Nothing screams summer more than ice cream. With well over 40 scoop stops across the North Shore, you’re never more than a few miles away from a sweet treat. Many of these small town shops have been in business for decades, with some open year round and some only seasonal, opening just as school days wind down and the temperature rises. Whether you’re a fan of soft serve or sundaes, its prime time to shake, rickey, and roll your way to these dairy delights.
Benson’s Home Made Ice Cream
Taking a page from its original history as a roadside farm stand, Benson’s creates fresh and fruity flavors using what’s in season. From strawberry in June to baked apple in September, locals stock up on take-home pints of their favorites before they’re gone for good. The homemade ice cream recipe has been in the family since 1932, and you’ll find generations of customers eagerly waiting in line for a taste of creamy classics like chocolate chip and modern mixes including Grapenut and coffee brownie chunk. 181 Washington St. (Route133), West Boxford, 978-352-2911, bensonsicecream.com.
With five locations on the North Shore, owners John and Lisa Bartlett have grown their ice cream empire steadily since opening their first location in Manchester in 1996. Each flavor is produced in small batches, with ingredients like cookies and nuts stirred in by hand to create the perfect chunky crunch in each and every bite. You can satisfy a craving by suggesting a “flavor of the moment” and see if your concoction makes it on the list for good. From bubble gum to Mississippi Mud, scoops can also be made into floats, frappes, and flurries. There’s even a Doggie Sundae for your four-legged friends. 60 Beach St., Manchester By-the-Sea, 978-526-1663; 642 Hale St., Beverly Farms, 978-921-5311; 119 Beach St. (Singing Beach), Manchester by-the-Sea, 978-525-3383; 55 Ober St., Beverly, 978-921-4707; 143 Derby St., Salem, 978-744-0777, captaindustys.com.
Cherry Farm Creamery
Though it’s had a few locations since it was opened by the Jones family in 1976, the ice cream has thankfully remained the same. Named after the owner’s farm on Cherry Street in Wenham, the creamery churns out over 30 ice cream flavors, as well as frozen yogurt and sorbet. Families can feast on the famous 12-scoop Pig’s Trough sundae or choose their own flavor with candy add-ins in the single-serve blended “Squealer.” Try the salty-sweet Cashew Turtle or bowl-licking Cake Batter. 210 Conant St., Danvers, 978-774-0519, cherryfarmcreamery.com.
Dick and June’s Ice Cream
A sign proclaims “Stop—you don’t know what you’re missing” along busy route 62 in Beverly, where heaping portions of frozen custard can woo even the most devoted ice cream lover. Made from a late 1950s recipe, the custard can’t be found anywhere else in the area, with richly satisfying flavors like Java Crunch and Chocolate Peanut Butter. Dick himself will likely greet you at the window, a familiar face in the ice cream world, having spent 42 years scooping up smiles. Low-fat soft serve gets fresh pieces of carrot cake or lemon cookie mixed in, and purists will be pleased with over 30 regular ice cream flavors. 294 Elliott St. (Route 62), Beverly, 978-921-0433.
Down River Ice Cream
The perfect ending to a fried clam feed while in Essex, this tiny shop is worth the stop–don’t let the lines deter you. Located on Castleneck River, owners Joe and Amy Ahearn focused on building an environmentally conscious ice cream operation that uses fresh-from-the-farm dairy and ingredients, like strawberries they grow themselves. You can tell by the taste and texture—extra creamy, with the flavors shining through. Their penchant for playful names like Oh Snap! Ginger, Clam Flats, Kung Fu Grasshopper, and Willy Wonka Explosion make the decision of what to order almost as delicious as the first bite. 241 John Wise Ave., Essex, 978-768-0102.
A throwback to a 1950s-style ice cream parlor, complete with a black-and-white checkered floor, this family favorite in Danvers dishes out dozens of flavors. Part of the fun is checking out the nostalgic decor while the pink-shirted staff serves up your cone. Local sports teams make Goodie’s a pit stop after a game to celebrate with handmade ice cream sandwiches and pies. Drop a coin in to the gumball machine, and if you score a pink one, the scoop is on the house! 46 Maple St., Danvers, 978-762-4663.
Long Beach Dairy Maid
Soft-serve fanatics can get their fix at this Gloucester mainstay, a local favorite since 1958. It’s just a cone’s throw from the beach, making it a must-stop après sun and sand. A choice of 24 gourmet soft-serve flavors like German chocolate, pistachio nut, and cheesecake also happen to be 96 percent fat-free, which means you can indulge daily without the guilt. There are another 60 or so choices of traditional ice cream, not to mention slushes, sundaes, and parfaits. Try a hand-dipped waffle cone with chocolate or sprinkles for the ultimate treat. 147 Thatcher Road, Gloucester, 978-281-1348, longbeachdairy.com.
You will go mad over all the crazy-good flavors Steve and Maggie Repucci have dreamed up at their family-friendly shop. Even the couple’s then-11-year-old son got in on the action when he came up with a Candy Store Floor concoction—chocolate malted ice cream with pieces of chocolate malted balls, M&Ms, chocolate chips, and Nestle Crunch bits. Customers are also encouraged to submit ideas, and nothing is too strange for Mad Maggie’s to try; lemon Nerds and maple bacon are on the specialty menu. 1025 Osgood St., North Andover, 978-685-2814, madmaggies.com.
Meletharb Ice Cream
For over 36 years, Meletharb has been making one-of-a-kind flavors like Baklava and Nutella. Proprieter Don Barthelemy is also the king of celebrations, churning out ice cream cakes stuffed with candy toppings and your choice of a message written on top with real fudge icing. Everything is homemade here, right down to the whipped cream. A choice of fountain drinks, from thick frappes to lime rickeys, will quench your sweet tooth with a satisfying slurp. They’ll even send you packing with ice cream and toppings for a do-it-yourself sundae at home. 393 Lowell St., Wakefield, 781-245-4946, meletharb.com.
Richardson’s Ice Cream
Perhaps the most iconic of North Shore ice creams, Richardson’s Farm has been drawing crowds for over 300 years. Even today, their “cow-to-cone” philosophy is evident when you visit; you can watch fresh milk being bottled and order a scoop of the resulting silky ice cream moments later. There’s a flavor of frozen yogurt, sherbet, and ice cream for every taste–85 to be exact–all made from scratch on the farm. Chances are you’re eating Richardson’s whether you know it or not; they supply several shops and restaurants in the area. 156 South Main St, Route 114, Middleton, 978-774-5450; richardsonsicecream.com.
Treadwell’s Ice Cream
One of the few places open year round, Treadwell’s has had a loyal following since it opened in 1946. Known for generous portions of extra-luscious ice cream, those who also love chunks, pieces, and swirls rave about the amount of goodies in each bite. A diverse menu serves up several kinds of sundaes, from classic banana split to brownie, and the must-share 12-scoop Kitchen Sink. Try the hard yogurt (it really tastes like ice cream) in flavors like coffee Heath Bar and black raspberry chip. 46 Margin St. (Route 114), Peabody, 978-531-7010, mytreadwells.com.
White Farms Homemade Ice Cream
Just look for the cow on the roof as you make your way from Crane’s Beach along Route 133. This old-fashioned ice cream stand has been making fun flavors like Caramel Cow and Drew’s Dino Crunch since 1953. Light and fruity sherbet and sorbets, as well as frozen yogurt and soft serve, make it easy to please any palate. Devotees anticipate the opening of White Farms every year and were more than thrilled when a second location opened in Georgetown in April. 326 High St., Ipswich, 978-356-2633; 70 West Main St., Georgetown.