What makes roadside ice cream stands so enjoyable on summer days? Forget the obvious for a moment and consider the melted mix of kitsch, doo-wop architecture, childhood memories, local history, science, friendship, and art. Then add a cherry on top. This summer, go on your own mini road trip here in the Hudson Valley and explore some of these cool spots. Your adventures will lead you toward some amazing desserts but, if you pay closer attention, you'll also discover some real good scoops.
The oldest in this lineup with a born-on date of 1956, Weir's Ice Cream in Salisbury Mills is a deliciously visual experience. Not only is the building adorable, with its signature jumbo soft serve cone seen from miles away (okay, not really), but the walls are covered in rainbowed clip art boasting yum shakes, floats, ices, sundaes, dips, and more.Salisbury Mills.
DEL'S DAIRY CREME
The blue-and-white striped awnings of this charming roadside Rhinebeck ice cream stand dream up an imaginary beach vacation the minute you arrive. Established in 1960, Del's features soft serve as well as Perry's brand, which comes complete with an allergen guide outlining the use of gluten, nuts, soy, etc. There's also an indoor lounge that provides refuge should summer turn rainy or cold. (Not like that ever happens.Rhinebeck; (845) 876-4111.
Holy cow! This big-time dessert destination opened in 1963 and has remained one of the largest and liveliest ice cream stands around. Tons of parking, tons of places to sit, and tons of visual features here, like the playful mashup of black- and-white cow patterns against checkerboard tiles. Get ready to go cruisin' in Lake Katrine as this is a great spot to visit at night thanks to the Dan Flavinesque fluorescent bulbs reinvented with colorful gels. A recent visit here found the sound system blasting Olivia Newton John's "Xanadu." Indeed. Lake Katrine.
Less cartoon and more country, this roadside ice cream adventure boasts a farm stand and roadside market, a playground for kids, a charming gift shop, and a bakery with award-winning pies and cider donuts plus pick-your-own crops. (Tomatoes and cherries in season in July.) The farm stand was originally founded in 1932 by Frank Tantillo and is still run today by family members. Many of their signature toppings are crafted with fruits from the farm. Enjoy a banana split on one of their roomy lounge chairs and watch the sun set behind the distant mountains. Gardiner.
This charming, extrafriendly ice cream spot celebrates its heritage, as owner Alyson Dugan Reidy fondly remembers enjoying dessert there when she was a young teenager from Rosendale. Back then the spot was named Juergen's Place, for nearly 30 years. Cherries, which opened in 2008, maintains some Juergen's recipes, like their special ice cream cakes, but the menu has evolved to include new favorites like The Excavator, a sundae that combines chocolate ice cream, cookie crunches, and gummi worms. Also try their adventurous hot dog menu, including the infamous Bacon Macaroni n' Cheese hot dog. Stone Ridge.
Imagine if Mel's Diner served grass-fed black Angus burgers from a farm down the way, ice cream from a celebrated local purveyor—Jane's, naturally—and premium soft serve available in 24 flavors. Add a decor dash of Peewee's Playhouse and the result is golly-gee awesome Mama's Boy Burgers in Tannersville, opened only last year. Previously known as Smiley's for generations, the diner's current owner Michael Koegel both honors and remixes ice cream classics in a retrotacular setting. Try the Sunday Breakfast Sundae with layers of vanilla ice cream, bacon, real maple syrup and chocolate sauce, or the Lucky Dog, a vanilla ice cream sandwich between two giant Milk Bones. (That one's for dogs, okay?) Tannersville.