Recently, we’ve been feeling the heat — so it’s time to cool down with ice cream. San Diego has lots of local options, and you won’t need to travel a long, rocky road to find a new flavor. So, we’re topping off the summer by getting the scoop on 16 local ice cream shops that dish out an over-the-top experience with every order.
The Baked Bear, Pacific Beach, Carmel Mountain + Encinitas
If your favorite sandwich is “ice cream,” Baked Bear is the perfect place for a cool treat. You can build your own cookie sandwich (or brownies, if that’s your style) by selecting a top + bottom cookie and filling it with the ice cream flavor of your choice.
Try this: Those blue cookies are the “Cookie Monster” and have crushed Oreos on the inside with chocolate chip cookie crumbles on the top.
Stella Jean’s Ice Cream, University Heights, Point Loma, Kensington + Pacific Beach
The cool community behind Stella Jean’s uses local ingredients when crafting its small-batch, handmade ice creams. The parlor is home to fan-favorite flavors like Mango Sticky Rice and Ube + Pandesal Toffee, and the brand is growing. Expect South Park and Carlsbad locations to open later this year.
Pro tip: Sample in the store, then pick up a pint of your favorite flavor so you can cool off at home.
Bing Haus, Convoy District in Kearny Mesa
If you’re looking for a new kind of ice cream, roll into Bing Haus. The menu might have hot drinks, but the rolled ice cream is the show-stopper here. Pick your flavor, add toppings, and watch this dessert go from a liquid to a solid — then transform into a sundae.
Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream, North Park + Point Loma
This store has been a local favorite since 2014, because no two trips are alike. Hammond’s has a seriously long list of flavors that changes frequently. If you’re looking for variety, here’s the cherry on top — you can get ice cream flights.
Pro tip: Standard flights include up to six mini-cones, but when it’s really hot out, you can cool off with a 32-cone flight.
An’s Gelato, North Park + Del Mar
There’s gelato — and then there’s An’s Dry Cleaning + An’s Hat Makers. These two local shops craft cool, creamy gelato to creatively fit each restaurant’s theme while mixing in some local history. The menu changes often, so the more you go, the more flavors you’ll get to try.
Lighthouse Ice Cream, Ocean Beach
After a trip to the beach, shine some light on this local favorite. The menu features a long list of flavors — plus seasonal options — but people don’t just scream for ice cream here. The hot pancake or hot waffle ice cream sandwiches add a fun twist on the classic dessert — potentially making it a breakfast food.
SomiSomi, Convoy District, Mira Mesa + Westfield UTC
Something’s fishy at this ice cream shop. SomiSomi’s signature item is the taiyaki — a fish-shaped cake similar to a waffle — that can be filled with soft-serve ice cream. There are plenty of flavors, from matcha to horchata to black sesame.
The word: Ah-Boong — a taiyaki filled with soft-serve ice cream.
Salt & Straw, Little Italy, Del Mar + Westfield UTC
This shop’s flavors are anything but vanilla. While you’ll find variations on classic ice creams, Salt & Straw has made a name for itself with its over-the-top flavors. The menu rotates frequently, so bring an open mind and expect the unexpected.
Boba Bar and Desserts, Convoy District, Clairemont + National City
Boba, smoothies + açaí bowls have a home here — but as the name implies — always save room for desserts. The sundaes are as colorful as the drinks and offer just as much variety.
Try this: a puffle — a fluffy pastry that tastes like a waffle. You don’t need to buy a sundae to experience this treat.
JoJo’s Creamery, Encinitas
The mother + daughter team behind this North County shop know a lot about ice cream. They make every flavor from scratch in small batches — so feel free to ask about ingredients in any of them — from Cayenne Sea Salt Caramel to Vegan Piña Colada.
Did you know? Every order comes with a chocolate chip cookie. These are from a family recipe that Jami — the mother — started developing in the 1970s. Plus, there’s a gluten-free option.
The Craft Creamery, Point Loma
This ice cream shop has scoops on tap — a nod to San Diego’s beer scene — and a rotating menu that sources flavors from top independent creameries in the US. Recently, the store was redesigned and now also serves drinks from Moniker Coffee Co.
Sadie’s Handcrafted Ice Cream, Chula Vista
Here, you’ll find a variety of flavors with their own twists. The shop gets its inspiration from nieves de garrafa, a Mexican dessert staple of ice cream churned in a pot. The sweet treat has become popular in San Diego, so much that the new Randy’s Donuts in Serra Mesa uses Sadie’s scoops in its ice cream donut sandwiches.
Wynston’s Ice Cream Co., San Marcos + Del Mar
Since opening in 2020, this family-owned shop has become a sweet success. Last year it expanded to a new space where it can handcraft flavors for larger crowds. You can always try an innovative flavor, but the “FTW Chocolate” is a real Wynner — it was named one of the best chocolate ice creams by the North American Ice Cream Association in 2021.
Mutual Friend, South Park
Grab your ice cream-loving buddies and give this small batch, craft shop a try. It aims to recreate your favorite flavors, but the menus sprinkles in some unlikely recipes in hopes of making a new classic.
Try this: Mutual Friend shares a space with its sister company Dark Horse Coffee Roasters. Get the best of both worlds with the “Dark Horse Coffee” ice cream.
Niederfrank’s Ice Cream, National City
This shop has been making ice cream in National City since 1948, and it still makes it the same way. It’s become a community staple, but don’t let its old-fashioned ways fool you, you’ll find your future favorites here. Pistachio Avocado, anyone?
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, Carlsbad + North Park
It took this Ohio-based scoop shop two decades to get to San Diego, but the county just welcomed its second store this month. The chain is known for its off-beat flavors like Everything Bagel, Powdered Jelly Donut, or Frosé Sorbet (yes, that’s frozen rosé).
Psst… this is just a sprinkle of ice cream shops in San Diego. Do you know another place with quirky offerings? Let us know.