Hello summer! As the sizzling season arrives with meltingly hot days and everlasting nights, thoughts turn to ice cream and its cousins, gelato and sorbet, to cool things down.
In honor of the 31 flavors of Baskin Robbins (natch) or maybe just because July has 31 days to enjoy a cool lick, we’ve put together a list of 31 ice creams you should check out, because one man’s rocky road is another’s Meyer lemon sorbet.
Keep in mind, flavors change up seasonally and sometimes daily, so if you’re really dying for a particular favorite, be sure to call first.
So let’s get to scooping…
1. Bourbon bacon brittle ice cream at Nimble and Finn’s. There’s a reason why river-goers line up for some of the best ice cream in Sonoma County. Nimble and Finn’s cheeky by-the-scoop flavors also include white nectarine lemon thyme sorbet, lavender honey comb and cinnamon cookie. Go a la mode with a slice of sweet apple and cherry pie with a drizzle of chile-infused honey from nearby Chile Pies. Guerneville Bank Club, 16290 Main St., Guerneville, 666-9411, or on Sundays at Santa Rosa’s West End Farmers Market at Railroad Square.
2. Coconut Lime ice cream at Noble Folk Ice Cream and Pie Bar. It’s worth a special trip, along with unique flavors like cardamom, blackberry rosemary, cookie butter and Swiss chocolate, each inspired by local produce and the seasons. The menu changes frequently. 116 Matheson St., Healdsburg, 529-2162.
3. Meyer lemon ice cream at Healdsburg Shed. Small batch ice creams in exotic seasonal flavors at the coffee bar. 25 North St., Healdsburg, 431-7433.
4. Lavender fig ice cream at Sweet Scoops. Sonomans are crazy for this homemade ice cream spot on the square, which always has 22 flavors, from simple vanilla to lemon custard and Mexican chocolate. 408 First St. East, Sonoma, 721-1187.
5. Apricot-almond frozen ice pop by Real Cool Frozen Treats. Don’t call these Popsicles. Chef Maria DeCorpo’s ice cream cart is stocked with pops made from seasonal produce and organic ingredients, flavors like melon-mint, lemon and key lime, strawberry and Mexican chocolate. She’s a regular at the Wednesday night market in Santa Rosa and the Rohnert Park Farmer’s Market on Fridays. facebook.com/realcoolfrozentreats.
6. Pineapple whips at Trader Jim’s. This little retro camper does only one thing, a little aloha in a cup. It is non-dairy soft-serve that you can get with or without a float of fresh pineapple juice. Off The Grid, Sundays from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Coddingtown Mall in Santa Rosa. facebook.com/traderjimsfloats.
7. Daiquiri ice at Baskin Robbins. You can’t say 31 flavors without thinking of this classic ice cream spot. 282 Coddingtown Center, 544-9516, or baskinrobbins.com.
8. Root beer float at Foster’s Freeze. This old school burger and ice cream spot is all about the memories. Maybe because you’ve walked there, or your mom and dad took you in the family wagon, or it’s just Tuesday. 1400 Fourth St., Santa Rosa.
9. Olive oil ice cream at Screaming Mimi’s. It’s no surprise that Food & Wine magazine has named this Sebastopol ice cream spot one of the best in America. There’s always a line, there are always kids with messy chocolate grins, and there’s always a new flavor to try. When it comes to rich, dark chocolate, there’s always Mimi’s Mud or Deep Dark Secret. 6902 Sebastopol. Ave., Sebastopol, 823-5902.
10. Black cherry amaretto gelato at Häagen-Dazs. Did you know the company’s name was made up by the founders in 1961, and become synonymous with rich, artisan ice creams long before that was a thing? 1071 Santa Rosa Plaza, Santa Rosa, 545-2722.
Yogurt and Gelato
11. Vanilla/chocolate swirl frozen yogurt with maraschino cherries and Sour Patch Kids at Menchie’s. There are more toppings than you can possibly mix in without going into a sugar coma. Pineapple sorbet is another favorite. 2188 Santa Rosa Ave., at Santa Rosa Marketplace. 545-9866.
12. Berry patch tart yogurt at Moxie’s. 8930 Brooks Road, South, Windsor, 836-1665.
13. Classic tart yogurt at Yogurt Farms. It’s just that, classic and tart like real yogurt, lovable it for its simplicity. Get Hawaiian shave ice here as well. 1224 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa, 576-0737.
14. Taro and milk tea fro yo at Tutti Frutti. Fascinating Asian flavors worth a sample. 1425 Fulton Road, Santa Rosa, 988-3737.
15. Ghirardelli chocolate with pretzels at Honeymoon Frozen Yogurt. This local yogurt shop is a favorite because of its organic ingredients and commitment to local farms. Plus, its open until 10 p.m. 7108 Bodega Ave., Sebastopol, 829-9866.
16. Raspberry gelato at Powell’s Sweet Shop. 720 McClelland, Windsor, 836-0808.
17. Banana split at Lala’s Creamery. This spot looks like the soda fountains of old, with a marble-topped bar and brick walls, but in addition to the traditional confections, is serves up unique flavors like horchata, honey goat cheese and dairy free lemon curd chia seed. 134 Petaluma Blvd. North, Petaluma, 763-5252.
18. Blackberry swirl at Petaluma Creamery. This historic creamery still makes housemade ice cream along with Spring Hill cheese. Most popular is the lavender ice cream, but Meyer lemon also is a contender. 711 Western Ave., Petaluma, 762-9038.
19. Cookie Sundae at Shuffles Magical Ice Cream Shoppe. Magic and ice cream collide like a tasty Reese’s peanut butter cup at this entertainment venue. Recently relocated to Railroad Square, it has the usual chocolate, cherry and bubblegum flavors along with unique creations like orange tarragon zest, avocado lime, double fudge bacon and espresso chip. 123 Fourth St., Santa Rosa, 544-3535.
The Wow Factor
Customized ice cream? Your choice of mix-ins added to ice cream or yogurt are at these ice cream stops.
20. Fudge brownie batter ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery. Yes, it’s a chain, but there’s probably one near you. And sometimes you just need a warm churro sundae. Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park and Petaluma locations, coldstonecreamery.com.
21. Ice cream nachos at Flavors Unlimited. This favorite stop after a long day on the river adds fruit or candies to ice cream. Or you can go whole hog and try the ice cream nachos with ice cream, broken waffle cones, hot fudge, caramel, whipped cream and cherries. 16450 Main St., Guerneville, 869-2927.
22. Espresso almond at NitroKarma. Two former social workers have opened this pop-up ice cream shop at Dave’s Market and Deli, stirring up “happy scoops of delicious and delectably darn good delights.” Pick from various add-ins to create a stellar personal creation in seconds. At Dave’s Market 1-9 p.m. Friday through Sunday, 320 W. Third St., Santa Rosa, 542-8333; or at the Wednesday Night Market in Santa Rosa.
23. Fresh strawberry custard with cheesecake pieces at SubZero Ice Cream. Choose your base (yogurt, custard or nondairy), a flavoring and mix-ins that include bubblegum, mints, gummy bears or chocolates. 6760 McKinley St., Sebastopol, 823-9376.
South of the Border
24. Cinnamon tortilla ice cream at Frozen Art. The Alcazars have been making Michoacana-style ice creams since 2011, originally as La Real Michoacana, and they continue to expand their line-up of 40-plus flavors. It now includes maple bacon, lemon olive oil, zinfandel chocolate chip, champagne and Gansito, a Twinkie-like cake popular in Mexico. The family comes from Tocumbo, Mexico’s ice cream-making capital. 500 Sebastopol Road, Santa Rosa.
25. Mangonada at Fru-Ta. This mango puree is topped by with chamoy, lemon and salt, making it totally crave-worthy. Their unique ice cream flavors include rose petal, guava, tequila, guanaba, chongo zamorano and mamey. 2770 Stony Point Road, Santa Rosa, 542-6026, and 279 N. McDowell, Petaluma.
26. Pineapple paletas at La Michoacana. You can’t miss this ice cream spot’s bright pink and orange exterior. It’s best known for fruit paletas, or frozen ice pops. 18495 Highway 12, Sonoma, 938-1773.
A Few More We Had to Add
27. Spicy chocolate at Companey’s Ice Cream Cafe. It’s the favorite flavor. 8252 Old Redwood Hwy., Cotati, 242-6359.
28. Sour plum slush at Quickly. A surprise treat from the Taiwanese bubble tea shop. 1880 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa; 1451 Southwest Blvd., Rohnert Park.
29. Sundae becomes Fundae at Sift. The cupcake place takes two scoops of Three Twins ice cream (salted caramel, brownie, cookies and cream, vanilla), raspberry or chocolate sauce, whipped cream, a cherry and a Sift treat like a macaroon, cookie, cruffle, blondie or cupcake. Three Sonoma County locations (Santa Rosa, Cotati and Petaluma).
30. Strawberry ice cream with real strawberries at Oliver’s Market. Students and weary moms know that there are $1 scoops of ice cream at the coffee counter. Not everyone knows, so impress your friends by buying a round or two. 560 Montecito Center, Santa Rosa, 537-7123.
31. Salted Caramel frozen yogurt at Yogurt Time. It will melt in your mouth and leave you craving more, so get an extra cup for the freezer. 531 Summerfield Road, Santa Rosa, 539-7876.
Did we miss one of your very favorite spots, or flavors? Add you thoughts below. Because no scoop should get left behind.