It's summertime and it's hot! People are in need of a way to cool off. In the nation’s capital, days are spent in the hustle and bustle of meeting deadlines, fighting traffic, and competing to be the best. But somehow going to the ice cream store takes us to neutral ground, to a place where we are given permission for the child in each of us to come out for a time.
Whether it’s an ice cream parlor, an ice cream truck, or an ice cream stand, it is a time for a break in our hectic lives, to enjoy one of the simple pleasures in life.
Going to an ice cream store is an event. It's a place to celebrate, to make a childhood shot feel better, make a sad heart happier. It's a place where kids eyes light up as they are drawn to the glass enclosure with white buckets filled with different colored and flavored ice creams.
Growing up we always made a stop at the ice cream store after every softball game I played. And there standing in line was nearly every other Little Leaguer and softball player in the city. But the long line didn’t bother anyone. It was a time to reminisce about the game and discuss upcoming summer events. Each visit created a story of its own.
In celebration of the month of months, I set out to rediscover the magic behind the ice cream store. For 31 days, I researched 31 different flavors of ice cream, in numerous settings in which to experience this childlike enthusiasm for the tasty cold treat. I have looked into the faces of both children and adults and seen their joy after experiencing the ice cream store. I have listened to the laughter of people sharing and connecting with one another.
I have tasted different mixtures of flavors that go perfectly together: Butter Pecan, Crème’Brulee’, Banana Split, Mango Crème. I have touched waffle cones, sugar cones, and all shapes and sizes of spoons and cups. I have smelled the sweet aroma upon swinging open the ice cream store door, that immediately awakens the senses.
There are many local ice cream shops waiting to assist you in making those memories, and here are a few of the best.
Woody’s Ice Cream in the City of Fairfax, has been a neighborhood favorite since 1998. What started out as a roadside stand has now flourished into a hopping shop to get great soft serve ice cream in a comfy hang-out setting. Woody literally built his business from the ground up, transforming from a master mechanic to a community servant. Woody’s is sure to fill your tummy and touch your heart.
Pop’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream Company in Old Town Alexandria is another fun place, with abundant flavor options available. After making a selection from listings on the chalk board hung on the wall, it's fun to slurp and stroll to the waterfront park on the Potomac River. The air is filled with beautiful sounds from street musicians. Take in a magic show from a street performer, or simply sit and people watch. Whatever you choose, it makes for a great outing.
If the downtown life isn’t for you, try Peterson’s Ice Cream Depot in historic Clifton. It is well worth the drive. Within a few minutes of leaving the city’s fast pace, you will quickly unwind as you observe the wildlife and natural beauty in this quant location. For over 10 years Petersen’s has provided two American icons, the hot dog and ice cream, in a backyard like setting, complete with board and carnival games. On weekend evenings, there is live music, a perfect way to enjoy a warm summer evening under the stars.
The Dairy Godmother, established in 2001 in the Del Ray area of Alexandria, is a local favorite, drawing patrons from within and outside of the beltway, including President Obama and his daughters. The owner offers a variety of flavors and toppings for all ages, and even has treats for the four legged friends. It is located on Mt. Vernon Avenue, which has kept the main street feel for over 100 years. There are shops for browsing or, if retail therapy is not your thing, benches along the sidewalks for greeting neighbors.
Happy tasting this July. Support your local economy and enjoy time with friends and family with a scoop of your favorite flavor. It's a sure to warm your heart.