It all started around the 2nd century B.C., when Alexander the Great enjoyed his snow and ice with nectar and honey. In the 1300s, Marco Polo sailed the ocean blue to take ice cream to Europe. Fast forward to the early 1700s, and ice cream is a delicacy in America – only for the wealthy and well-to-do. It wasn’t until America’s birth in 1776 that it began paving its way as a dessert for the masses, with the first ice cream shop reportedly opening up in New York. George Washington was even said to have spent $200 on ice cream in the summer of 1790!
This awesomely cool dessert stepped it up a notch in the 1880s with the emergence of the ice cream sundae, and then again in 1904 with the appearance of the waffle cone at the World’s Fair in St. Louis, MO. And in 1984, ice cream became king, getting its own month! July is National Ice Cream Month, with the U.S.’s highest ice cream production interestingly in June.
Throughout the years, ice cream has played a big role in the lives of Americans. Besides being obviously delicious, it served as a morale booster in World War II when the military branches would try to one-up each other with their ice cream for troops. Today, ice cream remains a staple in American households, with 87% of Americans keeping ice cream in their freezer at any given time.*
Getting the Scoop
So where does that leave us today? Looking for the best places to find ice cream, of course! It’s not enough to stock our homes with our favorite frozen treat. We’re on the hunt for the coolest cones when we get away for vacation. And that makes sense, because don’t most of our vacations center around food? When we’re out at an attraction, we’re talking about where we’ll eat next, right?!
Luckily, if you’re planning your vacation to Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg, you’ll have no shortage of options in the way of restaurants, desserts, and of course, ICE CREAM! Read on for a few of the top ice cream spots in the Smokies and get ready to satisfy that sweet tooth with some sweet cream.
The Old Mill Creamery
171 Old Mill Ave | Pigeon Forge
While you’re there to check out the historic Old Mill (still working today!), be sure to stop in for a sundae, shake, or a scoop (or 2) made from local, farm-fresh ingredients. They even take their creamy ice cream and wedge it between 2 homemade cookies for a true treat. And their signature flavors are really unique, serving up Oat Mill Cream Pie, Gristmill Toffee Grind, Swingin’ Sweet Tea, and Biscuits ‘n Honey, to name a few.
Marble Slab Creamery
2485 Parkway #2 | Pigeon Forge
At Marble Slab, you’ll get the extras without paying extra. Unlimited mix-ins means you can add on hot fudge, sprinkles, and more, and waffle cones are FREE! As the name implies, they mix the ice cream in front of you on a marble slab. Flavors vary throughout the season, but some include Apple N Spice, Banana Pudding, Cappuccino, Double Dark Chocolate, Key Lime, Cheesecake, and Birthday Cake.
The Apple Valley Creamery
230 Apple Valley Rd | Sevierville
Scratch-made cobbler (apple, peach, and blackberry) is best served with a big scoop of house made ice cream, and Apple Valley boasts 60+ flavors to choose from. You can also get the favorite flavors – French Vanilla Bean, Caramel Turtle Fudge, Butter Pecan, and Smoky Mountain Fudge – or any flavor they have made into a milkshake or malt. Mix all that with a classic soda fountain feel (with a bar from the 1800s) and you have a complete experience.
645 Parkway | Gatlinburg
Also a favorite place for candy-covered apples and chocolate-dipped strawberries, Kilwin’s is a Gatlinburg staple. Find it in the heart of the Parkway, where you can get your ice cream served up in fresh, homemade waffle cones. They’re also known for their Mackinac Island fudge, creamy and offered in flavors like milk, dark, and white chocolate.
131 The Island Dr #9111 | Pigeon Forge
Choose your old-fashioned ice cream flavor to top your hand-dipped chocolate waffle cone on a relaxing day at The Island in Pigeon Forge. Or you can treat yourself to a big banana sundae loaded with toppings or a refreshing smoothie on a summer day.
Mad Dog’s Creamery & Donuts
3048 Parkway | Pigeon Forge
Now with a new Gatlinburg location, this local favorite offers 24 flavors of hand-dipped ice cream, along with sundaes, banana splits, funnel cakes, donuts, and milkshakes! Try classics like vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and cookies & cream or get something new like Yellow Brick Road, Super Cow, or Orange Pineapple.
131 Island Dr | Pigeon Forge
While it’s technically not ice cream, non-dairy visitors to The Island will appreciate the cool flavors offered with no added sugar and low fat. Top your peanut butter or watermelon (and many more) with some of the 50+ toppings, from fresh fruit and granola to chocolate chips and caramel.
3152 Parkway | Pigeon Forge
While chocolate treats are obviously the focus here, Chocolate Monkey also has ice cream and waffle cones. Their candy apples are covered in M&Ms, sprinkles, nuts, and more, and their fudge comes in flavors like mint chocolate, maple nut, and Rocky Road. And they have plenty of other chocolate goodies, from peanut butter cups to turtles.
Big Rock Candy Kitchen
141 Island Drive | Pigeon Forge
Right inside The Island in Pigeon Forge, find a sprawling store filled candy-covered caramel apples, fudge, hard candy, taffy, and an entire section devoted to nostalgic candies. And of course, you’ll have a nice selection of ice cream as well. Grab a cone and then spend a while watching the show fountains or browsing the shops in The Island.
3668 Parkway | Pigeon Forge
If you have your favorites at Baskin-Robbins, you won’t have to miss out when you go to the Smokies. Get a cake or one of their new polar pizzas for a celebration at the cabin, treat yourself to a big ice cream sandwich, or get a scoop of one of their many flavors. They also have Mix-Ins (made like blizzards), sundaes, smoothies, milkshakes, parfaits, clown cones, and pre-packed quarts that can find a home in the freezer in your cabin’s fully equipped kitchen.
Ben & Jerry’s
1645 Parkway #1440 | Sevierville
Known for their crazy flavors, Ben & Jerry’s serves up creamy options like Coconuts for Caramel, Chunky Monkey, Tubby Hubby, Raspberry Greek Frozen Yogurt, Cherry Garcia, New York Super Fudge Chunk, Phish Food, and Americone Dream.
*Resources: www.icecream.com | www.idfa.org