Nothing soothes the soul quite like a scoop, cone or mixture named after a weather event.
The Brass Fountain
122 E Main St, Solon
An ode to the soda fountains and malt shops of a bygone era, The Brass Fountain tastes like a trip to the past. And since it’s run by Brix owner Nick Craig, you know it’s not sacrificing style or substance. The sundaes, shakes, egg creams and floats served with housemade sodas come in the classic tall glass cups, and scoops of hard-packed ice cream are served in stemmed glass bowls. The classic plating matches the restaurant’s sharp, bright, retro decor. But come on, if the ice cream weren’t great, who’d care? The mint chocolate chip-based Cookie Monster sundae is delightfully over the top, served with cookie crumbles, hot fudge and blue sprinkles.
The Fountain even has an impressive list of alcohol-infused ice cream dishes like the Bananas Foster Shake: vanilla ice cream and flambéed bananas spiked with rum and caramel. Try saying no to that.
Dan and Debbie’s Creamery
1600 Main St, Ely
Dan and Debbie’s Creamery gets their dairy straight from the owners’ milk cows. That is as local an ice cream product as you can get, and you can taste it. The richness in just the basic vanilla bean ice cream is worth experiencing alone. Their Coffee Oreo brings two flavors you never knew you needed together in one scoop. The Peaches and Cream is sharp and sweet like a good peach should be. All of these flavors are made in small batches; you’ll rarely see some of the limited flavors in consecutive visits. It’s right near a bike trail that goes to Cedar Rapids’ Czech Village, so burn some calories on the bike to make room for Dan and Debbie’s. Just don’t forget to buy some of their classic cream-topped milk for home!
202 E Washington St, Washington
This klassic ice kream joint is open seasonally, spring through fall. There’s something simple but magic about small-town ice cream stores like Korner Kremery, the kind of place where older couples come to remember past dates, and high school students go after class. Korner Kremery earns its multigenerational fanbase with a laundry list of dramatic hard-pack ice creams. The bright swirl of bold colors in the Superman ice cream tastes like cereal on a Saturday morning, while their Birthday Cake flavor with chunks of batter may actually beat a slice of cake.
Get any scoop served in a big waffle cone. Try their twist on the Dairy Queen Blizzard, the Cyclone, or sip a cereal milkshake. Conveniently kitty-corner from the world’s oldest continuously running movie theater, the Fridley State Theater, take a drive and see why Washington has one of the best downtowns in the state.
743 10th St, Marion
Do it for the ‘gram! Head to Frydae for a treat and photo shoot, that is. The cups and cones are piled high here—just look at their already-iconic Glampfire sundae with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, graham cracker crumbs and lightly charred marshmallows on top. The Cake Shake has a cake pop sticking out of it, and the Everything But the Cookie Jar shake has full chocolate-chip cookies on top.
But their aggressively fun presentations give way to hugely sweet and bold flavors. Frydae’s strawberry purée-infused Strawberry Short Shake could trick you into thinking it’s spring in February. With a wide variety of loaded French fries on the menu as well, we won’t blame you if Frydae becomes your favorite indulgent dinner spot.
1430 Willow Creek Ct, Iowa City
How do Iowa Citians know that summer is coming? The hot temperatures? The UI students leaving? The mosquitoes? Nope, it’s the opening of Dane’s Dairy, which usually opens in late April and closes for the season in early October.
In business since 1960, this veritable snack shack has become a townie favorite due to its classic flavors and inexpensive prices. Soft serve here is king, and prices are partially why: $1 kid cones, $2 regular cones. Their $3.50 waffle cone is packed with so much soft serve it could probably sedate a bear, but it’s exactly what you want soft serve to be. With no indoor dining space, Dane’s becomes a community lawn where families, couples and friend groups mill around, dripping ice cream on grass and picnic tables. That may sound messy, but it’s also peak summer in Iowa City.
Don’t Miss These Spots!
For an ice cream after a day’s adventure at FW Kent Park:
Jon’s Ice Cream Store & Restaurant
231 W Marengo Rd, Tiffin
Open seasonally, spring through fall.
The blackberry hand-dipped ice cream (a specialty flavor that rotates in) is a standout on a packed menu. When it shows up, clear your calendar. If it’s not on offer just yet, never fear — Jon’s soft serve is great, as are their other specialty ice creams and sundaes.
For the classic scoop shop feel:
Heyn’s Ice Cream
811 S 1st Ave, Iowa City
25 E Cherry St, North Liberty
Their housemade ice cream packs a creamy flavorful punch and the charming hand-drawn flavor signs at the Iowa City shop are the cherry on top of the sundae that is Heyn’s.
For a truly classic milkshake:
Parlor City Ice Cream
1936 42nd St NE, Cedar Rapids
Open seasonally, spring through fall.
It takes some work to narrow down your choice from the dizzying array of flavors, but the shakes are damn good and worth the order-induced anxiety.