The Five Best Ice Cream Shops in San Diego

San Diego is a famously kid-friendly city and there's no better way to end a day at SeaWorld than with a visit to one of these San Diego ice cream parlors.

Hopper Editors - Oct. 26, 2017

Ice cream is almost expected when visiting or living in a beach destination such as San Diego, which doesn’t disappoint with several ice cream parlors available to appease customers’ appetites. The sunny weather also creates a long harvest season for farmers that grow local ingredients — perfect to use in homemade ice cream or all-natural frozen fruit pops. As such, San Diego ice cream makers craft some very inventive ice cream flavors and treats for the adventurous ice cream lover. These five spots are just a few that offer specialties that customers will lick up so fast, there’s almost no need for a napkin.

The Baked Bear makes ice cream sandwiches like no other

The Baked Bear serves up ice cream sandwiches on steroids. Customers can mix and match homemade cookies with homemade ice cream and then add toppings to the blend for a truly individualized creation. Or they can opt for the waffle or brownie ice cream sandwich. Cookie flavors range from M&M to funfetti cake, while ice cream flavors include strawberry cheesecake, coffee and butter pecan. Top the sandwich off with almonds, sprinkles or hot fudge for a flavorful explosion in each bite.

Grandpa Pete is alive and sweet at Mariposa Homemade Ice Cream

Mariposa Ice Cream started in the California town with the same name before moving to San Diego. The ice cream is made using old-fashioned methods from the owner’s Grandpa Pete, who said if there are eggs in the ice cream, it’s custard. The staff uses a batch freezer designed to mimic the hand-cranked ice cream made from the 1923 White Mountain hand-cranked ice cream maker still displayed in the store. The white chocolate raspberry ripple and cappuccino almond fudge are sure to make repeat customers out of first-timers. Plus, the Italian cream and ice cream sodas will also hit the spot.

Rich Italian ice at Pappalecco

Located in San Diego’s Little Italy, Pappalecco café brings the best of Italian gelato to this SoCal destination. The Bucci brothers brought their love for gelato from Pisa, Italy in the mid-2000s, and customers haven’t been able to get enough ever since. The café also serves up coffee, paninis and salads, made with all-natural ingredients, and the gelato is so colorful it reminds customers of the Tuscan countryside. While the gelateria offers some of the rich, traditional Italian flavors — stracciatella, nutella and pistachio — it also offers a "surprise cup" of fruit gelato that has less calories. Customers also won’t want to miss out on the croissants for a true Italian café experience.

Mootime Creamery will smash up your ice cream deliciously

Created in 1998, MooTime Creamery brings the 1950s diner experience to Coronado Island. located across the bay from downtown San Diego. Customers will craft their own creations by first choosing one of the handmade ice creams, yogurt, sorbet or sherbet as a base. Then, they will select different toppings to be smashed into the ice cream on the shop’s frozen granite counter top before having it placed in a hand-rolled waffle cone, waffle cup or even a chocolate dipped cone. This method of ice cream making promises loads of toppings in each spoonful.

The organic and local Viva Pops really pop!

Viva Pops creates gourmet popsicles inspired by the Mexican-style "paletas." The all-natural frozen fruit pops are made from organic fruits and herbs, several of which are purchased from local San Diego farmers. The store is known for its fruit-and-herb flavors such as lavender lemonade or beach ginger, as well as its more authentic tastes such as mango chili. Flavors change with the seasons based on what local farmers are growing that month. The store features a vibrant interior of yellow, green and red to match the colorful pops for which the store is known.

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