24 Iconic Ice Cream Spots at the Shore

Staples along the Jersey coastline sure to satisfy every summer craving.

From left: Creamsicle; pistachio dipped in dark chocolate with pistachio topping; and dark-chocolate dipped raspberry. Courtesy of Amici

 

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Amici Gelato & Caffe

Asbury Park

Opened in 2018, Amici has evolved into an Italian dessert spot offering coffee drinks, cakes, pastries and cannoli. Italian opera fills the air; the indoor and outdoor seating areas sport a tasteful black, white and red color scheme. Frozen sweets remain the heart of the business. Trained by a gelato master from Milan, father and son duo Ralph and Joseph Castore showcase their heritage with rich tartufo, creamy gelato, Instagrammable gelato pops and gelato sandwiches—two chewy housebaked cookies packed with the frozen dessert. Amici also makes dairy-free cakes for dogs.—Jacqueline Klecak

630 Mattison Avenue, 848-226-3700

Avalon Freeze

Avalon

This retro ice cream stand, opened in 1957, offers four different vehicles for its silky soft serve: cup, cone, sundae or its signature treat, the Freezer. The latter is reminiscent of McDonald’s McFlurry or Dairy Queen’s Blizzard—but vastly better. Choose chocolate, vanilla or the never-fail swirl, and your pick of candy crumbles—such as Heath Bar, Oreo, Snickers or Reese’s Pieces. The ingredients are blended into a frozen milkshake treat, which you can enjoy under the shade of an umbrella at the blue sidewalk tables.—Shelby Vittek

2288 Dune Drive, 609-967-4141

Erin Eiche of Spray Beach, with her best buddy Gnocchi, savors two scoops of mint chocolate chip in a sprinkle waffle cone. Photo by Ann Coen; clothing and cooler from Farias Surf and Sport in Ship Bottom

Barry’s Do Me a Flavor

Beach Haven

In addition to unpretentious yet satisfying lunch and dinner options (cheesesteaks, burgers, salads and a slew of fish tacos), this beloved family-run spot slightly south of Bay Village boasts an assortment of desserts of the ice cream persuasion. These include sodas, floats, Pamwiches (vanilla or chocolate ice cream between 2 chocolate chip cookies) and themed sundaes like the Exit 63 Special: vanilla ice cream swirled with salted caramel and topped with caramel, hot fudge and crushed Oreos. Also recommended: Black raspberry-chocolate chip fro-yo on a fragrant sugar cone. Equal parts rich and refreshing!—Jennifer Finn

309 Centre Street, 609-492-8259

Beach Plum. Photo by Ken Schlager

Beach Plum

Bradley Beach

It seems no one can resist the cheerful purple exterior of this landmark ice cream stand. You’ll see families still sandy from the beach; patrons of Vic’s, the renowned pizza place a few blocks down; and dog-walking locals. Traditional hard and soft ice cream—from a variety of well-known brands—satisfies most cravings. Beach Plum also carries vegan and kosher ice creams, gelato and Italian ice. For the dog-walkers, they’ve got ice cream treats geared for canine diets. Beach Plum is seasonal, with daily hours in the summer tapering off to weekends in September. Conveniences include picnic tables out front and an adjacent parking lot.—Kelly-Jane Cotter

420 Main Street, 732-455-3292

Coney Waffle. Photo by Jessica Orlowicz

Coney Waffle

Multiple locations

If it chose to, Coney Waffle could get away with selling mediocre ice cream. Fortunately, owner Joe D’Esposito is too invested in his company’s reputation for quality frozen treats. (That’s no surprise; his grandmother, Angelina, launched the business on Coney Island in 1946.) Puffy waffles and Sideshow shakes are the headliners here. Order either and you’ll understand: The 2-foot-tall shakes are about spectacle. At $21, they are big enough for four and come with a kitchen sink of toppings, including ring pops and fat clouds of cotton candy. The waffles, served like hot dog buns filled with a trio of side-by-side scoops ($6), are a throwback to the originals Angelina sold on the Brooklyn boardwalk before her grandson moved the business to Belmar in 2016. Coney Waffle now has four outposts—in Red Bank, Long Branch, Asbury Park and Belmar—serving far-out flavors like peanut butter s’mores and Unicorn.—Tammy La Gorce

Cone Zone

Neptune

The bright yellow façade of the Cone Zone signals that you’re almost at Ocean Grove, with all its Victorian charm. The Cone Zone has charm of its own. A local favorite since 1993, the Cone Zone switched hands in December 2018. New owner Deborah Galindo has stayed the course. “I really haven’t changed anything, because every one of our flavors is so popular,” Galindo says, noting that she began working at the Cone Zone as a high schooler in 2002. “It’s creamy, and we make it all right here.” Regulars line up outside all summer long, ordering towering soft-serve vanilla cones or thick-as-tar chocolate milkshakes, made with an abundance of hard ice cream. The Cone Zone—open all year—is also renowned for its ice cream birthday cakes.—Kelly-Jane Cotter

2040 Route 33, 732-502-0066

Cookman Creamery. Photo by Jessica Orlowicz

Cookman Creamery

Asbury Park

A chalkboard greets customers with the phrase, “Freezings from Asbury Park, NJ,” a smart play on the title of Bruce Springsteen’s debut studio album. Geometric murals and psychedelic lighting are the handiwork of local artist Michael J. Johnson. In addition to traditional flavors, Cookman Creamery offers vegan options. These dairy-free treats have coconut cream, almond butter, cashew butter or peanut butter bases. To-go items include ice cream pints, cakes, pies and cookie-sandwich six-packs. With a frozen dessert in hand, leisurely stroll along Cookman Avenue, which, at least on weekends, is expected to be closed to vehicular traffic this summer.—Jacqueline Klecak

711 Cookman Avenue, 732-361-5215

Cool Scoops Ice Cream Parlor

North Wildwood

In the aftermath of 9/11, Paul Russo and his wife, Lori, moved from Dutchess County, New York, to North Wildwood. They bought and renovated an old hotel, the Abree, made it their residence and opened Cool Scoops on the ground floor. A rock’n’roll fan, Paul adopted a 1950s theme appropriate to Wildwood’s doo-wop heritage, installing a bright neon sign above the shop and adorning the interior with formica tables, an old-school jukebox, an Elvis statue and other period ephemera. In terms of ice cream, Cool Scoop’s 36 flavors include gluten-free, sugar-free and dairy-free options. Ice cream is sourced from local distributors, and Lori makes the custom-order cakes.—Royal Thomas II

1111 New Jersey Avenue, 609-729-2665

Days

Ocean Grove

Opened in 1876, Days Ice Cream is Ocean Grove’s oldest continually operating business. With its bright pink walls, a wrap-around porch and a plethora of tchotchkes, this Ocean Grove landmark oozes Victorian-era charm. Adjacent to the Starving Artist restaurant and just two blocks from the beach in the center of this historic, mile-square enclave, Days will have you gobbling down favorites like black raspberry chip, salted caramel pretzel and peanut butter moose tracks. Days also carries non-dairy options. When you stop in, say hi to co-owner David Fernicola; he’s the guy with a tattoo of a three-scoop cone on his left arm.—Jacqueline Klecak

48 Pitman Avenue, 732-614-6245

Hoffman’s Ice Cream

Multiple locations

If you visit Hoffman’s in Point Pleasant Beach on any random summer evening, be prepared to grab a numbered ticket and wait. But hang in there; it’s worth it. Hoffman’s roots go back to 1955, when it opened as one of the state’s first Carvel stores; it became Hoffman’s in 1976. Dense in texture and rich in flavor, Hoffman’s ice cream lives up to the hype. Take butter pecan, for example. Every spoonful is loaded with pecan niblets and saturated with buttery, caramelized, sugary goodness. Enjoy it straight or top it with hot fudge. Among other favorite flavors: Almond Turtle, coffee Oreo, chocolate peanut butter, toasted coconut, Key lime, black raspberry, and mint chocolate chip. Hoffman’s makes all its ice cream at the Point Pleasant Beach location (800 Richmond Avenue). You can also enjoy Hoffman’s at outposts in Little Silver, Long Branch and Spring Lake Heights—or rent a Hoffman’s ice cream truck for parties and special events.—Kelly-Jane Cotter

 Kohr’s. Photo by Jessica Orlowicz

Frozen Custard, a Kohr’s Classic

Multiple locations

A century and change after his grandfather, Elton, devised the recipe for frozen custard (in 1919), Greg Kohr still swears by it—indeed, indulges in it, “for ‘quality control,’ I tell everybody.” The pasteurized egg yolk in the cream makes it a custard and helps slow the melting, a plus on summer days. As ever, a swirl of the original vanilla custard with tangy orange sherbet remains the best-seller, though vanilla swirl with raspberry sherbet is catching up. Kohr is president of Kohr’s the Original, with six locations spread among four towns: Lavallette, Ortley Beach, Seaside Heights and Seaside Park. Kohr Bros.—the companies split in 1927—has 12 locations further south, between Beach Haven and Cape May.—Eric Levin

Marita’s

Sea Isle City

Opened in 1987 as a 1950s-style ice cream stand, Marita’s exudes charm and cheer. With more than 50 flavors, some made in-house, plus water ice, soft serve, frozen yogurt, smoothies, ice pops and ice cream sandwiches, there’s a frosty treat for all tastes. Beyond the classics, standout ice cream flavors include blueberries and cream, black raspberry bliss, strawberry cheesecake and a peanut butter-nutella combo. Cash only, but there’s an ATM inside.—Shelby Vittek

5912 Landis Avenue, 609-263-6800

The Music Man Singing Ice Cream Shoppe

Lavallette

Be prepared to sing, dance or shout for your ice cream at this family-friendly spot. But customers aren’t the only ones singing and dancing. Staffers at the Music Man perform up to seven shows a day during the summer, from improv to cabaret or theme shows like Mary Poppins. While the cast belts out tunes, enjoy the Music Man’s ice cream creations. Most popular are the sundaes, such as the Old Faithful, a classic spin with two scoops of vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, dry walnuts and whipped cream topped with a cherry. The Shoppe also offers homemade caramel corn and 18 varieties of fudge, which can be purchased at the Fudge Factory & Gift Shoppe or online. If customers order a sundae during check-in for a show, admission is free. The Music Man is cash only inside, but accepts credit cards at the take-out window, box office and gift shop.—Julie Trien

2305 Grand Central Avenue, 732-854-2779

Four fab treats, from left: Rainbows & Clouds; brown-sugar cookie dough; mint Oreo; and bourbon chocolate chunk. Courtesy of Nicholas Creamery

Nicholas Creamery

Multiple locations

The hype generated by the opening of the first shop in Atlantic Highlands for handmade, small-batch organic ice cream has had a couple years to die down. That it’s holding steady says something about the dedication to quality and innovation that Nicholas and Melissa Harary, the owners of Nicholas Barrel & Roost in nearby Middletown, invested in their farm-to-spoon business. Come here for imaginative flavors like Booskerdoo Coffee Crunch, whose coffee comes from the area’s same-named coffee shops—and leave knowing you’ve bought a dessert built on boosting local businesses. Similarly, the lemon-ricotta is made with ricotta from Porta in Asbury Park; and fruit in flavors like Boardwalk Caramel Apple is sourced from Jersey orchards. Flavors rotate, so check online if your hankering is for something other than classics like Valrhona chocolate or Tahitian vanilla. Dairy-free options are also available. Additional locations in Fair Haven and Tinton Falls.—Tammy La Gorce

Norton’s Main Scoop

Manasquan

Kim Norton whips up specialty flavors—such as Blueberry Buttermilk Honey and Cannoli—in this downtown shop she and her husband, Michael, have run since 2018. She’s also keen on creating specialty shapes for Norton’s homemade ice cream cakes, such as a mermaid cake, with the mermaid’s tail diving through two layers of cake. All ice cream is homemade. “The flavors I use are all natural, and some are organic,” Kim says. A recent hit: Gram’s chocolate chip cookie—made with semi-sweet chocolate. “I named it for my grandmother because it tastes like her cookies,” Kim explains. Norton’s vegan flavors include lemon poppyseed, cherry pistachio, mint chip and toasted coconut almond. Made with coconut or almond milk, the vegan flavors are housed in a separate case, assuring they are allergy-friendly. Norton’s is open April (weekends only) through October.—Kelly-Jane Cotter

140-B Main Street, 732-223-3594

Margo Orlowicz, 6, navigates a Peace Pie ice cream sandwich. They come in 40 variations, with different fillings, toppings and cookies. Photo by Jessica Orlowicz 

Peace Pie

Cape May

Eleven years ago, Jerry Klause created an impromptu frozen dessert for his family’s Thanksgiving out of vanilla ice cream, pecan pie filling and shortbread cookies that he called “pecan-pie à la mode lasagna.” While the name didn’t stick, the recipe turned out to be a cornerstone for an ice cream sandwich business. Peace Pie opened in 2015, and Ventnor a year later. Klause today sells 40 variations of Peace Pie sandwiches with different flavors of ice cream; assorted toppings (such as mousse, brownies and pie fillings); and a variety of shortbread cookies. His best-seller is the salted-caramel brownie with vanilla ice cream, chunks of salted caramel, squares of fudge brownie and chocolate cookies. Another favorite: the Key lime pie with vanilla ice cream, Key lime pie filling and cinnamon shortbread cookies. The fist-size treats sell for $6 apiece. They are premade, served frozen, and tastiest when you let them soften a bit before eating.—Lynn Martenstein

326 Carpenter’s Lane, 609-435-5321

Poppy’s Ice Cream Parlour

Barnegat Light

Sitting pretty at the northern end of Long Beach Island, Poppy’s—with its cheery yellow exterior, charming wrap-around porch and (come evening) twinkle light–induced glow—can’t be missed. Bike racks and outdoor seating add to the welcoming, linger-as-long-as-you’d-like vibe. Notable menu items range from malts and adorable mini-sundaes to parfaits (soft-serve layered with the topping of your choice) and dairy-free options (water ice, passionfruit sorbet). Watch for such fleeting ice cream flavors as blueberry pie and cinnamon churro.—Jennifer Finn

607 Broadway, 609-361-2663

Ice cream comes with a show at the Show Place in Beach Haven, where patrons are invited to join in the act. Photo by Jessica Orlowicz

Show Place Ice Cream Parlour

Beach Haven

This LBI institution opened in 1975 next to the Surflight Theatre; they’ve been closely affiliated since. Show Place’s sit-down experience features singing and dancing waiters clad in old-fashioned red and white–striped ensembles. While serving up frozen treats named after iconic musicals, they coax audience participation: A customer who orders a banana split might be asked to do a split; someone with a hankering for cookie dough is invited to belt out a verse from “Do-Re-Mi” (a number from The Sound of Music). At deadline, Show Place had plans to continue its Covid-19 protocols, with socially distant seating under a patio tent. Hourly evening performances begin June 18 and will continue through September; reservations are advised. There’s also a take-out window for sundaes, shakes and ice cream sodas to go. Open daily, June 18–October 3.—Jennifer Finn

200 Centre Street, 609-492-9477

Skipper Dipper

Long Beach Township

For veteran LBI goers, summer officially begins the moment Skipper Dipper’s first line winds out the door, around the porch and down the street. (A giant menu hangs outside, so you can deliberate on flavors and toppings while you wait.) The chaos is tightly controlled, though: Friendly employees—or, as their t-shirts playfully declare, “Authorized Dippers”—take orders and diligently deliver cones, cups, sundaes and shakes—often long before you’ve reached the cash register. Don’t forget to grab a punch card: Ten ice creams and your 11th is free!—Jennifer Finn

9305 Long Beach Boulevard, 609-492-9680

Springer’s. Photo by Jessica Orlowicz

Springer’s

Stone Harbor

This old-fashioned ice cream parlor, which owner Mary Humphrey says has been open “since the days of Prohibition,” is a local institution. The list of beachgoers who have lined up outside this downtown spot includes a young Taylor Swift, who vacationed in the Shore town as a kid. Springer’s makes all of the ice creams in house, upwards of 50 flavors. There are seasonal favorites like peach and blueberry made from Jersey fruit, more decadent flavors, such as rum raisin, butter pecan, milk and cookies and the Blue One—a blue cookie dough ice cream with chunks of Oreos.—Shelby Vittek

9420 3rd Avenue, 609-602-2471

From humble beginnings in Long Branch, Strollo’s has grown to six locations and expanded the assortment of Italian ice to 28 flavors. Photo by Jessica Orlowicz

Strollo’s Lighthouse

Jimmy Callano understands nostalgia. He feels it, too. “People still want to know if we have our meatball and sausage sandwiches,” he says. Once he tells them his great-uncle Tony’s beloved subs haven’t been on the menu for decades, they’re mildly disappointed. But nowhere near as disappointed as they might be if Strollo’s had stopped selling Tony’s lemon Italian ice.

“I always refer to lemon as our Mickey Mouse, meaning it’s the main character,” says Callano, the owner of Strollo’s Lighthouse, a beloved chain of Italian ice and soft-serve ice cream stores, with six locations in Point Pleasant Beach, Belford, Red Bank, Monmouth Park, and two in Long Branch. Lemon ice has been the top attraction since the late 1930s, when Tony Strollo, an immigrant from Italy, started making it in his Long Branch garage and hauling it to the beach, where he served it in squeeze cups to parched sunbathers.

Callano was 19 when he took over the business with a cousin in 1987. By then, Ray Strollo, Tony’s son, had moved the operation to an abandoned gas station in Long Branch and come up with the name Strollo’s Lighthouse. Callano, Ray’s nephew, built from there, expanding to multiple locations and pushing the assortment to 28 flavors of Italian ice and 15 flavors of soft serve each season. Exotic among the ices are mint Oreo and peanut butter. Soft serves for the adventurous include pumpkin and cannoli. 

Still, nothing outsells the lemon ice. Callano, a father of three daughters who lives in Long Branch with his wife, Lynn, has his great-uncle to thank for that. And he credits a business partner, Kevin Valerio, with helping him grow the business. Valerio, who started working for him in Long Branch at age 13, runs the Red Bank and Monmouth Park locations, which frees Callano to oversee a Strollo’s truck and mobile store.

Callano never gets tired of hearing from customers who remember his pioneering forebears. He likes reminiscing, too. “I would get bored in the summer as a kid, and I loved hanging out with my uncle,” Callano says of Ray Strollo, who died in 2002. “I would wait on customers, and my uncle would go take a nap. Then he would feed me a free meatball sandwich.”—Tammy La Gorce

Uncle Charley’s

Cape May

Move over, vanilla and chocolate. The hottest ice cream at Uncle Charley’s is salted caramel pretzel. Not your thing? Try any one of the 48 flavors at this gourmet ice cream shop, a fixture on Washington Street mall since 1978. Despite being partial to plain old strawberry ice cream, store owner Martin Zarzycki sells multiple flavors of hard ice cream, water ice, soft-serve and options such as sugar-and dairy-free. To ensure top quality, he started making his own ice cream and ices on-site several years ago. He also got inventive with ingredients such as kettle corn. His quality control and creativity have attracted a large, loyal following. To meet demand, staffers make eight buckets of each of 20 flavors of ice cream daily. Servings are generous and come in small, medium and large sizes.—Lynn Martenstein

306 Washington Street, 609-408-4751 

Yum Yums

Sea Isle City

There’s always a line out the door, but Yum Yums’ fresh waffles alone are worth the wait. Choose one of the more than 40 flavors—such as chocolate chip cookie dough, banana, Maine blueberry or classic chocolate and vanilla—wedged between two Belgian waffles in an ice cream sandwich, or sample three different scoops atop a warm waffle in a sundae. For the dairy-free, Yum Yums offers watermelon and blueberry water ice, sorbet and ice creams made with almond milk. Grab your frozen concoction, and enjoy it on a nearby bench along the oceanside Promenade.—Shelby Vittek

31 JFK Boulevard, 609-263-2345

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