When the weather gets warm, there’s one comfort food that dessert-lovers everywhere go in search for: ice cream. And while a plain ol’ scoop normally does the trick, there are some days when a shower of sprinkles just isn’t enough, and we want to pile on the hot fudge, whipped cream and a cherry on top, too. Whether you seek them out at the best ice cream shops in America, the best San Francisco restaurants or the 20 spots serving the best desserts in America, ice cream sundaes are an over-the-top treat well worth calorie-loading. From a funky olive oil sundae in San Francisco to a classic banana split in New York City, these are the best ice cream sundaes in America.
Best ice cream sundaes in America
Established in Cincinnati by street vendor Louis Graeter in 1868, this fourth-generation family business is revered by ice cream lovers across the midwest, where Graeter’s now boasts more than 50 locations. Only ever made in 2 ½ gallon batches in spite of the company’s size, the old-fashion ice cream is creamy, rich and not overly sweet. For some home-state pride, we love to dip into the Buckeye Sundae: peanut butter-chocolate chunk ice cream with fudge, whipped cream, sprinkles and a cherry on top.
This perpetually crowded spot scoops some of Portland’s favorite ice cream, in inventive flavors such as Arbequina olive oil, vanilla rose bubble tea and vegan coconut-cashew. We love the indulgent brown butter blondie sundae, piled high with the shops’ exquisite chocolate soft serve and sweet pralined hazelnuts.
This ice cream slinger sources frozen treats from Chocolate Shoppe in Madison, Wisconsin, and turns them into all manner of sundaes. But don't worry about sugar overload—the ice creams are amazingly rich and creamy on their own. The food menu also includes hot panini, crêpes and waffles.
Coppelia is Miami’s answer to Havana’s famous ice cream parlor by the same name, carrying all of the flavors (mantecado and mamey are favorites) and a variety of dishes you’d find at the original, including la Copa Lolita (a caramel flan sundae) and a suero (a super thick ice cream shake). The “ensalada”—salad—is their version of a sundae, with five scoops of ice cream plus cookie crumble, whipped cream and a cherry on top.
Walk into Scooter’s and disregard the hot dogs, Italian ice and anything else that doesn’t contain the words frozen and custard. Order a Boston shake and quiver in awe as the towering milkshake topped with hot fudge and whipped cream is handed over. As you taste how dense, thick, buttery and rich the custard is, you’ll soon be on your way to a full stomach and an ice-cream headache. And it’ll be worth it.
Wall’s is as old timey as Miami gets: modest outdoor seating, an assortment of homemade fudge and the typical variety of flavors and creations you’d expect from a 1950s parlor—from banana splits and hot fudge sundaes to classic waffle cones. Want to get your picture on Wall’s wall? Take the Great Wall of Ice Cream challenge: Finish a whopping 12 scoops plus two wet toppings, two dry toppings, bananas and brownies, all generously topped with whipped cream.
This fun, family-friendly Denver spot churns dense, creamy ice cream in comforting flavors like oatmeal cookie and peanut butter cup, and creative ones such as horchata and bourbon corn flake. Sundaes here come loaded with your choice of classically tasty toppings, including fresh whipped cream, hot fudge and caramel sauces, sprinkles, nuts and candies such as M&Ms.
This small-batch ice cream maker is beloved in the Twin Cities for its superbly creamy scoops in craveable flavors like Pavarotti (caramel-banana-vanilla ice cream with chocolate chips) and Nicollet Avenue Pothole (chocolate ice cream with caramel, fudge swirl, Heath Bar chunks and fudge truffles). If that isn’t rich enough for you, dig your spoon into one of the custom sundaes like the Chocolate Coyote: chocolate ice cream with hot fudge, whipped cream and spicy peanuts.
When you’re living in the hot, humid south, frequent ice cream-eating is a must, and bright, fun scoop shop Creole Creamery has New Orleanians covered in that category. Frequently rotating flavors show geographical influence, like King Cake, Pecan Praline and Bananas Foster. Visit with friends and go all in on the Tchoupitoulas Challenge, an eight-scoop, eight-topping wonder that’s best conquered through teamwork (though if you finish it yourself, you’ll get your name engraved on a plaque on the wall).