What makes a good ice cream shop? The community, according to Melanie French, the summer manager at the Lexington Rancatore’s.
“It’s about the customers, the workers, and everyone who comes together to try new things,” said French.
Rancatore’s has plenty of unique options. Try a scoop of the Bombay, a cardamom and saffron infused flavor with almonds, pistachios, and cashews. Or try the Golden Milk, which contains turmeric, black pepper, and saffron.
At Herrell’s, fun is an essential component.
“Ice cream is totally fun,” said Judy Herrell, the owner and self-proclaimed Chief Bottle Washer at Herrell’s Ice Cream & Bakery. “Life is too short. You need to enjoy yourself,”
In Massachusetts, the top contenders for best ice cream have fierce competition. French said that Bedford Farms in Bedford and Kimball Farm in Carlisle are Rancatore’s biggest rivals. Herrell mentioned Mt. Tom’s Homemade Ice Cream and Crooked Stick Pops in Easthampton.
“We all support each other,” said Herrell, who recalled Mt. Tom’s and Crooked Stick Pops by their owners’ names.
Globe readers are very passionate about their favorite flavors.
“I’m not a basics snob like some posters below snarking at the innovative non-trad flavors,” wrote one commenter.
“Ice cream shops are like artists — you have to prove you can do the basics really well before you can start with the avant-garde stuff,” wrote another.
One commenter suggested Coffee Oreo at Nona’s Homemade Ice Cream in Scituate Harbor is the best ice cream flavor. And they are not alone in thinking this: In March, a flavor contest at Nona’s to celebrate 20 years of operations deemed Coffee Oreo to be the customers’ favorite.
At Uhlman’s Ice Cream in Westborough, Buttercrunch, Peace, and Blueberry got reader shout-outs.
“Summer in a cone!’’ wrote a commenter.
But according to Lily Vaughan, an employee of the store, Chocolate Peanut Butter and Coffee Oreo are among the most popular flavors.
If you’re looking for variety, Trombetta’s Farm in Marlborough and Lizzy’s Ice Cream in Waltham and Cambridge offer large selections. You can choose from 45 ice cream and sorbet flavors at Trombetta’s, in addition to their eight flavors of yogurt, slush, and soft serve. Lizzy’s offers 58 flavors of frozen treats at both locations, between yogurts, sorberts, low-fat, dairy-free, sugarless, and even alcoholic options.
Don’t feel like leaving the house? The Scoop N Scootery delivers in Arlington, Allston, and Brighton. Between 3 p.m. and 2 a.m., they will deliver an array of signature sundaes, shakes, and cookie sandwiches.
Gracie’s Ice Cream in Somerville is available on Grubhub, Caviar, Postmates, and Doordash.
For Norwell residents, home dairy delivery, including ice cream, is still the norm. Hornstra Farms serves a customer base of more than 5,000 households, according to Alison Hornstra. The milk delivery person will bring bottles and pints to your door, if you can get to the top of the waitlist in some towns.
Ice cream, of course, is a family affair. You can visit dairy farms across the state to meet the cows. At Maple Valley Creamery in Hadley, brown Swiss cows are working to make the milk for your ice cream. There are calves in the barn and goats, sheep, and chickens running around. With live music on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons, farm animals will make the perfect company to your weekend outing.
Children return from the barns to say, “The cows gave me kisses!” according to Kim St. John, an assistant manager at Flayvors.
To continue the family outing, enjoy a scoop of Kimball Farm ice cream at the onsite mini-golf course in Westford. There are 50 acres of activities including batting cages, bumper cars, ziplines, and arcade games. Portions at Kimball are particularly generous, according to Globe readers.
For a spare option, try bowling at Ron’s Gourmet Ice Cream & Bowling in Hyde Park.
“There are so many good ice cream shops in Massachusetts, we are lucky,” wrote a commenter.
Indeed, we are.
Below is a list of all the ice cream shops suggested by Globe readers:
Kyung Mi Lee can be reached at [email protected].