On Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Trail
By Susan Nolan
We’ve all chanted “I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream,” especially on a hot summer day.
Perhaps Ronald Reagan heard us screaming for America’s favorite frozen treat back in 1984 when he issued a Presidential Proclamation declaring July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of July National Ice Cream Day. The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) has kept up the momentum by hosting an annual ice cream party on Capitol Hill every July. According to the IDFA, the average American eats about 20 pounds of ice cream a year and ice cream companies contribute over $13 billion to our national economy annually.
Here in Maryland, we have a long history of making, selling and eating ice cream. Quakers first brought ice cream to the region in the colonial era. By 1744, it was being served in the Annapolis home of Governor Thomas Bladen. In 1851, Baltimore milkman Jacob Fussell became the first to mass-produce ice cream for retail sales.
Today, the state Department of Agriculture coordinates and promotes Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Trail, a collection of 10 cow-to-cone creameries across the state.
“The purpose of the trail is to create awareness for Maryland’s dairy farmers and promote interaction between the farmers and the public,” says Audrey Broomfield, Agricultural Marketing Specialist for the Maryland Department of Agriculture. To qualify for the program, these creameries must make their ice cream from milk produced by the cows on-site.
Broomfield recently toured the entire ice cream trail with her son, 11-month-old Alex. “It’s impossible to visit all 10 sites in one day, but from the Annapolis area, you can do it in three,” she says.
Five of the creameries are in central and western Maryland, four north of Baltimore, and one on the Eastern Shore. Even divided into a series of road trips, the 290-plus mile trek can seem daunting.
“The secret is to take advantage of all the activities at each stop. Most have an area for kids to play and opportunities to visit the farm animals,” says Broomfield.
Lisa VanBuskirk of Edgewater agrees that activity is the key to doing the ice cream trail with young children. “Feeding the calves at South Mountain Creamery is a memorable experience,” says the California-native.
For three years in a row, VanBuskirk used the Ice Cream Trail as a means of becoming more familiar with Maryland, but never visited every creamery on the list in just one summer. “I was a stay-at-home mom and my kids were little. I combined the ice cream trail with DNR’s Park Quest program. We’d visit a state park and afterwards get ice cream from an Ice Cream Trail creamery. It was a great way to see other parts of Maryland and learn more about the history and culture.”
Just as you will want a variety of activities, Broomfield also recommends trying a variety of flavors. While all the sites offer the traditional favorites, a trip to a creamery can be enhanced by trying flavors not available elsewhere. “The sunflower honey ice cream at Broom’s Bloom Dairy was a real stand-out for me,” she says.
If you are concerned that too much dairy will upset your stomach and ruin your road trip, opt for a kiddie-size portion. You may even consider asking for a spoon-sized sample. When you find a flavor you like, no need to eat an entire scoop on the spot. You can buy a container—most sites carry a variety of sizes—to take home.
In addition to ice cream, every stop on the trail sells cheese, butter, milk, and meats—all locally sourced. Some carry honey, jams, and baked goods. “After the first year, I knew to bring a small cooler,” says VanBuskirk. “Something big enough for a gallon of milk or maybe some cream.”
While the creameries on the trail are open year-round, visiting during the warmer months has its perks. If you visit all 10 creameries between May 28 and September 30, you could be named a Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Trailblazer.
“It’s easy,” Broomfield explains, “Just take a selfie at each stop on the trail.” Then send the pictures and your contact info to [email protected]. Each photo should identify the creamery where it was taken. Signs in the background may be the best indicator. All submissions will be entered into a drawing. The winner will receive a $50 gift certificate from the creamery of their choice, a copy of the children’s book Tales of the Dairy Grandmother: Chuck’s Ice Cream Wish, a trophy and bragging rights.
Maryland’s Best 2022 Ice Cream Trail
Broom’s Bloom Dairy is truly a foodie’s paradise. In addition to ice cream sold by the scoop and by the container, they offer a full-service café for a relaxing mid-day meal and a small grocery store well-stocked with artisan cheeses, farm fresh eggs, dairy products, bread, and meats. Kate Dallam, owner, is excited to be a part of the ice cream trail again this year. “Maryland has a wine trail and a beer trail, but the ice cream trail is for the entire family,” she says. “And our lemon ice cream is especially refreshing.”
1700 S. Fountain Green Rd., Bel Air, MD 21015
Chesapeake Bay Farms is the only dairy farm in Worchester County. “We make our own butter, ice cream and cheese,” says owner Danny Holland, “and if you are at the beach, why wouldn’t you stop in to see us?”
In addition to their own products, Chesapeake Bay Farms has partnered with other local farmers and fishermen. They sell crab cakes and rockfish in addition to locally sourced honey, meats, and baked goods. Looking for an ice-cold pick-me-up? Try a scoop of their Beans & Cream, dark chocolate-covered Kona coffee beans and chocolatey espresso chips blended with rich espresso ice cream. Holland credits his wife Laura with inventing this delicious flavor.
8905 Logtown Rd., Berlin, MD 21811
4111 Whitesburg Rd., Pocomoke, MD 21851
Deliteful Dairy is new to the Best Ice Cream Trail this year, but they aren’t new to dairy farming. In fact, the Long family has been farming in Williamsport for seven generations.
“If it’s ice cream, it has to be fun,” says employee Alicia Snow with a laugh. “We make soft-serve ice cream that we use in our parfaits. We call our half-size, ‘calf-size.’” Like many other sites on the trail, Deliteful Dairy sells a variety of dairy and meat products. They also host concerts. Visit their Facebook page for some of their upcoming events.
16320 Long Delite Ln., Williamsport, MD 21795
Located off the main road, Keyes Creamery is easy to miss, but their Graham Cracker ice cream makes the U-turn worth it. “We only have it in the summer,” explains assistant manager Autumn Hannas. “The Buttery Salted Caramel is a year-round favorite,” she adds.
Employee Amber Watson suggests checking out their Facebook and Instagram pages for updates on flavors as they change regularly.
And don’t mind the construction! The shop is small, but they are adding an outdoor pavilion for additional seating.
3712 Aldino Rd. (entrance on Hopewell Rd), Aberdeen, MD 21001
“My favorite is also one of our best sellers,” explains Kilby Cream employee Konnor Halsey, “It’s called Cookie Monster: Blue vanilla ice cream with sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and Oreos.” It’s hard to imagine a kid who wouldn’t love it—and perhaps that’s why you can buy it by the scoop, container or birthday cake. Maryland Madness, inspired by the state flag, is another top-selling flavor you won’t find elsewhere—lemon ice cream with raspberry swirl and white chocolate chips. The playground is inviting, and they have farm animals—a donkey, a pig, some goats and a rabbit named Oreo.
129 Strohmaier Lane, Rising Sun, MD 21911
“Ask to mix the flavors,” Broomfield suggests. “At Misty Meadows Farm Creamery, I combined Granny’s Crumb with White Chocolate Raspberry and it tasted like cheesecake.” Along with great ice cream flavors, Misty Meadows is known for its seasonal events and barnyard animals.
14325 Misty Meadow Rd., Smithsburg, MD 21783
The Prigels have been raising dairy cows on Bellevale Farm since 1895. In 2008, they received their organic certification and have continued the tradition of community commitment, the humane treatment of their animals, and stewardship of their land. The Prigel Family Creamery sells their ice cream and The Market sells freshly made sandwiches and snacks.
According to employee Ben Ellis, the daily cow feedings are one of their most popular events and Banana Pudding is one of their more unusual flavors. “But they are all really good,” he says. “The Key Lime Pie, the Mint Chocolate Chip, the Peach—they are all delicious.”
Bring your lawn chair and enjoy live music every Friday night throughout the summer.
4852 Long Green Rd., Glen Arm, MD 21057
Sunflowers and summer go hand-in-hand. Every year, Rocky Point Creamery plants two acres of sunflowers and sells them with the proceeds going to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Annually, they raise about $4,000 for the charity. Sunflowers, like all agricultural products, rely on weather and their peak can be difficult to predict. If you want to clip your own bouquet for only $1 per stem or have your picture taken in front of the field of flowers, check out their Facebook page for updates on the sunflower blooms. Then, head inside the bright red building for a scoop of ice cream. Flavors change weekly and are always listed on their Facebook page. Peanut Butter Oreo is the hot flavor this week. Next week? That’s anyone’s guess, but you know it will be good.
In a hurry? Try their new drive-thru window.
4323 Tuscarora Rd., Tuscarora, MD 21790
“Happy cows make great milk and great milk makes great ice cream,” says Lauren Harshman, marketing & destination manager of South Mountain Creamery. As to how happy the South Mountain cows are, she encourages you to see for yourself (and read Noah Hale’s story). The 3,300 acre farm has over 500 dairy cows and is open for tours. “Calf feeding is one of our most popular activities, and it’s something families can do together,” Harshman says. She recommends booking your calf feeding online.
As for their ice cream flavors, they take their inspiration from the area’s rich history and local lure. Try the Monocacy Mud, German chocolate ice cream with caramel swirls and pecans or Snallygaster named for the mythical monster of Frederick County—peanut butter ice cream blended with a caramel swirl, peanut butter cups and pretzels.
South Mountain Creamery is growing as an event venue, too. Goat yoga, trivia contests, and paint parties are just some of the programs scheduled for this summer.
8305 Bolivar Rd., Middletown, MD 21769
South Mountain Ice Cream Shop
50 Citizen’s Way, Suite 101, Frederick, MD 21701
“Our most popular ice cream flavor by far is our Dark Chocolate,” says Mary Fendrick, owner of the Woodbourne Creamery at Rock Hill Orchard, “but we are also known for our ginger ice cream.” Made with organic Hawaiian ginger grown on-site, Fendrick admits it took some work to get the recipe just right. “The first time we made this ice cream we used too much ginger and it numbed your mouth, but we think we now have the perfect blend.”
Because the creamery is located at an orchard, you can pick your own peaches or cut yourself a bouquet of flowers. Visit the cows, too. “Our younger calves love visitors but be prepared to have your fingers sucked on. They also seem to like to chew on orange-colored shirts for some reason,” says Fendrick.
The Woodbourne Creamery is sensitive to food allergies; the facility offers two flavors of sorbet as dairy-free and egg-free options.
28600 Ridge Rd., Mt. Airy, MD, 21771