Where to Find the Best Ice Cream on the Atlanta BeltLine
It’s July in Atlanta, which is exactly like living in a rainforest (without the chimpanzees). So if you are outside, be sure to find plenty of ways to keep cool. Bring some bottled water, a sweat towel, maybe a personal fan and some ice cream.
Yes, ice cream! It might be hot walking down the Atlanta BeltLine, but there are plenty of places to stop for a refreshing scoop or popsicle to cool down a bit. And forget boring flavors like chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. They've been replaced with Chocolate Slap Yo Mama, Rocket Pop, Honeycomb Forest and Black Pearl. There are also plenty of non-dairy and vegan options. And even downright healthy ingredients like chai and matcha.
You can find some of the best ice cream in Atlanta on the Atlanta BeltLine's Eastside Trail. So down a scoop or two because heat stroke is serious, y'all!
Atlanta’s iconic, quirky popsicle vendor started with a used cart in front of Buddy’s gas station at the corner of North Avenue. They are now further spreading happiness (pretty much their company motto) across the South (and even into some Northern states) with flavors made from local farms, changing seasonally. You can find their cart on the BeltLine at Irwin Street on weekends, and their retail shop both inside and outside Ponce City Market. They even offer boozy popsicles now (hey, it's 5:00 somewhere). They have created over 500 flavors since they started, so you’re sure to find one you like. Chocolate Sea Salt and Orange Cream are a couple of my favorites.
King of Pops vacated its original headquarters in Inman Park, making room for Queen of Cream at the walk-up window. Their motto is "Handmade in ATL," and their scoops come from local, grass-fed cows. They pride themselves on small batches made in-house, so get it while you can get it. I am curious to try their Black Pearl or the vegan Mango Coconut Swirl or the Buttermilk Mulberry Jam. They also teamed up with Bat, Bat Soda to offer ice cream floats made with Bat, Bat coffee soda. I’m sorry, what?! I want some of that.
Remember running after the ice cream truck to get a bubble gum popsicle or fudgesicle or Sponge Bob or strawberry shortcake pop? Jeni’s in Krog Street Market is trying to recapture the ice cream trucks of our youth (without the creepy music), with flavors like Rocket Pop and High Five Candy Bar. It’s part of their Ice Cream Truck Collection this summer. I’ll take an Orange Freeze, “the classic food court beverage” made with juicy blood orange, tart OJ, and coconut cream. Or maybe Golden Nectar: “Tastes like fading summer sunlight topped with cracked caramel.” Poetry in a cone, that is.
This Decatur-based restaurant has a location in SPX Alley, next to Guac y Margys. Their offbeat flavors include Honeycomb Forest, Christmas in July (made with hot cocoa and peppermint) and Snix, which sounds like…yeah, Snickers. They also make all the yummy baked goods they put in their ice cream, like brownies, cookies and toffee. And so you can feel good about splurging on all that sugar, they are socially responsible, having teamed up with Ice Cream for Change, an initiative to “freeze out” racism.
How I have missed Jake’s. Post-pandemic, they are back on weekends in the Irwin Street Market. (When you get to Irwin Street on the BeltLine, look to your right). They might be famous for their Chocolate Slap Yo Mama and Brown Shugah Vanilla, but they also offer more than 200 flavors of ice cream, yogurt, gelato.…basically anything frozen. Another claim to fame is their Joyscream™, with a sweetener they created. On my list to try are Chocolate Pecan Piescream, made with an entire pecan pie, German Chocolate Cakescream and Thin Mint (yes, like the Girl Scout cookie). They also have sorbets for vegans and the dairy free.
You used to find this creamy gelato on local restaurant dessert menus only. They now have their own shop at Ponce City Market, and a retail test kitchen on the Atlanta BeltLine Westside Trail at Brewery Row. With flavors like Bourbon Pecan Praline, Chai, Nutella and Salted Caramel Brownie, it was worth the wait.
Nestled in the heart of Inman Park behind Bartaco, VOGA serves gelato, chocolate and coffee - which they say are “fundamental elements of happiness.” Who’s to argue that? Their coffee comes from Guatemala, and their pistachios, lemons, hazelnuts and espresso beans are imported from Italy. They also have an indulgence of chocolate: chocolate bars, chocolate spread, chocolate pralines and chocolate you drink hot or cold. And, of course, iced coffee.
Sometimes you just crave Chunky Monkey or Cherry Garcia, but don’t want a whole pint from Publix. Who are you kidding? Of course, you WANT the whole pint, but you know…it’s not just ice cream season, it’s also swimsuit season. Well, you can get a single (or double) scoop at Ben & Jerry’s retail shop across from Pure Taqueria in Inman Park, just steps from the Atlanta BeltLine. They were the original socially responsible ice cream makers, and are still advocating for the little guy (I just got a petition from them to push gazillionaires to pay higher taxes). But whether or not you agree with their liberal Vermont politics, they're still making good ice cream.
And if you’re down by Piedmont Park, cut through to the Trader Joe’s shopping center for a scoop. Bruster’s in Midtown Promenade is a walk-up window whose menu is more like a traditional ice cream parlor with shakes, sundaes, splits, cakes and pies. For the lactose intolerant, they have a wide array of non-dairy flavors, like strawberry, cookies and cream, chocolate, mint chocolate chip, banana and more. They are only open seasonally, and people line up for their ice cream when it’s available. Bring your fur baby for a free "doggie sundae." And every Thursday is "Banana Thursday" - bring your own banana for 1/2 off a banana split. Oh yeah.
Whichever place you choose, if you get a cone, make sure to ask for a cup too, as it will probably end up looking this:
If you're looking for a healthier frozen treat, check out my article on smoothies and smoothie bowls on the Atlanta BeltLine.
OK, time for a poll. What was your favorite ice cream truck treat as a kid? Let us know in the comments below.
Stay cool out there! And...Book a BiteLines Food & Art Tour on the Atlanta BeltLine.
An Atlanta native, Nicole Gustin is the Founder & CEO of BiteLines, which offers walking food & art tours on the Atlanta BeltLine. She considers the BeltLine her backyard, and is excited to see how Atlanta is reinventing itself. The BiteLines blog features art, restaurants, happenings and weirdness on the Atlanta BeltLine. Share story ideas and pics at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or follow on Instagram @bitelinesatl.