The Best Ice Cream Cities in America: 2022 Data

By Matt Brannon

Posted on July 18th, 2022

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Ranking 50 Ice Cream Cities | Top 15 Cities for Ice Cream | Rankings by Category | 10 Worst Ice Cream Cities | Methodology | FAQ

Interest in ice cream is heating up. Fresh flavors and innovative ingredients are driving demand for the frozen treat to new heights, with the global ice cream market expected to reach a $114 billion value by 2030.

Although some might argue over the best types of ice cream and the best ice cream brands, there's no debate that few foods go better with summertime than a cone, cup, or bowl of ice cream.

It's no wonder July is designated National Ice Cream Month, with National Ice Cream Day falling on July 17 in 2022.

In honor of the delicious dessert, we're ranking the 50 best cities for ice cream and shouting out some of the best ice cream shops. To create our list, we analyzed price data, city geography, and internet search activity, weighted in the following manner:

  • 8x: Ice cream shops per capita
  • 8x: Google Trends interest in general ice cream terms
  • 4x: Google Trends activity for 20 ice cream variations
  • 4x: Average statewide cost of a small cup or cone, using prices from Ben & Jerry's world famous ice cream
  • 4x: Average affordability of a small Ben & Jerry's cup or cone each week for a year, based on local salaries
  • 2x: Ice cream shops per square mile
  • 2x: Average annual temperature — a bonus for warmer, ice-cream friendly weather

Get the full scoop on the best ice cream cities below:

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Ranking 50 Ice Cream Cities

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The 15 Best Ice Cream Cities

As a group, the top 15 metros for ice cream stand out because of:

  • More choices: The top 15 cities have an average of 4.9 ice cream shops per 100,000 people — 44% more than the average city in our study, which has 3.4.
  • High interest in ice cream: The top 15 cities show higher rates of Google search interest in ice cream, with an interest score of 84.7 out of 100 — 7.1% higher than the average city we analyzed (79.1).
  • Better prices: A small cup of Ben & Jerry's ice cream costs roughly $4.47 in the top 15 cities, slightly cheaper than the $4.50 residents pay in the average city.

Here's how the top 15 ice cream cities earned their individual rankings:

1. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

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Oklahoma City locals have no shortage of spots to indulge in ice cream. The city has 5.7 ice cream shops per 100,000 people, the fourth-highest mark on our list. That includes multiple locations of Braum's, a popular regional chain first started in the city in the 1960s.

Ice cream costs are also relatively low in OKC. A small cup or cone of Ben & Jerry's will run residents $4.07 on average — about 10% less than the national average ($4.50).

Google Trends data provides a window into Oklahomans' favorite types of ice cream. No metro on our list has higher search activity for sherbert, and the city ranks second in interest for chocolate and vanilla ice cream.

2. New Orleans, Louisiana

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It makes sense that New Orleans has an abundance of spots to snag ice cream, given the city's sweltering summers. New Orleans has an average annual temperature of 70.5 degrees Fahrenheit — 18% hotter than the average city in our study (59.9).

Fortunately, locals don't have to travel too far to find a cold cup of soft serve. New Orleans has an ice cream shop every 2.6 miles, the 10th-best mark on our list. Locals can find colorful creations at spots such as Ice Cream 504 — open seven days a week so you can enjoy dessert Monday through sundae.

3. Las Vegas, Nevada

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Las Vegas' love of variety extends beyond its passion for vegan ice cream. The city also ranks first in search activity for sorbet and third in search activity for mochi.

No matter what flavor you're looking for, there are plenty of places to score ice cream in Sin City. Las Vegas ranks No. 2 in ice cream shops per capita with 7.8 shops per 100,000 residents — compared to 3.4 in the average city we analyzed.

If you're in the mood for gluten-free ice cream, you can find it made from scratch at Paradise City Creamery, a boutique ice cream shop in the city's arts district.

4. San Jose, California

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San Jose residents don't have much trouble getting ahold of the frozen desert. The city ranks No. 3 in ice cream shops per capita (7.1 per 100,000 people) and No. 4 in access to ice cream, with a shop every 2.5 miles.

San Jose residents are big fans of mochi — the rice-cake-ice-cream combination. Locals search the web for mochi more often than residents of any other city on our list.

There's no limit to what ice cream fans can sample in San Jose, especially if they're enjoying the unlimited toppings at Icicles.

5. Providence, Rhode Island

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Fortunately, Providence has the ice cream infrastructure to meet its demand. The city has an ice cream shop every 2.6 miles, the fifth-best mark on our list.

Providence also performed above average in our variety metric with a score of 85.5 out of 100, indicating residents often search the web for a wide mix of ice cream flavors and styles.

The city ranks No. 1 in search interest for vanilla ice cream and No. 2 in search interest for coffee ice cream — a flavor that's particularly popular in the Northeast. Anyone wanting to try it in Providence can do so by ordering the "Blind Pig" coffee ice cream sandwich at Tricycle Ice Cream.

6. Raleigh, North Carolina

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Raleigh also has relatively cheap ice cream prices, with a small cone of Ben & Jerry's costing $4.15 — better than the national average cost of $4.50.

The city shows a high level of interest in ice cream. Raleigh residents frequently search the web for general ice cream terms, earning the city an interest score of 85 out of 100 — an improvement over the average city's score of 79.1.

That interest in ice cream is no surprise when locals have shops such as Raleigh Rolls in town, home to some of the best-looking ice cream east of the Mississippi.

» Read More: Where's the Best Place to Buy Rental Property in North Carolina?

7. Salt Lake City, Utah

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In addition to a high volume of ice cream shops, Salt Lake City residents have a strong passion for a mix of ice cream styles. That's demonstrated by a variety score of 91.8 out of 100, sixth-best on our list.

Salt Lake locals have a few favorites they often search for. The city ranks second in search interest for chocolate chip cookie dough and third in search interest for vanilla, shaved ice, and ice cream floats.

In addition to those fan favorites, fresh flavors are always on the way. Cloud Ninth Creamery even allows customers to flex their creativity by submitting ideas for new flavors.

8. Austin, Texas

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The slogan "Keep Austin Weird" is appropriate with so many locals going bananas: The city ranks first in online search interest for banana ice cream. Visitors can find two different types of banana ice cream — banana cream pie and strawberry banana — at local chain Amy's Ice Creams.

Additionally, Austin has the seventh-warmest average temperature in our study, making ice cream especially appreciated as a sweet treat for relief from the heat.

» Learn More: The Best Places in Texas for Real Estate Investors

9. Boston, Massachusetts

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It's not too hard to stumble upon an ice cream shop in Boston. With a store every 2.6 miles, Boston outperforms the average city in our study, which has a store every 4.3 miles.

Dunkin' culture has clearly made an impact on the New England metropolis: Bostonians rank No. 1 in search interest for coffee ice cream. Locals looking for coffee ice cream can find it, as well as other delicious desserts and actual coffee, at popular area chain J.P. Licks.

10. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Along with easy access to ice cream shops, Philadelphia is an affordable place to pick up an ice cream habit. Buying one cone a week for a year would run residents 0.31% of their annual salary — better than the typical city we studied (0.33%).

Judging by the high rate of web searches for general ice cream terms, Philadelphians are frequently in the mood for ice cream. The city earned an almost-perfect ice cream interest score of 99.3 out of 100 — well above the average city on our list (79.1)

The city also boasts America's oldest ice cream company — Bassetts Ice Cream — which one can taste at Reading Terminal Market.

11. Hartford, Connecticut

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Hartford has a few favorites when it comes to different types of ice cream. The city ranks No. 1 in search interest for chocolate chip cookie dough and No. 3 for coffee ice cream.

Overall, Hartford earned a near-perfect ice cream interest score of 99.7 out of 100 — the third-best on our list — as a result of residents often searching the web for general ice cream terms.

Locals searching for quality ice cream can find it at Capital Ice Cream — home to some of the best-looking ice cream in the Northeast.

12. Cincinnati, Ohio

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It's fitting that the city sits on the Ohio River, as residents have an affinity for ice cream floats. Cincinnati ranks fourth in search interest for the popular ice cream beverage.

Web searches for general ice cream terms are especially common in Cincinnati, earning the city an interest score of 92.6 out of 100 — better than the typical score of 79.1.

Some of Ohio's highest-quality ice cream can be found in the city, as evidenced by the handmade ice cream and Italian Ice at Aglamesis Bro's and first-rate rolled ice cream at Simply Rolled.

13. Portland, Oregon

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There are several frosty desserts that see frequent search interest from Portland residents. The city ranks No. 3 in interest for dairy-free ice cream and sorbet, as well as No. 4 for chocolate ice cream and frozen yogurt.

Fantastic frozen yogurt can be found at Portland's Eb & Bean, which carries organic dairy flavors and plant-based varieties made with almond, oat, and coconut milk.

As for ice cream, What's the Scoop? boasts a rotating list of creative flavors made from scratch, including several options with liquor.

Overall, Portland locals have an easier time affording ice cream than residents of the average city we studied. Buying one cone a week for a year costs Portlanders 0.3% of their typical salary, better than the average city in our study (0.33%).

» Read More: The Best Places to Buy Rental Property in Oregon

14. San Diego, California

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San Diego earned its 100 out of 100 variety score thanks to ranking No. 1 in search interest for rocky road ice cream, gelato, and frozen yogurt. It also comes in at No. 2 for vegan ice cream.

Can't decide which flavor to get? Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream has you covered with ice cream flights — allowing customers to enjoy several small cones of Hawaiian-inspired flavors.

No matter what you're looking for, San Diego has plenty of spots for ice cream fans to flock. The city has 5.4 ice cream shops per 100,000 people — 59% more than the average city on our list (3.4 per 100,000).

15. Kansas City, Missouri

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Given its low prices, Kansas City also ranks high in our affordability metric. Buying one cup each week for a year would cost locals 0.3% of their annual salary — slightly cheaper than the national average (0.33%).

Kansas City would've ranked higher on our list, but ice cream shops are relatively few and far between. There's just one every 6.6 miles, while the typical city we studied has one every 4.3 miles.

On the bright side, Kansas City's ice cream scene puts an emphasis on quality over quantity, with unique spots such as The Golden Scoop — a nonprofit ice cream shop that hires people with developmental disabilities.

Data Details: Top 5 Rankings by Category







The 10 Worst Ice Cream Cities

Not every city is a sweet spot for ice cream. The cold, hard truth is that the following metros ranked at the bottom of our list:

  1. Memphis, Tennessee
  2. Riverside, California
  3. Washington, D.C.
  4. Miami, Florida
  5. Houston, Texas
  6. Baltimore, Maryland
  7. Los Angeles, California
  8. Sacramento, California
  9. Dallas, Texas
  10. Jacksonville, Florida

The bottom 10 cities stand out because they have:

  • Fewer ice cream shops: The bottom 10 cities have an average of 2.2 ice cream shops per 100,000 people — 35% less than the average city (3.4 per 100,000).
    • The bottom 10 cities average one shop every 5.1 miles — 19% higher than the average of 4.3.
  • Higher costs: A small cup of ice cream costs an average of $4.80 in the bottom 10 cities, while a cup from the average city in our study costs $4.50.
  • Less ice cream interest: Residents in the bottom 10 cities don't search the web for general ice cream terms very often with an interest score of just 70.7 out of 100 — 11% lower than the average of 79.1 in our study.

Memphis ranked last because it has:

  • The second-fewest ice cream shops per capita — just 1.3 per 100,000 people.
    • Memphis has an ice cream shop every 9 miles, compared to 4.3 miles in the average city we analyzed, over double the distance.
  • Fewer Memphians searching the web for general ice cream terms. The city has an ice cream interest score of 52.4 — the lowest score in our study.
  • Low affordability. Buying one cup each week for a year costs 0.4% of the area's typical salary, higher than the 0.33% average in our study.

On the bright side, a single small cup of ice cream in Memphis costs $4.11 — cheaper than 39 other cities we analyzed.

Methodology

Home Bay compared the 50 most-populous U.S. metro areas across a number of metrics, listed below. Each metric was normalized and then graded on a 100-point scale. The combined weighted average of the scores determined the “ice cream city” score upon which the final ranking was based.

In cases where data sets included only cities or other statistical areas, the city data was combined into the overall metro in which the city belonged to the extent of the available data. In cases where data sets included only counties, county data was crosswalked with metropolitan data. In cases where data sets included only states, the state where the largest portion of the metro is located was used.

The metrics used are as follows:

  • Ice cream shops per 100,000 residents (25%)
  • Google Trends interest in general ice cream terms (25%)
  • Google Trends activity for 20 ice cream varieties (12.5%)
  • Average affordability of a Ben & Jerry's small cup/cone each week for a year (12.5%)
  • Average statewide cost of a Ben & Jerry's small cup/cone (12.5%)
  • Ice cream shops per square mile (6.25%)
  • Average annual temperature in Fahrenheit (6.25%)

Data sources include: U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey; U.S. National Centers for Environmental Information; Yelp; Google Trends; and Fast Food Menu Prices.

About Home Bay

Where your real estate voyage begins. Since 2014, Home Bay has helped thousands of readers confidently sail through their next home sale or purchase. In 2021, Home Bay was acquired by Clever Real Estate, a free agent-matching service that has helped consumers save more than $82 million on real estate fees. Research by Home Bay's Data Center has been cited by The New York Times, CNBC, MarketWatch, NPR, Apartment Therapy, Yahoo Finance, Black Enterprise, and more.

More Research From Home Bay

Frequently Asked Questions About Ice Cream

What city has the most ice cream shops?

The city with the most ice cream shops per capita is New Orleans. The city has 8.7 ice cream shops per 100,000 people — more than double the national average (3.4). Learn more about the best ice cream cities.

What are the best ice cream brands?

As of 2021, Ben & Jerry's is the top-selling ice cream name brand in the U.S., followed by Häagen-Dazs and Blue Bell, according to Chicago-based market research firm IRI. Learn more about the best ice cream cities.

What are the best types of ice cream?

The most popular ice cream flavor in the U.S. is chocolate, with vanilla in second. Strawberry, mint chocolate chip, and butter pecan tied for third, according to a 2020 YouGov survey. Learn more about the best ice cream cities.

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