The Best Ice Cream Shops in San Diego

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Ice cream is synonymous with summer, particularly if you have little sugar babes running around. So, we scoured the city (and beyond!) for the most delicious ice cream shops near you. Read on for the scoop on where to go to satisfy your summer craving and indulge in a yummy frozen treat.

South Swell Hand Dipped Ice Cream

South Swell was voted "Best of San Clemente" three years in a row--and for good reason! The shop is the brainchild of local owners dedicated to serving the community their creative frozen treat creations. Their delicious chocolate or vanilla ice cream bars are dipped in smooth, warm chocolate and then designed with your choice of toppings. You may also choose to try one of their amazing, cleverly named specialty bars such as The Parent Trap which is vanilla ice cream dipped in gourmet chocolate, topped with crushed Oreo cookie and a drizzle of peanut butter. Their menu is always changing, so each visit offers a new and exciting experience. 

Sweet Tip:  If floats are your thing, you can enjoy your specialty ice cream bar in any one of South Swell's many soda options. 

137 Avenida Del Mar
San Clemente, CA 92672
949-388-4984
Online: southswellicecream.com

Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream

Say Aloha! to Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream and its 300 flavors of Tropical Dreams super-premium, Hawaiian ice cream and sorbet. Super-premium means it's handmade with 18% butterfat, adding a rich and creamy texture you can taste. Flavors like Chocolate Coconut Macadamia Nut, Lilikoi Sorbet, or Peanut Butter and Guava Jelly will have your littles screaming for more. Their ice cream is dense and creamy and exactly what you're craving as the summer temps rise. 

Sweet Tip: When you can't choose between flavors, try the flight so you can have more than one at a time.

North Park
3077 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92104

Point Loma
3740 Sports Arena Blvd, Suite 6
San Diego, CA 92110

Mr. Trustee Walk-Up Ice Cream Shop

Nostalgia reigns supreme at any walk-up ice cream shop and Mr. Trustee creamery is no exception. Opened last summer, adjacent to Cardellino in Mission Hills and lead by Executive Pastry Chef Jeremy Harville of the Trust Group, the shop serves chef-centric flavors like malted chocolate brownie, kiwi cucumber sorbet with Tajin and Captain Crunch or malted milk soft serve. Indulge in La Dolce Vita! 

Note hours: Wed.-Thurs. 2-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sun. noon-9 p.m.

4033 Goldfinch St.
San Diego, CA 92103
Online: cardellinosd.com

Holy Paleta

They're not technically ice cream, but they're still very worthy of a mention here! Holy Paleta's handcrafted pops are made with all-natural ingredients and full of delicious toppings. Bold, inventive and exciting flavors range from kid-faves Strawberry Lemonade and Watermelon to Chamango on a Stick! and Pineapple Mojito. Kids will go wild for the raspberry lemonade paleta that's dipped in white chocolate and adorned with Fruity Pebbles cereal. There are plenty of other "dressed" paleta options on the menu too! Believe us, you've never tasted a popsicle like this before.

Sweet Tip: Be creative! You can drizzle, half dip or full dip chocolate and throw any toppings on your handcrafted pop. 

2040 India St. (Little Italy)
San Diego, CA 92101
619-915-5366

4230 Bonita Rd. Suite B
Bonita, CA 91902
619-773-6568

Online: holypaleta.com

photo: JoJo's Creamery

JoJo's Creamery

This decadent, artisanal homemade ice cream shop was founded by a mother-daughter duo and a visit here is a doubly sweet treat because your ice cream is served with a chocolate chip cookie! All of JoJo's Creamery ice creams, cookies, waffle cones and sauces are made from scratch. Ice cream flavors include elevated versions of classics and interesting, flavorful delights such as Cayenne Sea Salt Caramel. You'll appreciate that JoJo's Creamery ice creams do not contain corn syrup, stabilizers, fillers, artificial flavorings or food colorings. If you're looking for a next level trip to enjoy ice cream, this place is definitely what kids are calling 'extra' these days.

Sweet Tip: Most of JoJo's ice cream is made with organic dairy from Straus Family Creamery and they always have a few vegan flavors available as well as gluten-free chocolate chip cookies and waffle cones daily.

JoJo's Creamery ice cream is also available for delivery via DoorDash, UberEATS, Grubhub and Postmates.

937 S Coast Highway 101
Ste. 106
Encinitas, CA 92024
Online: jojoscreamery.com

photo: Kristina Moy

Salt & Straw at One Paseo

Looking for a cool spot for family date night? Salt & Straw isn’t your average ice cream shop by any stretch. The family-run business conjures up wildly imaginative San Diego-specific flavors made using ingredients from local businesses. Made locally in small batches, their ice creams combine local, organic and sustainable ingredients into unique flavors you can’t find anywhere else. Their menu has two parts: permanent fixtures (called “classics”) that are so beloved they remain year-round and a selection of limited-time flavors that rotate each month. Classics here include Honey Lavender (a delightfully light purple-hued treat), Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons (featuring hand-burned caramel with a deep, rich flavor you won’t find in your grocery aisle) and Chocolate Gooey Brownie (hot chocolate ice cream with hearty chunks of chewy brownie). Scoops are available in either cups or handmade waffle cones, in addition to milkshakes, special sundaes and pints-to- go.

Click here for info on local pick-up and delivery options.

Sweet Tip: The pints-to-go come in a collection of themed party packs. This Oh, Baby! gift pack is the perfect present for your bestie and their little scoop of joy. 

Read our full review of Salt & Straw's Little Italy location here.

Salt & Straw at One Paseo
3705 Caminito Court, Ste. 0580
San Diego, CA 92130
Online: saltandstraw.com

SomiSomi

Journey off the beaten ice cream path and try a new and delicious frozen treat at SomiSomi. Known as Ah-Boong in Korea, this Taiyaki soft serve is a culinary art form. Start by choosing between four flavors (or get a swirl) of: True Milk, Ube, Black Sesame or Matcha. Then choose a filling of red bean, custard or Nutella. This is piled high into a goldfish-shaped waffle cone known as boong-uh-bbang, which you can top off with an array of toppings ranging from fruity cereal to sprinkles.

Sweet Tip: Check out Evan's Pond before or after your trip to SomiSomi for a full day of summer fun!

4620 Convoy St.
San Diego, CA 92111
Online: somisomi.com

Kona Ice

This popular food truck can be found all over San Diego, serving up traditional Hawaiian shaved ice with a wide array of syrup flavors. Fan favorites include Wild Watermelon, Blue Raspberry and Tiger’s Blood. The best part is that the syrups are customer-accessible so you can use as much or as little as you want in any combination. Blue Tiger Watermelon? Why not?

Kona Ice
Use the online locator to find a truck near you: kona-ice.com

Iceskimo

Not all shaved ice is created equally. Taiwanese “snow” is shaved off large cylinders in ribbons so pretty they resemble peonies. Flavor choices include lychee, Stumptown coffee and matcha and toppings include everything from cheesecake and panna cotta to popping boba. The folks at Iceskimo offer this pro ordering tip: "request condensed milk layered in the middle for extra sweetness and creaminess."

Click here for current ordering information.

Iceskimo
4609 Convoy St., #B
San Diego, CA 92111
858-216-1111
Online: iceskimo.com

Niederfrank’s Ice Cream

When you’re craving nostalgia along with your butter pecan, head down to this beloved National City ice cream parlor. Their website proudly proclaims they make ice cream in the same outdated, inefficient manner they did when they opened in the 1940s: in freezers. They have a wide variety of chocolate flavors, sherbets, sorbets, coffee flavors, fresh and fruity flavors and creative creations. Something for everyone!

Niederfrank’s Ice Cream
726 A Ave.
National City, CA 91950
619-477-0828
Online: niederfranks.com

Handel's Homemade Ice Cream

Check out this scoop shop in Carlsbad Village and Del Mar Highlands too. Grab a giant scoop for your whole brood, after the beach, dining or visiting the Wednesday Farmer's Market. What's more, you'll get to choose from over 32 flavors. Handel's is known for its freshly-made ice cream with natural ingredients and huge ice cream cones. Little ice cream eaters love the crazy Purple Dinosaur which tastes like grape Skittles, and bigger kids go for the Oreo Dough or Chocolate Chunk. Further, if you can't choose what to order the four scoop sampler is a great way to find new flavors.

Sweet Tip: Get ready to play Rock, Paper, Scissors because there's always a line. But, it's so worth it!

Handel's Homemade Ice Cream
12843 El Camino Real
Ste. 108
San Diego, CA 92130
858-925-7308

Online: handelsicecream.com/delmar

2825 State St.
Carlsbad, CA 92008
Online: handelsicecream.com/carlsbad

iDessert

The brainchild of famed pastry chef Jean-Philippe, this dessert spot will dazzle your eyes while also satiating your sweet tooth. Ordering from an iPad, customers choose from many levels of customization—a meringue base, ice cream, a cake layer, toppings—which are then quickly assembled by a staffer. If that’s not beautiful enough for you, order it “Las Vegas” style and it arrives in a mist of dry ice! 

iDessert
1608 India St., #104
San Diego, CA 92101
619-544-1033
Online: idessert.com

Bobboi Natural Gelato

Can't make it to Italy this summer? Bobboi Natural Gelato is the next best thing. Known for both its traditional and untraditional gelato flavors, Bobboi gelato is inspired by California yet rooted in the timeless gelato techniques of Italy. Its flavors are made from local, seasonal ingredients and the menu rotates constantly to reflect what’s available and in season. With three locations in San Diego, the shop is a favorite among locals. Choose from classic flavors like stracciatella and pistachio or an unconventional option such as matchatella (matcha and chocolate shards). 

Sweet Tip: Try out their newest flavor Life's a Beach for a real summer treat. 

2175 Kettner Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92101

8008 Girard Avenue
La Jolla, CA 92037

550 W Date St
San Diego, CA 92101

Online: bobboi.com/

Lighthouse Ice Cream

You may go in for an ice cream cone, but the Hot Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich is what you'll walk out with. Lighthouse Ice Cream is a family-owned business that serves a variety of flavors with an impressive selection of toppings (from hot fudge to Oreo cookies to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups) and specialty items like sundaes and floats.

Sweet Treat: Bring Fido! The shop is pet-friendly and will even offer your four-legged family member a high-quality protein treat! Just ask for Frosty Paws. 

5059 Newport Ave, #102
San Diego, CA 92107
Online: lighthouseicecreamob.com/

Moo Time Creamery

Locals like to claim it's the best ice cream in San Diego. Opened in 1998, MooTime Creamery in Coronado is popular with pretty much everyone that stops by, including celebs like Magic Johnson, Mandy Moore, Jason Alexander and Cuba Gooding Jr. Their goal is to provide the best handcrafted ice cream, yogurt and sorbet in a nostalgic environment, and their 27 flavors are rotated daily for freshness. You can order by the scoop or try their specialty sundaes, cakes and pies.

1025 Orange Avenue.
Coronado, CA 92118
Online: bluebridgehospitality.com/mootime/

Stella Jean's

Stella Jean’s Ice Cream is a small batch shop that makes it their priority to use quality ingredients to create the best ice cream possible. Permanent flavors (or as Stella Jean's likes to call them Always Flavors) range from S’mores to Double Chocolate and Pistachio Matcha. Plus, they offer limited edition or for now flavors like guava cream cheese and banana coffee cake.

Sweet Tip: Check out Sweet Jean's sister company Pop Pie for more delectable desserts. 

San Diego / University Heights Flagship
4404 Park Blvd Ste B
San Diego, CA 92116
Online: stellajeans.com/

Editor’s note: If you’re vegan, dairy- or gluten-free, most of the shops listed here offer delicious options that you’ll love! Check their online menus to see that you too can enjoy a sweet treat at an ice cream shop, even on an alternative diet.

––Aimee Della Bitta, Michelle Franklin, Beth Shea & Nikki Walsh

featured image: Beth Shea

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