Get Sweet on Ice Cream in Massachusetts

No summer trip is complete without creamy, handmade local ice cream, served up at beloved ice cream spots and dairies across the Bay State.

By Yankee Editors

Jul 04 2022


High Lawn Farm in Lee

Photo Credit : Linda Campos
By Courtney Hollands; sponsored by the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism
A summer vacation in the Bay State is a perfect time to get in on a cherished local secret: where to find homemade ice cream. In the Berkshires, that list includes the family-owned High Lawn Farm in Lee, whose delicious wares are shown here.
Photo Credit : Linda Campos
The story of ice cream in Massachusetts is one of delicious innovation. In the early 19th century, Boston native Frederic “Ice King” Tudor popularized ice — and its many household uses, such as chilling cocktails and keeping ice cream frozen — by harvesting blocks from local ponds with horse-drawn plows and shipping them around the world. When artificial refrigeration eventually overtook ice boxes, it helped give rise to ice cream parlors — and again, the Bay State would lead the way. The bustling ice cream shop that Edward L. Brigham opened in Newton in 1924 soon multiplied, and by the 1970s, there were more than 100 Brigham’s locations across the Commonwealth (today, the cherished brand lives on in grocery stores throughout New England). Hoodsies, the nostalgic half-vanilla-half-chocolate ice cream cups eaten with a stubby wooden paddle, were invented by Charlestown-based HP Hood in 1947. And in the early 1970s, Steve Herrell pioneered cookie and candy mix-ins at his landmark Somerville shop, Steve’s, which spawned the gourmet ice cream boom in the Bay State and beyond. It’s no wonder Massachusetts takes its frozen treats so seriously. With that in mind — and just in time for National Ice Cream Month — we offer a sampling of the many local-favorite places to get your strawberry or maple-walnut fix in the Bay State this summer, whether you’re in town, at the beach, or on the farm.


Downtown Northampton has been getting its licks in at Herrell’s Ice Cream — home to more than 400 gourmet flavors — since 1980.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Herrell’s
There’s no better way to cool off in the city than with a cone piled high with ice cream, best eaten while indulging in a bit of summertime people-watching. To get a taste of Steve Herrell’s legacy (showered with real chocolate sprinkles, naturally), stop by the last remaining Herrell’sIce Cream, in Northampton; though Steve is retired, it is run by his former wife and longtime partner, Judy, and has been a staple of this Pioneer Valley city since 1980.
No matter where you are in Greater Boston, you’re not far from a J.P. Licks — just look for the cheerful Holstein cow!
Photo Credit : Courtesy of J.P. Licks
Of course, Herrell’s influence is still felt in the Boston area, too: Toscanini’s founder Gus Rancatore worked at the original Steve’s and opened his first shop in 1981. He now has two Toscanini’s locations in Cambridge dishing out the fan-favorite “B3” flavor: brown butter, brown sugar, and brownies. Another Boston-area shop that came on the scene in the early 1980s was J.P. Licks, which debuted in Jamaica Plain and today has 17 stores and an array of addictive flavors, including variations on cookies ’n’ cream (mint, chocolate, coffee, salted caramel) and special guest stars such as King Tut, a version of golden milk ice cream, and Unicorn Crunch.
In addition to creamy scoops of homemade ice cream, Gracie’s in Somerville sweetens the deal by offering sugar cones that have been dipped in Marshmallow Fluff and toasted.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Gracie’s Instagram
For something a bit funkier, check out Christina’s Homemade Ice Cream in Cambridge, known for its spicy concoctions such as fenugreek-gingersnap and cantaloupe–star anise (no doubt inspired by owner Ray Ford’s other shop, Christina’s Spice & Specialty Foods). Similarly offbeat is the Somerville newcomer Gracie’s Ice Cream, serving up flavors like Fruity Pebble and Gronk Smash (a peanut butter base with potato chips, pretzels, Kit Kats, peanuts, and chocolate chips) in cones dipped in that Massachusetts icon, Marshmallow Fluff. Meanwhile, the most popular order at Honeycomb Creamery in Cambridge is salted caramel crackle, crafted with homemade honeycomb candy. Additional picks for In-Town Scoops:Forge, Somerville; Mrs. Moriconi’s, Worcester; New City Microcreamery, Hudson, Sudbury, and Cambridge; SoCo Creamery, Great Barrington; Harbor Creamery, Newburyport


Enjoy a sugar rush by the seashore on Nantucket, where local favorite The Juice Bar scoops up memorable concoctions like the Green Monster (mint and chocolate chip cookie dough).
Photo Credit : Meredith Hanson via Instagram
After a long beach day, waiting in line at the local scoop shop — with your still-sandy feet shuffling along in flip flops — is a peak New England experience. When on Nantucket, follow your nose down Broad Street to the hand-rolled waffle cones at The Juice Bar, where you can top your sundae with mini marshmallows, Heath Bar bits, and even Nerds candy (though maybe not all at once). On Martha’s Vineyard, Mad Martha’s, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2021, is a must. With locations in Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, and Vineyard Haven, the iconic local chain often blends other island-made sweets — Back Door Donuts apple fritters, Enchanted Chocolates chocolate-covered almonds — into its creations.
Cape Cod Creamery scoops are an ideal complement to the Cape’s other summer delights, from spending a day at the beach to watching a Cape Cod Baseball League game.
Photo Credit : William DeSousa-Mauk
The mainland has plenty of seaside creameries, too, especially down the Cape. The ice cream names at Cape Cod Creamery’s shops in Dennis, Hyannis, and South Yarmouth celebrate local flavor: Nauset Peach, Cummaquid Coconut, Provincetown Pistachio, and more. At the cutely named Sundae School in Harwich Port and Dennis Port, which has been churning out the good stuff since 1976, may we suggest Shark’s Tooth (black raspberry with white chocolate chips) as one of the three scoops in your giant banana split, crowned with hot fudge, strawberries, pineapple, and whipped cream? Soft-serve fanatics should head to the North Shore, where Gloucester’s Long Beach Dairy Maid has two dozen flavors of the swirly delight (not to mention the 60 or so hard-packed flavors, including a frosty tribute to yet another Massachusetts invention, the Toll House Cookie). Additional picks for Coastal Treats:Farfar’s, Duxbury; Four Seas Ice Cream, Centerville; Lewis Brothers Homemade Ice Cream, Provincetown; Smitty’s Homemade Ice Cream, East Falmouth, East Orleans, and Mashpee


At High Lawn Farm in Lee, you can not only enjoy decadent ice cream but also pick up farm-fresh milk, butter, and cheese.
Photo Credit : Linda Campos
Just as lobster rolls taste better by the ocean, there’s something special about digging into a sundae right at the source, preferably in view of the actual cows that provided the milk. You’ll definitely see bovines moseying about, for instance, at High Lawn Farm in Lee, a stunning 1,600-acre property where visitors can dig into rich coffee, ginger, strawberry cheesecake, and lemon meringue pie ice cream made with milk from the resident Jersey cows. Goats, piglets, and cows are also ready for their close-ups at the half-century-old Crescent Ridge Dairy Bar in Sharon, where, in addition to ice cream sandwiches and frappes, you can purchase retro glass bottles of the farm’s fresh milk, as well as a milkbone-topped “pup cup” for your own four-legged friend. At Rota Spring Farm in Sterling, which promises “a herd of flavor in every scoop,” you can say hi to the goats in the petting zoo after the last lick of your Moo Tracks cone. Another rural gem situated on a working ninth-generation family dairy farm is Richardson’s Ice Cream in Middleton: They have 80 flavors, plus mini golf and a batting cage next door at Golf Country.
Bring an appetite when you come to Kimball Farm: Founded in 1939 and now operating four locations, it’s famous for its portion sizes.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Kimball Farm
If it’s old-time family fun you’re after, make tracks for Kimball Farm in Westford, where the amusements include a zipline, bumper boats, and an arcade. Its real claim to fame, however, is the colossal portion size of its homemade ice creams, also available at Kimball Farm’s outposts in Lancaster, Carlisle, and Jaffrey, NH. Go classic with grape-nut or frozen pudding, or go unconventional with chocolate caramel whiskey — but either way, at Kimball’s you may want to seriously consider the “small” or even the “kiddie” size. Additional picks for Farm Dairy Delights: Elsie’s Creamery at Randall’s Farm & Greenhouse, Ludlow; Flayvors of Cook Farm, Hadley; Gibby’s at Gibson’s Dairy Farm, Worcester; Ice Cream Barn at Baker Farm, Swansea; Ice Cream Dairy Bar at Hornstra Dairy Farm, Norwell