Where to Find Local Ice Cream in Marin County
By Becky Wiegand,
Manager, Digital Communications
July 25, 2022
There’s nothing better than a delicious cool treat on a hot summer day and finding local ice cream, made from the best dairies in the country, make it even tastier.
When you think of West Marin in the summer do you picture rolling hills, dotted with happy cows? Historic red barns and golden grasslands? Organic milk and artisanal cheese? Well if you have any foodie leanings, you should also think of amazing ice cream!
The lush grasses carpeting the hills of West Marin are essential to ice cream’s most important ingredient: milk. Mild coastal breezes and long grazing seasons result in an abundance of grass-sweetened milk ready to be whipped into everyone’s favorite summer treat. Here, we share some favorite spots around Marin County (and nearby) to find great ice cream this summer.
Denotes milk sourced from MALT-protected land.
Ice Creams by Area
The Palace Market is a staple at 11300 CA-1 in Point Reyes Station. It’s a true market, where you can pick up your groceries for the week, get a made-to-order sandwich to take on a hike, or snag some of the best gelato in the area! Not just any gelato either — buffalo milk gelato! Try it in soft serve form from the back deli counter and grab a pint of Double 8 Dairy’s candy cap flavor from the freezer.
At 19225 State Route 1 in Marshall, The Marshall Store welcomes visitors to Tomales Bay to dine with a view of the bay while enjoying raw and grilled oysters, freshly made sandwiches, house smoked meats, savory soups, and local cheeses. To top off the meal, you can enjoy delicious buffalo-milk soft serve gelato from Double 8 Dairy and giant chocolate chip cookies from Route One Bakery and Kitchen.
Valley Ford Cheese & Creamery is actually located in Western Sonoma County on the drive between Dillon Beach and Bodega at 14390 Valley Ford Rd, but we wanted to highlight it here since dairy-man Jim Moreda grazes Jersey cows on 260 acres on the Marin County MALT-protected Poncia A Ranch, producing high-quality milk for the Sonoma creamery run by his mother Karen and brother Joe. Their family has been in the dairy business for five generations!
While they are mostly known for their variety of luscious artisan cheeses like “Estero Gold,” they also serve up some delicious soft serve at their storefront in Valley Ford.
You can swing by in the morning for a cup of coffee and freshly-baked danish, grab a to-go cheese box, nosh on some delicious salads and sandwiches, enjoy a handcrafted cheeseboard, sip on beer and wine, or enjoy a creamy soft-serve ice cream cone. Both dine-in or take-out are available so you can head to the beach to nom with your toes in the sand.
Mill Valley Swirl at 417 Miller Avenue offers its handmade “Sweet Annie’s” ice cream and ice cream cakes as well as frozen yogurt. You can also feast on their homemade ice cream cookie sandwiches, in a variety of flavors. Their Boyle Park Bubble Gum ice cream will make you feel like a kid again.
Lappert’s has two storefronts — one at 689 and the other at 815 Bridgeway in Sausalito — and has been scooping up sweet homemade ice cream since 1981. If you’re searching for a dairy-free icy treat, don’t worry because their guava sorbet is worth the trip!
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Right in the heart of Fairfax at 63 Broadway, Fairfax Scoop offers innovative flavor combinations you won’t find elsewhere. Classic farmstand flavors like summer peach or honey vanilla lavender are countered with decadent Mexican chocolate. For vegan friends, they also offer a variety of sorbet and soy-options. Cash or check only.
A San Rafael hot spot since 1966, Silbermann’s at 196 Northgate One, scoops up some traditional hand-packed ice creams and handmade novelty items like chocolate-nut-covered bananas in their vintage malt-shop. They make ice cream cakes and ice cream pies in addition to in-house-made ice cream sandwiches. For the non-dairy seekers in your party, they offer two flavor ice options.
This cafe and ice cream shop at 860 4th Street in San Rafael serves up hearty diner lunches along with their premium ice cream, shakes, freezes, floats, smoothies, and baked goods. They promote their year-round late hours, so if you’re looking for a treat after dark, this may be your best bet.
Celine’s Sweets is a nostalgic walk back in time to a candy shop from your fondest childhood memories. This is where everyone becomes a “kid in a candy store” again, with every type of sweet treat you can hope to find, along with 16 flavors of ice cream and sorbet. They promise to have at least one vegan option at all times too. Find them at 879 Grant Avenue in Novato.
Bliss is a newer addition to Novato, bringing the area’s first Japanese-style ice cream, gelato, soft serve, sorbet, and mochi shop to 109 San Marin Drive. From taro/ube slices of ice cream to red bean gelato to mango mochi, you can enjoy a variety of flavors you won’t find anywhere else in the area. They don’t have a website, but you can place orders for pickup on their ToastTab page.
Novato’s La Michoacana offers 30 flavors of Mexican-style ice creams, paletas (Mexican fruit popsicles), frozen yogurt, and other sweet treats at 1219 Grant Avenue on Novato’s main drag. Flavors like pine nut, Mexican vanilla, and pina colada are on offer in addition to classic flavors. Many paletas are vegan-friendly (if you don’t opt to have them hand-dipped in chocolate first!), as are most of the sorbets. They make all their ice creams and paletas at their sister-store in Sonoma.
This newcomer to 7400 Redwood Blvd in Old Town Novato is the fourth Wicked Slush location to open, after its original shops in Healdsburg, Petaluma, and Santa Rosa. You may also see their Slush Truck at festivals and community events in the area. Their namesake “slush” is most similar to an Italian ice but they also serve up a wicked soft serve, made from local Straus Family Creamery dairy. They will also combine the two into one wicked-tasty treat they call The Split, with half slush and half soft serve. Yum!
Milk from MALT-Protected Ranches
Milk from MALT-protected ranches is used to make ice cream throughout the Bay Area. From that creamy soft serve gelato made with buffalo milk to seasonal flavors direct from local farmers’ markets, the connection between MALT and locally-produced ice creams demonstrates how innovation and collaboration can strengthen local economies — with delicious results!
Clover Sonoma & Straus Family Creamery
MALT-protected milk is transformed into ice cream at Clover Sonoma, the largest dairy brand in the Bay Area. Clover sources milk for its 11 ice cream flavors from family farms throughout Marin and Sonoma counties, including many that are on ranches preserved forever through MALT’s conservation easements.
Thanks to pioneers in the dairy industry like Straus Family Creamery, which began making premium ice cream in 2003 and continues to expand the organic market, high-quality ice cream has become the new regional standard. With 20 flavors sold in an ever-increasing number stores around the country, including Sprouts and Whole Foods, you can easily pick up a pint to savor at home.
Locally, they also vend at a handful of Marin and Sonoma farmers’ markets throughout the year. Some are only open certain seasons and days, so best to check the schedule before venturing out. Delivery apps like Farmstead will deliver local dairy, including some Straus ice cream flavors, right to your door.
Double 8 Dairy
Double 8 Dairy outside of Valley Ford is one of only a handful of professional water buffalo dairies in the US. Founder Andrew Zlot — who has a MALT easement on another one of his ranches — started Double 8 Dairy with the idea of making fresh Mozzarella di Bufalain the authentic Italian style. He quickly discovered that the high fat content of the buffalo milk made it ideal for gelato.
Differing from the traditional French Custard style of ice cream, Italian gelato uses milk and sugar but is made without eggs. Because gelato is whipped more slowly to create a dense texture, it requires no additional cream when churning. And Andrew’s gelato is no exception. The high fat content of his buffalo milk lends a velvety texture to the incredible finished product. In fact, Double 8 Dairy’s buffalo gelato has been praised by national media outlets as one of the best desserts in America.
Ready to try some for yourself?
By purchasing products made from locally-sourced ingredients, you are supporting innovation and contributing directly to a strong local economy and a thriving agricultural community. No guilt, just pleasure. Enjoy!
– This post was authored by Becky Wiegand, Manager of Digital Communications & Community Engagement