Illinois Road Trip Round-Up – Ice Cream Spots
By Katie Arvia published July 21, 2020
We’ve been “All In for Illinois” during the pandemic, but now that we're in Phase 4, we’re ready to enjoy our state safely. Check-in every Tuesday for an Illinois Road Trip Round-Up on themed topics showcasing eighteen destinations across Illinois. This week, we’re touring some of the state's best ice cream spots! So pack up the family, bring your masks and get ready for a road trip!
Looking for a sweet treat to enjoy while visiting the Chicago Southland? Stop by Gayety’s Chocolates & Ice Cream Co. in Lansing. Originally established in Chicago in 1920, Gayety’s has been perfecting their craft for almost a century! Order off the ice cream menu or create your own delicious sundae. In Burbank, you’ll find Andy’s Frozen Custard, part of the largest desserts-only franchise in the world! Try a seasonal favorite like a Pumpkin Pie Concrete or year-round favorites like the Ozark Turtle or a Jackhammer, featuring a center filled with hot fudge! For a complete list of where to find sweet treats, including ice cream, in the Chicago Southland, click here. You’re sure to satisfy your sweet tooth in the Chicago Southland!
From gourmet flavors to old-fashioned favorites, the ice cream shops of the Aurora Area in Illinois offer the perfect way to close out a day of shopping, dining and outdoor adventure along the Fox River. Treat yourself to one or more of a rotating selection of delicious, handcrafted varieties at Charlie's Silver Spoon Creamery, a new addition to Aurora Downtown in the historic Silverplate manufacturing building. In addition to mainstays like rich chocolate and vanilla ice cream, this family-owned ice cream parlor celebrates Aurora's cultural diversity with gourmet flavor profiles inspired by the region’s eclectic mix of ethnic cuisines, like a savory fig and goat cheese and creamy avocado. Oh, and did we mention Charlie’s has a cuddly, adorable shop dog? For the full scoop on all the outstanding ice cream shops in the Aurora area, from authentic Mexican to charming riverside ice cream stands, visit EnjoyAurora.com/IceCream.
For nearly 50 years, two ice cream shops have been summer staples in the Bloomington-Normal community! Both Carl’s Ice Cream and Gene’s Dairy Delight serve up the best homemade ice cream from their traditional walk-up stands. With two locations in Bloomington-Normal, Carl’s serves over 25 of their own premium flavors including Cookie Monster, Superman and Coffee. Be sure to stop and take a picture with Carl, the 14-foot tall Muffler Man, that stands tall outside Carl’s Normal location. Gene’s Dairy Delight is known for its amazing soft-serve cones! This small shop has always been a family favorite stop on Route 66! After a day exploring Bloomington-Normal, capping it off with ice cream from one of these two shops is a sweet end to a perfect day.
VISIT CHAMPAIGN COUNTY
From The Today Show to Business Insider, it's not just Champaign County residents who love Jarling's Custard Cup. When Doug and Christy Jarling decided to retire in 2016, many called for the shop to stay open however possible – including Tom Hanks, a high profile fan of Custard Cup! Local investors helped transition the shop while still keeping the same incredible desserts. Starting with carefully selected Midwestern dairy farms and using only the finest ingredients, Jarling's artisan products are made in small batches throughout the day at the store! From sundaes and old-fashioned sodas to homemade waffle cones and baskets, there's a treat for everyone on the menu.
CHICAGO NORTH SHORE
Proud home of several family-owned ice cream shops. Graeter’s, a family business produces small batch, handcrafted, French Pot ice cream beloved for their legion of fans and new tasters alike. The two North Shore locations can be found in Northbrook and Winnetka. In Evanston, near Lake Michigan and Northwestern University, find your favorite flavor at Hartigan's Ice Cream Shoppe. Serving over 50 flavors including soft-serve yogurt and sherbets. In the mood for gelato? Visit Frio Gelato a small, unassuming storefront turning out Argentinian gelato in creative and unique flavors. Gluten and nut free. Yum!
MEET CHICAGO NORTHWEST
July is National Ice Cream Month in America – not that we need an excuse to celebrate! Fortunately, there are plenty of tasty options in Chicago Northwest for frozen treat connoisseurs. Dini's Ice Cream Shoppe in Roselle offers 40 flavors of super-premium ice cream daily! If you are more of a custard lover, Comet Custard in Rolling Meadows has some of the best custard this region can offer. Try out their daily specials! Lastly, La Michoacana showcases fabulous traditional Mexican frozen delights with locations in Wood Dale, Schaumburg and Rolling Meadows. Treat yourself today! Need even more ice cream? Check out our full list here.
Cool down at one of Effingham’s local hotspots, Homewood Grill! This family-friendly ice cream stand has been owned and operated in Effingham since 1985. Though ice cream is their specialty, Homewood has expanded in recent years to include a variety of sweet treats and delicious eats! With a menu that features everything from mini tacos to bacon cheeseburgers, fries, ice cream pies, Dole whips, shakes, slushies and soft serve in just about every flavor under the sun, you’re guaranteed to find something that will suit everyone’s taste buds. Call 217-342-4677 for hours, information, ice cream truck reservations and specialty orders.
The Elgin area screams for ice cream! We recently put out a poll for the Top 5 Places for a Frozen Treat, and we were shocked at the number of votes that came in! Taking first place was The Milk House in Pingree Grove. Those polled love their fresh, homemade ice cream made from locally sourced ingredients. Voters also mentioned they love all the new and unique flavors and flavor combinations hit the freezer very frequently. Their Movie Night ice cream for example, combines the buttery salty taste of popcorn and the chocolate flavors of candy snacks all rolled up together. And now it’s a hit! And something you can’t find anywhere else. Here’s a full list of Elgin area places to get a sweet treat while you're in town!
GREAT RIVERS AND ROUTES
Take a bite of the hot fudge, caramel, salted pecans that make up Bobby’s Turtle Sundae at Bobby’s Frozen Custard in Maryville and discover why the stand has been a local favorite for 30 years. Try the Dreamsicle Shake or fountain soda along with the standard shakes, concretes, sundaes and cones on the menu board. Custard flavors are made fresh hourly from a special recipe. Blue Ice Creamery in East Alton serves up premium, small batch ice cream made in-house. Shivers Frozen Custard in Godfrey is also a local favorite.
Between the 22 counties in ILLINOISouth, there are dozens of great places to get your ice cream fix. One of the first places that southern Illinoisans will tell you to visit is The White Cottage in Belleville. For an eye-popping experience, you can order the ‘Pig Trough’ which comes with 15 scoops of ice cream, five toppings, a Twinkie, whipped cream and a cherry on top. An entire family could eat on this and not finish it! Another popular spot is Ice Cream Korner in Iuka, which is well known for their specialty sundaes – but their claim to fame is the banana split that could easily just be a meal! Last but not least is Chilly Willy’s in Olney, which boasts a huge menu of toppings that you can add to your ice cream. You aren’t short on options at Chilly Willy’s with 16 styles of sundaes available, and 53 topping choices at your disposal. Enjoy your ice cream!
Have you noticed in the last few months that drive-thru lines have been incredibly long? Many locals are looking at ice cream as one of their favorite ways to pass time while satisfying their sweet tooth! In the Jacksonville Area it is safe to say there is no shortage of delectable ice cream treats served from one of our locally owned establishments. The Burger Board, located on Morton Avenue, will take you back to simpler times. Smashed burgers are one of their specialties paired with one of their famous shakes or better yet, try a Board Bar, which is vanilla ice cream coated with chocolate on a stick, they are a hit in Jacksonville! For a dairy-free treat, Charlie’s Ice Cream shop has you covered! Located north of the downtown square, you can grab Charlie’s version of a classic Dole whip or try a signature flavor each week. But if you are looking for that hidden gem of an ice cream shop, it is located right here in Morgan County! Travelers from all over come to experience Heavenly Delight in Murrayville, Illinois, which is famous for their “smashing delights.” Envision ice cream mixed with candy, dessert toppings, fresh fruit, etcetera, piled high above the cup! Heavenly Delight recently started offering a puppy chow smashing delight, or if you like fresh peaches, one of our neighboring counties, Calhoun County, has some of the best in the area and you guessed it, tossed right into a flavorful smashing delight! If you ever visit Heavenly Delight the lines are usually long, but the wait time is short, especially when you are visiting with a friendly crowd! Visit JacksonvilleIL.org for more travel information.
VISIT MCHENRY COUNTY
Julie Ann’s Frozen Custard is a McHenry County institution. Back in 1985, the Zielnickis started creating their hand-crafted recipe that is still used today! The flavors have taken on a creative twist since their daughter and grandson took over the business. You can now find flavors like nutty elephant or peanut butter puppy chow on their everyday menu but make sure to check their flavor of the day for something out of the ordinary.
Want to end the day on a sweet note or need that midday sugar rush? No matter which city you are exploring in the Peoria area, you are never far from an ice cream shop to satisfy your craving. Inspired by a big city ice cream shop, Sucré Sweets and Socials in Morton will entice you with their nostalgic flair and sweet treats. You will fall in love with the high ceilings, airy open concept and the signature pink and green accents that make for perfect backdrops for your Instagram post. Eureka is home to Uncle Bob’s Homemade Ice Cream where fresh local ice cream is made year-round with unique flavors. The Discover Peoria staff recommends you try the ‘Irish Car Bomb’ which is made with Guinness and Irish Cream or the ‘Sweet Georgia Peach’ which is a central Illinois favorite and has won awards at the annual Taste of Peoria. No matter what floats your ice cream sundae cravings, the Heart of Illinois will satisfy it. Check out DiscoverPeoria.com for more sweet treats!
VISIT QUAD CITIES
Here’s the scoop on amazing ice cream in the Quad Cities. Whether you like it in a cone, sundae, malt, shake, soda or just on its own, we highly recommend a stop at Whitey’s Ice Cream. Whitey’s Ice Cream was established in 1933 in Moline by Chester “Whitey” Lindgren, who received his nickname due to his white-blonde hair. There are now multiple locations in the QC and you can’t miss their bright white and red exteriors complemented by interiors that carry the same color scheme. Since opening, a number of innovations to the industry were born at Whitey's Ice Cream, including high powered malt machines in order to make extra-thick shakes and malts, candy bar shakes, Splenda® sweetened No Sugar Added ice cream and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, to name a few. Over the years, Whitey’s Ice Cream has received a number of accolades including being named “Best in the Midwest” according to the readers of Midwest Living Magazine, being voted one of “Best Ice Cream Shops in the World” by Conde Nast Traveler readers and being selected as the “Best Ice Cream” in the Quad City Times Reader’s Choice Awards time and time again.
Located in quaint downtown Rockton, a neighboring town of Rockford, locals flock each summer to Dairyhäus for delicious ice cream! Dairyhäus is a family-owned homemade ice cream parlor with huge scoops of ice cream and waffle cones made daily. Those looking to satisfy their sweet tooth can order a quart of the flavor they want and will be able to pick up the order right at Dairyhäus. In addition to the classic, creamy ice cream, they also offer several dairy-free ice cream flavors and sorbets! Those looking for a more complex dessert can order a sundae kit including two quarts of ice cream and different sundae toppings. Dairyhäus also partners with local area businesses to create unique, local flavors of ice cream, including using coffee beans from a local coffee shop, Rockford Roasting Company!
Featuring Pease’s at BUNN Gourmet! Craving ice cream but you don’t want the same old “vanilla?” We have you covered! At Pease’s at BUNN Gourmet, you will not only find delicious, hand-crafted, home-made ice cream in popular flavors like Orange Creamcycle, Madagascar Vanilla and 1840 blended with Kahlua, you will find this summer’s newest creation, the Boozy Shake! Try the Boozy Birthday Shake with cake batter flavored vodka or the Cinnamon Toast Crunch with RumChata and gooey caramel. Rither way, you can’t go wrong. On select days, you can indulge in a Freak Shake that will leave you craving more! To see more sweet places visit VisitSpringfieldIllinois.com/LocationSearches/EatAndDrink.