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Ice Cream: Nothing Is Cooler

There are those who say Connecticut is home to the finest ice cream in America, and who are we to disagree? We’ll only add that summer is the perfect time to go find out if these reports are true. It’s also the time of year when farm-fresh flavors find their way into cones and cups. Here’s just a sampling:

Cone with a View

If you enjoy your ice cream with a view of cows grazing in nearby fields, we’ve got a few good choices for you. At Rich Farm in Oxford, the flavors on the big board change all the time, but some are tied in directly to summery traditions. Strawberry Rhubarb, for example, is produced only when rhubarb is in season. Even more special is Full Moon Chocolate, served only on nights of the full moon. Meanwhile, in nearby Newtown, Ferris Acres Creamery operates out of Fairfield County’s last remaining dairy farm. Its lineup of flavors is excellent, as are its views of cows and tractors, but the peach ice cream, made with the freshest fruit of summer, is worth a special trip.

See It Made

The University of Connecticut, now known officially as UConn, began its life as an agricultural school, and it still retains an aggie degree program and a working farm. One great thing about that is a good portion of the cream produced by the cows there gets shipped across Horsebarn Hill and directly into the ice cream-making machinery at the UConn Dairy Bar. There are many great flavors here – and the student servers know how to fill a cone – but the most distinctive is Jonathon Supreme, named for the university’s Husky mascot. It’s vanilla ice cream swirled with peanut butter and chocolate-covered peanuts.

Flavor of Favor

Toasted almond. Sometimes just those two words are enough to send some of us out on a quest. In Connecticut, the search ends at Big Dipper Ice Cream Factory in Prospect, where the late Harry Rowe’s Toasted Almond is always on the menu and never fails to bring a smile. Or, at Grass Roots in Granby, you can try more exotic and fanciful tastes, like honey lavender or Mexican hot chocolate!

Unusually Artisanal

The craze that is taking over the country has come to Fairfield and West Hartford. If you’re willing to spend a little time in line, Milkcraft will make it worth the wait. Their small batch, gluten-free ice cream is made with liquid nitrogen and served in “Hong Kong Bubble Cones.” Also in Fairfield is BE Chocolatserving homemade ice cream alongside their vast selection of award-winning sweets.

In the Country

Drive along a quiet country road past red barns and open fields, turn into a dirt driveway, and find your reward at Collins Creamery in Enfield - “on the quiet side of town,” as the Creamery puts it. The ice cream menu speaks right out loud, however, with Black Raspberry, Coconut Chocolate Chip and Rum Raisin leading the way. Or head out to the Litchfield Hills and Bantam’s Arethusa Farm where they claim to have ice cream made from the milk of the best cows in the world! (And for you city folk, be sure to try their new outpost on Chapel Street in New Haven too!)

Milkshake Advisory

There are old-school ice cream shops, and then there are old-school ice cream shops run by a school. Such is the case with Michael’s Dairy in New London, managed by students from Mitchell College. Everyone loves the milkshakes here, but we’d advise a side trip to a strawberry cheesecake cone.

Route 10 Neighbors

And let’s not forget Route 10’s very nice daily double in Hamden and Cheshire. Wentworth’s Homemade Ice Cream in Hamden has been honored as Best of Connecticut a number of times by Connecticut Magazine readers. Meanwhile, just up the street, Sweet Claude’s in Cheshire is open for its 25th year with a menu of steady faves (Claude’s Cupcake, Caramel Cashew) and occasional specials such as Girl Scout Cookie. Can’t decide which to go to? There’s no law against trying them both.

Ice Cream as a Sport

If it’s a challenge you seek, visit Mel’s Downtown Creamery in Pawcatuck. Their “Big Kahuna Challenge” is a colossal sundae with eight scoops of ice cream, seven toppings, and a list of other great goodies. Eat one on your own, and take home a t-shirt!

Wait, there’s more!

Had your fill of frozen treats but still have a sweet tooth? Head for the Connecticut Chocolate Trail! There are so many amazing traditional and artisan chocolatiers in Connecticut that we created a trail just for them. Try Fascia's Chocolates in Waterbury or Munson’s Chocolates in Manchester for a taste of the some of the finest chocolates in New England which can be enjoyed all year round.

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