Cool off your holiday weekend at one of Ithaca's hot ice cream spots

May 19, 2015 by Alexandra Leslie

Served in a cone or a cup, made into a sundae or a shake, or however you like it, fresh, locally made ice cream is not hard to come by in Ithaca. Here are just a few of the places you may want to frequent this summer for an icy, cold snack. 

Purity Ice CreamPurity Ice Cream's newly renovated serving area. Photo by Alexandra Leslie.Purity Ice Cream's newly renovated serving area. Photo by Alexandra Leslie.

700 Cascadilla Street, Ithaca

Opened in 1936, Purity Ice Cream has been the go-to ice cream parlor for Ithacans for more than 75 years. When asked why Purity stands out from other local ice-creameries, Kendra Wagstaff, one of the shop's managers, says it's simply because they’ve been in the community the longest. “We still have our original recipe and ingredients” and “it’s all homemade,” said Wagstaff, even though it hasn't been made on the premises in several years. 

Wagstaff says Bittersweet, Mint Chip, and Mocha Chip are all equally popular, because of the five kinds of chocolate shavings included in the recipes. 

For days that might be too cold for just ice cream, Purity also sells assorted desserts such as handmade pies, and Gimme Coffee based drinks. Purity has its own parking lot, as well as lots of street parking, and lots more indoor seating than they used to have.

Sweet Melissa's is on the east end of the Shortstop Deli building.Sweet Melissa's is on the east end of the Shortstop Deli building.Sweet Melissa's Ice Cream Shop

200 West Seneca Street, Ithaca

Melissa Kenny, co-owner of Sweet Melissa’s Ice Cream Shop next to Shortstop Deli, says she and her husband Matt decided to name their shop after the Allman Brothers song “Melissa,” and how it also worked well with ice cream. 

The Kennys opened up shop in May 2009, originally as just a soft-serve stand. The next year, they began selling vegan ice cream, and in 2011 produced homemade hard ice cream creations. Melissa says custom creations like “Svante’s Inferno,” named after City of Ithaca mayor Svante Myrick, are a group effort and remain popular, though their vanilla and chocolate soft-serve are their best sellers. Other notable flavors include Orange Creamsicle and Tea and Cookies, an Earl Grey and Oreo cookie based creation, and there are vegan ice creams available, made from coconut milk. 

Melissa says, “It’s the best ice cream I can make, and I think it’s an awesome product for the community.” Sweet Melissa's customers can use Shortstop's parking spaces, and there's lots of street parking nearby.

The Cornell Dairy Bar, hopping on a weekday afternoon. Photo by Alexandra Leslie.The Cornell Dairy Bar, hopping on a weekday afternoon. Photo by Alexandra Leslie.Cornell Dairy Bar

Stocking Hall, Judd Falls Road, Cornell University

After a much-anticipated wait amongst Cornellians, the Cornell Dairy Bar reopened in August 2013 after renovations to Stocking Hall that kept the iconic eatery closed for about three years. At first, they served Perry's ice cream, but once the Cornell Dairy had ramped up production in its brand new facility, the campus hot spot began officially serving Cornell Dairy Ice Cream in January 2014. 

Graduate students like Daniella Allevato and Penelope Lindsay say they take a break from work at least once a week for smile-inducing flavors like Chocolate Raspberry Enchantment, or Coconutii Spring Thaw. Another popular favorite is Big Red Reunion Revel, a white chocolate base, tart cherry swirl, and chocolate chunks. The creation, dreamed up by Cornell alumni, commemorates the Class of 1954’s 60-year reunion.

In addition to ice cream treats, guests of the Dairy Bar can also purchase sandwiches in the deli line for breakfast and lunch. Though Cornell exclusively produces the ice cream, the Dairy Bar is open to the public seven days a week. A metered parking lot across Tower Road from the Dairy Bar is free after 5pm and on weekends.

For more, follow 14850 Dining on Facebook and Twitter.


Wings Over Ithaca


335 Pine Tree Road
East Hill Plaza
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-256-9464

Read the review

AGAVA Restaurant


381 Pine Tree Road
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 607-319-4366

Read the review