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 eight premium purveyors of ice cream in Pasadena.
Set in an old gas station with a small walk-up stand, Afters (1265 E. Green St.) 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.
Bengees Ice Cream Crafters
Bengees Ice Cream Crafters (901 E. Del Mar Blvd.) in the South Lake Avenue District also makes a mean ice cream sandwich. They use cronuts as the “bun” and carry globally infused flavors like Churro, Black Sesame and Dutch Chocolate. Bengees also carries a wide range of vegan flavors made with coconut and nut milks. All the toppings are gourmet level, with options like graham cracker crumble and toasted marshmallow, plus traditional rainbow sprinkles and crumbled Oreo.
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.”
Pick-up a ready-made ice cream sandwich at the Coolhaus (59 E. Colorado Blvd.) scoop shop in Old Pas. The LA-based company is hyper ingredient conscious, using cage-free eggs, real California milk and ethically sourced chocolate. They specialize in innovative, all-natural ice cream flavors that sit between ultra-rich cookies. Their greatest “sammie” hits include the Mint Ice Cream, Birthday Cake and S’mores. Dairy-free options are available too.
Float Pasadena (380 S. Lake Ave.) specializes in addictive floats that blend bubbly beverages with ice cream made by local purveyor, Fosselman’s. Classic floats include The Creamsicle with orange cream soda, French vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. The Cold Brew will cool you off with a caffeinated kick. Seasonal floats and customizable combinations add further options. They also offer a menu of sandwiches and a full range of coffees and teas.
If you’ve been to Italy, you know that gelato is king of the ice creams. Hello Gelato (20 E. Colorado Blvd., Suite 101) dishes out perfectly creamy house-made gelato that stays true to the Italian approach from their small Old Pasadea location. Beautifully displayed flavors like Strawberry Lemonade, Coconut and Mango are the perfect summer companions. Sugar-free options are also plentiful.
Paradis Ice Cream
A Danish export, Paradis Ice Cream (16 S. Fair Oaks Ave.) is part of a beloved chain in Denmark known for freshly hand-made ice creams. With an emphasis on fresh and natural, the simple recipes practically qualify as “healthy.” So why not splurge on a Lovebox—a flight of six scoops of your choosing. Vegans go nuts for the variety of flavors catering to them here—you certainly don’t have to be a vegan to appreciate the Vegan Banana Sundae, Peanut Butter Coconut Cream and Hazelnut Crunch, to name a few.
Swedish Scoops (26 N. Raymond Ave.) is a homemade gelato and coffee bar where you can watch the gelato making in action from their Gelato Lab window. The staff let you sample to your heart’s content in order to land upon the delectable flavor of your choice. More than 30 options are offered daily, including recipes inspired by Swedish treats and seasonal fruits. Swedish candy, coffees, pastries and sandwiches also feature on the menu.
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