The Scoop on Pasadena’s Ice Cream Scene

May 01, 2023 | Posted in Food

Ice cream shops thrive in Pasadena. And when the temperatures start to climb, it's prime time to go out in search of a scoop that will hit that icy cold sweet spot.

From the traditional and Instagrammable to the offbeat and internationally inspired, you can't go wrong at these premium purveyors of ice cream in Pasadena.


Set in an old gas station with a small walk-up stand, Afters (1265 E. GreenSt.) has a cult following for their signature hot-glazed, donut-like Milky Bun. Whether you opt for a bun, cone or cup, it will be tough to choose your ice cream flavor given how creative and enticing the options are—think Cookie Monster,Milk & Cereal and Jasmine Milk Tea. Once you've gotten your order, settle in at one of the red picnic tables and maximize the many photogenic backdrops like the vintage gas pumps.


Gourmet ice cream is also on the menu at Carmela (2495 E.Washington Blvd.) in East Pasadena. Chef Jessica Mortarotti uses garden-inspired herbs and spices and seasonal produce in her artisanal creations. The Mint Cocoa Nib, Rosemary & Toasted Pine Nuts, and Lavender Honey flavors are to die for, as are the refreshing sorbets like Cucumber, Plum and Carrot, Orange & Ginger. If you want to try your hand in the ice cream-making craft, sign up for one of the seasonal ice cream-making classes offered in their"micro-creamery."

Wanderlust Creamery is tucked inside the Indiana Colony in Old Pasadena but its neon sign is easy to spot from the street. Their unique flavors are inspired by various locations around the world (hence the name) and incorporate ingredients from around the globe. The menu is always changing, allowing your palet to "travel" all year round.

Fair Oaks Pharmacy ice cream sundae

Take a time warp to Fair Oaks Pharmacy, an old-fashioned candy shop with a functioning old-school soda fountain, candies from your childhood, and sundaes bigger than your head! The walls are lined with candy and toys you haven't seen before.

One of the top reasons to choose 21 Choices in Pasadena for frozen yogurt is the number of toppings you can choose from. And they don't skimp out on them either. You can expect your order to be filled to the brim with fresh fruit, sweet chocolate nibs, marshmallows, nuts, cookies, and more.

Many people know Miss Cheese for their boba or souffle cakes but are unfamiliar with the Korean bingsoo. The bingsoo is just as delicious and perfect for cooling down during the hot summer months. It's shaved milk ice drizzled condensed milk, red beans, and topped with fruit, chocolate, or various nuts. There's nothing quite like it.

If you've been to Italy, you know that gelato is king of ice creams. Hello Gelato (20 E. ColoradoBlvd., Suite 101) dishes out perfectly creamy house-made gelato that stays true to the Italian approach from their small Old Pasadena location. Beautifully displayed flavors like Strawberry Lemonade, Coconut, and Mango are the perfect summer companions. Sugar-free options are also plentiful.

Float Pasadena (380 S. LakeAve.) specializes in addictive floats that blend bubbly beverages with ice cream made by local purveyor, Fosselman's. Classic floats include TheCreamsicle with orange cream soda, French vanilla ice cream, and whipped cream. The Cold Brew will cool you off with a caffeinated kick. Seasonal floats andcustomizable combinations add further options. They also offer a menu of sandwiches and a full range of coffees and teas.