I ate my way through another ParentMap story — this one's about ice cream! It's on ParentMap here
Need a treat that will cool you down? We’ve rounded up five new ice cream shops, along with fun kid activities nearby. Try ice cream focused on local ingredients, chef-made flavors, gourmet popsicles and the newest branch of Molly Moon’s.
4301 University Way N.E., Seattle, in the U-District
$3.55 for 3 ounces, $5.55 for 6 ounces, $7.55 for 9 ounces
Lois Ko started working as a scooper at the Häagen-Dazs on the Ave in 2001, when she was a student at the University of Washington. She bought the ice cream store in 2006, a year after graduating. Then last year, she broke away from the franchise and re-opened as Sweet Alchemy.
There’s none of that corporate feeling left. From the draped fabric ceiling to the floor, tiled in actual pennies, every inch of the store has Ko’s personal stamp. Especially the ice cream.
Take the blueberry lavender, for example. Ko went blueberry picking with her daughter (now 7), and was pregnant with her son (now 2). “I could taste everything,” she says. The blueberries suggested flowers to her, and inspired the intriguing new flavor pairing.
The Persian Rose grew out of customer suggestions. Sweet Alchemy started with a cardamom ice cream. A Lebanese neighbor recommended adding rose water, then some Iranian customers suggested pistachio. The result? A fragrant, not-too-sweet combination that you’ll be thinking about long after it’s devoured.
Ko makes a point to use local products – the blueberries are from Kent, the milk comes from Lynden. Each morning at the store, they crack open 80 to 100 eggs and re-pasteurize the milk with egg yolk for the organic base. On the back of every employee’s shirt is their recipe: milk, cream, sugar and egg yolk. It’s sweet alchemy, indeed.
Plan your visit for a Sunday, when street parking and campus parking are free. Also free on Sunday: admission to the Henry Art Gallery
, a small, contemporary art museum on the edge of campus (4100 15th Ave. NE.) With all that extra cash you save, you can load up on more ice cream.
6555 5th Ave. S., Seattle,
at the Equinox Studios building in Georgetown
$4.50 for a single scoop
Before Matt Bumpas got into the ice cream business, he worked as a school psychologist in Seattle Public Schools. “Now I get to see kids happy all the time,” he quipped.
His 180 degree career shift took him to culinary school, then to the pastry chef position at Poppy, a foodie favorite in Capitol Hill. Customers raved about his ice cream, and in 2014, Bumpas left Poppy to start Sweet Bumpas.
His ice cream flavors are playful and surprising. There’s chipotle peanut butter, cinnamon basil with corn cookie, Earl Gray rum raisin and more. His favorite this season: the hokey pokey from New Zealand, sweet cream with homemade honeycomb candy inside.
Bumpas says parents inadvertently teach their kids to be picky eaters. “Honey, you’re not going to like it, that’s a grown up flavor,” he’ll hear someone say. Or another parent will see the sign for “fresh mint cocoa crumble” and say, “Oh, it’s just regular mint chocolate chip.”
“No, you taste this,” Bumpas says. “There’s nothing regular about it.”
Instead of using extracts and flavorings, 1.5 pounds of fresh mint leaves goes into a 6 gallon batch. Taste it, and you’ll never go back to the freezer-burned carton from the grocery store.
You can find Sweet Bumpas at six farmer’s markets each week
, and a scoop window at its new kitchen facility in Georgetown (open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
It’s a five-minute straight shot to the Museum of Flight
(9404 E. Marginal Way S.), which just opened a new Apollo exhibit
. Children up to 4 are free, and kids 5 to 18 can sign up for the Connections program
at special events to get free admission for themselves plus their grown-up.
1401 N. 45th St., Seattle, in Wallingford
Remember the freeze pops we ate when we were kids? It was basically frozen sugar water, and it’d turn your mouth weird colors, like electric blue.
Seattle Pops is seriously upping the popsicle game with its gourmet line of nearly 40 fruity and creamy flavors. You can’t go wrong with the pleasantly tart strawberry popsicle, made with berries from Puyallup. Or try the chocolate banana, so creamy you feel like you’re eating ice cream on a stick. In the kitchen, Seattle Pops is always experimenting with potential new flavors. How about a chocolate coconut curry popsicle? Or dog-friendly puppy pops?
Owner Megan Janes came up with the idea for a popsicle business in Seattle in 2012, and ran it through a group of business students at University of Puget Sound, her alma mater. Seattle Pops now is in its fourth season, and does 13 farmer’s markets a week
. Their first brick-and-mortar retail store, located in the heart of Wallingford, is scheduled to open July 28. (Check their website
and Facebook page
for the big announcement.)
The new store carries flavors you won’t find at the farmer’s markets, like mango chili, pineapple jalapeño, avocado and cinnamon horchata. The store also offers chocolate dipping, in milk, white or dark chocolate.
Megan runs Seattle Pops along with her sister, Lindsey, and their dad, Dave. The three of them put their heads together for all the business decisions and recipes. “I’m proud of both of them,” Dave says about his daughters. “They work really hard.”
Browse the aisles at Archie McPhee
across the street (1300 N. 45th St.) for terrifically juvenile gag gifts. Or head a few blocks over to the Meridian Playground
(4649 Sunnyside Ave. N.), which features a playground next to a fruit orchard and a P-Patch.
4822 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle, in Columbia City
$4.50 for a single scoop
The best advertisement for Molly Moon’s is the aroma of fresh waffle cones wafting out the open door. Hours after we stopped by the new store in Columbia City, I could still smell it on my clothes, in my hair, on my children. Mmmm.
Molly Moon Neitzel, the doyenne of Seattle’s artisanal ice cream scene, says she’s been eying a location in Columbia City for three years now. This store, her eighth, opened June 2 between a Starbucks and a children’s consignment store.
“I wanted to provide great jobs to a diverse team in a diverse neighborhood,” Neitzel says. “A big part of the goal was to create 20 good jobs with benefits. And we did that.” (You can read more about Molly Moon’s business practices in our story here
, and a Q&A interview with Neitzel here
With a Full Tilt just a few blocks away, there’s no shortage of ice cream on this stretch of Rainier Ave. Luckily, there’s no shortage of ice cream lovers either. We visited on a warm Sunday afternoon, and found a cone-licking crowd spilling out the doors. Strangers waiting in line swapped tips about what to get, and no one was in a hurry to leave this delicious place.
Go swimming in the gorgeous Rainer Beach indoor pool
(8825 Rainier Ave. S.) as an excuse to visit this newest branch of Molly Moon’s empire. Just opened in 2013, the facility includes an 85-degree lap pool and a 93-degree leisure pool for the kids. Read more about the pool’s family-friendly features in our review here
4267 S Orcas St., Seattle, in Hillman City
$3.49 for one scoop
You’ll smile when you reach to open the doors to 12 Scoops – the handles are made of ice cream scoopers. Owner Wally Morris designed the cheerful red and white interior himself to appeal to kids. He knows his audience; he’s got six kids, age 4 to 35.
The customers in front of us in line snapped pictures of their Insta-worthy cones before digging in. There are 12 flavors to choose from, and they rotate out every month, hence the name “12 Scoops.” One flavor to you don’t see often is Grape-Nuts cereal ice cream. Morris, who was born in Jamaica, says that’s a flavor he remembers from growing up.
Morris previously used the building as a warehouse for another business. When they outgrew the space last year, he turned the storefront into an ice cream shop because, “I’m an ice cream lover.” He has plans to expand and add a restaurant, but the ice cream isn’t going anywhere. “We will always have ice cream no matter what we do,” Morris said.
Let the kids (under age 6) get their wiggles out at Seattle Gymnastics Academy’s indoor playground
(5034 37th Ave. S., #200). Little gymnasts will especially love the foam pit and tumble track. Tip: Admission on Tuesdays is only $2 with a non-perishable food donation.
More ice cream
- There are all kinds of good reasons to go to Marination Ma Kai (1660 Harbor Ave. S.W.) in West Seattle. The views of the Seattle skyline, the patio area where kids can run around, the spam musubi, and the Hawaiian shave ice, which you can get with a scoop of Husky Deli ice cream.
- The Seattle-Bainbridge ferry trip alone is a treat for the kids, but top it off with a scoop from Mora Iced Creamery (Madrone Lane N., Bainbridge Island) to make it an epic excursion.
- Try the Theo Chocolate Chunk at the Fremont location of Bluebird Ice Cream (3515 Fremont Ave. N.). If you have room afterwards, walk three blocks west to the Theo factory store to eat all the free chocolate samples you can handle.
- It’s unclear which is the bigger attraction at Full Tilt – the fun ice cream flavors or the pinball machines. It’s the perfect pairing for kids and the young at heart. Locations in White Center, Ballard, U-District and Columbia City.
- Portland’s famous Salt & Straw is slated to open its first Seattle store in Capitol Hill in late summer.