During the hot months of summer, there’s nothing like a cool, creamy ice cream cone to sweeten your day.
Luckily, the Garden State’s unique blend of history and culture, coupled with its rich agricultural traditions make our area’s ice cream delights some of the best in the world.
If you haven’t yet explored Greater Princeton’s bounty of frozen treats this summer, don’t despair. To get you started, the A-List has assembled this helpful guide. You might never have imagined ice cream could taste so wonderful.
The Bent Spoon – Princeton, NJ
A must-visit for any Princetonian, The Bent Spoon’s charming little shop attracts big crowds eager to sample its cornucopia of interesting ice cream flavors and other dazzling treats. Flavors like Irish Cream, Lavender Mascarpone, and Hazlenut make this spot a true standout for tourists and locals. Locally produced using organic ingredients, the ice creams here are a veritable feast for the senses. And don’t worry, it’s worth the wait – Zagat just ranked The Bent Spoon as one of the “10 Best Ice Cream Shops Around Philadelphia”.
Thomas Sweet – Princeton, NJ
As the name suggests, for decadent arctic bliss, nothing beats this downtown Princeton staple. Founded in 1979 with additional locations popping up across the region since then – including one nearby in Skillman, NJ – Thomas Sweet specializes in blended soft-serve creations, with toppings like Oreos, peanut butter cups, and M&Ms mixed into each order using their special machines. The flavors here are a bit richer and sweeter than some of the other shops on this list, but they are certainly anything but vanilla.
Halo Pub(s) and Halo Fete – Multiple Locations
Lawrenceville’s Halo Farm, a working dairy and retail store, produces award-winning ice creams using milk from its own cows. Residents of Central NJ can enjoy their creations at several locations. Halo Farm runs Halo Pubs—traditional ice cream parlors—in Princeton, NJ and Hamilton, NJ. For something a little fancier, head to Princeton’s Halo Fete, the country’s first “Ice Cream Patisserie”, where Halo ice creams are transformed into cakes and pastries that look (almost) as good as they taste.
Purple Cow – Lawrenceville, NJ
Since opening in 2010, The Purple Cow has become a fixture of Lawrenceville’s downtown—students from the nearby Lawrenceville School pack the homey Victorian storefront after classes or sporting events let out. Started by a husband and wife who left corporate America to follow their dreams, this ice cream parlor features small batch ice creams and light bites. Try their signature flavor, Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip—its purple color matches the shop’s namesake.
Viva Gelato Café – Pennington, NJ
Located right next door to our Pennington, NJ office, Viva Gelato more than satisfies visitors in search of a healthy and delicious alternative to ice cream. Their namesake gelato has less than half the fat of traditional ice cream and also comes in sugar-free and fat-free varieties. With nearly 20 rotating, homemade flavors on the menu, a trip to Viva Gelato means a guilt-free dessert that doesn’t sacrifice taste.
Cream King – Pennington, NJ
This roadside ice cream parlor and grill is a throwback to a simpler time. Since 1958, the King has been delighting local families with its smorgasbord of icy delights and wickedly delicious meals like cheesesteaks and hamburgers. According to owner Phil Volpe, “We don’t sell ice cream, we sell childhood memories.” There’s no better time than now for building memories, so pack up the car and head out to The Cream King for a taste of classic Americana.
oWowcow Creamery – Lambertville, NJ
A new addition to our area, oWowcow opened a Lambertville location after amassing a devout following across the river in Bucks County, PA. And, boy, are we glad they did! oWowcow’s motto is “ice cream by hand,” and they make each flavor in small batches using organic, seasonal ingredients sourced from local farms. Flavor combinations here are especially imaginative, such as cinnamon bourbon and honey lavender, and the resulting tastes and textures are sublime!
Gil & Bert’s – Cranbury, NJ
Located in historic downtown Cranbury, NJ, Gil & Bert’s has quickly become a local favorite since opening its doors in 2008. Specializing in old fashioned, classic ice cream, this quaint spot serves homemade creations, like the scrumptious cinnamon churro, alongside flavors from Giffords Ice Cream from Maine, which was named the “Best Chocolate Ice Cream in the World” in 2009, 2010, 2011. Even with all the interesting ice cream flavors out there, sometimes the old favorites are just what you need.
When it comes to world-class ice cream parlors, central New Jersey is unmatched. From classics like banana splits and milk shakes to modern flavor mashups, we really do have it all. Best of all, it’s only August, so there’s still plenty of time to take a trip beyond the frozen foods aisle to sample some outstanding local favorites!