National Ice Cream Month: Get your licks at these local places

Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger

National Ice Cream Month sounds like a made-up holiday, and it was -- by President Reagan. One can only imagine the political pressure he faced from underage voters in 1984 when he proclaimed July the time to celebrate vanilla and rocky road.

He also designated the third Sunday of July (which turns out to be this Sunday) as National Ice Cream Day. Which leaves me with one reaction: Sweeeeet! Here are places that take the holidays seriously.

-- Splendiferously Superiffic Summer Spectacular Ice Cream Eating Challenge, Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour, 799 the Shops at Mission Viejo in Mission Viejo; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Contestants earlier had to qualify to enter this ice cream eating competition, but you can still go and watch the lick-offs -- and enjoy some yourself. Proceeds go to charity.


-- Loews Hotels is offering guests free Fudgsicles, ice cream sandwiches and other treats this month. You get to choose a cool freebie each day of your stay between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. from a cart in the lobby.

--Omni Hotels & Resorts, including the Omni Los Angeles Hotel at California Plaza in downtown L.A., plans ice cream socials for guests nationwide, with a design-your-own-sundae bar from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday.

-- Carvel soft-serve ice cream shops will give kids a free cup or cone with an adult purchase Sunday. I think of this company as mostly East Coast, but it also has Southern California stores, including one at 421 Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. And who knew? Carvel has four locations in Saudi Arabia: Jeddah, Tabuk, Riyadh and Khobar.

-- New Jersey State Ice Cream Festival, Washington Street, Toms River, N.J.; 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. This one-day fest features four ice cream eating contests: two for children, two for adults. Ice cream makers are mostly local, which means you’ll get to sample regional favorites. Admission is free, but you pay $7 for tasting kits.

Here’s a tip from L.A. Times Travel Editor Catharine Hamm on the best ice cream in Philadelphia.

So what did I miss? Where’s your favorite ice cream place?