And the Winners Are…
We left no cone unturned searching for the cheapest cone and best atmosphere to create this list of ice cream icons. We skipped the big commercial chains in favor of indie, family-owned stands and shops. Most places serve both soft and hard serve. Soft serve cost less than hard, so switch to the soft stuff if you want to save more.
We started with the cheapest cones in Boston, and sprinkled the bottom half of the list with awards that are a nod to uniqueness, activities and atmosphere.
Cones: $2—$5.25 (1—3 scoops)
435 Washington St., Quincy
11:30 a.m.—10 p.m.
A little kiosk with a pink and green striped awning. Puppy cups available for $2. They also offer a concoction called a SeaBreaze: vanilla soft serve blended with orange sherbert, for $4.25.
Cones: $2.25—$4.25 plus tax
107 Franklin St., Quincy
Cash-only. Flavors include Maine Black Bear, Blueberry Pie and Totally Turtle, from Richardson’s Dairy. Puppy Cups available. The neighborhood’s ethos shows in their bumper sticker, available for $1: “I stopped for a cold one at the Quincy Creamery”. Only the very bold will attempt The Brain Freeze Challenge ($16), eight scoops of ice cream, six toppings and six candies, topped off with whipped cream, nuts and a cherry.
67 Lynn Fells Parkway, Saugus
The shop was once owned by a man named Socrates, hence its name, which subsequent owners kept. Serves ice cream sandwiches; no sugar added flavors; and some interesting looking flavors: Fluffernutter hard frozen yogurt; Grapenut and banana ice cream. Breakheart Reservation is down the street.
Magoo’s Ice Cream & Sandwich
Cones: $3—$5.36 plus tax
190 VFW Dr., Rockland (South Shore)
11 a.m.—9 p.m.
More than 50 flavors of soft and hard serve from Richardson’s Farm in Middleton. 18-hole mini golf out back. Plenty of parking in their lot. Uses Doordash, Ubereats.
The next three ice cream places all tied, with cones starting at $3.50.
Most Irish Award
Sullivan’s Castle Island
2080 William J. Day Blvd., Boston (Southie)
10 a.m.—7 p.m.
Irish neighborhood, shamrock on the sign. Soft serve and hard ice cream. Don’t expect exotic flavors here; you won’t find much more than chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. Sullivan’s also serves hot fudge sundaes and root beer floats. Watch the planes take off and land at Logan. Check out the Harbor views and the people fishing off the pier.
Most Likely to Be the Name of David Lynch’s Next Project Award
Twin Acres Ice Cream Shoppe
21 Route 6A, Sandwich (Cape Cod)
Sunday—Thursday 12—9 p.m.
Friday—Saturday 12—9:30 p.m.
This is where locals go to savor more than 70 flavors of soft serve and hard ice cream. Blueberry Parfait is a sweet cream ice cream with lots of blueberries and loaded with graham crunch. Cherry Amaretto is studded with giant black cherries. Pup cups offers dogs refreshment. Also on offer is sorbet, sherbert, vegan and sugar-free ice cream; gluten-free cones are available upon request.
Farm Fresh Award
Crescent Ridge Dairy Bar
407 Bay Road, Sharon
Ranked among the top 10 ice creams in the world. Flavors include: Cherry Ridge Ripple, English Toffee Crunch and Extreme Chocolate. Pups Cups available.
The next three shops tied, with cones jumping 25 cents to start at $3.75.
Most Chill Award
Chill on Park
Cones $3.75—$6.50 (S—XL)
142 Park Street, Dorchester, Fields Corner Neighborhood
Best Wordplay Award
Hough Many Scoops
Cone: $3.75—$5.25 (1—3 scoops)
1094 Sea St., Quincy, Houghs Neck “The Neck” Neighborhood
Outdoor seating. Flavors include Purple Cow, Graham Central Station, Salted Caramel Chocolate Pretzel and Strawberry Cheesecake.
Best Flavor Name Award, for “Pasture Patty”
Hornstra Dairy Farm
246 Prospect St., Norwell (South Shore)
How can you resist trying a scoop of “Pasture Patty”? The herd of red and white holsteins you’ll see when you arrive produce the milk for the farm’s ice cream. You can also schedule a field trip or a group tour of the property, one of the last working dairy farms in the area. Leave your dog in your car.
And now we cross into $4 territory, where cone prices begin to climb, and leave cheapskate territory.
Middle of the Woods Award
Soft serve cones: $4—$8
331 North Ave., Weston
11:30 a.m.—6 p.m.
Cash only. Outdoor seating only. No restrooms. Great place to stop after a day at Drumlin Farm with the children. Flavors include Javaberry and Creamsicle.
Hub of Activity Award
156 South Main Street, Middleton
Friday—Saturday 9 a.m.—10 p.m.
Sunday—Thursday 9 a.m.—9:30 p.m.
The working dairy farm has a dining room, outdoor patio, two miniature golf courses, batting cages and a driving range. Ice cream flavors include Blueberry Pie, vanilla ice cream with pie crust crumble and blueberry pie filling; Crunch-a-saurus, blue vanilla ice cream with chocolate covered krispies; and Phantomberry, black raspberry ice cream with a cookie crunch swirl and fudge brownie pieces. Additional location in Reading, at Jordan’s Furniture Superstore. http://www.richardsonsicecream.com
Most Idyllic Award
Bubbling Brook Ice Cream “The Brook”
1652 High St., Westwood
Picnic tables behind the classic 1951 stand, alongside a brook. Flavors include Heavenly Hash, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Frozen Pudding.
Biggest Hipster Award
55 Boylston St., Suite 5578, Chestnut Hill (The Street)
An outpost of a hipster NYC chain that offers ice cream, red wine, white wine and beer. Vegan flavors available and adventurous combinations too, such as Miso Cherry, a white miso butterscotch base with tart cherries. Available for pickup or opt for delivery through Grubhub.
Just 10 cents more and we arrive at our next price category.
Most Likely to Have Originated in a Woodshed Award
Cones: $4.10—$5.70 plus tax
400 Littleton Road, Westford
10 a.m.—9 p.m.
Walk-up service, outdoor seating. 50 flavors. In 1939 Jack and Clara Kimball converted their woodshed into an ice cream parlor and sold maple walnut, frozen pudding and peppermint stick for five cents a cone. Now a location in Carlisle has sheep and goats, and in Westford you can make a day of it, with pleasures that include bumper boats, a zipline and animal adventures to go with your ice cream. Locations in Westford, Lancaster and Carlisle.
A fifteen cent jump brings us to our next three awards and the $4.25 cone level.
Kindest to Seniors Award
Erikson’s Ice Cream
12 Great Rd., Maynard
Tuesday—Sunday 12—9 p.m.
*Hours for seniors 65 and over: 11 a.m.—12 p.m.
Flavors include Roasted Buttered Almond, Campfire S’Mores, Black Raspberry Oreo and Wintergreen Chip. Vegan and no sugar flavors available.
60 Bedford St., Whitman
10 a.m.—10 p.m.
The month of June brings Carmel Pecan Crunch and Bubble Gum. Check the website for each month’s featured flavors. Additional locations in Middleboro and Plymouth.
Most Personality and Local Flavor Award
Ron’s Gourmet Ice Cream and Bowling
1231 Hyde Park Ave., Hyde Park Neighborhood
Monday—Saturday 8 a.m.—9 p.m.
Sunday 9 a.m.—9 p.m.
Save More: Sign up for the newsletter and be entered into Ron’s free quart Friday giveaway.
Come for Ron’s personality, stay for the ice cream. Summer flavors include peach, watermelon and lemon cooler.
Now we make our biggest price jump, to $8 per cone.
Most Whimsical Award
119 Seaport Blvd., Suite B (Seaport)
This is the only place in the city you’ll find soft serve ice cream served in a whimsical fish-shaped cone. The Unicorn Taiyaki even comes adorned with a unicorn horn. Grab an extra dish or wrapper and eat quickly—the warm cones and cold ice cream can be challenging, although they look very pretty. Street parking is rare in the Seaport due to the ongoing construction boom. Public transportation recommended.