clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

8 Places to Find Swirls of Soft Serve Ice Cream Around D.C.

Smooth frozen treats are available in classic vanilla and chocolate or strawberry shortcake and dulce de leche

View as Map

With so many excellent places to enjoy hard-packed ice cream around D.C., it could be easy to overlook all the tasty soft serve that’s churning inside machines. In addition to old-school ice cream trucks patrolling playgrounds and public pools to a music box soundtrack, various D.C. area shop offer top-notch swirls that range from classic vanilla and chocolate to imaginative flavors like strawberry shortcake and Mexican vanilla dulce de leche.

The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Please be aware of changing local rules, and check individual restaurant websites for any additional restrictions such as mask requirements. Find a local vaccination site here.

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Rita's Italian Ice & Frozen Custard (Multiple Locations)

Copy Link

This Philly-based chain first made a name with its Italian ice, “water ice,” in local parlance. But their frozen custards are top notch and swirled sky high. Rita’s has several locations around the District and offers lots of flavors, including cotton candy, cake batter, caramel macchiato, cheesecake, and many more. Custards can also be combined with Italian ice.

Roy Boys

Copy Link

Come to Roy Boys in Shaw for the crispy fried chicken sandwiches and oyster platters. Stay for the frozen custard tacos. Selections change frequently — you’ll have to ask — but they are guaranteed to be loaded with creamy soft serve and smothered with toppings and sauce. One recent ice cream taco featured chocolate and vanilla swirl with cinnamon churros, whipped cream, and sprinkles.

Milk Bar

Copy Link

What started as a single quirky bake shop in New York City has evolved into a national retail juggernaut. Founder Christina Tosi and her team at Milk Bar have kept their flair for whimsical flavors and toppings. In addition to the now-classic cereal milk soft serve, Milk Bar currently offers strawberry shortcake. Order cups, pints, or layer a custom parfait with cake and strawberry sauce. Crunchy toppings like cornflake crunch, cake crumbs, and sprinkles are also available.

David Chang’s Momofuku and Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar open in CityCenter soon Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Taqueria Las Gemelas

Copy Link

The helado suave at this new taco counter inside La Cosecha market comes in two flavors, a familiar chocolate and a deeply rich dulce de leche. Customers can order a swirled cup for $5, and add a topping of heirlom corn tortilla chips and mole negro chocolate sauce for a $1 more. — Gabe Hiatt

Dulce de leche soft-serve comes with crushed tortilla chips and a mole negro chocolate sauce at Taqueria las Gemelas Leah Judson/For Las Gemelas

Southwest Soda Pop Shop

Copy Link

This family-owned restaurant and ice cream parlor on the Southwest Waterfront exudes happiness and commands a loyal following. Soft serve flavors include vegan mango and raspberry — in addition to traditional vanilla and chocolate — with quality toppings like brownie chunks, various cereals, sprinkles, and gummies.

The Creamery

Copy Link

Established in 1984, this Alexandria ice cream shop sells swirls of frozen custard in classic vanilla and chocolate.

Peterson's Ice Cream Depot

Copy Link

Lines form often at this quaint, family-owned ice cream shop in a converted carriage house in Clifton, Virginia. In addition to specialty hot dogs and a wide selection of traditional ice cream flavors, Peterson’s serves vanilla, chocolate, and swirl frozen custards in a cup or large waffle cone.

Peanut butter-dipped soft serve from Peterson’s Ice Cream Depot in Clifton
Peanut butter-dipped soft serve from Peterson’s Ice Cream Depot in Clifton
Gabe Hiatt/Eater D.C.

Hovermale's Tastes Best

Copy Link

This old-school, cash-only custard stand has been serving tall vanilla, chocolate, and swirl cones Price George’s County customers since 1954. Current hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., but check their Facebook page for updates.

Rita's Italian Ice & Frozen Custard (Multiple Locations)

This Philly-based chain first made a name with its Italian ice, “water ice,” in local parlance. But their frozen custards are top notch and swirled sky high. Rita’s has several locations around the District and offers lots of flavors, including cotton candy, cake batter, caramel macchiato, cheesecake, and many more. Custards can also be combined with Italian ice.

Roy Boys

Come to Roy Boys in Shaw for the crispy fried chicken sandwiches and oyster platters. Stay for the frozen custard tacos. Selections change frequently — you’ll have to ask — but they are guaranteed to be loaded with creamy soft serve and smothered with toppings and sauce. One recent ice cream taco featured chocolate and vanilla swirl with cinnamon churros, whipped cream, and sprinkles.

Milk Bar

David Chang’s Momofuku and Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar open in CityCenter soon Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

What started as a single quirky bake shop in New York City has evolved into a national retail juggernaut. Founder Christina Tosi and her team at Milk Bar have kept their flair for whimsical flavors and toppings. In addition to the now-classic cereal milk soft serve, Milk Bar currently offers strawberry shortcake. Order cups, pints, or layer a custom parfait with cake and strawberry sauce. Crunchy toppings like cornflake crunch, cake crumbs, and sprinkles are also available.

David Chang’s Momofuku and Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar open in CityCenter soon Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Taqueria Las Gemelas

Dulce de leche soft-serve comes with crushed tortilla chips and a mole negro chocolate sauce at Taqueria las Gemelas Leah Judson/For Las Gemelas

The helado suave at this new taco counter inside La Cosecha market comes in two flavors, a familiar chocolate and a deeply rich dulce de leche. Customers can order a swirled cup for $5, and add a topping of heirlom corn tortilla chips and mole negro chocolate sauce for a $1 more. — Gabe Hiatt

Dulce de leche soft-serve comes with crushed tortilla chips and a mole negro chocolate sauce at Taqueria las Gemelas Leah Judson/For Las Gemelas

Southwest Soda Pop Shop

This family-owned restaurant and ice cream parlor on the Southwest Waterfront exudes happiness and commands a loyal following. Soft serve flavors include vegan mango and raspberry — in addition to traditional vanilla and chocolate — with quality toppings like brownie chunks, various cereals, sprinkles, and gummies.

The Creamery

Established in 1984, this Alexandria ice cream shop sells swirls of frozen custard in classic vanilla and chocolate.

Peterson's Ice Cream Depot

Peanut butter-dipped soft serve from Peterson’s Ice Cream Depot in Clifton
Peanut butter-dipped soft serve from Peterson’s Ice Cream Depot in Clifton
Gabe Hiatt/Eater D.C.

Lines form often at this quaint, family-owned ice cream shop in a converted carriage house in Clifton, Virginia. In addition to specialty hot dogs and a wide selection of traditional ice cream flavors, Peterson’s serves vanilla, chocolate, and swirl frozen custards in a cup or large waffle cone.

Peanut butter-dipped soft serve from Peterson’s Ice Cream Depot in Clifton
Peanut butter-dipped soft serve from Peterson’s Ice Cream Depot in Clifton
Gabe Hiatt/Eater D.C.

Hovermale's Tastes Best

This old-school, cash-only custard stand has been serving tall vanilla, chocolate, and swirl cones Price George’s County customers since 1954. Current hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., but check their Facebook page for updates.

Related Maps