The restaurant scene in Washington, D.C. is a foodie’s paradise. Locals have the opportunity to experience fare from all over the world in a range of venues located right outside their doors, and that includes a seemingly endless supply of frozen treats from custard to sorbet from some of the local favorite ice cream shops in D.C..
D.C. locals’ love of ice cream can be traced to 1784, too. President George Washington loved the dessert so much he purchased a “cream machine for ice” for the White House and declared ice cream a presidential dessert. The beloved frozen treat has since played a recurring role in the city’s history, with President Ronald Reagan naming iconic real-life duo Ben and Jerry as Small Business Persons of the Year in 1987 and plenty of shops popping up all over the city throughout the decades.
Whether you prefer chocolate to strawberry, waffle over sugar cone, or soft serve over a traditional scoop, we can all agree: Nothing hits the spot like ice cream on a warm day. This quick guide will help you find a new favorite spot in your D.C. neighborhood.
9 Best Ice Cream Shops in Washington, D.C.
Visiting a local ice cream shop is the perfect escape if you’re craving something sweet, need an excuse to get out of the house, or just want to explore some new places in your neighborhood. Use this guide to find the best ice cream in D.C..
Pitango Gelato — Adams Morgan
For vegans or those looking to try a new type of frozen treat, Pitango Gelato specializes in gelato and sorbet to satisfy your sweet tooth. Gelato is an Italian dessert that contains a lower milk fat content than ice cream, while sorbet is composed of fruit juice. Pitango’s vegan sorbet is made from fresh and local fruit juice, so vegans and non-vegans will appreciate this locally sourced alternative. You can also use its catering options to treat any guest at your next event.
A few drive-in tips:
- It’s always a good idea to get there early to find a good spot.
- Some drive-in theaters have concession stands but not all. You might need to pack a small cooler and snacks.
- It’s a good idea to do your homework on concessions ahead of time so you have your favorites to enjoy while you lay back in your seats and watch the film.
Here’s the Scoop — Columbia Heights
This shop on Georgia Ave serves hand-dipped ice cream scoops in 12 flavors, including vegan options. They also offer specialty cupcakes, brownies, and many other desserts by up-and-coming bakers to keep you coming back again and again, and you can follow Here’s the Scoop on Facebook to stay up-to-date on their featured desserts. It also has catering options that are sure to please and perfect for every occasion.
Mount Desert Island Ice Cream — Mt. Pleasant
Since 2005, this nationally acclaimed creamery has been crafting artisanal, small-batch ice cream using only local and naturally sourced ingredients. It is always experimenting with new and unique flavors before churning the final product to sell in their five locations. In addition to their delicious ice cream, Mount Desert Island features up-and-coming artists’ work in their shops for patrons to enjoy and even purchase.
Nicecream — Mt. Pleasant
In addition to enjoying delicious ice cream made with quality ingredients, visitors of this unique ice cream shop in Washington, D.C. get to witness their dessert freeze from liquid to solid right before their eyes. After mixing your favorite flavors and toppings, Nicecream uses liquid nitrogen to freeze your custom-made creation in seconds. If one serving isn’t enough, pre-order a pint to enjoy at home or take advantage of the company’s catering options for your next event.
Thomas Sweet — Georgetown
This shop has served homemade ice cream and frozen yogurt with customers’ favorite toppings or “blend-ins” mixed throughout as opposed to sprinkled only on top since opening in 1979, so you get chocolate chip cookie dough, Oreo, or any other topping you choose in every bite. In addition to their frozen desserts, Thomas Sweet’s gourmet chocolates and coffee are great gifts for any occasion or an indulgent treat for yourself.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams — Dupont Circle
It’s not uncommon for this ice cream parlor to have a line around the block — and if you’ve ever tried Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, you’ll understand why! Every flavor at this shop is made with the best ingredients from the top producers and suppliers, so they don’t need to add any artificial colors or chemicals. Treat yourself to one of its delicious homemade ice cream flavors, like salty caramel and brambleberry crisp, or share the love by shipping this delicious dessert anywhere throughout the nation.
Dolcezza — Woodley Park
True fans can taste the subtle differences between gelato and ice cream. This shop’s delicious, Italian gelato and vegan sorbets are handmade in small batches every single morning using freshly squeezed citrus, creamy dark chocolate, real herbs, and roasted nuts and spices. If you’re looking for a warmer treat, Dolcezza baristas brew specialty coffee drinks, including cappuccinos and pour-overs, for you to enjoy all year round! You can also purchase your favorite flavors, like salted caramel and Stumptown Espresso, by the gallon in Dolcezza’s wholesale store.
Ice Cream Jubilee — Downtown D.C.
Victoria Lai’s love of ice cream is rooted in the cherished memories of her childhood. After attending the Pennsylvania State University Ice Cream Seminar and selling her creamy concoctions on the side, she opened her first shop to share her passion with others and bring people together through the universal love of ice cream. Ice Cream Jubilee has since grown exponentially and Lai continues to create unique flavors, such as Banana Bourbon Caramel and Honey Lemon Lavender, in addition to classics like her Bold Vanilla and Espresso Colada.
Dolci Gelati — Downtown D.C.
In 2006, pastry chef Gianluigi Dellaccio started this artisan gelato company right here in Washington, D.C. using an authentic Italian family recipe that had been passed down for generations. He utilizes fresh, seasonal ingredients delivered each morning to handcraft every flavor. Whether you want to enjoy a classic flavor, like pistachio gelato or raspberry sorbet, or are looking to try something new, like Thai Lemongrass Coconut or Peanut Butter and Jelly gelato, the Dolci Gelati shop just west of Logan Circle will satisfy your craving for this Italian dessert.
There is no shortage of delicious ice cream shops for residents to try in Washington, D.C. If you’re new to Maryland or looking to find your next home in Washington D.C., the experts are here to help. Contact us today to find out what sweet apartment deals we currently have to meet your needs.