Rich, sweet, and wonderfully cold. Ice-cream is the perfect treat for a sweltering summer day. The Fredericksburg region is home to both iconic ice-cream stores and hidden local- gems. We figured, what better way to cover all your ice-cream bases than with an ice-cream trail? So grab a few of your favorite people and some napkins, and lets dig in!


But first…


What is gelato? Is there a difference between frozen custard and soft-serve? Italian Ice. Is that an ice-cream?




Image of gelato case from Basilico’s Italian Market and New York Deli

According to Merriam- Webster, gelato is “a soft, rich ice cream containing little or no air.” It’s decadent, almost velvety on your tongue, and not quite as sharply sweet as soft-serve. There are a few gelato spots on our trail. Be sure to make note differences you notice between it and traditional ice-cream.





Soft-serve (Pictured right). Perfect in it’s simplicity, soft serve is the stuff our childhood ice-cream dreams are made of. You are right to remember is as “softer” than regular ice-cream. That unique texture is due to air being introduced during the freezing process. This can only be done using a special machine that holds the pre-mixed cream at a very low, slightly above freezing temperature. That’s why you can’t find soft-serve at grocery stores. It’s a special treat!


Frozen custard on the other-hand, could never be described as soft or light. It is the heavyweight of ice-creams with a fully body, decadent flavor. Frozen custard tends to be very rich, so make sure you’ve got an appetite before diving in.


Lastly, italian Ice is a frozen dessert made with fruit or fruit flavoring. It’s definitely more like ice-cream and less like a snow-cone. While some may be made with fruit… let’s be honest: it’s still a dessert.





Full disclosure: We looooove frozen yogurt, but to make this trail easily doable we had to omit froyo places.


The Trail


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  • Carl’s Frozen Custard– Opened in 1947, Carl’s is one of Fredericksburg’s most iconic locations. It’s listed in The National Register of Historic Places, and was named the best ice cream in Virginia by Business Insider, in 2015. Carl’s has also been featured on the Food Network and PBS. They’re open mid-February through mid-November, and only serve ice cream products (cones, sundaes, slushes, shakes, floats). Do not forget to bring cash.


  • Wally’s Homemade Ice-cream– Another legendary Fredericksburg ice-cream shop! Wally’s is located right in the heart of Caroline Street. They offer soft serve, homemade gourmet ice cream, sherbet, sorbet, sugar-free and fat-free yogurt. Be sure to try “Arbuckles.” It’s Wally’s own flavor which they describe as a creamy frozen hot chocolate.




  • Orofino Italian Restaurant– If you’re looking for authentic Italian gelato, you got to go to Orofino’s. During warmer months they even set up a sweet gelato cart in their outside dining area. You don’t have to wait for summer, though. Orofino’s keeps the sweet stuff inside near the espresso machine! 


  • Italian Station – Another great spot for Italian gelato! Italian Station has a wide variety of flavors in addition to delicious pastries and coffee. It’s also conveniently located in the Marriott. Definitely a must if your are staying there!




Image via Yelp

  • Goolrick’s Modern Pharmacy– Did you know that Goolrick’s has the oldest continuously- operating soda fountain in America? They’re famous for their malts, milkshakes, fresh squeezed lemonade and real cherry cokes. Goolrick’s is also a great place to grab lunch!


  • Basilico Italian Market and New York Deli – Their gelato case is the stuff dreams are made of. You will definitely need to try more than one flavor… and maybe finish it off with a slice of cheesecake. You only live once, right? This local favorite is sandwiched between downtown Fredericksburg and Central Park, and will be opening another location in Spotsylvania County, soon.



Image via Jimmy T’s

  • Jimmy T’s Soft Serve– If you want a monster-sized soft-serve twisty cone ( you do ), go to Jimmy T’s! In addition to their legendary twisty cones, this Spotsy ice-cream stand serves sundaes, shakes, shaved ice, and the curiously named “Jimmy’s Mambo” all in a wide variety of flavors.


  • Rita’s Italian Ice – Rita’s specializes in one thing: outstanding Italian ice. In their own words, “Ice. Custard. Happiness. It’s a simple, straightforward Promise. And one we work hard to make good on. Every day. In every location. With every Guest. Everyone has a calling in life. At Rita’s, ours involves serving up heaping helpings of our one-of-a-kind happiness.” You can’t argue with that!


  • Garaffa’s Pizza – Just a little ways up from the Falmouth Bridge, we found a great place for soft serve icea. Garaffa’s is known for their pizza, but their homemade ice cream is starting to put them on the map of delectable goodies. They serve up cones, sundaes and floats.


  • Gelato Cafe– This is a Stafford County hidden gem! You won’t be able to find a website, and they don’t have an official Facebook Page, but they do have about a dozen delicious flavors of gelato. Look for them off Rt 1, near Government Island. Their reviews speak for themselves, “Great little shop. Very friendly owner. Outstanding gelato! Best I have had outside of Italy. If you’re in the area, definitely stop in. The Donatella was divine.” – Nicole P.




Image via Fun Time Ice-Cream

  • Fun Time Ice-Cream – If you haven’t added “Order an ice-cream out of a giant, inflatable ice-cream cone” to your summer bucket list, you need to add it right now. With 2 locations, one off of 610 and another off of Deacon Road in Stafford County, Fun Time Ice-Cream offers soft serve ice cream, floats, shakes, banana splits and sundaes. Be sure to take a selfie with The Big Cone. If that’s not ‘gram worthy we don’t know what is.


Written by Brenda Sapanghila

Last Updated:
December 14, 2018