Ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet and vegan versions of each of these cool treats are always great on a summer day. When it gets hot outside, nothing feels better than something cold and creamy. San Diego is a foodie’s dream, and no local culinary scene would be complete without a place serving sweet, frozen desserts.
No matter what part of San Diego you visit, like the college district, you’ll find some place to order up a cone. Pacific Beach is no exception. In fact, thanks to all of the beach-goers, there’s a relatively high concentration of ice cream parlors in the area.
Of course, you can expect to find quite a few places slinging scoops along the boardwalk. After all, that’s where most of the beach-goers will be. You can also find frozen confections at eateries dotted throughout the neighborhood.
In fact, there’s an impressively wide variety of options in the Pacific Beach neighborhood when you want a little a la carte dessert. Whether you’re in the mood for gelato, the Italian cousin of traditional ice cream, or something without any actual milk and eggs in it, there’s some place serving it up!
You can always try your luck at the closest place to where ever you’re hanging out, but that could leave you disappointed. After all, not all ice creams are made equal. We’ve taken the time to hunt down four fun ice cream options in the Pacific Beach area you need to check out!
Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream
Location: 1418 Garnet Avenue (map)
Hours: Sunday-Thursday: Noon to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday: Noon to 11 p.m.
Located just under two blocks from Felspar Park, Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream is conveniently located for many people. Even if the location weren’t great, people would still come from all over to grab a scoop (or two).
This little local business has become so popular that they have expanded to three locations. You can find other locations in North Park and Point Loma. That shouldn’t surprise anyone, since Hammond’s won the San Diego CityBeat Best of San Diego award in 2015, 2016 and 2017, as well as a San Diego Magazine 2016 award.
This popular dessert destination scoops up Tropical Dreams brand ice cream, with more than 300 flavors on tap to satisfy your sweet tooth. This ice cream is super premium, which means it gets made by hand with milk that features 18 percent butterfat. That makes a creamy and rich final product worth remembering.
The flavors here range from standard, like vanilla, chocolate and coffee, to more exciting combinations like ginger cream, pineapple coconut and white chocolate macadamia nut. If you can’t pick just one, you’re in luck. They will serve you flavor flights. You can taste test up to 32 flavors in a flight, making it easy to find the graciousness to share with friends here.
Location: 1001 Garnet Avenue, Suite 105 (map)
Hours: Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday: 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Saturday: 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Sunday: 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
If you’re looking for a place with vegan options and creative presentation, look no farther than CreaTea. The menu includes ice cream by the scoop, as well as boba teas with milk or fruit teas, smoothies, coffee, lattes and frappes. If you’re a boba fanatic, you’re in luck! They have vegan options and even allow you to control the sweetness of your drink.
If you’re looking for some kind of food to enjoy before dessert, they offer that, too. They make both sweet and savory crepes in a variety of fun flavors. Their savory crepes include a California with artificial crab, avocado, cucumber and spinach. Their smoky sausage crepe has beef sausage, carrots, shallots, spinach and cheddar cheese.
Their ice cream desserts are rolled ice cream, meaning that they work toppings into your choice of ice cream flavors. They have over a dozen ice creams, including chocolate, cookies and cream, vanilla and a host of fruit flavors. You can add candies, fresh fruits, syrups and even a couple sticks of pocky to your rolled ice cream.
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They often offer daily specials, including discounts on crepes or a specially priced boba tea of the day. This is a great place to come with friends, because there will be something for just about everyone on the menu here!
Big Kahuna’s Ice Cream
Location: 711 Oliver St. (map)
Hours: Monday-Friday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Like many of the hidden gems around San Diego, Big Kahuna’s Ice Cream offers an incredible experience with a small footprint. This little shop is actually an ice cream stand, and it has plenty of quality to keep people coming back!
The ice cream served here isn’t from some major national brand. Instead, it’s all homemade, right here in San Diego. The ice cream on tap is Niederfrank’s, a brand that has been making up ice cream locally since 1948. The flavors change regularly, since they make what’s fresh, what’s popular and what’s trendy.
Some of their staples, however, are vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and red mint chip. No, that wasn’t a typo. Instead of dying their mint chip ice cream a bright, soft green, they go for a fun red color instead. You can enjoy any of their homemade flavors in a cup, standard cone, sugar cone, waffle cone, a milkshake or a malt.
If licking a cone doesn’t appeal to you, they also make fresh fruit smoothies from all natural ingredients and serve up sweet Hawaiian-style shaved ice. This small stand only accepts cash, but the creamy sweetness is definitely worth the trip to the ATM.
Location: 910 Grand Avenue, Suite 108 (map)
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday: 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 1 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Sunday: 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., Closed Monday
If you want to try something a little different from standard ice cream, consider a visit to Luigi’s Gelateria. This little, locally owned establishment makes all their frozen treats fresh in house. The owner was actually born in Naples, Italy, and so there’s some impressively authentic flavors going on here.
They offer both gelato and ice cream, each in a variety of fun flavors. They also make sorbetto in a number of colorfully bright fruit flavors. They source fresh fruits and nuts from California farmers. The location is also perfect for those who want to stroll and slowly eat dessert with a spoon.
Some of their popular and common gelato flavors include mint chip, hazelnut, mango, biscotti and stracciatella. Their ice cream flavors include dark chocolate, white chocolate, Oreo, and Snickers. Popular choices for their fruit sobretto offerings include mango, peach, coconut pineapple and watermelon.
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They serve their frozen treats in cups as well as large waffle cones. They offer several sizes of freshly scooped sweetness, but you can also buy a homemade pint packed fresh to go home with you. Once you become a regular visitor, be sure to sign up for their house reward program and reap the benefits of enjoying their cool confections!