Our Favorite Ice Cream Shops in Washington, Idaho and Vancouver, B.C.
Here’s the scoop: ice cream makers throughout the Northwest are being more creative than ever, crafting irresistible combinations using fresh fruits and intriguing premium ingredients. With summer temperatures spiking, this is the perfect time to enjoy a cool treat, here are some of our favorite ice cream places.
Bainbridge and Vashon Islands
Bainbridge Island is a delightful destination reached via ferry from downtown Seattle, and Mora Iced Creamery is just one more reason to visit. This highly lauded ice creamery makes elegant frozen delights chock full of flavorful ingredients. Their Blueberry ice cream is thick with intensely flavorful blueberries, their Dulce de Leche with Shaved Chocolate is a flavor sensation, and their Mojito is fruity and refreshing. Mora also has scoop shops in Poulsbo and Kingston.
On nearby Vashon Island (reached by ferry from West Seattle, or by weekday water taxi from Pier 50 on the downtown Seattle waterfront), Glass Bottle Creamery scoops dreamy ice creams and sorbets using island ingredients as much as possible. Flavors, which change regularly, might include Strawberry Balsamic Swirl and Toasted Coconut Theo Chocolate and are all made in small batches nearby at their sister business, Vashon Island Baking Co.
Mallard Ice Cream, in a cheery storefront, crafts their ice cream five gallons at a time, with high-quality, “real food” ingredients going into each batch. Permanent flavors include Super Chocolate (a dense, dark, fudgy concoction) and Peppermint (using a custom, house blend of mints); rotating selections include flavors such as Chocolate Lavender, Rose, Cinnamon, Nerds and Turmeric.
ACME Valley Ice Cream, scooped inside the charming Acme Valley Ice Cream Café in Fairhaven, is an ultra-premium style, made with fresh cream from local dairies. Scratch-baked brownies go into their Fudge Brownie, freshly roasted nuts are sprinkled into their Butter Pecan, and they boast that the Espresso is loaded with “enough Moka Joe coffee to get you through the day.” Rotating seasonal flavors include Strawberry Rhubarb, Eggnog and Blueberries & Cream.
Fresh blackberry, caramel cashew maple nut and mango ice cream, all made from farm-fresh milk and locally sourced ingredients, are just some of the more than 40 rotating flavors local Edaleen Dairy dispenses from dip cases in their stores located in Bellingham, Lynden, Sumas, Ferndale and Blaine.
Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint, Idaho
At Abi’s Artisan Ice Cream in Coeur d’Alene, fresh batches are made daily, from scratch, in an open kitchen. A pan of toffee is churned into Malted Vanilla with Toffee and Chocolate Chips; freshly made lemon curd is used for Lemon Twist ice cream; and homemade jam is swirled into Huckleberry ice cream. Even the waffle cones are made in-house, with a hint of cinnamon adding to the sweet fragrance wafting out the door and drawing in customers.
Handcrafted, ultra-luxe ice cream is the name of the game at Panhandle Cone & Coffee, on Sandpoint’s main street, with other locations in Coeur d’Alene and Moscow, Idaho. While selections made with locally sourced ingredients change regularly, you cannot go wrong with Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream, which has about two pounds of cookies in each batch, Buttermilk Huckleberry or Peppermint Fudge.
There is a reason why the lines are typically so long at Big Dipper Ice Cream. The shop’s handcrafted frozen desserts, in flavors such as Espresso Heath, Mexican Chocolate and Vanilla-Reese’s, among others, star in cones, milkshakes and sundaes.
At Sweet Peaks Ice Cream (in Whitefish, Missoula, Bozeman, Kalispell, plus Spokane), the base is made from milk and cream from Montana dairies, eggs and natural stabilizers. A variety of unique seasonal flavors (Flathead Cherry Chocolate, Huckleberry Lemon Pie and Strawberry Rhubarb among them) are dished up alongside signature flavors such as Mountain Mint, Salty Caramel and Espresso.
Seattle is a kingdom of frozen delights, with more ice cream parlors than you can shake a spoon at. Full Tilt, Cupcake Royale, Molly Moon’s, and Portland-born Salt & Straw (all with multiple locations) each have their own fervent followers. As does Bluebird (Greenwood), Laina’s Handcrafted Ice Cream (Rainier Valley), and Frankie & Jo’s (Capitol Hill, University Village and Ballard), which skips the dairy and instead makes vegan, plant-based ice cream using house-made sprouted cashew milk and gum-free coconut milk, seasonal fruits and vegetables, superfoods, herbs and other organic ingredients. Even the homemade waffle cone batter is gluten-free, and several flavors are sweetened with just dates, maple or coconut sugar. Everyday flavor favorites include Brown Sugar Vanilla and Chocolate Tahini Supercookie ice cream, and a Beet Strawberry Sorbet made with Washington strawberries, apple juice and beet juice.
Sweet Alchemy (University District, Ballard, Capitol Hill), leans into local sourcing and sustainability, with a commitment to getting most ingredients from within 100 miles. Fresh-as-can-be flavors include Blueberry Lavender and Strawberry made with berries from Mount Vernon and the Skagit Valley, UW Honey made honey harvested from the University of Washington’s horticulture center and Mint Chip made with fresh picked local mint. For traditionalists, the Husky Deli, a landmark in West Seattle since 1932, offers both “Husky Regular” flavors, including Chocolate, Root Beer, Lemon Custard and Thin Mint, as well as “Husky Gourmet” options including Horchata, Stout and Red Raspberry Ribbon.
Sweet treats are stirred up into creative flavor sensations at The Scoop, on Spokane’s South Hill and at Kendall Yards, which uses liquid nitrogen to flash-freeze ingredients in small batches. Flavors, which change regularly, might include Caramel Coffee Toffee, Salted Caramel and Nutella. The house-made Liege-style waffles make a crunchy base for scoops, as an alternative to traditional cones. Doyle’s Ice Cream Parlor has been making ice-cream in its West Central neighborhood spot since 1940. Open seasonally and decorated with vintage ice-cream equipment and collectible toys, Doyle’s makes it owns waffle cones and serves up classic banana splits, shakes, floats and homemade ice-cream flavors that include Huckleberry, watermelon, banana and many more.
Ice Cream Social’s dreamy flavors range from classic (think Butter Pecan and Mint Chocolate Chip) to creative and seasonally influenced (Blueberry, Roasted Banana, Almond Poppyseed, and Valhalla Coffee), in an airy, industrial-chic storefront at Point Ruston, a Hilltop location on Martin Luther King Jr. Way, and a third Proctor location on North Proctor Street. All are fashioned from natural, locally sourced ingredients.
In Vancouver, summer and ice cream go hand in hand. Earnest Ice Cream, at four locations, churned up the city’s frozen desserts world when it opened in 2012 with small-batch, seasonal ice cream; try their Whiskey Hazelnut, Matcha Green Tea or Salted Caramel flavors. Rain or Shine (multiple locations) uses seasonal, organic ingredients to craft its fresh delights, including Honey Lavender and Blueberry Balsamic flavors. And La Glace scoops ultra-rich French-style ice cream (with extra egg yolks and cream) and offers parfaits and pastries, including macarons, in a très élégant ice cream parlor. The ever-changing flavors here might include Saffron Nougatine (saffron-infused honey cream, orange blossom and toasted pistachios) or Raspberry White Chocolate.
–Written by Leslie Forsberg and Harriet Baskas. Last updated in June 2022.
Top photo courtesy of Abi’s Artisan Ice Cream in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.