Someone once said, “Ice cream is happiness condensed.” The same could not be said for summertime in the south. The days may be only 24 hours long, but they seem longer. But they are happy days because southerners have learned how to stay cool when it seems the sun has a personal vendetta. Hot, humid and nap-inducing, summer in the south cries out for ice cream. Ice cream and summer go together like peas and carrots, like peanut butter and jelly. Who among us hasn’t seen the crankiest of children make a complete turn-around when offered a scoop of ice cream? Luckily, Charleston has a variety of ice cream shops to duck into when the humidity is making your hair frizz and the children bad-tempered. Here are 7 local shops that offer top-notch ice cream and a place to stay cool.
With three locations in the Charleston area, you don’t have to go to Italy for Italian-style ice cream. Gelato is simply the Italian word for ice cream, but the word conjures an image of creamy goodness enjoyed at an outdoor European café. A family-run business, Belgian Gelato gets its flavorful inspirations from Belgian Chocolates. Try the salted caramel gelato in a Belgian waffle cone. It’s an instant cure for the summertime blues.
Jeni’s King Street
Jeni’s enjoys an excellent location in the much-coveted area of Upper King. Don’t eat too much at one of the stellar nearby restaurants so you can stroll into the cool space of Jeni’s for an after dinner scoop. This ice cream chain uses only the finest ingredients to create a rich and creamy selection of daring and unique flavors. Scoops are served in a brightly lit parlor by good-spirited attendants who are generous with the samples as well as the scoops.
Ye Ole Fashioned Ice Cream Shop and Sandwich Café
Located in a retro building with a distinctly diner motif, this local chain has been crowned the best ice cream by local publications for several years. With the biggest scoops in the low country, the café is a destination for locals as well tourists who have gotten off the beaten path. Go for the gold and order the Gold Digger Sundae – butter pecan ice cream with butterscotch, pecans and bananas.
Kilwins, a national chain, has been serving scoops of Original Recipe Ice Cream since 1985 and today there are over 40 delectable and distinctive flavors to choose from. The alluring scent of baking waffle cones beckons you before you even open the door. CNN travel is partial to Kilwin’s banana fudge pie flavor but patrons at this locale lean toward the fresh Georgia peach. Try a scoop of each, but be prepared. The scoops are huge. Free samples are provided by the exceedingly friendly counter servers.
Ice & Pan
This Upper King counter shop is a spirited locale serving up rolled ice cream. A Thailand treat originally, rolled ice cream is liquid sweet cream drizzled on a stainless steel plate and topped with fresh fruit, chocolate chips or just about any other topping you can imagine. The mixture is packed down, spread delicately into a sheet and then frozen. Then the ice cream is scraped by hand into distinctive ringlets known as fat rolls. With many flavors and toppings to choose from, everyone will be satisfied. Two of the coolest things about this place: you can observe the creation of the fat rolls and there is a funky “insta-wall” of angel wings for photo opportunities.
An Argentine treat, helado just means ice cream in Spanish. Helado is very similar to gelato due to the inspiration of immigrating Italians who moved to Argentina in the 1800s. The Huffington Post refers to Freddo’s helado as everything you could hope for in a gelato. Distinctly different from American blends, helado is silky in texture and less sugar laden. Italian mascarpone and dulce de leche light are customer favorites. If you are going to stroll the Charleston sidewalks while you enjoy your helado, ask for it in a cup with the cone placed on top. You’ll be happy you did when the summer heat is bearing down on you.