Just like the classic children’s songs go — everyone screams for ice cream. And is there really anything better than cooling off with a fresh scoop of ice cream on a steamy summer day? (In case you were wondering, the answer is no).
Ice cream and summer go hand in hand, and visiting small, family-owned ice cream shops will satisfy your sweet tooth while scooping up a side of nostalgia.
Along The Pike, we have plenty of charming, mom-and-pop ice cream shops to check out; cool off this summer at these six spots.
*Full disclosure — you might not want to read this on an empty stomach.
Sherman’s Dairy Bar
Scooping up made-from-scratch ice cream since 1916, Sherman’s Dairy Bar has become an iconic South Haven landmark. It all started when grandpa Sherman used his small herd of dairy cattle to deliver milk on a horse-drawn wagon from house to house. Fast-forward to today, and the ice cream is still made the old-fashioned way — in slow batches, which makes it rich and creamy, but not too heavy.
There are dozens of fun flavors on the menu — like Sherman Tracks, Superscoop, Cotton Candy Confetti and Caramel Caramel Caramel. Even more good news? You can try a little bit of everything in a Sherman Flight. Flights are a crowd favorite and include six sample-size scoops of any flavor ice cream — what could be better?
Holland and Zeeland
You can’t visit Captain Sundae on a summer evening without seeing mobs of people; there’s a good reason for its multiple locations (two in Holland, one in Zeeland).
The original captain, Lee Mannes, opened Captain Sundae in 1980, and later sold the ice cream shop in 2000 to Karen VanDam, a former employee, and her husband, Tom.
“My first job as a teenager was at Captain Sundae,” Karen VanDam said. “I fell in love with the business back then, and kept in touch with Lee as an adult and expressed my interest in purchasing it from him when he was ready to retire.”
A lakeshore favorite, Captain Sundae specializes in — you guessed it — sundaes. Over 40 specialty sundaes grace the menu, with the most famous being the Tommy Turtle, made with vanilla soft-serve ice cream, hot fudge, caramel and butter pecans, and is topped off with whipped cream and a cherry.
The Tommy Turtle made national news back in 2004 when it was served on NBC’s TODAY Show, and served to former President George W. Bush during his visit to Holland.
Kelly Larson’s love for ice cream began in 1985 when she started her first job at Temptations on Chinook Pier in Grand Haven. Four years later, when the store was up for sale, Larson begged her parents to purchase it. Over time, the family began crafting their own ice cream, giving them the freedom to control the quality and flavors. Every ice cream is produced in small batches with the ingredients swirled in by hand.
Aside from ice cream, Sweet Temptations serves a variety of homemade treats, including: caramel corn, a variety of candies, caramel apples, walnut fudge, peanut brittle, chocolate rice krispies, chocolate-covered pretzels, chocolate brittle, chocolate-dipped apples, chocolate-covered potato chips and chocolate-covered Oreos (chocoholics, this place is for you).
Pekadill’s is your quintessential, old-timey delicatessen. Family-owned and -operated since 1983, The Dillivan family purchased Pekadill’s from Pete and Kathy Wessel in 1989. Pekadill’s got its name from the Wessels — a combination of their first names and their dog, Dillon.
With an expansive menu full of Michigan-made ice cream, Pekadill’s has something fun for everyone. There are over 25 flavors of Hudsonville Ice Cream and Ashby’s Sterling Ice Cream to choose from, and you can try them on a fresh, homemade waffle cone or in a classic malt or shake.
Fun fact: Pekadill’s has a huge, pet-friendly garden, so bring your furry friends along anytime.
House of Flavors
Owned by the third generation of the Neal family, House of Flavors’ history goes all the way back to 1948, when Bob Neal Sr. purchased Miller’s Dairy, then changed the name to Park Dairy, with the tag line of “House of Flavors.” Park Dairy started off with serving just five flavors of ice cream — vanilla, chocolate, lemon, French vanilla and blue moon.
Today, you can try over 35 flavors at its restaurant location in Ludington. House of Flavors also produces private-label ice cream to upward of 60 retailers in the United States and Europe. Producing over 25 million gallons a year, House of Flavors is Michigan’s largest ice cream manufacturer.
A must-try is the famous Pig’s Dinner — vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and orange and pineapple ice creams with a banana served in a pig’s trough, finished with pineapple, wild cherry, strawberry and chocolate toppings.
It’s a known fact; you can’t visit Traverse City without stopping by Moomers. Born from a love of ice cream and one great idea, Moomers is family-owned and -operated by the Plummer family. The Plummers share their passion for ice cream and agriculture by serving up homemade ice cream at the Moomers store, which overlooks the family’s dairy farm. Moomers opened up in 1998 and now creates over 160 flavors of premium ice cream, with over 20 offered daily at the store.
“Our most popular flavor is Cherries Moobilee — black cherry-based ice cream with local Traverse City black cherry halves, fudge brownies and a chocolate swirl,” said Jon Plummer, co-owner. “While Traverse City is the Cherry Capital of the world, Cherries Moobilee is an appropriate ‘must-have’ flavor from our region.”
Moomers also distributes its ice cream to roughly 120 wholesale accounts; most are located within a two-hour radius of the store.