As we begin the summer season, nothing is more appealing than the prospect of a nice scoop of local ice cream on warm, sunny afternoons. A city dweller myself, I can confidently proclaim that the Hudson Valley is home to some of the finest ice-cream shops in the state. With such a wide selection, it’s difficult to pinpoint the perfect location for the whole family. Here is a short list of five of my favorites in Ulster and Dutchess counties that you’d be missing out on not to try.
1620 Rte 9W, Lake Katrine
For those seeking a casual hangout spot for friends and family, the Jolly Cow may be the perfect choice. The Lake Katrine store adapts an aesthetically old-fashioned style and features a vast area for visitors to roam, including designated outdoor seating spots.
The Jolly Cow offers a multitude of classics in both soft-serve and hard-packed ice cream, as well as toppings, shakes, and sundaes. “Our most staple flavors are vanilla and chocolate twist, mint chocolate chip, cookies & cream, and orange creamsicle,” said employee Mackenzie Perpetua. My family ordered these flavors when we went. They well exceeded our expectations, especially when considering the affordable prices. Cash only.
Alleyway Ice Cream
135 Partition St, Saugerties
One ice-cream shop that particularly caught my attention was Alleyway Ice Cream in Saugerties. As the name suggests, the store can be found in a tranquil alleyway, providing for a relaxing atmosphere and distinctive experience. The flavors align with this distinctiveness as well. The shop features a variety of unique flavors, including Madagascar vanilla, Belgian chocolate, buttermilk strawberry, Thai tea cookies & cream, Ube health-bar crunch, and more. “Our most popular flavors would be Thai tea and Ube,” employee Madison Matthies explained. “People definitely get those two a lot, especially together.”
Exclusive flavors such as these have greatly contributed to the store’s success, drawing in customers who seek to uncover the mysteries behind these unfamiliar names. “I don’t think another ice-cream place around here has as many unique flavors as us,” said Mathies. I sampled the Thai tea cookies and cream, I could instantly see why it was so popular, To Thai tea lovers out there, it is certainly worth the visit. And for everyone else seeking a pleasant, laid-back experience, Alleyway is surely a great pick.
Fortunes Ice Cream
55 Broadway, Tivoli
Similarly known for its unique flavors is Fortunes Ice Cream, located in Tivoli. Fortunes serves numerous store-original flavors including Labne strawberry rhubarb, blood orange Campari, cannoli shell, ricotta candied orange, and halva honeycomb as well as drinks and specials. “All of our Labne fruit combos [which] we switch out [are] staple products,“ employee Miranda Beer said. “It’s a Middle Eeastern Europe [that] we mix with sour cherry and black raspberry, and it’s always super popular.”
Such flavors make the shop stand out from its neighboring counterparts. “I would say the flavors and how frequently we swap them out is what [draws in the most customers],” Beer explained. “They come and go weekly, so I think that makes people want to come in to see what’s currently in store.” Additionally, the store features gorgeous indoor and outdoor dining areas alongside its tranquil scenery.
7270 S Broadway # 1, Red Hook
Holy Cow in Red Hook is the perfect place to shop for special occasions; the store’s main feature is its signature half-vanilla, half-chocolate ice-cream cake, offered in a range of sizes and readily available to go. As someone who has opted for Holy Cow’s ice-cream cake in numerous birthday celebrations, I can safely say that the dessert is perfect for winding down after a long night of festivities.
The store’s standard ice cream did not disappoint, either; I tried out cookies and cream as well as cotton candy which I would highly recommend to anyone searching for a lighter alternative. The shop often draws large local crowds, with lines going out the door at most hours of the day; It is especially busy following dinner hours and on weekends. The store’s popularity is for good reason, and so it is well worth the wait. Cash or local checks only.
Cherries Ice Cream
4162 Route 209, Stone Ridge
Cherries Ice Cream is great for anyone in the area looking for a simple, relaxing ice-cream visit to kick off the day. Despite its modest appearance, Cherries’ menu is jam-packed with soft-serve and hard-packed ice cream, shakes, floats, sundaes, and more. While its flavors gravitate toward the classics, there are several unique combo options. including lavender honey blueberry and coconut raspberry.
The shop is well known for its strawberry ice cream. Strawberry jam ripple, alas, was sold out on the day of my visit. So I opted to try out the salted caramel and found it to have just the right balance of ingredients. I would highly recommend it to all the caramel lovers out there.