It’s one of summer’s quintessential treats. Young or old, we all scream for ice cream, especially as the mercury soars. Really, air conditioning is nice. But ice cream? It’s tops. Lucky for us, St. Catharines boasts some prize purveyors offering creamy scoops, refreshing Italian sorbettos and everything in between. Here are some of the prime spots to treat yourself this summer.
You don’t have to go far to find ice cream and other summer treats in St. Catharines, especially if you want it served with a side of fun. The only dilemma will be deciding whether to ask for an extra spoon to share, but no one will blame you for wanting to go it alone when beating the heat in the sweetest way possible way.
This family-run gelateria and chocolate shop offers as much charm as it does flavours of gelato. Chocolates, etc. is bound to become your second home this summer with all its 25 flavours, including classic pistachio, stracciatella and chocolate. Non-dairy selections tart lemon, sweet mango and passion fruit are the antidote to any sweltering day, and they’re all served with warmth and generosity in a cup or a cone. The affogato, starring gelato and a shot of espresso, is a must-have for multi-taskers wanting a sweet treat and jolt of caffeine. Best enjoyed on the pretty patio that conjures Europe and often features live entertainment.
📸 – Chocolates, Etc.
📍 100 Welland Ave.
This west-end shop in Ridley Heights Plaza uses the hashtag #gimmethescoop, and the scoop here is preservative-free ice cream made from scratch on site. Scoops from Hometown Ice Cream are lush and decadent, and include creamy, dreamy dairy- and coconut-based choices alongside seasonal fruit sorbets, such as summer soul mates strawberry-rhubarb. There’s also stalwart cookie dough, crowd-pleasing vegan coconut lime — you can’t tell it’s dairy-free — and colourful birthday cake or cereal milk. Ice creams are also sold by the pint so you can take your new favourite home with you. Add some homemade Hometown cookies, and you’ve got yourself the fixings for a proper ice cream sandwich that will keep your inner child smiling all day.
📸 – Hometown Ice Cream
📍 100 Fourth Ave.
This downtown shop is best known for its cold-pressed juices. But this summer, Small Batch Juice Co. started serving plant-based soft-serve. Using an oat milk base and oodles of creativity when it comes to flavour combinations, visitors here will be treated to twists of maple matcha and strawberry guava, mango and classic vanilla, earl grey and wild blueberry, or vanilla and cherry. Be warned: flavours change regularly. For an extra cool treat, grab a juice to go. The spins on traditional lemonade, including Electric Avenue or Voodoo, are bound to refresh. For a fully immersive summer experience, chase your cup of ice cream with a watermelon, mint and lime juice concoction aptly named Summer Daze. Cold brew and summertime smoothies are options, too.
The beauty of popsicles is their portability. Given The Indian Aroma Kitchen’s specialty is takeout, it’s no surprise it would also offer kulfi, traditional Indian ice cream that comes on a stick. Though it looks like regular ice cream that’s been shaped by popsicle mold, Kulfi is denser than its typical, whipped North American cousin. The benefit of that? It takes longer to melt, which means more time to enjoy it. Featured flavours are mango, pistachio, almond, and super creamy rabri malai, made with milk cooked until it thickens, saffron, cardamom, and a variety of nuts.
The Indian Aroma Kitchen
📍 486 Grantham Ave., Unit 9
Italian Café and Cannoli Bar
St. Catharines’ Facer District has long been a cool corner of the city, known colloquially by locals as the deli district for its European delicatessens. The Italian Café and Cannoli Bar brings la dolce vita to this north-end neighbourhood with a small but mighty selection of gelato and sorbetto. The blood orange is essential summertime refreshment and comes in a cup or cone. This café that’s long been a fixture on the street, reinventing itself over the years with different owners, also features cannoli as a cornerstone of its operations. And it promises the best espresso in town. All of it can be enjoyed on the patio.
📸 – Italian Café and Cannoli Bar
📍 88 Facer St.
Lazy Bugs Bubble Tea Shop
Bubble tea goes by many names. Boba, pearl milk tea, tapioca tea — no matter what you call it, it’s a sweet way to cool down in the summer. Most people think bubble tea is named for the chewy tapioca balls that line the bottom of the cup, but it’s actually for the bubbles created in the tea after its blended with milk. Creamy or not, green tea or black, fruit-flavoured or with sea salt crema, Lazy Bugs Bubble Tea Shop offers dozens of flavours of bubble tea, including lychee green tea, winter melon sea salt crema, oreo milk tea, and more common matcha. For those who prefer to hold the boba, the menu features smoothies in chocolate, fresh mango and taro, among others. Frozen yogurt is also an option.
📸 – 📍 210 Glendale Ave.
416 Coffee Co.
Not all summer treats have to come from a freezer. This local coffee roaster — don’t let the name fool you, 416 Coffee Co. representing the 905 and 289 — breaks out the piping hot deep fryer every Saturday and Sunday to make generous orders of mini doughnuts on the spot. Even better, they’re dusted with icing sugar and can be washed down with an iced, direct trade coffee, for a treat that conjures one of the most summery places of all: the carnival midway.
📸 – 416 Coffee Co.
📍 17 Lock St.
All the major summertime food groups are represented here. Old Port Dairy Bar serves hard-scooped ice cream, including non-dairy sorbets; fro-yo; sundaes; milkshakes and banana splits. This traditional ice cream parlour is a popular spot so don’t be surprised by a lineup. Good news is you can sit down on a nearby bench or patch of grass for some epic people watching while enjoying your favourite treat before it melts. Cones also make good travel companions on strolls down the newly reconstructed Port Dalhousie pier that’s steps from Old Port’s door.
📸 – Old Port Dairy Bar
📍 26 Lakeport Rd.
Serendippity Ice Cream
It’s a soft serve hot spot blessed by unicorns and rainbows. Since opening this spring, this tiny ice cream shop has been making its mark with grin-inducing creations like the Pretty Princess, a sundae in choice of vanilla, chocolate or twist soft serve, and decked out sour rainbow strips, unicorn gummies, chocolate or strawberry sauce, oodles of sprinkles and a magic wand as a crowning touch. Sundaes are the stuff of childhood dreams, with some topped with cookie crumbles, candy pieces, and a giant Twirl Pop. Cones can be simple or souped up with all the toppings you want. And there’s a sizeable selection of technicolour slushies that can be combined with soft serve just to make your decision that much harder.
📍 353 Lake St.