​Carb obsessives flock to New York City from across the globe for bagels, cheesecake and, yes, pizza… but ice cream in NYC is worth the schlep, too. It’s been a key foodstuff here for centuries. Even iconic New Yorkers can’t get enough of the stuff; Upper East Side denizen Jackie Kennedy had a scoop a day; Bronx-born J. Lo indulges, too. 

“Historically the neighborhood most associated with ice cream is actually Lower Manhattan,” says Greg Young of The Bowery Boys podcast, which also offers amazing walking tours. “Long before the era of freezers and ice production, ice cream couldn’t travel very far and most people before 1800 lived below Canal Street.” 

Ice cream obsessive George Washington j’adored the stuff, which was then a treat for the upper crust — err, scoop — especially at Joseph Corre’s City Tavern.

“During the early 19th century, places called pleasure gardens (early public parks) were often where most New Yorkers experienced ice cream while strolling the grounds or listening to light music,” Young says. “Corre had his own pleasure garden called Mount Vernon Gardens — named in honor of Washington of course — just north of Wall Street, and he dazzled people with new and interesting ice cream flavors.” 

​They’re not called pleasure gardens anymore (probably a good call), but joints dedicated to ice cream in NYC abound. We rounded up the best ice cream neighborhoods in the city to indulge on a summer’s day (or winter’s day — we won’t judge).

8 Best Neighborhoods for Ice Cream in NYC

Happy little girl holding ice cream cone - ice cream in NYC

Battery Park City, Manhattan 

“When you visit an ice cream place near Battery Park, you’re really carrying on a tradition as old as the United States itself!” says Young of this storied ice cream neighborhood. We think George Washington himself would doff his tricorn hat for the schamncy offerings at Van Leeuwen Ice Cream in adjacent Tribeca, where egg-rich flavors range from lemon poppy seed muffin to earl gray tea (plus a smattering of vegan options, like churros and fudge), all made in their Greenpoint, Brooklyn factory and now sold in storefronts coast to coast. 

Another area fave? Big Gay Ice Cream, which has an outpost on Front Street in the nearby South Street Seaport. We highly recommend their Golden Girls-inspired “Dorothy”: vanilla ice cream with dulce de leche and a thick coating of crushed Nilla wafers. Thank you for being a friend, Big Gay Ice Cream!

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Upper West Side, Manhattan 

Culture fiends beeline to the Upper West Side for shows at Lincoln Center, lectures at the New York Historical Society, and, yes, some of the greatest ice cream in NYC. 

“My favorite ice cream shop is Blue Marble located on West 97th Street, just steps from The Westly,” says Shlomi Reuveni, a broker for Reuveni Development Marketing at The Westly. (Editor’s Note: this NYC chain also has locations in Lincoln Square and Prospect Heights.) “My favorite flavor at Blue Marble is Cinnamon Double Dark Chocolate.” 

Bonus: Blue Marble is a certified B-Corp that uses organic ingredients. Talk about delicious. 

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Chinatown, Manhattan 

Come for the dim sum, stay for the undeniably divine ice cream offerings at The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, a fiercely beloved neighborhood gem with flavors like black sesame, lychee, and even durian. Insider tip: the Bayard street mainstay also does unforgettable ice cream cakes with a trifecta of delectable layers, like lychee, green tea and mango. With two outposts, including one in Flushing and another tucked inside Essex Market on the Lower East Side, you know it’s good.

Another Chinatown go-to, Soft Swerve, is highly Instagrammable; their stunning soft serve sundae options include Broadway: ube purple yam ice cream garnished with Fruity Pebbles and cereal marshmallows. 

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Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

“My favorite neighborhood for ice cream here in Brooklyn is historic Prospect Heights, where there are many great shops,” says Jeremy Wilcox, Owner, Custom NYC Tours, and board member of the Guides Association of NYC. “My favorite is The Social, on Washington Ave. It’s run by the founders of the Ample Hills ice cream brand. It is a great little corner shop, with a party room in the back.” 

Wilcox often veers towards nostalgic flavors that remind him of childhood. “I love their Orange Dreamsicle sherbet,” he says. “For those who are lactose intolerant, they have an amazing mango sorbet!” 

Note that lazy ice cream lovers can enjoy their ice cream in NYC without leaving home; the brand ships flavors like raspberry croissant and “Oh captain, my captain” cereal ice cream nationwide via GoldBelly

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Coney Island, Broolyn

Couple eats ice cream cones in Coney Island - ice cream in NYC

It’s no wonder Coney Island has deserved a spot on our list of the top ice cream in NYC: frozen custard was reportedly invented on these shores back in 1919. 

“There are obviously many fancy, elevated ice cream places that I love, but for me, ice cream tastes the BEST when you’re in Coney Island,” says Young. “I much prefer an old school experience. It’s part of my ritual to stop in either at Lunatics Ice Cream [known for their pistachio soft serve] or Williams Candy shop on Surf Avenue and grab a big elaborate ice cream cone. I’m a particular fan of banana soft serve ice cream, especially on a summer’s day. And if they don’t have banana, then I go to a chocolate-vanilla swirl of course. Nothing says you’re on a vacation more than a twist cone!” 

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Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

In Carroll Gardens — a centuries-old Brooklyn neighborhood lined with Italianate and Neo-Grecian brownstones — a historically inspired ice cream parlor truly sates desires. Enter: Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain, which opened in 2010 inside a perfectly preserved early 1900s drugstore complete with tin ceilings. 

“For something a bit more sophisticated, I head to Farmacy, which has a tantalizing array of sundaes,” Young says; flavors range from Potato Head (North Fork potato chips with peanut butter, warm caramel and freshly made whipped cream) to More is S’More (red velvet cake, layers of ice cream, hot fudge, toasted marshmallows and graham crackers). “And they even make their own ice cream sandwiches!” 

While you’re in Carroll Gardens, we highly suggest a second helping of ice cream in NYC at Malai, where founder Pooja Bavishi infuses her covetable flavors with South Asian deliciousness; flavors include lemon cardamom, coconut tahini with date caramel, and pumpkin garam masala crumble. Divine. 

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Forest Hills, Queens

We’ve got nothing against hipster flavors for our ice cream in NYC, but sometimes you wake up craving the ice cream your grandma grew up with. That’s what you’ll find at Eddie’s, reportedly the oldest ice cream shop in all of New York City. Originally founded in the 1920s in the Tudor-stocked neighborhood of Forest Hills, this throwback soda fountain still serves ice cream ye olde fashioned way with flavors like rum raisin, butter pecan, and tutti fruti. Don’t miss the homemade whipped cream. 

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Westerleigh, Staten Island

Staten Island is coming up on a full century of screaming for the ice cream at Egger’s, which opened in 1932. Recently bought by Staten Island native Danielle Raleigh, the icon is expanding new outposts and freshening up fast for today’s tastes (translation: you’ll find vegan and even sugar free offerings on the menu.) We love that they use their original recipe and churn out classics like pistachio and vanilla fudge swirl. Be sure to take a gander at the toppings, which include waffle cone crumbs. Swoon.

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This list is certainly not exhaustive, and you can find delectable ice cream in just about any New York neighborhood. But if you love ice cream as much as we do, we’d recommend scoping out what they’re scooping up before you decide where to live.

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