On any given blissful summer's day in Portsmouth, NH, strollers along the charming narrow streets by the harbor are likely to come upon the welcome respite of an ice cream parlor. And better yet, no ordinary ice cream parlor. This is Annabelle's, whose owner, Lewis Palosky, likes to think of himself as "an artist, not a businessman." The flavors here are indeed sheer artistry. Black raspberry, a New England tradition, pops on the palate like a Day-Glo billboard. Even the French vanilla, a symbol of ordinariness, has been made extraordinary, far beyond the clichés of "bland vanilla."
Every area of the country has its own legendary ice cream parlor or two, welcoming refuges that provide a cooling escape from the heat of a summer's day—along with some serious culinary pleasure.
The influence of New England's gourmet groundbreakers can be felt across the country at spots that value high-quality ingredients, freshness, and guilt-free indulgence. These ice cream parlors, America's best, are all about keeping it real and, of course, homemade.
Check out the slideshow above to discover the best ice cream shops in America.