One of the bonuses of living in – or enjoying a visit to – The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel is that there are some activities for which there is no season. Barbecues. Beaches. Fishing and golf. Ice cream.
In this semi-tropical climate, it’s possible to enjoy all these pleasures year-round. Nonetheless, indulging in the sweet, chilled essence of ice cream, gelato or Italian ice can be especially refreshing as the temperature climbs.
That may be why the region abounds in these family friendly shops large and small that offer a cornucopia of cold, creamy treats, many of them made on the premises. Whether it’s ice cream, gelato, custard or ice, dairy-, gluten- or sugar-free, it’s available here. There’s even a place that infuses its ice cream with a bit of alcohol.
Royal Scoop Homemade Ice Cream, 15 8th St.; (239) 992-2000. Founded in 1979, this beloved shop now boasts four locations – Bonita, Fort Myers Beach and two in Naples. Its products are also sold at many area restaurants. Patrons get a chance once a year to compete to create a new flavor. The winner gets free ice cream for a year. Flavors include SpongeBob, the Dark Side of Cheesecake, maple walnut and Cupid’s Love Potion.
Sweet Melissa’s ice Cream Shoppe, 4445 Bonita Beach Road; (239) 330-4559. Here you’ll find 30 flavors of homemade Love Boat ice cream, sugar free and gluten-free cool treats plus serious Key lime and coconut custard pies. The milkshakes and ice cream here are award winners. Among the flavors are banana crème pie and Bonita sea turtle (no turtles were injured to produce this product).
The Tipsy Cow, 25261 Chamber of Commerce Drive; (239) 949-7172. What happens when a retired pharmacist and a retired bartender open an ice cream shop? You get some intriguing flavors – like Salted Caramel Seduction – as well as some alcohol-infused varieties, such as Amaretto Cherry Fudge and Pecan Buttershot. Pup cups of the non-alcoholic varieties are available for $1.99.
Cape Creamery, 1715 Cape Coral Parkway W.; (239) 549-6900. Ice cream and frozen yogurt are the stars here, with flavors such as brownie batter, Nutella chip and peanut butter cup.
Ice Cream of Cape Coral, 2384 Surfside Blvd., Cape Coral; (239) 990-2258. This place offers flavors like mint cookie and toasted coconut. In addition to shakes, malts, cakes, sundaes, cones and floats, consider a N.Y. style egg cream. Through June 30, mention code SSBOGO1, buy a cup or standard cone and receive another for $1.
Ice Ssssscreamin, 520 Cape Coral Parkway; (239) 541-9100. Homemade ice cream, soft serve, Italian ice and sugar-free treats are available in a variety of styles, including milkshakes, banana splits, waffle splits, donut ice cream sandwiches and, if course, cones. Pistachio, rocky road, mint Oreo and birthday cake are among the flavors offered.
Sylwia’s Ice Cream, 3571 Del Prado Blvd.; (239) 888-2225. A Cape newcomer, this lovely little shop offers homemade ice cream as well as no-sugar added and dairy-free varieties. A favorite is the Almond Joy but other sure bets are raspberry cheesecake and dulce de leche. Sundaes, cones, sorbets, shakes, splits and floats.
Scoops and Slices, South Seas island Resort, 5400 Plantation Road; (239) 472-5111. This ‘50s-style ice cream parlor serves frozen yogurt and pizza, a great combo for families out for a day at the beach.
Miromar Outlets Chocolate & Dessert Salon, 10801 Corkscrew Road; (239) 672-8757. Famed pastry chef and chocolatier Norman Love also creates first-rate Italian-style gelato at his salons. All are made daily and flavors vary but I have sampled many and they are all divine.
The Shaved Ice Bar, 19810 Village Center Drive; (239) 541-8283. Sample 40 flavors of Hawaiian shaved ice or choose some Royal Scoop ice cream instead.
Best Ice Cream The Next Level, Colonial Square, 8061 Dani Drive; (239) 6538. Never mind the website name. This place is in Fort Myers, offering a variety of flavors that can be customized to your taste.
Fort Myers Chocolate & Dessert Salon, 11380 Lindbergh Blvd.; (239) 561-7215. Famed pastry chef and chocolatier Norman Love also creates first-rate Italian-style gelato at his salons. All are made daily and flavors vary but I have sampled many and they are all divine.
Happy Sun Ice Cream, 1421 Ortiz Ave.; (239) 672-8260. For a taste of refreshment Mexican style, head over to Happy Sun where you’ll find a brightly colored store filled with ice cream, frozen yogurt, juice bars and smoothies.
Love Boat Ice Cream, 16475 and 16229 San Carlos Blvd.; (239) 466-7707. Since 1967, this local institution has thrilled palates with homemade ice cream in flavors such as Key lime pie, chocolate covered strawberry, Clean Turtle and Gator Tracks.
McGregor Chocolate & Dessert Salon, 13261 McGregor Blvd.; (239) 672-8797. See entry above under Fort Myers Chocolate & Dessert Salon.
Scoops on First, 2250 First St.; (239) 226-0450. A downtown favorite, Scoops offers 50 flavors of ice cream, gelato and non-dairy cold treats in splits, floats, shakes, cones and smoothies.
Stefano Versace Gelato, Edison Mall, 4125 Cleveland Ave.; (239) 208-9472. This small East Coast-based Italian gelateria makes fresh gelato daily in 50-plus flavors. Some are made with coconut milk and so are dairy free.
2 Scoops & Sprinkles, 12995 S. Cleveland Ave.; (239) 768-9222. Butterscotch Bomb, fudge pecan or Peanut M&Ms anyone? This place has ice cream in those flavors and more plus a play area for kids as well. It’s just north of Outback Steakhouse.
FORT MYERS BEACH
Mr. G’s Home of 2000 Flavors, Times Square, 1000 Fifth St.; (239) 765-1131. Well, there aren’t 2,000 flavors at a time but a rotation of 36 at a time are available at this spot conveniently situated near the pier.
Royal Scoop, 2307 Estero Blvd; (239) 3114-5379. Founded in 1979, this beloved shop offers its products at many area restaurants. Patrons get a chance once a year to compete to create a new flavor. The winner gets free ice cream for a year. Flavors include SpongeBob, the Dark Side of Cheesecake, maple walnut and Cupid’s Love Potion.
NORTH FORT MYERS
Daddy Dee’s, 13161 N. Cleveland Ave.; (239) 997-4021. This 40-year-old favorite is the quintessential old-fashioned ice cream shop with 52 decadent flavors available in shakes, malts, sundaes, splits, cones, brownie sundaes and more. Sugar-free and yogurt available, too. There’s a charming little train that chugs around the ceiling and others lower down for the kids to play with and lots of classic train memorabilia. Occasional concerts by the doo-wop group, Brylcreem, add to the authenticity.
Great Licks Ice Cream, 4643 Pine island Road, Matlacha; (239) 2802. This cozy little outpost offers flavors like toffee cheesecake, peanut butter, peach and, with a purchase will also give you free puppy cone so there’s no need to feel guilty when you eat in front of your dog.
Joey’s Custard, 2462 Periwinkle Way; (239) 472-7222. First, figure out what you’ll feast on. It could be frozen custard, Wisconsin-made ice cream, probiotic frozen yogurt, vegan ice cream, dairy-free Italian ice or sorbets, something on a waffle or an ice cream sandwich. Then get ready to play as there are games for kids and grownups like checkers, giant jenga, ring toss and brain teasers.
Love Boat Ice Cream, 1700 Periwinkle Way; (239) 312-4356. Since 1967, this local institution has thrilled palates with homemade ice cream in flavors such as Key lime pie, chocolate covered strawberry, Clean Turtle and Gator Tracks.
Pinocchio’s Original Italian Ice Cream, 362 Periwinkle Way; (239) 472-6566. Whether it’s Dirty Sand Dollar or Ambrosia or back to School PB&J you crave, this is the place to find it. The shop makes ice cream, gelato, Italian custard and sherbet on site in Pinocchio’s Laboratory. All ice cream treats are topped with an animal cracker.