It sure took a while to get here, but now that summer has finally arrived — and temps are rising by the day — hitting the road and cooling off with a frosty treat is on everyone’s minds.
One of the best parts about getting out and about is coming up on a surprise roadside stand, pulling over on a whim, and grabbing a frozen treat to counter the heat. Whether closer to home or further afield, these hidden and obvious gems serve up some of the best in icy cold refreshment.
In the Creston neighborhood and Rockford is Frosty Boy, which twists and scoops a wide variety of ice creams, including Michigan-made favorites Country Fresh, Country Dairy, Hudsonville, and Ashby’s. They’re also known for their gluten-free and vegan options. Staff are trained in allergens and they take extra precautions by using designated blenders and separate prep areas. They’re always coming up with new ice cream concoctions, and customers can find out about the latest news and creations by following them on Facebook and Instagram. Got a doggo? They’ll make a mini waffle-bowl sundae for Fido!
If you’re thirsting for a Dole Whip or old-fashioned malt, head over to the West Side and visit the Double Dip Depot. Recently purchased by longtime fans, the Dewinter family, it’s gotten an upgrade inside and out — including the mini-golf course, only $3 a person. They offer 18 flavors of hard ice cream, as well as soft serve and three flavors of that famous pineapple swirl. Double Dip also has a food menu featuring rave-worthy chili cheese fries. Hit them up on Wiener Wednesday for a $1 off hot dogs, chili dogs, corn dogs, and polish dogs, or hang out on their patio anytime.
Southbound and down for some sweets? Stop by Plainwell Ice Cream, which is family owned and has been a fixture in the community for 43 seasons. They make up to 60 flavors of homemade ice creams and sherbets throughout the year and typically have around 30 to choose from at any given time. Look for all-time favorites such as Salted Caramel, Island City Fudge, and French Silk, or specialties such as Blueberry Marble in summer and Pumpkin in fall. On the menu are sodas, milkshakes, malts, banana splits, sundaes and cones, plus half-gallons for takeout. Stay up to date on Facebook and Instagram.
Also south of town is Sweet Rewards in Cutlerville. Family-owned-and-operated for nearly 20 years, they’re a go-to for all your cravings, whether frozen or fried. With walk-up or drive-thru options, there’s plenty of delicious satisfaction ranging from shakes and sundaes — made with the best quality West Michigan ice cream — to hot dogs and fries. This popular spot prides itself on its active community involvement, whether taking part in local parades and festivals or hosting Car Night.
Jenison is home to Frosty Treat, another cool spot that’s been in business for 20 years. Signature treats include Rocket Cones, Duck Ponds, Garbage Cans, and Marshmallow shakes. They’re also fur baby friendly and will serve up a doggie cone with vanilla ice cream and a dog treat on top.
If your road trip takes you north, and a bike ride or stroll is on the day’s agenda, check out Trail Side Treats, strategically located right along the White Pine Trail in Belmont. When it comes to ice cream stops and shops, 20 is the magic number this year, as they’re also celebrating their two-decade anniversary in the coming months. The owners are hatching a plan for a community appreciation celebration, so stay tuned to Facebook for the details. Along with the standard frozen fare, they also have a number of novelties, such as ice cream tacos and homemade waffles cones (red velvet, anyone?). Look for lactose-free options as well as a special sundae for human’s best friend.
Red Barn Market, just outside of Lowell, not only has ice cream, they also have a café, farm market with local, in-season produce, and … ding, ding, ding … adult beverages! Stay awhile and enjoy a Painted Turtle Hard Cider or take a growler or can to-go. Don’t forget to hit the ice cream parlor for a Hershey’s hand-dipped or Prairie Farms soft serve. If you’re looking for sugar free, gluten free, or dairy free, they have those options, too. Through the summer and into fall, you can commune with animals in the barnyard, walk the sunflower trail, or go apple or pumpkin picking.
If you happen to be cruising down Alden Nash in Alto, you’ll happen on the Ice Cream Caboose, a welcome oasis on an otherwise quiet stretch of highway. Open seasonally since the year 2000, and offering walk-up ordering and outdoor seating, the menu includes ice cream, plus burgers, fries, and more. In keeping with the railroad theme, they offer a blended Blizzard-esque treat called a Locomotion.
Love the lakeshore? If PJ Hoffmaster is your go-to State Park, you can put a cherry on top of your day at the beach by stopping at Whippi-Dip. Dust the sand from your feet and cool off with a soft serve cone, Hudsonville hard ice cream, sundae, float, slushie, or flurry. There is also a sampling of fried snacks to refuel your tank. They’re locally owned and operated, and boast some of the best food in town.
Also near the coast in North Muskegon is Coney Land. An area landmark that closed for a few years, then reopened under new ownership in 2007, they have a large food menu from burgers to burritos, plus ice cream, of course. The have allergy friendly options, as well as Pup Cups. Check out the new play set for the kids and expanded parking lot, coming soon.
TRAVEL THE GLOBE WITHOUT LEAVING THE CITY
Give some love to diverse small businesses and entrepreneurs while enjoying your old standbys or broadening your horizons with not-so-everyday tastes and techniques. These establishments are a celebration of the diversity in our city and offer a view into the many cultures that help the greater Grand Rapids area thrive. Pay them a visit and show your support!
Get your bubble tea fix at Cafe Boba, or sip on a smoothie, slushie or coffee drink. Plus, treat your tastebuds to something different with their black tea ice cream or Hong Kong style egg waffles.
Let the refreshment come to you by booking the Kona Ice of West Grand Rapids shaved ice food truck for your next event — or follow them on Facebook to see where they’re parked today.
Street King’s Rolled Ice Cream inside Bangkok Taste Cuisine serves this Thai stir-fried frozen dessert as well as teas, smoothies and freezes with inspired flavors such as matcha, lychee, taro, passion fruit, and more.
La Loteria in Wyoming features Mexican snacks, drinks, juices, sorbets, and a special fruit treat called La Escamocha. Or, try the Las 3 Marias for a twist on a traditional sundae.
Bitter End Coffee House has frozen and iced coffee beverages on the menu, as well as teas, smoothies, French and Italian sodas, phosphates, and other tasty cold drinks.
Drive out to Los 3 Mangos Michoacan on South Division for homemade popsicles and ice cream crafted with one-of-a-kind flavors that you won’t find in just any ice cream shop.
Not much of a sweet tooth? Grab a tall one instead. Black Calder Brewing Company offers a variety of craft brews, from stouts and sours to IPAs, lagers and sours, living their motto daily to “Make Dope Beer for Dope People.” ■