Delicious Michigan Ice Cream Flavors and Where to Find Them
Michigan ranks fifth in the nation for ice cream production. That’s one SWEET title, but not too surprising considering the state produces a whopping 1.2 billion gallons of milk annually. Combine that with delicious local produce such as cherries and blueberries plus dreamy summers perfect for snacking on frozen treats, and you have an iconic ice cream state.
Michigan’s variety of locally grown produce and dozens of summer activities, destinations and passions inspire the most delicious and creative frozen concoctions. Try one (or all of them) this summer.
1. Mitten Pop, Love’s Ice Cream – Grand Rapids
This shop produces hand-crafted ice cream in the Grand Rapid’s Downtown Market, or find pints across the state. Love’s Ice Cream is the creator of the “Mitten Pop” – vegan gelato in the shape of the Lower Peninsula. Founder Chris McKellar emphasizes the importance of fresh, quality, local products – such as the lavender, blueberries and whiskey that go into the ice creams. Consider submersing yourself in the history and fun of each ingredient at a summer festival this season. Check out the National Blueberry Festival in South Haven, one of the most well-known blueberry festivals in Michigan, for a parade, pageant and crafts, and to taste blueberry-flavored wines, cakes, pies and more! Or head further north to Paradise, the Wild Blueberry Capital of Michigan, for entertainment, blueberry-themed brunches, bake sales, wine and pies at the Wild Blueberry Festival. Then head to Arcadia for the fragrant Michigan Lavender Festival for a “symphony for the senses” and to pick your own bouquets. Try locally-crafted lavender goodies and indulge in lavender cuisine.
2. Belly Full of Hoppiness, Ice Box Brand
Ice Box Brand’s humble beginnings began in a Craigslist truck in Grand Rapids, but is now distributed to multiple locations throughout Michigan. The company creates handmade ice cream bars with self-concocted flavors such as Belly Full of Hoppiness, a pretzel crust bar with Pigeon Hill Brewing Company’s LMFAO Stout, dipped in chocolate and peanuts. This is a fitting flavor, considering Grand Rapids is often referred to as Beer City U.S.A. Popular local brewers include Brewery Vivant featuring farmhouse inspired beers alongside European inspired cooking, City Built Brewing Co. developing beers made using out-of-the-ordinary ingredients like lavender or toffee, Founders Brewing Company producing world-class beers and handcrafted sandwiches and The Knickerbocker offering a great place to relax and enjoy onsite brewing and distilling.
3. Cherries Moobilee, Moomers – Traverse City
Moomers is famous for its Cherries Moobilee, fitting considering the area produces more than 70 percent of Michigan’s tart cherries! Taste your way through all Moomers’ flavors at the Traverse City location or at multiple locations across the state. Traverse City’s annual National Cherry Festival, one of the country’s largest and most popular festivals, draws more than 500,000 people within eight days. In addition to ice cream, taste cherry wine (a must-do considering the area’s extensive wine industry), enjoy live music, take the Cherry Pie Bike Ride, visit the farmer’s market and purchase cherry treats from Cherry Republic.
4. Sleeping Bear Dunes Bear Hug and Windmill Cookie Butter, Hudsonville Ice Cream – Holland
Try Sleeping Bear Dunes Bear Hug, composed of chocolate ice cream with chocolate covered cashews and caramel, from Holland-based Hudsonville Ice Cream - find your closest scoop shop using the company’s Scoop Locator. The popular ice cream brand started as a co-operative with local farmers seeking better ways to sell their dairy products, and has been officially scooping since 1926. Hudsonville’s Sleeping Bear Dunes Hug was inspired by the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore’s coastline. No trip to these dunes is complete without tackling The Dune Climb, a 300-foot tall face of sand (research before you go to ensure you’re ready). For a more relaxing option, try the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, a 7.4 mile drive along the dunes with spectacular overlooks and picnic stops. If you love the Sleeping Bear Dunes, check out Silver Lake Sand Dunes to climb the 600-foot dunes with Mac Wood’s Dune Rides or bring your own ORV. For a more secluded dune trip, visit Saugatuck Dunes State Park with 2.5 miles of isolated beach and 200-foot tall wooded dunes.
Next up, taste Hudsonville’s Windmill Cookie Butter, made of Speculoos cookie with flavors of nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, ginger mixed into cookie butter ice cream, inspired by the area’s Dutch heritage. Learn about Dutch heritage at Tulip Time Festival, with more than 6 million tulips city-wide or visit Nelis Dutch Village to experience 1800s Dutch architecture, ride the Giant Wooden Shoe Slide and learn how the famous cheeses and wooden clogs are made. Then hit the Windmill Island Gardens with the DeZwaan windmill, the only authentic Dutch windmill operating in America.
5. Frankenmuth Cocoa Meister, Great Lakes Ice Cream Company – Midland and Saginaw
Great Lakes Ice Cream Company is “hometown-homemade” – sourcing locally and churning ice cream right in their stores in downtown Midland and across from Roberts Community Park in Saginaw. Try Frankenmuth Cocoa Meister, peanut butter ice cream with swirls of chocolate and chocolate covered waffle pieces and visit the town that inspired the flavor. Frankenmuth, also known as “Michigan’s Little Bavaria,” has numerous German heritage inspired activities. Visit the famous Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland, where it is Christmas all year round, to explore more than 50,000 trimmings and gifts, or take a cruise on the Bavarian Belle Riverboat. Try a world-famous chicken dinner at Zehnder's of Frankenmuth or dine at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant, with 12 dining rooms and The Castle Shops downstairs with signature baked goods and chocolates.