2004 Fairmount Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Philly Flavors just might be your Philadelphia frozen treat headquarters. Ice cream, frozen yogurt, ice cream sandwiches, water ice — it’s got it all. The homemade strawberry ice cream sandwich is a favorite; it’s made with sugar cookies and there are actual chunks of strawberry in the ice cream. The vanilla birthday cake ice cream, made with pieces of vanilla cake and swirls of frosting, is another house specialty. And, of course, you’ll want to try the water ice. With over 30 flavors, this is the kind of water ice that Philadelphia is known for – not too much ice, not too watery and full of flavor. Prices are extremely reasonable, so you won’t feel bad visiting regularly throughout the summer. Just keep in mind that the portions tend to be large. The small, or even the kiddie size, is enough to satisfy most customers.
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1210 Frankford Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19125
Stephen Starr’s Fishtown beer garden combines an adult favorite (booze) with a favorite of all ages (milkshakes). Each of the three flavors takes a classic treat and then dresses it up with the addition of a complementary alcohol. Jack ‘n S’mores is a combination of chocolate ice cream with Jack Daniels, topped with Hershey’s chocolate, a toasted marshmallow and a graham cracker. The simple honey graham mixes German honey liqueur with vanilla ice cream and graham cracker crumbs. And the orange creamsicle is the perfect summer treat, with vanilla ice cream and Stoli Orange. At just $6 each, you won’t mind spending the summer trying them all. Grab a seat at one of the outdoor picnic tables or join in a game of Jenga or ping-pong.
Bassetts Ice Cream
Reading Terminal Market
45 N. 12th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
At the turn of the 20th century, Philadelphia was the Ice Cream Capital of America, home to approximately 50 ice cream companies. Although many have moved out of the area or closed, the original has kept its Philadelphia roots. Founded in 1861 by Lewis Bassett, Bassetts is America’s oldest ice cream company. The family claims that top-quality ingredients like Madagascar vanilla beans and a lighter, creamier texture keeps customers coming back after all these years. It doesn’t hurt that new flavors like pomegranate blueberry and green tea are always popping up on the menu. While its delicious dairy treats can now be found in several locations throughout the country, the Bassett family has had a Reading Terminal presence since 1893. Whether you enjoy the many flavors of ice cream, a root beer float or a classic egg cream, there’s just something special about ordering your favorite and eating it while sitting at the original marble counters at the Market.
Related: Top Philadelphia Ice Cream Shops
Joe’s Steaks + Soda Shop
6030 Torresdale Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19135
Formerly Chink’s Steaks, Joe’s Steaks + Soda Shop is famous for both its cheesesteaks and its unique malt shop atmosphere. While the name is new, this Philadelphia favorite has been serving homemade sodas, milkshakes, floats and sundaes since it opened in 1949. Choose from specialty sodas including cherry, vanilla, strawberry and chocolate for $2.50, or add a scoop of Turkey Hill ice cream to create a float for $3.50. Egg creams and banana splits are other favorites, paying tribute to the restaurant’s early days. The most ordered treats, however, are the extra-thick shakes. Made to order in a classic milkshake machine, standard flavors include strawberry, vanilla, chocolate, mint chocolate chip and black and white for $4.50. Add banana or malt for an extra 45 cents. In addition, Joe’s offers a milkshake of the month that is voted on by the staff. While the milkshakes are reasonable any day of the week, customers can save a dollar on any shake every Monday. Plus, “Thirsty Thursdays” gives the option of pairing a small steak and shake for $9 or a large steak and shake for $11.
Percy Street Barbecue
901 South St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
You probably know that Percy Street is famous for Texas-style barbecue, but you might not have heard that it also arguably serves the best root beer float in Philadelphia. House-churned vanilla ice cream and spiced root beer made by local Yards Brewing Company make the classic a favorite for just $5. For a more adult version, order the spiked float with Root or Rittenhouse rye whiskey for $10. Beer drinkers will love 3 Beans or Ten Fidy floats as a fun twist on this classic treat for $10.50. Go during happy hour, and you can also add a half-price shot of bourbon to your float.
2491 Grant Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19114
A list of top cold treats just wouldn’t be complete without Nifty Fifty’s. This casual, 50s-style diner has won “Best of Philly” awards for its ice cream sundae, ice cream soda and milkshake. In fact, it’s hard to find a Nifty Fifty’s fan who doesn’t have a favorite milkshake. With over 50 shake flavors all freshly made in the old-time soda fountain, there’s something for everyone. Classic flavors like black and white, almond, vanilla cream or orange burst will set you back $4.59, while the more exotic flavors such as Reesey cup, rocky road or strawberry cheesecake are $5.19. Add fresh banana (99 cents), malt (60 cents) or go extra thick for 69 cents. Low-fat, hand-dipped frozen yogurt can be substituted in any float, malt, cream soda or milkshake for an extra $1.19. The newest additions to the exotic shake options celebrate another Philly tradition, TastyKake. Butterscoth Krimpet, Jelly Krimpet, Peanut Butter KandyKake and Coffee Kake are the most recent flavors available and have become wildly popular already.
Head to Philadelphia’s Best Of pages for more local tips on family fun, shopping, nightlife, food, culture and more!
Michelle Hein is a copy editor for a women’s fashion company in Bucks County by day and a self-proclaimed food and drink fanatic by night and weekend. She enjoys attending wine classes, trying new recipes in the kitchen and going to old favorites and new restaurants alike in the Bucks County and Philadelphia area. If the writing gig doesn’t pan out, she constantly dreams of owning her own bakery…perhaps connected to the restaurant/bar that her lawyer boyfriend would love to open. Examiner.com.