Maryland's rich ice cream history dates back to the mid-18th century, when Maryland native and proprietary governor (1742-1746) Thomas Bladen reportedly served the first ice cream in the New World. At an official dinner in 1744, Bladen's guests were treated to ice cream with strawberries and milk.
Maryland made ice cream history again in the following century, when, 10 years before the start of the Civil War, Jacob Fussell converted his Baltimore milk plant into the nation's first large-scale ice cream factory. This allowed Fussell to maintain steady demand for the cream he produced without the worry that it would go bad. It was as a result of this business decision that Baltimore gained its title as "the birthplace of the ice cream industry."
Snowballs, or cups of crushed ice with flavored syrup, are a Maryland tradition with roots also in the 1800s. During the Great Depression, snowballs in Baltimore were known as "penny sundaes" or "hard-time sundaes," and some historians say that the city's vaudeville houses and theaters sold them to keep visitors cool before the invention of air conditioning.
Today, Maryland has numerous dairies, creameries, and specialty shops that serve up your favorite scoops, including nine dairy farms that offer fresh, delicious on-farm ice cream. Together, they make up Maryland's Best Ice Cream Trail (video). Trail blazers can taste flavors like Cowconut, Cowfebean and Farmer Dan’s Caramel Fudge. Visit each creamery and get your trail passport stamped to have a chance to be named the 2016 Maryland's Best Ice Cream Trail Blazer!
Here are places across the state where you'll find some of Maryland's best homemade ice cream and snowballs:
Lakeside Creamery, Oakland (Garrett County) – With two locations in the Deep Creek Lake area, Lakeside features more than 90 flavors of ice cream and sherbet made on the premises. Seasonal fruit flavors use local fruit. Lakeside Creamery Café offers array of coffee and specialty drinks. Mountain City Coffeehouse and Creamery also serves Lakeside ice cream in Frostburg.
Misty Meadows Farm Creamery, Smithsburg (Washington County) – Family owned business. We have a creamery on our farm, with weekly activities! Stop in for an ice cream cone, or to see to the cows! We have tons to do (and lots of sweets)!
Nutter's Ice Cream Shop, Sharpsburg (Washington County) – Nutter's is an old-fashioned ice cream shop – family-owned and operated since 1996 – that serves 32 flavors of ice cream, along with other items such as a peach pound-cake sundae. It's located by the town square and is near both Antietam National Battlefield and the C&O Canal Towpath.
Queen City Creamery and Deli, Cumberland (Allegany County) – Located in a renovated building that features a re-created 1940s soda fountain, Queen City offers frozen custard – also known as New York-style ice cream. The frozen custard is made daily and comes in three flavors each day.
Rocky Point Creamery, Tuscarora (Frederick County) – Come take a drive through the back roads along the Potomac River and experience how beautiful farm country really is in this wonderful state of Maryland. Be ready to enjoy a satisfyingly sweet experience, your taste buds can drive you here. All you have to figure out is which flavor to choose.
South Mountain Creamery, Middletown (Frederick County) – South Mountain Creamery is Maryland's first on-site dairy processing plant that delivers all-natural and farm fresh products to your doorstep! We have been in the delivery business since 2001 and like to think we are the return of the milkman! We deliver to over 8,000 customers weekly and have a radius that includes DC, Baltimore, Arlington, and many other areas in the four state region! We also have a store on our farm that sells our products to those local customers that don't have our delivery service......yet!
Annapolis Ice Cream Company, Annapolis (Anne Arundel County) – Located on Main Street downtown, the shop offers ice cream that's made on the premises with natural and organic ingredients. Flavors range from the standards to Raspberry Chocolate Chip, Coffee Oreo (made with real coffee) and Key Lime.
Bomboy's Home Made Ice Cream, Havre de Grace (Harford County) – Across the street from Bomboy's Home Made Candy, the ice cream shop scoops out Duck, Duck, Goose; Salty Dawg; Raspberry Truffle; and Kokamocha among its everyday selections. Seasonal flavors include Havre de Nuts, Chocolate Explosion and Cinnamonkey. Look for the black and white cow outside.
Broom's Bloom Dairy, Bel Air (Harford County) – Featuring our own old fashioned ice cream, we've made well over 100 flavors, but only 12-18 are served at a time and vary daily, homemade lunches, and our own artisan cheese and pork sausage. Locally produced lamb, beef, free-range eggs, and seasonal vegetables are also available.
Dominion Ice Cream, Baltimore (near Johns Hopkins University) – Have your veggies for dessert. Dominion always has six of its 11 veggie-infused ice cream flavors on hand – sweet potato, spinach and cucumber are favorites, says proprietor Donna Calloway. Using spices and special processing, the veggie flavors are subtle. Traditional flavors, smoothies and ice-cream cupcakes are also available.
Hoffman's Home Made Ice Cream, Westminster (Carroll County) – The Hoffman family has been making ice cream since 1947. Ravens Ripple – available in the fall – is one of the 50 flavors made during the year. Homemade ice cream sandwiches are a favorite among regular customers.
Keyes Creamery, Aberdeen (Harford County) – Only the best milk produced by our own grass-fed cows is used to make Keyes Creamery specialty cheeses and premium ice cream. The delicious results are now available at our brand new creamery where we hand-dip our ice cream, which is made weekly on site. Quarts and pints of your favorite flavors are available for you to take home as well as our delicious and beautifully decorated ice cream cakes and pies!
Prigel Family Creamery, Glen Arm (Baltimore County) – Our family has been farming in the Long Green Valley for over 100 years and five generations. Prigel Family creamery will process milk from Bellevale Farm into fresh, nutrient-dense dairy foods from cows that graze on grass grown from organically balanced soils.
The Original Snowball Stand, Woodstock (Howard County) – Located at the corner of Woodstock Road and Rt. 99, this retro-looking operation – which opened in 1974 – has a Facebook page and Twitter account. Look for flavor-of-the-day tweets.
The Dairy, University of Maryland, College Park (Prince George's County) – An ice cream institution, The Dairy has made ice cream for more than 83 years and offers 31 flavors. It continues to get top reviews from students, alumni and visitors.
Bishop's Stand, Lusby (Calvert County) – Angela Bishop has run a snowball and ice cream stand on her front lawn since 1950. A few years ago, the stand was hit by a car, but community members helped to build a new stand for Bishop in time for the snowball season. It's located off Rt. 4 on Rousby Hall Road.
The Crossing at Casey Jones, LaPlata (Charles County) – In addition to its gourmet and casual fare, specialty cakes and wine classes, Casey Jones has a selection of homemade desserts made with homemade ice cream and sorbets. The Banana Split sundae uses homemade banana ice cream.
Chesapeake Bay Farms, Inc., Berlin (Worcester County) – Meet the herd that produces the milk for all of our fresh dairy products. Enjoy our homemade ice cream cones while watching the cows in our unique country setting. Kids can safely milk our robotic re-circulating cow and visit with our farm animals. Retail stores in Pocomoke and Berlin serve all Chesapeake Bay Farms homemade products including hand-dipped ice cream by the cup, cone or packaged to take home, a wide variety of artesian cheeses and fresh hand-stretched mozzarella made on our dairy farm, fresh milk, butter, eggs and more. We also have our own grass-fed beef and pork that has been processed at a USDA-approved facility and flash-frozen for your convenience. Other items available include local jams & jellies, local honey, homemade rustic bread, homemade fruit pies and more.
Dumser's Dairyland, Ocean City (Worcester County) – Located on the Ocean City boardwalk since 1939, Dumser's makes its own ice cream daily – serving up its creations at an ice cream parlor reminiscent of the 1940s. Dumser's also has two restaurant locations along Coastal Highway.
Durding's Store, Rock Hall (Kent County) – Established in 1872, Durding's has an old-fashioned soda fountain that offers ice cream creations and homemade baked goods. Rock Hall is an Eastern Shore fishing village and boating destination.
Kilby Cream, Rising Sun (Cecil County) – The Kilbys have been dairy farmers for more than 100 years. They started making ice cream in 2005 and offer such flavors as Holstein Cream, Udderly Chocolate and Mink Mookie. The farm produces ice cream “from cow to cone in two days.” The "Moo Mobile" serves ice cream at festivals and other events.
Mason's Heritage, Price (Queen Anne's County) – In business for 20 years, this roadside farmer's market offers ice cream and snowballs, along with a variety of farm-grown products. Mason's is one of the farms along the Queen Anne's County Farm Trail – a self-guided tour of area farms.
Scottish Highland Creamery, Oxford (Talbot County) – Growing up in Edinburgh, Scotland, Victor Barlow lived above an Italian ice cream shop that opened in 1907. He worked at the shop as a teenager, became the manager and eventually learned the secret family recipes. Today, Barlow offers 600 flavors, including Double Belgian Chocolate, Dulce de Leche, Mascarpone and Tiramisu.