It’s impossible to frown while eating an ice cream cone. There’s something undeniably jovial about taking the family down to the local ice cream shop or farm for a good old fashioned ice cream tasting, having everyone pick out their favorite flavor and then just sitting together in silence enjoying the sugary goodness, chocolate and strawberry coated smiles abounding.
Granite State Dairy Promotion, a division of the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food, understands the magical powers of everyone’s favorite frozen dessert, and came up with a genius idea to help visitors discover the best ice cream in New Hampshire: the New Hampshire Ice Cream Trail.
“We like to have a mix of shops that make their own [ice cream], use 100 percent dairy product or are a dairy farm themselves,” said Amy Hall, director of Granite State Dairy Production.
Those interested in conquering the trail can download the map off the website. At each stop, ice cream lovers will receive a passport sticker, and those who earn all 44 stickers can mail in their passport to be entered for a prize.
Check out information about some of the trail’s stops below, including our tasting tips that will lead you to the best ice cream in New Hampshire.
Ava Marie Handmade Chocolates & Ice Cream
What’s better than an ice cream shop? An ice cream shop that also serves chocolate. This family-owned business makes truffles, turtles and artisan chocolates by hand, which are sold alongside pastries, ice cream and ice cream cakes in the retail store. Summertime visitors can select from 40 flavors of ice cream.
Ice cream tasting tip: The award-winning chocolate pecan turtles – as a topping!
Beech Hill Farm & Ice Cream Barn
A family-owned business in its ninth generation, Beech Hill Farm is a great destination for a day of family fun on the farm, perfectly capped off by a visit to the property’s ice cream barn. Selections include yogurts, sherbets, sorbet and sugar-free ice creams, as well as 75 flavors of traditional ice cream manufactured by Blake’s Creamery in Manchester, and Gifford’s Ice Cream. Ice cream aficionados will love the make-your-own sundae bar, where there are over 20 toppings to choose from.
Ice Cream tasting tip: Jazzberry java & summertime blues
Bishop’s Homemade Ice Cream
Set in a building reminiscent of a farmhouse, this shop attracts diners who love to enjoy their daily, made-from-scratch ice creams in the indoor cafe, on the lawn’s picnic tables or while lounging on the back porch. Flavors rotate, but favorites include signature ones such as chocolate chip and strawberry, while more adventurous tasters can try banana cream pie or ruby red grapefruit sorbet.
Ice cream tasting tip: Hot fudge sundae. What better to top some of the best ice cream in New Hampshire with than “Best Hot Fudge in the World!”
Blake’s Restaurant & Ice Cream
Blake’s has been family-owned and making ice cream since 1900. Today, the company not only operates two restaurants in Manchester, but also sells their product wholesale to ice cream shops throughout New England. Its recipe for success includes sourcing premium ingredients and making its 14 percent butterfat premium ice cream in small batches.
Ice cream tasting tip: Try hopscotch, a butter-toffee ice cream with ribbons of butterscotch and butterscotch chips.
Big 1 Ice Cream Stand
The Big 1 Ice Cream Stand has been serving Nashua residents and visitors since the 1950s. The shop carries 48 traditional flavors as well as sherbet, soft serve and frozen yogurt options, all made by Richardson’s Ice Cream in nearby Middleton, Mass. Menu items include Gary’s homemade vanilla sandwiches on Oreos (named for the shop’s owner) and fudgenut bars – vanilla soft serve with peanuts and fudge and dipped in chocolate.
Ice Cream tasting tip: The nor’easter is creamy soft serve blended with your choice of toppings.
Devriendt Farm Products
Also serving Blake’s ice cream, the ice cream stand at Devriendt Farm offers hungry visitors a cooling and relaxing respite from browsing the flowers and vegetables in the property’s 12 greenhouses. Building on Blake’s fantastic flavors, the menu includes hand-painted waffle cones, sundaes, parfaits and razzles: soft serve ice cream with candies mixed in.
Ice cream tasting tip: Ask for a cookiewich, an ice cream sandwich made with your choice of ice cream sandwiched between two homemade chocolate chip cookies.
Dewey’s Ice Cream Parlor & Cafe
Dewey’s is a classic-style ice cream parlor set inside a former pharmacy with a soda fountain and views of Lake Winnipesaukee. The over two dozen flavors of ice cream on the menu can be made into hot fudge, butterscotch, marshmallow and brownie sundaes.
Ice cream tasting tip: Maine black bear consists of red raspberry ice cream, chocolate chips and raspberry truffles.
Gould Hill Farm
Primarily an apple orchard, Gould Hill Farm also has an early-19th century barn, which houses the property’s gift store and bakery, selling wares made by local artisans, homemade honey, freshly baked apple pies and the farm’s signature apple cider donuts. Also served in the barn is ice cream made from Contoocook Creamery milk, located less than a mile away.
Ice cream tasting tip: Get a scoop of vanilla and plop it on top of the farm’s hot apple crisp.
The Granite State Candy Shoppe has been owned and operated by the Bart family for three generations, founded by a Greek immigrant who worked his way up from candy shop employee to owning his own business. The store still makes and serves homemade candies and chocolates, but also features a selection of ice cream served in cones, cups, as sundaes, or ice cream beverages, including malted frappes and root beer floats.
Hayward’s Homemade Ice Cream
Like many great New Hampshire ice cream companies, Hayward’s has been a family operation for several generations. Every flavor of hard ice cream, soft serve, frozen yogurt, sorbet and no-sugar ice cream is handcrafted on site.
Ice cream tasting tip: Chocolate tsunami: chocolate ice cream with brownie pieces, chocolate chunks and a fudge swirl.
Lone Oak Ice Cream
The staff at Lone Oak Ice Cream makes ice cream from scratch, using the finest ingredients to create flavors like cappuccino slam, Kahlua fudge brownie and muddy sneakers. Choose from a sundae or hand-dipped cone – splurge for the wicked big waffle cone – or order a pint, quart or half-gallon to take home and savor the sweetness later.
Ice cream tasting tip: You can’t go wrong with the polar Joe – ice cream blended with coffee and topped with whipped cream.
Memories Ice Cream
Memories Ice Cream strives to serve quality ice cream and help customers create long-lasting memories. Based in a giant yellow farmhouse with a wraparound porch lined with rocking chairs, taking a trip to Memories is also akin to taking a trip back to a quieter time. Ice cream is made only 5 gallons at a time, with homemade and local ingredients when available.
Ice cream tasting tip: Honey lavender ice cream.
Moose Scoops Ice Cream
Serving out of an old barn in a tiny town at the foot of Mount Moosilauke, Moose Scoops welcomes ice cream lovers and their four-legged friends for soft serve from Hatchland Farms and hard ice cream from Gifford’s of Maine.
Ice cream tasting tip: Moose tracks: peanut butter cups mixed throughout vanilla ice cream swirled with famous moose tracks fudge.
The folks at Richardson’s Farm produce their super premium ice cream on-site, making only 10 gallons at a time. They use the finest quality ingredients available, including cream from local dairy farms. Toppings include classics like hot fudge and butterscotch, as well as fresh raspberry and rhubarb when in season. And if you love your flavor selection, grab one of their pre-packaged half-gallons to take home.
Ice cream tasting tip: Homemade hot apple crisp with ice cream on top.
Sub Zero Ice Cream & Yogurt
Owner Jerry Hancock reinvented the way ice cream is made by chemically engineering a method of freezing cream using only liquid nitrogen. The Nashua location is just one of many worldwide and offers “mix-ins” like Andes mints, cheesecake bites and mangoes to go with dozens of creative flavors.
Ice cream tasting tip: Soda-inspired flavors like Pepsi, Mountain Dew, root beer and Dr. Pepper.
What do you think is the best ice cream in New Hampshire? What’s you all-time favorite ice cream flavor? Tell us in the comments.