurants Bakeries Williamsburg

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

16. People's Pops

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You’ll never go back to artificially-flavored sugary popsicles after a taste from any of People’s Pops’ offerings. Seasonal flavors such as strawberry basil and blackberry pear ginger are handmade in Brooklyn using fruits bought at NYC greenmarkets, herbs and organic cane sugar. These options are certainly a notch up from what your kids get at camp!

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Eddie's Sweet Shop
Eddie's Sweet Shop
Photograph: Joanna Fantozzi

17. Eddie's Sweet Shop

This old-school Queens venue will take you back to the good 'ol days with its quaint ambiance and fun selections such as egg creams (yum), sundaes, malteds and classic cups and cones. All the ice cream is made in house—this is the real deal, a taste of ice cream from another era.

Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock/Svetlana Foote

18. Egger's Ice Cream

The Staten Island go-to—which first came into existence in 1932, but has since changed locations—has been satisfying families everywhere with hand-made ice cream cakes, classic candies you can no longer find in the stores and events such as open mics and workshops that the whole gang will love. 

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19. Melt Bakery

Restaurants Ice cream parlors Lower East Side

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.

20. Dichter Pharmacy Soda Shoppe

Restaurants Inwood

Manny Rameriz started working at Dichter’s as a delivery boy in 1982, when he was a student at Bronx Science High School. He took it over in 2007, becoming the caretaker of a neighborhood institution that opened in 1943. But Dichter’s isn’t a quaint nostalgia trip, it’s a busy pharmacy and lunch counter where members of the community come to grab a sandwich and a black and white cookie, or sit and linger over the Manny RX, a signature sundae big enough to share.

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sundaesandcones001.jpg
Photograph: Virginia Rollison

21. Sundaes and Cones

Restaurants Ice cream parlors East Village

This East Village ice cream shop offers classic picks like vanilla and chocolate and then turns the tables with quirky offerings such as wasabi, ginger, corn, tiramisu and black sesame. There's also non-fat and no-sugar-added ice cream or frozen yogurt if you're feeling like going that route! Last but not least, little ones will be happy to know that they can sample any flavor they want before selecting their perfect cone.

More fun for kids

Photograph: Courtesy Kellogg's

Kellogg’s NYC

Restaurants Midtown West

Most of our early years were fortified with sugary cereals from the Kellogg’s family: Corn Pops, Cocoa Krispies, Frosted Flakes, Raisin Bran, on and on. So when the brand opened up a store near Times Square in 2016, they made all our childhood dreams come true with our favorite flavors and “Kid at Heart Boosts” like chocolate sauce, cookie dough, graham crackers and Pop Tart crumble. Mix your own bowl or select one of their own, such as Birthday Cake (Frosted Flakes, yellow cake mix, vanilla syrup and rainbow sprinkles) or Life in Color (Fruit Loops, lime zest, marshmallows and passion fruit jam). Recipes were developed by Milk Bar’s own cereal milk genius Christina Tosi so you know it’s going to taste better than you remember.

Photograph: Courtesy Milk & Cream Cereal Bar

Milk & Cream Cereal Bar

Restaurants Little Italy

A new addition to the budding cereal bar craze, this Little Italy cafe dishes out 18 types of cereals, including faves like Trix, Lucky Charms and Honey Nut Cheerios. Top your pick with drizzles or any of 18 toppings, which include other cereal to mix into your bowl. Pick from a menu of specials that include The Big Apple Pie, a blend of Apple Jacks, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and granola topped with apple and caramel drizzle. Or just convert your cereal bowl cravings into a taste for cereal ice cream or milkshake instead.

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Photograph: Courtesy Kith Treats

Kith Treats

Restaurants Park Slope

When street gear and sneaker store Kith opened up shop in Prospect Heights, it added a cereal bar to the mix. Kith Treats Cereal Bar offers 23 different cereals, including classics like Fruity Pebbles and Cinnamon Toast Crunch, 21 toppings and four milk options. Not only can you make custom cereal combos, but other cereal-based goodies like cereal ice cream swirls and cereal milkshakes are also on the menu. The Brooklyn shop features a menu of special mixes created by celebs and friends of the brand while their newest location, Nike x Kith Shop in Lower Manhattan, is a partnership that combines the sneaker brand’s iconic elements with Kith’s rise in cereal expertise.

Photograph: Courtesy Milk Bar

Momofuku Milk Bar

Restaurants Bakeries Williamsburg

Momofuku’s sister dessert shop has been driving the masses crazy with its cereal milk, which tastes like the milk at the bottom of a bowl of cornflakes. You can drink Milk Bar’s cereal milk straight up (there’s even a DIY cereal milk mix) or in a cup of soft serve ice cream made with the special milk, cornflakes, brown sugar and salt.

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Photograph: Courtesy Yelp + Ankita K

Snowdays Shaved Cream Co

Restaurants Ice cream parlors East Village

The cross between ice cream and shaved ice has made a tasty impact on the NYC dessert scene, largely thanks to success of Snowdays. The company puts an unconvential twist on typical ice cream parlours with its shaved cream offerings—ranging in flavors from chocolate and mint oreo to roasted black sesame and sweet milk. Speaking of milk, what goes better with the dairy product than cereal? Choose a flavor as the base of your dessert, add a breakfast vibe with Fruity Pebbles, Lucky Charms or Cap'n Crunch and don't forget to sweeten things up with marshmallows, wafers, M&Ms, fruit and drizzles of honey, fruit puree and more. These dessert-breakfast hybrids are welcome at any point during the day! 

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp + The Bean

The Bean

Restaurants Coffee shops East Village

From acai bowls and breakfast burritos to smoothies and muffins, The Bean is the ideal place to make a pitstop first thing in the morning. Whether you're craving something sweet or healthy, you're bound to find a new favorite order. Kids will swoon over the cereal bars—made from Rice Krispie Treats, Fruity Peebles and Cinnamon Toast Crunch respectively. Plus, the shop's version of PopTarts make for a super sweet start to the morning. You'll probably have a difficult time making a selection, so we recommend the acai bowls during the week and sweet and savory treats to summon those weekend vibes. 

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Photograph: Courtesy Yelp + Sam's Fried Ice Cream

Sam's Fried Ice Cream

Restaurants Ice cream parlors Lower East Side

When a banana split won't cut it, spice up your dessert with a visit to Sam's Fried Ice Cream. The Chinatown staple is well-known for its atypical take on ice cream—a crunchy exterior and cool, creamy interior that begs you to take a bite. Customers can opt for a breakfast twist on their selections with treats such as the vanilla Fruity Pebbles milkshake, Fruity Pebbles crust, strawberry ice cream with cornflakes and much more. 

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