From classic treats to unexpected delights, Santa Barbara’s ice cream scene offers a bevy of delectable options to satisfy your cravings. Check out these six ice cream spots around town to savor Santa Barbara summertime (or any time) in the sweetest possible way.
McConnell’sis a true staple—they’ve been serving up mouthwatering scratch-made ice cream since they first opened on Mission and State Street in 1950. Now with two prime Santa Barbara locations (downtown and The Funk Zone), McConnell’s continues to honor the Central Coast’s agricultural legacy by using local, grass-grazed milk and fresh produce to create their ultra-creamy concoctions. Choose from favorites like Mint Chip and Cookies and Cream, or try limited-edition specialties like Strawberry Rhubarb and Olive Oil with Salted Almonds. Can’t choose just one? Order a flight of three small scoops for triple the yum factor. Learn More
Treat your taste buds to an adventure at Rori’s Artisanal Creamery, where the selection of small-batch, organic flavors takes culinary creativity to the next level. Located in the hip Santa Barbara Public Market, Rori’s has an always-rotating menu that runs the gamut from super-sweet to intriguingly savory, usually with a few dairy-free/vegan options in the mix. A scoop of Cinnamon Toast Cereal Crunch will have you feeling like a kid again, whereas unusual combinations like Black Pepper Pistachio showcase local ingredients to delicious effect. You can also find Rori’s in Montecito Country Mart, complete with a shaded courtyard for al fresco enjoyment. Local tip? Visit on a Tuesday to treat yourself to an ice cream taco. Learn More
Tucked into a cozy corner of Montecito on Coast Village Road, this friendly gelato shop is a favorite of local celebs like country singer Brad Paisley. And for good reason—the tempting, candy-colored, farm-to-scoop gelato and sorbets are made in-house, and the selection is wide enough to please any palate. Inspired by what’s in season, the lineup changes often, but locally grown fruit always takes center stage. Think strawberries, blood oranges, plums, apricots and lemons, along with more exotic varieties like the cherimoya, a creamy, apple-like fruit that tastes a bit like a pear. Learn More
Idyllically situated on Stearns Wharf, Great Pacific Ice Cream Co. boasts 32 flavors of ice cream and sherbet to choose from. You can’t go wrong with a scoop (or two) in a crisp handmade waffle cone, especially when it’s complemented by the incredible ocean view as you stroll along the pier or grab a bench to watch the sunset after dinner. Great Pacific Ice Cream Co. also dishes up reliably scrumptious standbys like banana splits and hot fudge sundaes with a cherry on top. Learn More
Monkeyshine goes big on both fun and flavor. This Funk Zone hot spot is known for its impossibly smooth and highly Instagram-able organic soft serve ice cream infused with Asian spices and ingredients. Start by choosing from unique flavors like ube (a bright purple yam often used in Filipino cuisine), Vietnamese coffee or mango sticky rice, and then decide whether you’d like it served in cute mini Chinese takeout container or an equally adorable fish-shaped Taiyaki waffle cone. Top off your treat with ultra-colorful add-ons like Fruity Pebbles, mochi kabobs or unicorn sprinkles. The final challenge is resisting a taste before you snap a pic! Learn More
Come to ParadICE for a mini Hawaiian escape on the mainland. Located in Paseo Nuevo, this downtown gem is home to authentic Hawaiian shave ice, perfectly powdery and sweetened with syrups made in-house from fresh fruit juice and organic cane sugar. If you don’t know where to start, opt for one of the delicious suggested flavor combinations like the Zephyr: mango, blood orange and passionfruit shave ice served over vanilla ice cream and topped with sweetened condensed milk and local organic honey. Learn More
The Santa Maria Valley is a sweet, low-key spot for laid-back adventures of the culinary, outdoor and treasure hunting variety. More than 30 wineries await exploration—pinot noir lovers, in particular, are in for a delicious ride. There’s a burgeoning local Ale Trail for craft beer fans, while the region’s signature style of barbecue has roots dating back 150 years and…
A fresh crop of new restaurants in Santa Barbara is spicing up the already delicious culinary landscape. As far as we’re concerned, there’s always room for more good eats in our bountiful city surrounded by organic farms, family-run ranches, avocado and citrus orchards and the seafood-rich Santa Barbara Channel.