Ice cream is a bit of a staple for our family when summer hits. I myself grew up with grocery store ice pops, which come in lines of thin liquid rectangles that you pull apart after they’re frozen. But with my kids, I don’t usually keep ice cream and popsicles stocked in my freezer, as I’d much rather make it an event and a treat enjoyed with the whole family. We frequent ice cream and paleta shops often enough that we’ve found a few favorites. Here are our top picks for the best place to enjoy ice cream in San Antonio.
Lick (312 Pearl Parkway, San Antonio, TX 78215 | (210) 314-8166)
I joke to my friends that I’m a Pearl girl, in that I’m at the Historic Pearl multiple times a week—sometimes multiple times a day, which isn’t hard when you live nearby. Being able to buy a delicious ice cream cone and walk around with my kids = the perfect way to enjoy ice cream in my eyes. Even better on a Wednesday evening during Soundcream Airstream. But it’s not just the location that makes Lick great; they also use honest ingredients—no artificial colors or flavors, high fructose corn syrup, or preservatives. Their cream and milk is sourced locally, and even their flavors are inspired by seasonal Texas ingredients. Roasted Beets & Fresh Mint is my favorite flavor, hands down.
Paleteria San Antonio (510 S. Alamo #104, San Antonio, TX 78205 | (210) 954-6753)
Owned by another local husband-and-wife team, Paleteria San Antonio is a paleta shop housed in the Yanaguana Gardens at Hemisfair Park. They serve both water- and cream-based paletas, as well as specials dipped in chocolate or with extra toppings. This is the perfect treat when you’re visiting the splash pad and playground or checking out a free Slab Cinema movie screening.
Amy’s Ice Cream (255 E. Basse Rd., Ste. 430, San Antonio, TX 78209 | (210) 832-8886)
Maybe I’m partial to the name, but Amy’s Ice Creams is probably one of the first local ice cream shops I frequented growing up here in SA. Located at the Quarry, Amy’s Ice Creams serves “artisan super premium ice creams” along with dairy-free options and frozen yogurt. Did I mention that they rotate over 350 flavors?
Steel City Pops (812 S. Alamo St., Ste. 101, San Antonio, TX 78205 | (210) 963-6540)
Another yummy popsicle shop, Steel City Pops is located between South Presa and S. St. Mary’s in Southtown. And although it’s not located in a great place for strolling, they do have a big lawn and picnic tables out front for lounging. And their popsicles are delish, especially with all of their extra topping options.
South Alamode (1420 S. Alamo St., San Antonio, TX 78210 | (210) 788-8000)
Located in the Blue Star Arts Complex, South Alamode is a charming gelato shop. The local owners and husband-and-wife team studied as gelato apprentices in Italy, and their gelato is made fresh daily with locally sourced ingredients. I love when they have Avocado Lime! And this is another perfect location for enjoying a cold treat and walking by the River.
Justin’s Ice Cream (245 E. Commerce St., San Antonio, TX 78205 | (210) 222-2707)
Located on the downtown River Walk, Justin’s Ice Cream is a San Antonio classic—since 1981! I totally went here with my date on prom night, y’all. And I went here as a kid during my family’s own excursions downtown. I think this may even be where I was first introduced to gelato! Although I don’t visit here often with my kids (we’re not big downtown River Walk people), it’s a must if you’re playing tourist downtown.
El Paraiso Ice Cream (1934 Fredericksburg Rd., San Antonio, TX 78201 | (210) 737-8101)
Y’all. If you’ve ever bought paletas from a stand or a man on a bicycle, then you were probably buying El Paraiso paletas! They’re the original paleta company in San Antonio, and they’ve been in business since 1984. Their storefront is located on Fredericksburg Road (not too far from Cool Crest Golf). You can go and buy a few to enjoy on their picnic benches, or you can take a whole crate-load home with you. They even have dry ice available if you’re headed to a party. One of the best parts? They’re super inexpensive!
SA Pops (3420 N. St. Mary’s St., San Antonio, TX 78212 | (210) 736-2526)
Another homegrown popsicle shop, SA Pops is the perfect stop after a visit to Brackenridge Park or the San Antonio Zoo. They serve paletas, shaved ice (my kiddos’ fave), and more delicious cool treats in an eclectic cafe.
My kids and I do eat more than just ice cream during the heat of summer, and we’re definitely not above regular stops for half-price shakes and slushies at the nearest Sonic. But there’s something about stopping in our favorite local ice cream/paleta/gelato shops that makes our summer days a little more fun and memorable. And I’ll never turn down fresh ingredients when I’m purposely pumping my kids full of sweets!