Summer of Ice Cream: All you need to know about the best frozen treats in L.A.

Stickers of ice cream and fruit dance around an image of a hand holding soft serve
(Illustration by Yasmin Islas / For The Times; photograph by Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)
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Ice cream is summertime magic, cooling us down and offering a sweet escape when the City of Angels tends toward hellish temperatures, or is otherwise subjected to the vagaries of global weirding. In rain or sweltering heat, we hold onto our cones.

L.A.’s love affair with ice cream stretches back to before Baskin met Robbins, when they combined their Snow Bird and Burton ice cream parlors to create the Baskin-Robbins chain and their 31st flavor — chocolate mint — in the 1940s. They were preceded by turn-of-the-century soda fountains, among them Fair Oaks Pharmacy, which opened in 1915 in South Pasadena. Alhambra’s Fosselman’s served its first customers in 1937.

And while we’ll always have a soft spot for iconic Fosters Freeze soft serve and locally made Thrifty’s, we now have options galore: small-batch ice cream made daily with organic milk, vegan shakes, Mexican paletas with chunks of fresh fruit, soft-serve-stuffed pastries and more. Ice cream makers are innovators, pushing techniques, flavors and ingredients into new territories.

Local restaurants also have stepped up with frozen desserts that span massive bowls of silky shaved ice and decadent sundaes worth saving room for after dinner. We’ve even got the scoop on how to get that perfectly formed sphere of ice cream for your bowls at home and are celebrating the ingenuity of every childhood’s hero — the ice cream man. Follow along as we dig into a summer full of ice cream.


McDonald’s, Burger King or something called ‘Icedream’? As our summer of ice cream comes to a close, we rank the best fast-food soft serve brands.

Sept. 5, 2023

From paleteros in the park to business-minded ice cream trucks that are updating their services for a new era, the ice cream man is a neighborhood icon worthy of celebration.

Aug. 24, 2023

From classic creameries to regional styles, Los Angeles and Orange County stand out with a surplus of ice cream shops worth exploring.

Aug. 23, 2023

Whatever your reason for seeking out vegan milkshakes, these restaurants in Los Angeles are mixing up some of the best.

Aug. 19, 2023

From the best ice cream scooper to tips for shaving across rather than digging down in the ice cream, here’s how to achieve the perfect scoop of ice cream at home.

Aug. 23, 2023

From burger joints to artisan ice cream parlors, where to find the best soft serve in Los Angeles, whether new or nostalgic.

Aug. 4, 2023

SueEllen Mancini had been struggling with mental health issues. A move to L.A. and a new ice cream machine made it all click. Sad Girl Creamery was born.

Aug. 16, 2023

Los Angeles loves Mateo’s. Since 2000, the ice cream shop’s Oaxacan-inspired frozen treats have delighted locals with fruity flavors from mamey to mango, and more. We tried every flavor of paleta.

Aug. 18, 2023


Make it a point to order dessert at these restaurants in Los Angeles with house-made ice cream, soft serve, kakigori and more.

Aug. 12, 2023