Imagine blueberry ice cream made with berries picked that day, hundreds of creative flavors crafted in small batches and even dairy free options (because everyone should be able to enjoy ice cream!). These Northern Michigan ice cream shops from Ludington to Traverse City are committed to making the creamiest, freshest frozen treats.

This is a exclusive. Want more? View our print subscription and digital subscription options.

Last updated: July 2023.

Buchan’s Blueberry Hill

1472 Nelson Rd. | Old Mission Peninsula, Traverse City | Buchan’s Website

The 100-year-old, family-run fruit farm has U-pick blueberries (end of July) and apples (mid-September). During the summer months, stop by for a homemade batch of ice cream made with their fruit. Scoop it onto their fresh baked pies for an extra special treat.

Buchan’s West Bay

13000 S W Bay Shore Dr. | Traverse City | Buchan’s Website

Owned by the Buchan’s family and carrying your same favorite flavors (aka lemon poppyseed, Old Mission apple pie and lavender) this popular ice cream shop has a drive-thru window and easy access off M-22 when you need that sweet treat fix.

Related Read: Get Your Berry Fix at Buchan’s Blueberry Hill in Traverse City.

Photo by Buchan's

Hill Top Soda Shoppe

7117 South St. | Benzonia | Hill Top Website

Hill Top sources their rBST-free dairy from a small family farm in New Era that grows its own feed and milks its own cows. The butter pecan is the most popular (and not just with dads!) they sauté the pecans in butter and salt in-house. You really can taste the difference. Enjoy your cone on the deck while watching the sunset!

PRO TIP: Editor Carly Simpson’s Hill Top Soda Shoppe Picks

I love grabbing a pint of Hill Top Soda Shoppe ice cream to have on hand at home. The tubs of literal joy pay homage to the region, with illustrations showing off local icons like Point Betsie Lighthouse, the Garden Theater and Cherry Bowl Drive-In. My go-to flavor is mint chocolate chip, but every once in a while, I’ll spring for salted caramel. Or toasted coconut. Or all three.

House of Flavors

402 W. Ludington Ave. | Ludington | House of Flavors Website

The ’50s-style diner is full of history and retro decor including a vintage jukebox. Try the apple crisp with dried cherries, walnuts and a scoop of vanilla ice cream or the chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich sundae (imagine two giant homemade cookies stuffed with your choice of ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream, and a cherry!).

House of Flavors in Ludington

Photo by Dave Weidner

House of Flavors in Ludington

Photo by Dave Weidner

Milk & Honey

240 E. Front St. | Traverse City | Milk & Honey Website

Featuring local, natural, organic and GMO-free ingredients, these frozen desserts offer options for everyone. Famous for their ice cream, as well as their organic homemade fudge and caramel, Milk & Honey also offers vegan ice creams for the lactose intolerant and ice cream cakes. With flavors like cinnamon roll, banana cream pie and birthday cake re-master, you’ll want a second scoop.

PRO TIP: Editor Allison Jarrell’s Milk & Honey Picks

You can dream up literally any combination of flavors and toppings at Milk & Honey, but I recommend trying one their house recipes if you’re not sure where to start. I love the Milk & Honey Lavender (honey lavender ice cream with house-made caramel sauce and roasted salted pecans), the Sleeping Bear Sundae (cheesecake ice cream with strawberries, raspberries and graham cracker), and Birthday Cake Remaster (birthday cake ice cream with house fudge sauce, homemade brownie and sprinkles).

House of Flavors in Ludington


7263 N. Long Lake Rd. | Traverse City | Moomers Website

Moomers started out as a small ice cream shop next to a cow farm. Today, Moomers has over 90 wholesale outlets and was voted No. 1 Best Ice Cream Parlor in a USAToday 10 Best Contest. You can still visit the cows, though! Stop in for a cone and say hi to Bessie out back.

PRO TIP: Editor Cara McDonald’s Moomers Picks

My family’s ice-cream dreams are always haunted by Moomers’ cheesecake Oreo (hard to find, hard to stop eating), but I recently had a sweet and simple strawberry cone at Sadie’s in the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island after four hours of island biking, and it made the angels sing. Across the bridge in St. Ignace, Molly Moo’s is a must-stop for a chocolate milkshake on their second-story deck with a view of the Straits.

Scoops 22

403 N St Joseph St. | Suttons Bay | Scoops 22 Website

Pro tip: dive into the bay and then head across the street for the perfect post-swim treat. Selling Buchan’s, Moomers and soft-serve ice cream, this place is a favorite for locals and has something for everyone. You’ve got to try the chocolate peanut butter crunch, it’s insane!

PRO TIP: Editor Rachel Soulliere’s Scoops 22 Picks

Living in Suttons Bay means I’m a frequent flier of Scoops 22. With a wide range of ice cream options (they dish up soft-serve, Buchans AND Moomers) here are my picks: Heath bar or turtle flurry, Buchans’ cookie dough ice cream in a waffle cone or—what my husband calls one of the best ice cream flavors he’s EVER had—Moomers chocolate peanut butter chunk in a cup.

Photo(s) by Dave Weidner