By Maura Keller and Anne Morrissy | Photos by Hillary Schave
When you think of warm summer evenings, strolling down a quaint street with crickets chirping and warm breezes flowing, what comes to mind? Why, ice cream of course! According to the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), the average American consumes approximately 20 pounds of ice cream each year, which is equivalent to about four gallons of the frozen confection.
Whether you prefer hand-dipped ice cream, soft serve or frozen custard, the Geneva Lake area has plenty of options to satisfy a sweet tooth. And while chocolate and cookies n’ cream top the list of favorite ice cream flavors, other flavors that fall within America’s “top 10” include butter pecan, salted caramel and chocolate-chip cookie dough. While non-dairy options and plant-based ingredients are certainly growing in popularity, most consumers continue to prefer the classics. Whatever your preference, get out there and support these locally owned businesses while sampling all the best flavors the region has to offer — you’ll be coming back for more in no time.
105 W. Main St., Fontana | blueheavenicecream.com
Located just off of Highway 67 in Fontana, Blue Heaven Ice Cream offers 24 flavors of hand-dipped, super-premium ice cream from local Wisconsin producers, including the Chocolate Shoppe, a Madison-based, family-owned company that has been in business for over 60 years; and Purple Door, a Milwaukee artisanal creamery with a cult following.
Suzy Brady, Blue Heaven owner, says this is part of what makes Blue Door a favorite among area residents and visitors to the region. “Our guests, who hail from all over the world, appreciate the fact that they’re getting a delicious Wisconsin-made treat,” she says. “The shop’s knowledgeable staff will help you pair flavors like “Whiskey Old-Fashioned” with a Philadelphia pretzel cone, or crowd-favorite “This $#!@ Just Got Serious” with a chocolate cookie cone. Most of our flavors are kosher, and we offer a great selection of gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan options,” Brady explains. “We have gluten-free cones as well.”
When Brady and her husband, Todd, met in 2013, they began to toss around ideas for a business they could start together. There had been no ice cream shop in Fontana for decades, so the couple quickly zeroed in on the idea of opening a premium ice cream shop. The Bradys purchased an iconic downtown building, the SS Fontana, and opened the shop in the spring of 2019. “It’s hard to believe that we’ll be celebrating our fifth anniversary this summer,” Brady says.
In addition to the shop, they also offer a portable slice of Blue Heaven for weddings, parties and events. “We’ll bring our ice cream cart to you and set up a sundae bar, or load it up with homemade ice cream sandwiches,” Brady says.
The name Blue Heaven originated about when the couple started coming up to Fontana. “It’s kind of based on an emotion … the one you get when you cross the state line and roll down the windows for that first blast of fresh air, or when you’re coming downhill from Walworth and get that first glimpse of the navy-blue lake. You just go ‘ahhhh,’” Brady says. “Fontana is like Blue Heaven to us, and we thought it was a perfect name for our shop. The vibe just fit.”
MEGGY MOO’S DAIRY RIPPLE
600 Kenosha St., Walworth | facebook.com/dairyripple/
Tucked in the heart of Walworth, Meggy Moo’s Dairy Ripple has been a favorite of ice cream aficionados for almost 75 years. This classic, drive-up ice cream joint, known to an earlier generation as the Dari-Ripple, maintains its kitschy, 1950s vibes.
“So many people visit and tell us stories about how they have been coming here since they were little children — myself included,” says Meggy Moo’s owner, Danielle Rabe, who worked in the ice cream shop for about five years before becoming the owner herself in 2018. Together, Rabe and her husband, Adam, operate Meggy Moo’s, which is open from mid- March through the end of November.
In addition to ice cream, Meggy Moo’s serves classic “snack shack” fare like Vienna beef hot dogs and made-to-order hamburgers. But the sweet treats are the biggest draw here. Customers come from near and far for Meggy Moo’s “widgets,” homemade donut holes served warm and rolled in sugar or cinnamon sugar. “Our most unique offering is by far the widget,” Rabe says. “They’re a ‘must’ when visiting the area,” Rabe says. “Make sure to order some soft serve ice cream to go with it.”
Other customer favorites include the malts, milkshakes and orange dream floats, in addition to the burgers. Rabe says she loves being part of the history of the area through the iconic ice cream stand: “It’s really fun to be part of such a nostalgic shop in our area.”
THE DARIEN ICE CREAM SHOPPE
30 W. Beloit St., Darien | facebook.com
The Darien Ice Cream Shoppe has been a fixture in the Darien community since 1989. For the past 10 years, it has been owned by Alice and Brian Davis, who describe it as a “little gem.” Located in what was once Darien’s post office building, the Darien Ice Cream Shoppe is easy to identify thanks to the friendly penguin mural painted on the exterior wall.
Alice says that for many of their customers, the setting is part of the appeal. “We have indoor seating, but customers also can enjoy their ice cream on picnic tables outside or even take their treats across the street to the park,” she says.
The Darien Ice Cream Shoppe boasts 30 flavors of Cedar Crest ice cream, which can be made into cones, shakes, malts, sundaes, banana splits, smoothies or any other concoction a customer would like. In addition to the hand-dipped options, Alice says the shop also offers vanilla, chocolate and twist soft serve. With so many delicious flavors, the ice cream shop draws customers from throughout the area, as well as many neighboring states.
“Many customers traveling north [on I-43] stop on Fridays and return on Sundays on the way back home,” Alice says. And while the variety of flavors is a huge draw for the human customers, the shop offers a special treat for their four-legged friends as well: doggie sundaes, complete with vanilla soft serve ice cream, topped off with a dog bone.
“We also have monthly and weekly specials, gluten-free cones and gift certificates,” Davis says. “Many customers say that they came here when they were kids, and now are bringing back their children.”
THE FROSTY MOOSE
35 W. Geneva St., Williams Bay | thefrostymoose.com
Located in a former gas station in downtown Williams Bay, the Frosty Moose has earned accolades and developed a devoted following thanks to its expansive ice cream flavor menu. There are 62 flavors of super premium, hand-dipped ice cream. These are created for the shop by a dairy co-op in Madison, made from kosher, hormone-free, all-natural ingredients. In addition to the hand-dipped ice cream, the Frosty Moose boasts 5,000 flavors (yep, 5,000!) of premium soft serve as well.
Owner Tom Kaczmarek says that the variety of options is what draws people into the shop. “They like to come in and look at everything and sample some flavors before deciding,” he explains. For those who want something extra special, The Frosty Moose also invents its own creative soft-serve sundaes. The themed treats — mermaid, unicorn and narwhal are past examples — are dreamed up by Kazmarek’s wife, Christy, and daughter, Kaylen.
Some of The Frosty Moose’s most popular flavors include Banana Cream Pie (banana ice cream churned with marshmallow ripple), Blue Moon (reminiscent of the milk at the bottom of a Fruit Loops cereal bowl); and Door County Cherry (all-natural vanilla ice cream loaded with tart Door County cherries from Sister Bay, Wisconsin). Then there are the shop’s shakes, malts, avalanches, sundaes and slushies. Kaczmarek says he puts an extra emphasis on making sure there are allergy-friendly options, including gluten-free, sugar-free and nut-free menu items. “We want everyone who comes in to be able to have some kind of treat,” he says.
If you’re looking for a more substantial meal, the shop also makes its own deli sandwiches, wraps and hot dogs to order. “We get a lot of people who are doing a walk around the lake, and they stop in for a sandwich and ice cream,” Kacmarek says. The best part? All of this can be enjoyed on site at the Frosty Moose’s charming outdoor seating area.
DIP IN THE BAY
105 N. Walworth Ave., Williams Bay | dipinthebay.com
In 2019, we asked At The Lake’s Facebook followers to vote for their favorite local ice cream shop, and the winner was Williams Bay’s Dip in the Bay. Owner Mike Condron says the win is something his team is very proud of. Since opening the shop 11 years ago, Condron has worked hard to create what he calls a “family-run and family-friendly approach,” with an emphasis on giving back to the local community. This summer, Condron’s daughter, Joyce, will take an active role in running the shop.
This sense of family and community extends to the many offerings of premium, hand-dipped ice cream available at the shop, as well. Several of the flavors and flavor combinations at Dip in the Bay were named for family members, local landmarks or regular customers, including Joe’s Chocolate Peanut Butter, named for Condron’s son, Joe; Black Point Walnut, named for the famous Victorian home across the lake; and Shea’s Strawberry, named for a pint-sized fan of the flavor who comes in regularly with her parents.
Condron says the devoted following for Dip in the Bay’s ice cream is due to their “state secret” sourcing of ice cream flavors, including many flavors that come from locally owned, small family farms via a farmer co-op dairy. Most of the ice cream served at Dip in the Bay is made with skim milk, making it lower in fat than traditional ice cream, as well. And the shop serves all fresh fruit and nut toppings, another key to their success, according to Condron. For those who prefer non- dairy alternatives, Dip in the Bay also offers Italian ice and sherbets.
Most warm summer nights you will find Dip in the Bay’s customers lounging in the multi-colored Adirondack chairs gracing the property. Condron describes his shop’s relationship with The Frosty Moose up the street as “more friendly than rivalry,” and says he loves that Williams Bay has become alocalicecreamdestination,drawing people from all over the area who come to town for a post-meal walk along the lake, topped off with a little ice cream for dessert.
101 Broad St., Lake Geneva
Walk along the lakefront by the Riviera in Lake Geneva and you are bound to smell one of summertime’s best scents wafting from the Geneva Towers building across the street — homemade waffle cones. Longtime local ice cream shop Scoops in Lake Geneva has earned many awards, including two prestigious awards from the National Ice Cream Retailer Association and the Wisconsin State Fair, thanks in part to its high-quality ice cream, homemade waffle cones and waffle bowls, as well as fresh-squeezed lemonade. These treats help visitors to the area cool down on hot summer days, and the shop’s outdoor seating area provides incredible lake views as well as top-notch people watching.
Scoops features 30 flavors of ice cream sourced from the Chocolate Shoppe in Madison, along with coffee from Milwaukee’s popular Colectivo Coffee. For those looking for an ice cream alternative, Scoops also offers Hawaiian shaved ice, fruit smoothies and homemade hot chocolate. Of course, the most popular menu items are ice cream-based, including shakes, floats and sundaes.
105 E. Townline Rd., Lake Geneva | somethingsweetlg.com
If you are looking for a retro candy and ice cream experience, head out of downtown Lake Geneva on Motel Row (Wells Street) until you reach the charming shop Something Sweet. Since 2018, this vintage-style sweet shop has been offering a full suite (no pun intended) of frozen treats, including hand-dipped ice cream, plus shakes, malts and root beer floats — as well as offerings that are harder to find in Lake Geneva, including Flavor Burst soft serve, frozen lemonade, smoothies and even Dole Whip, the vacation treat more traditionally associated with Hawaii or Disneyland. In addition to these frozen treats, Something Sweet also boasts a full roster of classic candy, nuts, homemade cotton candy, homemade cookies, homemade fudge, popcorn and edible cookie dough to satisfy every possible craving.
On the website, owner Kristin Dooley says that after a successful pop-up experience in downtown Lake Geneva, she was inspired to open the full-service shop “outside of the congested downtown area” to take advantage of free parking and be able to offer plenty of outdoor seating and year- round hours. “This has made us very welcomed by the locals, and we are proud to be part of such an amazing community!” she adds.
Taking advantage of the location, Something Sweet offers many fun, interactive events for children and families. From free cone giveaways to outdoor family movie nights, these events are designed to make an outing to Something Sweet an experience to remember. And Dooley hasn’t forgotten Fido! Like several of the shops on this list, Something Sweet offers free “pup cups” with any additional ice cream purchase.