In Alexandria, Virginia, just minutes from Washington, D.C., there’s always room for dessert. Named the “Ice Cream Cone Capital of the U.S.” by Forbes, Alexandria is a dessert lover’s dream destination. Find everything from made-to-order ice cream catalyzed by liquid nitrogen to crave-worthy vegan donuts. Keep reading to learn about some of Alexandria’s top sweet spots.
Pop’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream
Zip back in time to when tall stools, checkered floors and a whole host of delicious flavors were the name of the ice cream game with a visit to Pop’s. Just one block from the waterfront on King Street, this old-fashioned ice cream parlor offers over 60 flavors, from traditional favorites to funky yet totally yummy, scooped into cones and sky-high sundaes.
Kilwins is another example of a nostalgia-inducing ice cream shop, where you can watch as the staff creates confections including traditional salt water taffy, fudge, caramels and chocolates. If the heavenly smell doesn’t bring out your inner kid, the taste will. Order a scoop of strawberry chunk or toasted coconut, then head two blocks down to the waterfront to enjoy your sweet treat.
Alexandria is all about authenticity, and this mom-and-pop ice cream shop on King Street serves it up in a waffle cone. Homemade ice cream in classic flavors like cinnamon, butter pecan, pistachio and rocky road, plus cookies and cobblers baked on-site for the last 35 years? Yes, please.
For a truly multi-sensory experience, head to Nicecream on King Street where you can watch ice cream made before your eyes. Watch your scoop take shape as frozen liquid nitrogen is added to the farm-fresh ingredients. Flavors will satisfy both traditional and experimental palettes, with rotating options ranging from salted caramel to honey lavender.
Ben & Jerry’s
Ben and Jerry’s is a household name, consistently churning out-of-this-world concoctions, oftentimes packed with chunks of rich chocolate, fruit or other candy pieces. Follow the bubbles floating outside the Old Town storefront to find your favorite flavors, from “Half Baked” to ” Phish Food” to “Cherry Garcia.”
Frozen Custard, Gelato and Shaved Ice
Goodies Frozen Custard & Treats
Old Town’s latest sweet spot is Goodies Frozen Custard & Treats, a 1950s-inspired soda fountain serving legendary Wisconsin-style frozen custard and nostalgic treats from Commerce Street’s historic Ice House. Owner Brandon Byrd (pictured above) debuted the brick-and-mortar space in late spring 2021, and he and his team serve up decadent desserts like caramel-drizzled donutwiches from 12 to 6 p.m., Thursdays through Sundays.
The Dairy Godmother
The beauty of this Wisconsin-style frozen custard shop on Del Ray’s Mount Vernon Avenue is that its ever-changing menu means no two visits are alike. Check The Dairy Godmother’s website for a flavor forecast that might include chocolate-covered pretzel or lemon meringue pie or try other refreshing, fruit-filled sorbet. Even your pup can partake with an all-natural “puppy pop.”
Casa Rosada Artisan Gelato
Inside a pink-colored house one block off King Street, there’s a sweet oasis for dessert-deprived taste buds. It’s Casa Rosada, a family-owned shop started by an Argentinian family and named after the president’s office in Buenos Aires. Try a bite of their creamy handcrafted gelato and sorbet in flavors like dulce de leche, malbec and chocolate granizado.
The Magnolia Dessert Bar
Sister Thai’s resident confectionary serves “bing bing” shaved ice in flavors ranging from to matcha green tea to durian. Peruse the menu for more decked-out desserts like lychee raspberry cheesecake, honey toast topped with treats and more.
For authentic Italian gelato there is only one place to go—Old Town Dolci Gelati Café. Italy-native Gianluigi Dellaccio, appointed Italy’s “Ambassador of Homemade Gelato,” brings his homeland’s sweetest export to the D.C. metro area, incorporating his own twists along the way. Stop by the cozy café and mix and match flavors like saffron pistachio and honey mascarpone fig. For a satisfying and stimulating sugar rush, try the affogato and watch espresso pour over your frozen treat.
Cupcakes, Donuts and Baked Goods
The cupcake craze may never die in Alexandria, where locally-owned Lavender Moon whips up organic, small-batch fluffy bites that have amassed a loyal following. It’s hard to choose between flavors like buttermilk with Mexican chocolate pudding and vanilla bean with lemon curd, so don’t choose. Treat yourself and order two. Or three…
Find from-scratch cupcakes baked daily on King Street at this local institution, where fresh fruit, bourbon vanilla and other premium ingredients take your taste buds to infinity and beyond. The buttercream frosting, well, takes the cake, and the signature rosewater flavor is reason enough to make a date with this little cupcake.
For your next fried dough fix, visit Elizabeth’s Counter in Old Town’s Braddock/Parker-Gray neighborhood. Its plant-based, vegan-friendly designer donut options range from the caramel apple popover to the Boston creme éclair, will leave you in a glaze daze of happiness, while its hidden speakeasy Captain Gregory’s lets you enjoy a handcrafted cocktail alongside donut-inspired bites.
Buzz is the perfect spot to lounge around with friends or focus for a remote work session, all the while being fueled by fresh-baked delights. Sample gourmet s’mores cupcakes, mini key lime pies with torched meringue, or start your day with muffins and breakfast bakes galore. Vegan and gluten-free guests will leave satisfied with goodies crafted just for them.
The Dairy Godmother
The Dairy Godmother‘s frozen custard sure hits the spot, but did you know that this Del Ray fixture also offers treats for your furry friend’s sweet tooth? Try the yogurt Puppy Pops, aka pupsicles, sure to cool down a hot dog.
The Dog Park
Did someone say sugar-free treats? The Dog Park‘s bakery table is laid out with woof-worthy yums in a variety of seasonal shapes and colors. Fido will be sure to love the yogurt-covered peanut butter “bonbons.”
Find more information about ice cream shops, bakeries and other sweets spots in Alexandria here.
Image Credits, left to right: Misha Enriquez for Visit Alexandria; Elizabeth’s Counter; Sister’s Thai and the Magnolia Dessert Bar