Ahh, summer in Philadelphia. The steamy sidewalks, cool water ice, abundant alfresco dining, brilliant beer gardens and general easygoing vibe make the City of Brotherly Love a spectacular spot to spend a summer day.
To help maximize the time that’s left in the season — summer officially ends when autumn begins on September 23 — we’ve rounded up our top picks for quintessential Philadelphia summer treats.
Here, we have both the tried-and-true classics (hello, water ice) and the coolest new frozen confections (we’re looking at you, Belgian waffle ice cream sandwich).
Our picks for must-have summer treats to slurp before summer ends, below.
1. Belgian Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich at S.S. Franklin Fountain
The Franklin Fountain might just be the quintessential Philadelphia frozen treat shop. In addition to a variety of ice creams and cones, two new Franklin Fountain confections appear only at the Franklin’s outpost at Spruce Street Harbor Park: a waffle ice cream sandwich and “The Mighty Warship,” a waffle boat sundae. Go for it. MORE INFO
2. Chocolate-Dipped Soft Serve at Big Gay Ice Cream
The New York City phenom that began with one ice cream truck opened its doors in Philadelphia on South Broad Street this year, and now this city can’t seem to get enough of the soft-serve based confections. MORE INFO
3. Seasonal Ice Cream Sandwich from Weckerly’s
Born in West Philly’s Spruce Hill neighborhood at Green Line Café, Weckerly’s Ice Cream has grown into a wholly local micro-creamery, keeping things hyper-seasonal, small batch and incredibly memorable. If available, go for the ice cream sandwiches made with seasonal flavors like blueberry cardamom or peaches and cream on pie crust. MORE INFO
4. Water Ice at John’s Water Ice
This South Philadelphia institution is an all-time favorite spot to cool down. John’s Water Ice is a combination of fruit or syrup and shaved ice. Get iced. MORE INFO
More frozen delights, below.
5. A Classic Cone at Bassetts
In Philadelphia it doesn’t get more classic than Bassetts, the local ice cream company founded in 1861. It’s worth a trip to the Reading Terminal Market stand for one of more than 40 flavors such as butterscotch vanilla, Irish coffee or peanut butter. MORE INFO
6. Blueberry & Philadelphia Bluecoat Gin Gelato at Capogiro
The elder statesman of the local artisan-frozen treats scene, Capogiro has a national reputation for its excellent gelatos and sorbets in flavors such as Thai coconut milk, sea salt and Dulce De Leche, with various storefront locations in Philadelphia. Seek out the spiked blueberry, a collaboration with local gin distiller Bluecoat, for an extra treat. MORE INFO
7. Philadelphia-Style Ice Cream from Little Baby’s Ice Cream
Super premium ice cream made from local ingredients is the specialty at Little Baby’s, which offers creative concoctions such as birch-beer vanilla, cardamom caramel and vegan Earl Grey sriracha from its two brick-and-mortar shops, customized tricycles and practically everywhere you could use a scoop. MORE INFO
8. Vegan Soft Serve at V Street
Chefs Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby’s vegan street food stunner, V Street, keeps taste buds entertained sans animal products right through to dessert. Opt for the vegan soft serve in any of the daily creative flavors. MORE INFO
9. Soft Serve Ice Cream at Bing Bing Dim Sum
Sure, East Passyunk’s Bing Bing dishes dim sum and dumplings galore, but summertime diners really shouldn’t depart tables without sampling whatever flavor of inventive soft serve ice cream the kitchen has concocted (keep those fingers crossed for Thai coconut). MORE INFO
10. Fior di latte Soft Serve at Pizzeria Vetri
The hotly anticipated second location of chef Marc Vetri’s popular pizza restaurant opened in Rittenhouse Square this spring, and with it comes sweet-tart fior di latte soft serve ice cream, which we recommend swirled with chocolate. MORE INFO
11. Cake Shake at SquareBurger
People may visit Franklin Square’s Square Burger for the burgers, but the Cake Shake (Butterscotch Krimpets, caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream) and monthly selections like the Strawberry Shortcake Shake are what keep them coming back. MORE INFO
12. Vanilla-Sprinkles Popsicle at Lil’ Pop Shop
A Philly frozen treat staple, Lil’ Pop Shop wows ’em with artisan popsicles in surprising combinations: goat cheese and cherry, lemon blueberry buttermilk, Mayan chocolate, lime mint and, a recent kid-pleaser, vanilla bean with sprinkles. MORE INFO
13. Vegan Ice-Pops from Mompops
Philadelphia neighborhood festivalgoers know to keep an eye out for the little blue cart that holds Mompops. The all-natural gourmet, vegan, allergen-friendly popsicles are hardly sinful, but oh-so treaty. MORE INFO
14. Italian Gelato at Gran Caffe L’Aquila
Constructed in Italy and transported to Philadelphia, this cafe/bar stays open from morning until night and serves pastries, panini, a dozen flavors of gelato, wine and buzz-worthy coffee. On the second level: the gelato lab. Go, taste, leave happy. MORE INFO
15. Concretes at Shake Shack
New York-based chain Shake Shack mixes its ever-popular frozen custard (vanilla, chocolate, caramel, black and white, strawberry and peanut butter) with a huge variety of toppings — including special summer editions with summer fruit, doughnuts and more — to deliver concretes for a totally worth-it splurge. MORE INFO