Check out some of our favorite ice cream treats and desserts around Champaign-Urbana and beyond
It doesn’t have to be National Ice Cream Day — always the third Sunday in July — to celebrate all of the delicious treats and ice cream concoctions around Champaign-Urbana. It seems to be a treat that many in Central Illinois enjoy all year long.
Your summertime bucket list should include a visit to at least one (or all) of these ice cream joints in the Champaign-Urbana area. (We should note, the list includes places that serve ice cream, custard, gelato and frozen yogurt; we’ve focused on local businesses – sorry no chains.)
How many can you check off your bucket list? While we don’t recommend consuming these all in one sitting, we won’t tell anyone if you do.
We’ve listed these in alphabetical order: places serving frozen treats in Champaign, Urbana, Monticello, Mahomet, Fisher, Oakwood, Farmer City, Tuscola and Sidney – even Paris.
Baldarotta’s Gelateria, Lincoln Square Mall, Urbana: We reviewed the Baldarotta’s Gelateria in May, and let’s just say that we weren’t disappointed. The gelato flights are great for those who can’t make tough decisions about what flavors to try. Unique flavors include blood orange sorbet, sea salt caramel, and apple bourbon crisp.
Cocomero, 709 S. Wright St., Champaign: Cocomero was the first self-serve froyo joint to hit Champaign-Urbana, and it still holds a special place in our hearts. We love the view of the Alma Mater from the store and it is a great place to start a summer stroll. Cocomero also features the widest variety of flavors and toppings you’ll find in town.
Collective Pour, 340 N. Neil St., Suite 101, Champaign: ADULTS ONLY. Calling all adults, calling all adults — ice cream for grownups only can be found here. Make sure to try Collective Pour’s boozy ice cream concoctions. Follow along on its Facebook page to find out the flavor of the day.
Dewey’s Drive-In, 620 E. Richardson St., Farmer City: Dewey’s has been a Farmer City tradition since 1956. Cheeseburgers, fries and old-fashioned shakes are popular items on the menu but the lemon ice cream is an absolute favorite for most locals. The 1950’s drive-in vibe adds to the overall experience.
El Oasis, 510 N. Cunningham Ave., Urbana: The best part about this hidden treasure in Urbana is all of the fresh fruit and ingredients that are in the ice cream and popsicles. Fresh coconut is one of our favorites and they have the best in town. They offer more than 40 flavors of Mexican ice cream and ice cream bars.
Flesor’s Candy Kitchen, 101 W. Sale St., Tuscola: You can’t go wrong with a trip to Tuscola to eat at Flesor’s, whether for a meal or just for ice cream. This is the epitome of nostalgia that’s also worth the calories. This old fashioned soda fountain features its own homemade ice cream (flavors change seasonally) and serves everything from malts to phosphates to banana splits. (No froyo here, folks.)
FroYo Factory and Cafe, Monticello: Here’s a stop that’s similar to Cocomero. We love the variety of flavors here in the rotation. In addition to Froyo, they serve gelato as well, and just recently added coffee to the menu. Frappes are very popular in the meantime. Great stop on the way to or from Allerton Park. Open seasonally.
Ice Daddy’s Food Truck, 605 S. Lake of the Woods Rd., Mahomet: One reader says their ice cream “reminds me of a trip to Spain!” Find them at the location listed here for their “regular” weekly hours, and follow them on social media to find out where they might be traveling.
Jarling’s Custard Cup, 309 W. Kirby Ave., Champaign: The lines around Custard Cup speak for themselves. Patrons can choose from a huge variety of snowstorms, sleets, and the always-popular cold fudge sundae, among others. We especially enjoy their weekly flavor specials. Try the cappuccino … it’s a must have! They have always-bustling picnic table seating in front of the building as well as a popular drive-thru.
Kurly Q, 309 W. Jasper St., Paris: Kurly Q offers over 50 flavors of soft serve ice cream in addition to soups, sandwiches, and sides. Their banana split is pretty fantastic, but they offer sundaes, avalanches, malts, milkshakes, and more. If you happen to be visiting the sunflower fields in Paris, it’s a great stop to add along the way.
The Main Scoop, Mahomet: Located in downtown Mahomet, The Main Scoop is a classic ice cream shop serving Capannari Ice Cream from the Chicago area. Standout flavors include Bordeaux Cherry, Peaches and Cream and Mediterranean Sea Salt Caramel. The waffle cone smell will hit you when you walk in so make sure to opt for one of those with your order. Enjoy your treats in the shop with board games or while sitting outdoors on Main Street.
La Michoacana Express, Urbana: Owned and operated by a Champaign family, this shop that opened during the pandemic features homemade ice cream as well as paletas (traditional Mexican ice cream pops), water ice cream, shakes, and sundaes. Our favorites include cookies and cream and mint oreo. Super fresh!
Main Street Cookies and Cream, Fisher: This shop serves a rotating selection of premium ice cream flavors from the delectable Madison, WI-based Chocolate Shoppe. With choices ranging from Zanzibar Chocolate and Mint Avalanche to Key Lime Pie and Cotton Candy Twist, they guarantee that you will have a difficult decision to make — and that’s before you consider the wide variety of toppings. Other items on the menu include Bunnie Swirl Shakes, homemade waffle cones, Lotus plant-based energy drinks, coffee drinks (with beans from Champaign’s Columbia Street Roastery), and cookies and baked goods made both in-house and from Central Illinois Bakehouse. Enjoy your ice cream at an indoor table, outside along (surprise!) 3rd St. in downtown Fisher, or from their spiffy mobile trailer.
Obie’s Arctic Chill, 102 S. Oakwood St., Oakwood: The first thing you notice about Obie’s Arctic Chill is the extensive ice cream and frozen treat menu. The second thing? The super-friendly service and excellent prices. Located on Oakwood Street (the main drag) in Oakwood, you can get an ICEE, banana split, hand-dipped ice cream, soft serve ice cream, and much, much more. The prices are extremely reasonable, and the hand-dipped ice cream? Excellent. They have a drive-thru, a large and shaded pavilion with ample picnic table seating and on street parking.
Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, 4410 N. Lincoln Ave., Champaign: Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery uses their own goat milk to make milk-based flavors and all local fruits for their dairy-free sorbets. Goat milk offers a creamy and smooth texture to their gelato. Patrons can find a variety of flavors including vanilla, chocolate, salted caramel swirl, and other seasonal flavors such as local strawberry, red currant sorbetto, and honey-lavender. Be sure to stop by when they have open hours in the farm store (generally Saturday and Sunday afternoons).
Red Bicycle Ice Cream, Urbana: Once a shop in Urbana, Red Bicycle features handcrafted small batches that are now sold at Common Ground, Fresh International Market, Harvest Market, and Salt & Light. We love their dark chocolate ice cream. (See our Mom Review of the late lamented Red Bicycle Ice Cream shop here.). For the ultimate in chambanamoms food trail crossover treats, check out the new frozen doughnut ice cream sandwiches made with Red Bicycle at Ye Olde Donut Shoppe in Champaign.
Sidney Dairy Barn, 218 S. David St., Sidney: The sign in front proclaims “The World’s Best Ice Cream,” and who are we to argue? This is homemade ice cream just like the kind your parents used to make when you were little. Its opening in mid-April is darn near a community celebration. You can also find it in other locations around Champaign-Urbana in their Moo-Mobile.
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Know of ice cream that we missed? Email us and let us know who has your favorite ice cream around Champaign-Urbana and what makes it so delicious.