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 10 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
The cool community behind Stella Jeans 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, and the brand is growing. Expect South Park and Carlsbad locations in 2023.
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 some 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, surf over to Lighthouse Ice Cream to 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, and thankfully, it’s not on the soft-serve menu. 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 soft-serve flavors, ranging 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
This shop’s flavors are anything but vanilla. While you’ll find variations on classic ice creams, Salt & Straw made a name for itself because of its over-the-top flavors. The menu rotates frequently, so bring an open mind and expect the unexpected with each visit.
🍦 Boba Bar and Desserts, Convoy District, Clairemont + National City
Boba, smoothies + açaí bowls have a home at Boba Bar and Desserts — but as the name implies — always save room for desserts. The sundaes at this restaurant are as colorful as its drinks and offer just as much variety. Plus, you’ll discover your new favorite treat: the puffle.
Try this: Get 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 — ranging from Cayenne Sea Salt Caramel to Vegan Pina Colada. Best of all, every order comes topped with the store’s signature item: a chocolate chip cookie.
Did you know: The chocolate chip cookies come from a family recipe that Jami — the mother — started developing in the 1970s. Plus, there’s a gluten-free option.
Psst… this is just a sprinkle of ice cream shops in San Diego. Do you know another place with quirky offerings? Let us know.