When it’s hot outside (and even when it’s not), there’s one treat that has a way of bringing people together: ice cream!
Think about it. Grabbing a scoop of ice cream is a laidback way to extend a first date so you can continue to get to know each other. It’s a relatively inexpensive choice for gathering with friends to catch up on life. It’s a go-to for little ones on playdates and for family nights. And when it's the middle of summer and that Orlando sun is beating down, it's the answer to the question, "What should we do?"
The very first location of Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream opened in Audubon Park in 2015 and has steadily grown to include five scoop shops and five counters across the Central Florida area. From Horizon West to Oviedo (and many other neighborhoods in between), you can try specialty flavors like Key Lime Pie, with key lime cake batter ice cream, marshmallow cream and graham crackers; original flavors like Cookie Monster, Blondie and Banana Pudding; and signature flavors like Toasted Coconut and Mocha Almond Fudge.
You’ll often see groups of friends and families coming together at Allen’s Creamery & Coffee House, a hometown ice cream shop located on Windermere’s Main Street, when the weekend rolls around. With fun flavors and a variety of ways to eat them, it’s no wonder why. True ice cream fans can take on Allen’s Chain of Lakes Challenge, complete with 11 scoops of ice cream (one for each lake) and a choice of six toppings, for a chance to win a t-shirt and bragging rights.
We know, Gideon’s Bakehouse is known for the rich, nearly half-pound cookies served at East End Market and Disney Springs. But, if you time it just right, you can pair your cookie with a scoop of ice cream when ordering from the Disney Springs location. Every day between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. and again between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., Gideon’s serves a warm, gooey version of their classic chocolate chip cookie with a cool scoop of ice cream on top for Hot Cookie Hour. It takes the cookie to an entirely different level.
A Downtown Orlando favorite is The Greenery Creamery. Just a short walk from Lake Eola, this shop serves both dairy and vegan ice cream with unique flavors like blueberry lavender and Speculoos along with classics like vanilla and mint chocolate chip. They have pup cups for your furry friends, too.
The Edgewater Hotel in Winter Garden is home to Scoops Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Store. It’s not uncommon to see a line stretching from the order counter, especially on weekends. Try a cone, a float or a sundae and enjoy it as you explore the shops along Plant Street.
One of the newer ice cream shops in town, The Soda Fountain on Edgewater Drive serves all the classics that we know and love. Bonus selections include a menu of adult milkshakes like Bananas Foster with spiced rum, banana ice cream and toppings, or Chocolate Chip Cookie with Bailey’s, coffee ice cream and chocolate chip cookies. Along with beer floats (any beer with any ice cream) and the Chocolate Noir (Pinot Noir with chocolate ice cream), this is a chance for a new kind of happy hour.
We’re all about supporting the local shops, but we have to mention Twistee Treat for the pure nostalgia of cooling off with a soft-serve ice cream served out of a cone-shaped building. The cones are harder to find these days, but there are still several around town in Sodo, Ocoee and East Orlando.
The West Orange Creamery and Soda Fountain offers the best of vintage soda fountains with a modern twist. At this family-owned shop, you will find old-school treats like New York style Egg Creams and a variety of soda floats on the same menu as over-the-top, hand spun milkshakes topped with whole cupcakes and other sweets.
Savoring a scoop of ice cream with our loved ones is a big part of our memories here at the Orlando Life thanks to the mom-and-pop ice cream shops we’ve discovered through the years – like the ones mentioned in this article – that have made us feel like part of the family. We know there are more out there that we just have to try.