The Best Ice Cream Shops in L.A.
By Shauna Murray
I scream, you scream, we all scream for…well, you know how the rest goes. It’s the middle of summer in Los Angeles, and as the temperature outside gets hotter and hotter, nothing sounds better than cooling off with a delicious frozen treat. Of course, the climate in Los Angeles feels right for ice cream just about any time of the year so whether you’re in town during the peak of summer or the dead of winter, any time is the right time to treat yo’ self.
With dozens of ice cream shops in the city – each serving up their own frozen delicacies – it can be hard to narrow the options down. We recommend trying all of the shops on this list…just maybe not all on the same day.
Some of these businesses have set up shop in more than one location, and a few have stores outside of L.A. County, but we tried to keep it local and represent businesses that serve the greater L.A. area primarily, if not exclusively. You won’t see the big national chains here because c’mon, you can get that stuff anywhere. Los Angeles is all about being a little extra and your ice cream should be, too.
McCONNELL’S FINE ICE CREAMS
McConnell’s is more than an ice cream brand, it’s a family tradition. For 70 years and three generations, the company is still family run and takes pride in making all-natural fine ice creams from scratch using the fewest ingredients possible. All flavors start with the basics – milk, cream, eggs, and cane sugar – before flavoring with fruits, nuts, chocolate and such. Their ice cream tastes the way real ice cream should taste. No bells, whistles, or fancy gimmicks needed.
Originating in Santa Barbara, McC’s now has multiple location in Los Angeles from Pacific Palisades to Los Feliz so there’s bound to be one near wherever you are. You can even find pints of McConnell’s in some grocery stores outside of California; even so, nothing beats the taste of a hand-scooped ice cream cone so pay a visit to this SoCal staple while you’re in town.
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Back in the early summer of 2015, just before opening our first store in Tarzana- I was r+d’ing recipes in our home kitchen. At that time, we had been back from a recent trip to the Croatian coast, where we ate grilled purses of fresh cheese wrapped in fig leaves. Inspired, I plucked some young fig leaves from our fruitless tree in our backyard and steeped it into hot cream sweetened with wildflower honey. What resulted was an ice cream with a green & verdant, yet subtly floral scent…with a flavor reminiscent of coconut- but not quite. A handful of raw pistachios & a few tweaks later later, one of Wanderlust Creamery’s first flavors was born: Fig Leaf + Pistachio. We’ve been bringing it back every start of summer since. It’s not quite fig, and not even close to traditional pistachio; it’s something entirely different you’d have to taste to know firsthand. 🥄 @adrienneborlongan #wanderlustcreamery #eatwanderlust #figleaf Photo by @mxmlla.
Courtesy of Wanderlust Creamery
As the name suggests, the creators of Wanderlust Creamery take inspiration from destinations all around the globe. One of their first signature flavors ‘Fig Leaf + Pistachio’ (pictured) was inspired by a trip to Croatia. Other notable ice cream flavors include ‘Vegan Sticky Rice Mango’ inspired by Thailand, and ‘Abuelita Malted Crunch’, inspired by their upbringing in Los Angeles.
With locations in Venice, Atwater Village, Tarzana, and at the downtown Sunday market, Smorgasburg, chances are there’s Wanderlust Creamery near you serving up 100% natural dairy and dairy-free ice cream. Stop in and see why they say there’s a “destination in every scoop.”
MATEO’S ICE CREAM & FRUIT BARS
Photo by @thedelicious
Mateo’s has been serving up frozen treat in Los Angeles for the past twenty years, specializing in paletas (popsicles) and ice creams in exotic and tropical flavors. The company’s founder,
Priciliano Mateo, moved from his home in Oaxaca, Mexico, to Los Angeles in 1982 and brought with him the Mexican tradition of colorful paletas in tropical fruit flavor. On any given day at Mateo’s you’ll find 29 ice pop flavors, 25 ice cream and sorbet flavors, and even fresh pressed juices and smoothies. Everything is home-made in the Mateo’s kitchen using fresh fruits and the colorful display at the counter is unlike anything you’ll find in another ice cream shop.
Try a ‘Smoked Milk with Cactus Fruit’ fruit cream popsicle if you’re taste buds are feeling adventurous, or stick with a more familiar strawberry or mango flavored pop. Either way, you’ll be getting a delicious taste of Angeleno culture.
SAFFRON & ROSE
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We know how to satisfy your needs – Pink Rose, Mango, Green tea. Stop by and enjoy the scoops of Organic ice cream – Never enough #sweetlife #westwood #ucla #icecream #food #sandwich #smile #dessert #persian #lunch #organic #foodphotography #saffronandroseicecream #wednesday #uci
Photo by Katrin Leo Pako
Saffron and Rose has been serving up genuine Persian Ice cream in Southern California for nearly four decades. Using all natural and organic ingredients, Saffron & Rose takes pride in creating highest quality ice cream for its loyal customers. Specializing in unique flavors, you’ll find unexpected menu offerings like ‘Poppy Seed Slush’, ‘Cucumber’, and ‘White Rose’.
If you have a somewhat less curious palette, you’ll find plenty of familiar flavor options, too. Some flavors are even available as a vegan option so there is something for everyone at Saffron & Rose.
You can explore the diverse menu at their locations in Westwood and Irvine.
Courtesy of MILK
Dessert lovers rejoice: MILK has just about every kind of confection you can think of from frozen treats to creamy indulgences to baked goods. MILK’s goal is to “provide guests with an elevated ice cream experience, transporting them back to the classic ice cream parlor with shakes, floats, sundaes and ice cream novelties” and everything on the menu is made from scratch in their Los Angeles kitchen using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.
Not in the mood for a frozen treat? MILK has plenty of other ways to satisfy your sweet tooth. You’ll find an assortment of cookies, cakes, puddings and more in MILK’s bake shop, and you can wash it all down with milk served in an old-fashioned glass bottle.
Pop in to indulge at either of MILK’s locations: in the Fairfax District and in Silverlake.
Courtesy of Little Damage
As you might have guess from the image, Little Damage’s claim to fame is its signature black ice cream cones. The almond-flavored cones are hand-rolled get their black color from activated charcoal. You won’t find ice cream by the scoop at this DTLA hotspot – Little Damage makes soft-serve only, offered in unexpected flavors and colors. Their menu rotates seasonally with recipes that are often unconventional but unexpectedly delicious.
Everything at the shop from the ice cream to the décor is an Instagram dream so don’t forget to snap a pic before you devour your cone of ‘unicorn tears’. Bonus points if your manicure matches your ice cream cone.
KIPPY’S ICE CREAM
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Drooling over the gorgeous #flavors in our case today!! The Mint Chocolate Chip is back! Kippy’s colorful #nondairyicecream is the perfect #tuesdaytreat ! . . . . #5ingredientsorless #glutenfree #sugarfree #soyfree #beyondicecream #veganoptions #paleo #kippys #kippysicecream #coconutwhippedcream #coconutcream #venicebeach #venice #dairyfree #dairyfreeicecream #sundae #treatyoself #treatyoselftuesday
Courtesy of Kippy’s
For some folks, the words “vegan” and “ice cream” have no business being together, but at Kippy’s, vegan ice cream is their business. Kippy’s ice cream starts with a raw, organic coconut cream base sweetened with local honey or dates. All of Kippy’s ice creams are made in-house daily using five ingredients or less, and all flavors are free of dairy, soy, nuts, and gluten.
Don’t let what’s not in Kippy’s recipes fool you, their ice creams are big on flavor and there is always a wide variety to choose from. Stop by their location on Main Street in Venice for a cool treat you can feel good about eating.
Afters is on a mission to ruin your diet, and with their tempting flavor combinations available at more than twenty SoCal locations (most open ‘til midnight), they’re making it too easy to do just that. Afters serves up hand-crafted ice cream in unique flavors like ‘Milk and Cereal’, ‘Cookie Monster’, and ‘Jasmine Milk Tea’ and their toppings bar includes all of your favorite childhood cereals like Fruity Pebbles, Cookie Crisp and Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
If you’re really determined to ruin your diet, try the Milky Bun, a glazed doughnut stuffed with ice cream that’s warm on the outside and cold on the inside.
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#Repost @urbancell_gastronomy with @get_repost ・・・ LOS ANGELES Cafe Spotlight : Who’s fan of K-pop & K-desserts ? @cafebora_la in K-town elevates the pastry experience with their famous Korean purple sweet potato inspired desserts !! 💥⚫️ Canon EOS 6D DSLR @canonusa ⚫️💥 Sigma 50mm f1.4 art @sigmaphoto ————————————————- #culinaryart #zipkick #gastronomia #foodartchefs #limitlesseats #foodinfluencer #latimesfood #lamagfood #bestfoodla #FoodPhotographer #top_food_of_instagram #DiningOutSD #forbestravelguide #eaterla #foodstagram #eattheworld #culinaireinspiratie #vscofood #eeeeeats #infatuationla #timeoutla #CafeBoraLA #LOCALeLA #koreatowneveryday #ktownla #koreandesserts #sandiegofoodphotographer
Photo by @urbancell_gastronomy
Café Bora snuck by our “locals only” rule, but it deserves a place on the list. As part of the popular Korean dessert chain, the Koreatown shop in L.A. is the first location in the United States. Café Bora offers traditional Korean desserts such as the purple-tinted sweet potato soft serve, and ‘bingsoo’, Korean shaved ice covered in fruit puree. The menu also includes a few items that fuse different dessert traditions, such as matcha tiramisu.
Though it might look like food coloring is to thank for the colorful ice creams and sauces, all of the desserts get their bright coloring from 100% natural ingredients. Often garnished with green mint leaves and delicate flowers, Café Bora’s desserts are almost too pretty to eat…almost.
By Shauna Murray
Top 10 Beaches for Swimming in Southern California
By Shauna Murray
It’s no secret that California is home to some of the most beautiful stretches of coastline
in the world. Millions of people flock to the California coast each year to visit its beaches
or take scenic drives along the Pacific Coast Highway.
When the temperatures rise outside, there’s nothing like a cooling down with a
refreshing dip in the Pacific surf…if you know where to go. While each stretch of sandy
coastline has its own unique charm, some are better than others when it comes to
dipping a toe (or your whole self) into the water.
So which beaches have the softest sand, calmest surf, and everything you need for a
great day at the beach? This list takes the guess work out so all you have to do is grab
your towel and sunscreen, and get ready for a day of fun in the California sun.
1. SANTA MONICA BEACH
There is perhaps no other beach in Southern California quite as iconic as Santa Monica
Beach. The world-famous Santa Monica Pier provides the backdrop for a picturesque
beach day, and the waters of Santa Monica Bay are usually quite calm for swimming.
There’s plenty to do out of the water, too, with shops and restaurants on and around
the pier, as well as the games and rides at the amusement park. There’s also a great
little aquarium under the pier with activities for kids to learn about the local marine life.
Don’t be surprised if you see a pod of dolphins swimming by as you splash in the surf –
they regularly swim close to shore, delighting beach goers of all ages.
2. VENICE BEACH
Venice Beach might be known for its quirky charm and for the daily circus of artists,
vendors and street performers along Ocean Front Walk, but it’s also home to some of
the best swimming beaches in Santa Monica Bay. The smooth, sandy beach is wide and
flat with plenty of room for sun bathers to stake out a spot without feeling crowded,
and a rock jetty offers swimmers some protecting from stronger surf.
Of course, when you’re ready to head in from the sand, you’re in for the best people
watching of your life. There’s a reason millions of people visit Venice each year to
experience all of its sights, sounds, and unique characters.
3. CORONADO ISLAND
While Coronado is technically a peninsula, the “island” moniker feels much more fitting
for this little escape from the mainland. Located just off the coast of San Diego,
Coronado actually has five white sand beaches including Coronado Central Beach, North
Beach, Glorietta Bay Beach, Silver Strand State Beach and the Ferry Landing
Marketplace. The crystal clear waters are just right for swimming, and Glorietta Bay is
especially great for young swimmers with its calm waters.
When the sun hits it just right, the pristine beaches of Coronado literally sparkle thanks
to flecks of mica in the sand. So to recap: in Coronado you’ll find clear and tranquil
waters, and sparkly golden sand. Need I say more?
4. MANHATTAN BEACH
Located just a few miles south of Los Angeles International Airport, Manhattan
Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Southern California and one of three Beach
Cities in the South Bay region along with Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach.
This sunny stretch of coastline is a favorite among all types of beach goers including
families, surfers, sunbathers, and professional athletes. Manhattan Beach has
something for everyone. Widely considered to be the birthplace of beach volleyball,
you’ll find plenty of volleyball nets along the sand that are free to use – just remember
to bring your own ball.
Other can’t-miss activities include a cruise along The Strand bike path, checking out the
cute shops and restaurants downtown, and visiting the free aquarium at the end of the
Manhattan Beach Pier.
5. HERMOSA BEACH
Keep heading south along the coast from Manhattan Beach and you’ll find yourself in
the beachfront city of Hermosa. The beach itself is pretty much the same as Manhattan
Beach, with a wide expanse of sand, friendly waves to swim and surf in, and volleyball
nets aplenty. What sets Hermosa Beach apart is the bustling bar and restaurant scene
on Pier Avenue, where there’s often live music and an active nightlife. Hermosa Beach is
just far enough away from L.A. and the freeway to feel more like a local surf hangout
than a tourist attraction, which might be why USA Today called it a “Beach Boys song
come to life”.
6. HUNTINGTON BEACH
Close your eyes and imagine the perfect Southern California beach: soft sand stretching
wide and far, surfers, sun bathers, a long pier over the water, and a laid-back vibe
wherever you go. If this sounds like what you have in mind, Huntington Beach is where
to find it. Also known as Surf City USA, USA Today named Huntington Beach “The Best
Beach of California” in 2018 and it’s not hard to see why.
7. CATALINA ISLAND
Surrounded on all sides by the Pacific, the water off of Catalina can feel a bit colder than
on the mainland beaches, but what it lacks in temperature it makes up for in beauty.
Catalina boasts some of the best diving spots in the world and you don’t have to be a
certified scuba diver to experience them. Rent a snorkel and fins from a local dive shop
and swim right off the beach to see the famous kelp forests and marine life that live in
the Channel Islands.
If snorkeling isn’t your thing, fear not; the Descanso Beach Club has a great swimming
beach and there’s even a little beach right in the harbor, where you can wade in and
kids can play on the floating playground.
8. MOONLIGHT STATE BEACH
Moonlight State Beach is located on the coast of Encinitas, just north of San Diego.
Moonlight is a popular destination for all kinds of beach goers and is especially great for
families as there’s a snack bar and a grassy park area with a playground. The white sand
beach slopes gently into the ocean, so the water is usually pretty calm for swimmers
and there are plenty of lifeguards on duty, too. There are also fire pits along the beach
so you can cozy up around the fire after the sun goes down. Even on a hot day the
temperature gets cool by the water at night.
9. NEWPORT BEACH
The coastal city of Newport Beach is well-known for its 10 miles of pristine coastline, it’s
yacht-filled harbor, and the Balboa Pier and amusement park. It’s also famous for its
beaches, namely the surf break known as “The Wedge” and the Corona Del Mar State
Beach, which is wear you’ll want to head for a swim. Two rock jetties off the coast of
Corona Del Mar offer some protection from high surf, making the waters safer for
swimming, and the wide, flat beach has plenty of room for sun bathing and volleyball
On the other side of the parking lot opposite the main beach, the small Pirates Cove
Beach is tucked away offering another good swimming beach as well as some fun caves
and rock formations for kids to play on.
10. ZUMA BEACH
Zuma occupies 1.8 miles of beach front in Malibu and at 105 acres of property,
it’s one of the biggest beaches in L.A. County. Unlike some of the nearby
beaches in Santa Monica Bay, Zuma opens right on to the Pacific Ocean so it’s
waters can be a bit colder and more unpredictable, but on a calm day it’s a
great spot to swim and body surf. Rough surf or not, Zuma remains one of the
most popular beaches in southern California. Visitors love it for the wide open
sand, ample parking, and convenient amenities like food stands and restrooms.
It’s also a great place to observe grey whales during their migration (December
through March) and dolphins and sea lions can be spotted year-round.