5 Local Ice Cream Spots to Beat the Heat

Nothing beats the summer heat quite like a delicious frozen treat from one of the many local ice cream shops in Bloomington-Normal and the surrounding areas. Whether you’re craving rich ice cream or an indulgent milkshake, these spots have you covered for your cool, sweet fix.

Carl’s Ice Cream (Bloomington and Normal)

Carl’s Ice Cream has been a local favorite since 1981, offering both soft-serve and hard ice cream in a fun, nostalgic setting. Their Normal location is open year-round with a full diner menu, and you can’t miss the Carl “the Soda Jerk” fiberglass giant marking their College Ave. spot. Their Locust St. location opens up for walk-up service every Spring/Summer.

Must-Try Item: Buster Brownie – two homemade brownies with vanilla ice cream sandwiched in the middle – is a must-try.

Carl's Ice Cream - Carl "the Soda Jerk"

Front Street Creamery (El Paso)

You never know where their delicious ice cream might pop up next! Front Street Creamery can be found scooping handmade ice cream at their storefront in El Paso, but you’ll very well also find them at many local events! Follow them on social media to see where they’ll pop up next.

You can also find them in Common Grounds Cafe in Gridley, Bakery Bar in Metamora, Sweet Amy’s in Minkonk, and Coffee Can in Hanna City.

Must-Try Item: “Illinois Pothole.” This tasty mix of chocolate, marshmallow, nuts, and more chocolate, puts a fun spin on Rocky Road.

Front Street Creamery - Illinois Pothole

Millie’s Chill and Grill (Le Roy)

This family-owned gem in Le Roy is an ideal pit-stop for ice cream and fast food when driving along I-74E. In addition to burgers, cheeseballs, and homemade baked goods, Millie’s offers rotating ice cream flavors.

Must-Try Item: Amaretto Cherry – amaretto ice cream loaded with cherries and chocolate flakes.

Shake Shack (Lexington)

Don’t let this spot’s fast-casual vibe fool you – The Shake Shack churns out amazing shakes, malts, and ice cream treats to accompany its tasty diner fare. Whether you’re stopping in for a full meal or just a snack after hitting up some of the local Lexington area shops, you won’t want to miss it.

Must-Try Item: Indulge in a nostalgic classic thick shake or try one of their fruit flavors for a fruity twist.

The Shake Shack - Banana Split

Theo’s Microcreamery (Uptown Normal)

All of Theo’s super premium ice creams are handcrafted in small batches using fine ingredients like fresh fruits and all-natural flavors. In addition to their delicious core flavors, seasonal and creative options like Blueberry Crumble – a bourbon vanilla base with blueberry swirl and cinnamon streusel crumble – make this a true craft ice cream destination. Dairy-free options available too!

Must-Try Item: Any of their small-batch flavors!

Tips for Enjoying Frozen Treats

  • Getting your goodies on the go? Grab a cooler or insulated bags to transport your treats and keep them from melting.

  • Be adventurous! Classic flavors like chocolate and vanilla are always a safe bet, but with all the fantastic specialty ice cream flavors and treats available, make it a point to try something new.

  • Go crazy with toppings! Drizzles, sprinkles, crushed cookies, and more can take it over the top.

No matter which local spot you choose to visit, you’re in for a delightfully frosty and flavorful treat to help you chill out and savor the warm weather. Let us know your favorite local ice cream/frozen dessert spot!

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