The Santa Monica Pier has 6 distinct ice creams you can sample on your next visit to the beach
You may remember the old lyric: “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.” No other place provides you more opportunity for ice cream and screams than the world-famous Santa Monica Pier. With its thrilling, steel-track roller coaster thundering over the boardwalk and high-flying attractions for thrill seekers of any age, one can scream their lungs out enjoying the amusement park in Santa Monica before finding a half dozen options for frozen treats served along the 1,600-foot boardwalk. From full-fat scoops of Lappert’s premium ice cream, to futuristically frozen pebbles of Dippin’ Dots, the Pier is an excellent destination for you to celebrate National Ice Cream this July 16.
President Ronald Reagan is credited for the founding of National Ice Cream Day every third Sunday in July. Reagan wanted to commemorate a treat enjoyed by over 90 percent of the US population. In 1984, he decreed a day for ice cream, and his proclamation celebrated the dairy farmers in America. Some 40 years later and Americans still lead the world when it comes to eating ice cream, scooping up over 23 gallons a year per American! Reagan also proclaimed July as National Ice Cream month, describing ice cream as “a nutritious and wholesome food enjoyed by over ninety percent of the people in the United States.”
Where can you get Ice Cream on the Santa Monica Pier?
There are several types of ice cream served from different vendors and restaurants on the Santa Monica Pier. Here’s a break down by ice cream type.
Hand Scooped at Scoops Ice Cream and Treats
Located inside the food court by the entrance to Pacific Park, look for the bright pink façade of Scoops. They serve 6-8 different flavors of premium Lappert’s Ice Cream (depending on the time of year) and are probably best known for the bright blue “Cookie Monster” flavor that contains chocolate chips and chunks of real cookie dough. Lappert’s Ice Cream is a small batch creamery based in Richmond, CA, that specializes in super premium flavors and locally sourced ingredients.
Soft Serve at Whac-a-Mole Tacos
If you desire a classically shaped sugar cone topped with the perfect swirl of vanilla and chocolate ice cream check out Whac-a-mole Tacos. Best known for their loaded nachos, this tiny cali-mex stand can be found inside the food court next to the Long Range Basketball game. you can have either chocolate or vanilla soft serve in a cup or cone. Can’t decide which? Order the vanilla-chocolate swirl.
Frozen Custard Concrete at Pier Burger
Custard is a type of ice cream made with egg yolks in addition to the cream and sugar you find in more traditional ice creams. The yolks add a richness and creamier texture to the frozen dessert and is preferred over ice cream in many parts of the country. Pier Burger has been selling frozen custard on the Pier for nearly 20 years and offers their frozen treat as a “concrete”. A concrete is an array of toppings like Oreo cookies of chocolate candies mixed into the frozen custard resulting in a thick cup of ice cream and broken up sweets.
Ice Cream Soda at Soda Jerks
While several pier restaurants will scoop or squeeze their ice cream into a cup of root beer for a float, only one shop offers a classic, east coast ice cream soda. Soda Jerks is a family run treat counter located in the historic Loof Hippodrome where the pier’s classic merry-go-round can be found. Using a recipe and technique almost as old as the historic building, Soda Jerks will float your ice cream and syrup in a cup of high-pressure soda creating a creamy, frothy, dessert like no other on the pier.
Popsicles at Pacific Paleteros
A paleta is type of popsicle popular and many Los Angeles neighborhoods. Typically served from small carts pushed by a paletero, a paleta is frozen and on a stick like your typical popsicle, but come in rich, creamy flavors like strawberry milk and walnut, or tropical delights like kiwi and mango. While you can find many paleteros ringing bells and pushing their carts along the beach, try the premium paletas from Pacific Paleteros located on the pier boardwalk.
Ice Cream of the Future from Dippin’ Dots
No visit to the amusement park would be complete without enjoying the unique sensation of dipping your tongue into a cup of below-freezing pellets of sweet, creamy ice cream and having them stick to your tongue for just a few seconds before melting into a sweet, creamy taste of childhood. Dippin’ Dots is an ice cream snack invented by Curt Jones in 1988. The confection is created by flash freezing ice cream mix in liquid nitrogen and was originally heralded as “The Ice Cream of the Future”. Dippin Dots can be purchased at several locations along the pier, but the greatest selection of flavors can be found at the stand-alone Dippin’ Dots kiosk inside Pacific Park.
Menu offerings are subject to change by the different businesses on the pier, so be sure to check with the individual businesses for specifics.
This National Ice Cream Day, consider taking a trip to the Santa Monica Pier where you can go on your own Ice Cream Crawl to decide for yourself what is your favorite type of ice cream to enjoy on a warm, summer afternoon.
Feature image courtesy of @anageorgescu98