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Best Ice Cream Shops in Southern California

Best Ice Cream Shops in Southern California

Discover the must-try local ice cream shops in Southern California featuring unique flavors and handcrafted treats in the region. Team


4 min read

April 07, 2023

Southern California is home to some of the best ice cream shops in the country, each offering its unique spin on the classic frozen treat. From Los Angeles to San Diego and Santa Monica, we've scoured the region to bring you the top nine local ice cream shops you cannot miss. Say goodbye to generic chain shops and hello to heavenly, handcrafted scoops.

Salt & Straw has locations all over the West Coast, and they maintain consistent quality throughout.

Salt & Straw

Address: 240 North Larchmont Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90004

Salt & Straw is a distinctive ice cream shop famed for its creative, locally-sourced flavors. Their small-batch ice creams are made with organic ingredients, setting them apart from traditional parlors. One standout flavor, "Rosemary's Baby," combines rosemary-infused olive oil with sea salt caramel ribbons, showcasing their innovative approach. Seasonal and limited-edition flavors keep customers coming back for more.

A unique item on their menu is the Ice Cream Flight, allowing patrons to sample four different flavors in one sitting. This is perfect for those eager to explore Salt & Straw's exclusive offerings without committing to a single pint.

Scoops excels with providing a diverse selection of ice cream flavors.


Address: 5105 York Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90042

The shop has been open since 2001 and serves up unique flavors of ice cream that you won't find anywhere else. It's also known for its eclectic decor and friendly staff, who are happy to help you choose your favorite flavor!

Scoops has a variety of unique flavors and creative ingredients. The shop has vegan options, too. One of the main reasons Scoops stands out is because they have so many different flavors. They have over 100 different types of ice cream, including some that are not found anywhere else in Los Angeles (or even California). Some examples of great flavors include Chai Tea Latte, Caramelized Banana Cinnamon Roll, Matcha Green Tea, and Birthday Cake Batter Ice Cream Cake Pop Sundae.

The next thing that makes Scoops unique is its creative ingredients that add texture to their ice cream delights; some examples include Oreo cookies; brownie bites; chocolate chip cookie dough pieces; peanut butter cups...the list goes on. You can also add toppings like whipped cream or sprinkles if you want something extra special on top of your sundae.

Stick to a traditional flavor or delve into the unique flavors Sweet Rose Creamery has to offer from their small-batch production.

Sweet Rose Creamery

Address: 2726 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90405

Sweet Rose Creamery prides itself on small-batch ice cream made with organic, locally sourced ingredients. Their flavors are simple yet sophisticated, showcasing the natural goodness of their ingredients. The Old Fashioned Vanilla is a classic choice, while the seasonal Fresh Mint Chip with house-made chocolate chips is a revelation. Vegan options made with coconut milk are available, too.

This is a great play to try out various ice cream flavors enhanced by alternative milk options. They offer confections made with oat milk. Additionally, Sweet Rose Creamery has plenty of perks for being a frequent visitor, such as a rewards program. The combination of great flavors, perks, and a beautiful location near the beach makes Sweet Rose Creamery an excellent choice.

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Handel's is another major brand throughout the West Coast that boasts over 100 flavors in consistent rotation.

Handel's Homemade Ice Cream & Yogurt

Address: 3405 East Foothill Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91107

Handel's Homemade Ice Cream & Yogurt has long been a delightful destination for ice cream enthusiasts all around. Established in 1945, this ice cream shop has made a name for itself by offering a vast selection of delectable treats with only the freshest, highest-quality ingredients. The secret to Handel's success lies in its unique, time-tested process, which involves churning the ice cream in small batches to ensure optimal flavor and texture.

One distinct characteristic that sets Handel apart is their commitment to innovation. Customers can enjoy various options with over 100 flavors on rotation – from traditional favorites to adventurous new creations. Their dedicated team of expert ice cream makers frequently develops new and exciting flavors, keeping the menu fresh and enticing.

A must-try item on Handel's menu is the "Graham Central Station," a delightful concoction of graham cracker-flavored ice cream infused with graham cracker pieces and a deliciously rich chocolate ripple. This unique treat is a testament to Handel's unwavering dedication to creating extraordinary ice cream experiences that keep customers returning for more.

Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream

Address: 3077 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92104

Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream derives heavy inspiration from Hawaiian ice cream. Serving these delectable and tropical sweets, they focus on quality and craftsmanship. Hammond’s has garnered a loyal following of fans who appreciate their offerings' exceptional taste and texture. Hammond's sourcing only the finest ingredients ensures that each scoop is a testament to its dedication to creating premium ice cream.

What sets Hammond's apart from the competition is its commitment to small-batch production and unique, handcrafted flavors. With over 300 rotating flavors, including 32 consistent options, the ice cream shop keeps customers on their toes, eager to explore new and adventurous taste sensations. In addition to its impressive flavor portfolio, Hammond's offers a selection of vegan and dairy-free options, making it an inclusive destination for all ice cream aficionados.

Southern California is a hotbed for great ice cream with flavors that reflect the diverse cultures within the region.

Stella Jean's Ice Cream

Address: 4404 Park Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92116

Stella Jean's Ice Cream is a locally owned shop that brings homemade ice cream to the heart of San Diego. They are committed to using sustainable, locally sourced ingredients, which results in fresh and exciting flavors. The Ube + Pandesal is unique, combining traditional Filipino flavors with a sweet twist. Vegan options made with oat milk are also available.

Stella Jean’s also offers a selection of “for now” menu options, which are rotating flavors. These are a little more experimental and should provide adventurous ice cream aficionados with a great experience. The vegan Bana Chocolate Hazelnut is a solid option, and the Tiramisu Crunch promises a great fusion of strong flavors and textures.

Southern California is a haven for ice cream enthusiasts, with many local shops offering unique and delicious frozen treats. These top nine ice cream shops will satisfy your sweet tooth, from adventurous flavor combinations to the classics. Give them a try, and you'll discover why they are considered the best of the best in the region.

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