Best ice cream in Sedona, Tucson, Flagstaff and more AZ cities – The Arizona Republic

There are just some things that Arizonans appreciate maybe even more than most people do. Rain leaps to mind. Another is ice cream.
Arizona summers seem to have been designed for ice cream. It’s our secret weapon. Ice cream is not an indulgence in Arizona; sometimes it’s a matter of survival. At least we tell ourselves that when a craving strikes.
For the few minutes as we work our way through a delicious scoop, we feel cool and comfortable. Heat and sun are forgotten. Suddenly all seems right with the world.
When you’re on the road this summer, it’s important to always know where a great ice cream parlor is. Your very survival may depend on it.
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You can eat whiskey-infused ice cream on Whiskey Row. What’s a more perfect Arizona experience than that?
Just walking into this happily cluttered space is a treat. The front half of the old-time general store is filled with toys and gifts, local souvenirs and a year-round Christmas shop. Walk toward the back and you’ll catch the aroma of roasted nuts and homemade fudge.
The ice cream is handmade in small batches. Along with traditional favorites, guests can enjoy more exotic combinations like smoked cherry cheesecake, honey lavender, peach habanero sorbet and the very smooth whiskey caramel toffee. The lemon biscuit is like a cone of lemon meringue pie. The pistachio is as rich as and full-flavored as gelato.
Even the family pooch can join in the fun. Fite’s sells doggy ice cream made from chilled peanut butter, banana and yogurt. There’s a patio out back and benches in front of the quaint store.
Details: 208 S. Montezuma St., Prescott. 928-445-3524,
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Road trips to red rock country got even sweeter starting in 2017 when this mom-and-pop shop opened in the Village of Oak Creek. There was such demand for their gourmet ice cream made on the premises that the owners opened a second location in West Sedona in September 2020.
Artisanal ice cream and sorbets are made in small batches with no preservatives or artificial colorings added. Flash freezing ensures freshness and a creamy texture.
More than 20 flavors are on display at any one time and include vegan and low-sugar options. You can taste the fresh fruit in the elegantly understated cherries jubilee. The bourbon pecan is smoky and sweet. A recent addition, the hazelnut churro brings a toasted buttery richness with every bite.
The waffle cones are freshly baked in-house. And when you can order a prickly pear float, you know you’re in Arizona.
Details: 7000 State Route 179, Village of Oak Creek, and 2055 SR 89A, Sedona.
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Jerome just has a way of making the most out of tiny spaces. Coppertown Coffee and Gelato takes up about as much room as a food truck on Main Street.
Order at the counter and don’t expect any seating. This is walking around gelato. But don’t worry, there are plenty of nearby benches as well as the big terraced stone steps of Jerome Park. It’s easy to find a nice perch with views where you can enjoy your sweet treat.
Coppertown offers a wide range of specialty coffee drinks, some fresh pastries and six flavors of house-made gelato. A recent lineup included Oreo, mocha, pistachio, mint chip, blueberry and peach mango sorbet.
The blueberry has a natural fruit flavor. The mint chip could use a few more dollops of chocolate but had a velvety texture and a cool mint flavor, perfect on a summer afternoon.
Details: 111 Main St., Jerome.
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It feels like you’ve walked into Willy Wonka’s meditation room soon as you step inside the Sweet Shoppe. All your senses are engaged in this old-fashioned candy store. They just celebrated their 11-year anniversary last month.
The building overflows with every antidote known for a throbbing sweet tooth. Lavishly adorned caramel apples, fresh fudge, brittles, toffees and a staggering array of chocolates are available. Candy cooking is done in the front of the house and lucky customers often snag free samples.
The Sweet Shop also dips up authentic premium gelato made with all-natural ingredients and no flavored oils. Seasonal flavors are rotated among the 16 varieties of gelato and four flavors of sorbetto.
Favorites include the triple chocolate and toasted coconut. The Kahlua tiramisu includes pieces of ladyfinger cookies. The Mackinac Island fudge is as decadent as it sounds, packed with chunks of rich fudge.
Details: 15 E. Aspen Ave., Flagstaff. 928-213-9000,
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Visitors to Lake Havasu City have a couple of ways to cool off in the summer heat. Spend the day out on the water, or visit Scoops in the Uptown District.
Scoops has an old-fashioned soda fountain feel, even utilizing antique equipment and décor, and seems to serve as a community gathering spot. They handcraft the ice cream in small batches using fresh, natural ingredients. Even the waffle cones are made in-house.
The ice cream menu is always changing but you’ll never be disappointed. The maple walnut includes real maple syrup. The savory Cappuccino Crunch packs a wallop of coffee flavor wrapped around chunks of Heath bars.
Crepes, cookies and homemade fudge are among the roster of other sweets available. Or try a sundae smothered in their homemade salted caramel sauce.
Details: 2014 McCulloch Blvd. N., Lake Havasu City. 928-453-7084,
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If you’re not walking around Prescott’s Courthouse Square holding a big cone of ice cream, you’re doing something wrong. Between all the window shopping and shady benches, this downtown is made for ice cream.
Treat Center is a sprawling confectionary shop with an array of homemade indulgences. There’s gourmet popcorn, fudge, different types of brittle, assorted chocolate-dipped items and plenty of childhood favorites like Tootsie Roll, Bit-O-Honey and Razzles.
More than 30 flavors of ice cream are made locally at Young’s Farm. About half of them are on display at any time and include traditional and specialty flavors, like licorice and cotton candy.
The salted caramel swirl is as rich and creamy as you hope. The peach includes chunks of fruit and tastes like a summer breeze. Huckleberry, tart and fruity, is consistently the most popular flavor.
Details: 156 S. Montezuma Ave., Prescott. 928-445-5377.
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Probably not everyone who visits Tucson’s bustling downtown stops in for a sweet treat at Hub Ice Cream Parlor, it just seems that way.
There’s always a steady crowd streaming into the airy space with vaulted ceilings and chandeliers to try some of the 300-plus flavors made on site. They use only natural ingredients and their own pasteurizer, creating a distinctive silky texture.
Each week they create batches of 30-plus flavors of artisan ice cream and vegan sorbet. Choices can range from Guinness chocolate to roasted strawberry to a vegan almond joy with shreds of coconut, chocolate chunks and almonds.
The prickly pear sorbet is another vegan option, sweet yet tart. The prickly pear fruit syrup blends with lime juice and features a nice crunch from the seeds of a barrel cactus.
Plenty of other treats at Hub are made in-house as well, including cookies, ice pops, ice cream tacos, and sundaes covered with luxurious sauces adding that extra zing of flavor.
Details: 245 E. Congress St., Tucson. 520-622-0255,
Around since 1998, Black Cow is an icon for dessert seekers in uptown Sedona. They whip up enough homemade pastries each day to fill a bakery. Cookies, brownies, lemon bars, macarons and freshly baked pies all make tantalizing choices.
But it’s the 10 flavors of ice cream made on the premises that entice most visitors. Wonderfully full-bodied, a cone of Belgian chocolate, peppermint chip or prickly pear supplies the energy you need to visit the dozens of shops and galleries in Sedona. The malted vanilla delivers the toasted smoky notes of malted milk.
Black Cow also offers a selection of fresh fruit and candies to mix in with your ice cream. If that’s still not enough to satisfy your cravings, try one of the big specialty sundaes, crowded with extras.
And there’s always pie ala mode. Mmm, a slice of homemade pie topped with homemade ice cream… your sweet tooth never had it so good.
Details: 229 N. State Route 89A, Sedona. 928-203-9868,
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