I love ice cream. And I’d like to believe I’ve become a bit of an ice cream connoisseur over the years. My friends know this about me. In fact, when I was pregnant with our youngest, my husband went to get us Dairy Queen Blizzards at least three times a week. Our Small Group even gave us Dairy Queen gift cards as baby gifts (and some diapers, too).
It’s always ice cream season at the Harper house, but there really is nothing better than ice cream on a hot summer’s night.
This is the time of summer when I start to panic over everything I thought we would do but just haven't had the time for yet. And do you know what an excellent remedy for panic is? Ice cream! Whether it’s a trip out for ice cream and a stop at a park on the way home or ice cream from your own freezer eaten around your kitchen table, ice cream has a way of jazzing up any evening to feel more fun.
Ice cream adventures are also great for building much-needed family time into your summer days.
Here are eight Harper Family-approved ice cream locations in the Twin Cities (I’ve included prices where I can).
*The Blast – Northfield, MN
I had never heard of The Blast until this year (thanks, Instagram ad). We first went in April when I finished running a half marathon. And let me tell you; it was fantastic! The staff was friendly. The service was fast. The portions were generous. They even serve the ever-popular Dole Whip. And perhaps the best part? The price for my family of five: $17.
*Chill – Farmington, MN
Chill Ice Cream Studio is the favorite ice cream spot of all three of my daughters. They have a lot of flavors (I want to say at least 18). There is both indoor and outdoor seating. There are even some old-school arcade games, so your kids may want to bring a few quarters along. Our family enjoys the "Single Scoop Split" – this allows you to get two different flavors. Our bill comes in around $23, but there is also a rewards program to earn points toward tasty treats!
*Rita’s – Eagan and Apple Valley, MN
If you haven’t been to Rita’s yet, go! Go tonight. You won’t regret it. Our favorite treat at Rita’s is the Gelati. It’s a layer of frozen custard covered with Italian ice, topped with more frozen custard. And don’t worry, if you can’t decide what flavor of Italian ice to get, you can try samples (But let me save you the trouble; get the mango, Florida orange, or Swedish fish!). Our bill varies here depending on what my kids like to get, but it’s right around $25. And once again, there is a rewards program!
*Nelson’s – St. Paul and Stillwater, MN
I haven’t been to Nelson’s in YEARS, but I would be remiss to write a whole blog post about ice cream and not include them. Their ice cream variety is fantastic. And if you have never been, let me give you this small piece of advice: get the child-size portion. Trust me. The way they put ice cream in the cups is similar to how Sweet Martha’s stacks cookies in those cones at the Minnesota State Fair!
*Dairy Queen – Savage, MN
Let me be clear. The location matters when it comes to Dairy Queen. They are not all equal. Of all the Dairy Queen locations in the area (Lakeville, Farmington, Burnsville, Eagan), Savage is the best one I have found (Although Eagan would come in 2nd place; that's where my husband, Derek, frequented roughly three times/week during 2016 when I was pregnant). At the Dairy Queen in Savage, their soft serve is kept at the correct temperature so that they can actually flip your blizzard upside down when they hand it to you - just like the commercial! This makes a huge difference. You don’t want to be drinking your ice cream. Yet, this happens at other Dairy Queens. I would also recommend the Woodbury Dairy Queen if you are out that direction.
*Scoops – Bloomington, MN
Like Chill in Farmington, Scoops also has a lot of flavors (even more than Chill) and features the "Single Scoop Split." They serve Bridgeman's Ice Cream and Sebastian Joe's. There are also prepackaged ice cream treats and candy. There is truly something for everyone. Our family gets ice cream here for around $25.
*Dairy Delite – Lakeville, MN
I have a love/hate relationship with Dairy Delite. It’s only a mile from our house so I really want to love it. It’s the perfect distance to walk on a nice evening, get a little treat, and then walk home. But it’s also super busy in the evenings, and sometimes the service is really slow (or you get your order handed out one at a time, and by the time the last person gets theirs, the first person is done). The soft serve machine also doesn’t keep the ice cream super cold. BUT if you go in the afternoon and get either the hard ice cream or a shake (the strawberry shake is so good!), you will have a great time. Our bill here is $23.
*Your Own Backyard
Sometimes it’s just easier to stay home (and cheaper, too!). We do have some favorite brands of ice cream in the Harper household. Favorite Day is sold at Target. There are so many choices, but my personal favorite is Monster Cookie. It’s just the right amount of each flavor – peanut butter, chocolate, and oatmeal. Give it a try! Tillamook Ice Cream is another one of our favorites. It is smooth and delightful, and the fruit-based flavors are so good. Tillamook makes one of the best strawberry ice creams I’ve ever tasted from a store.
Bonus Idea: Buy a pack of ice cream cones or waffle cone bowls to make family ice cream nights feel even more fancy.
What about you?
So, there it is - The Harper's top picks for ice cream! Now, what about you? Where do you enjoy going? Let me know - we are always looking for our next favorite place!
Although July is just about over, there are plenty of moments (and warm days!) ahead to explore new ice cream spots and indulge in a refreshing treat. In addition to enjoying ice cream nights with your family, they can be a great way to bring Small Groups and neighbors together for a fun night of connection.
No matter who you enjoy your ice cream with, I hope you'll give yourself some fun ice cream adventures to look forward to this August!