by Rhonda Franz

If you’re not hitting Hot Springs for ice cream, you’re missing out on some of the best the The Natural State has to offer. Summer may be the star season for this sugary treat, but Americans eat ice cream all year around. I traveled to Hot Springs with two of my children to visit family on a hot July weekend. To help shout out what’s good in town, I took one for the team by visiting a few ice cream shops and rounding up the rest.

Scoops Ice Cream at 4043 Central Avenue

After a lunch on Lake Hamilton, my family and I made one turn off the main drag through town to land in this conveniently located ice cream shop. The people at Scoops really do make the ice cream there (as their sign says), and in all the traditional flavors. We devoured cups of the butter pecan and the strawberry.

Scoops, Hot Springs, Collage 

At Scoops, patrons may take a little ice cream in a bowl, or choose from one of the dipped waffle cones on display. The people at Scoops are happy to dip ice cream with a smile, as well as milkshakes and sundaes for customers. For those who can’t get enough in one visit, hand packed pints and quarts of ice cream are available.

Scoops Ice Cream - We Really Make It Here 

Scoops is well loved by visitors and locals; the restaurant proudly displays 2013 Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor, ranking #13 out of 222 restaurants in town. The shop also sells bottled water, Gatorade, and several kinds of colas that line the ice cream counter, so there’s something for whatever kind of refreshment you need.

Scoops is open:
Monday to Thursday 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday to Sunday 12 p.m. to 11 p.m.


Dolcè Gelato Gourmet Italian Café, 228 Cornerstone Blvd

Dolcé Gelato serves a little taste of Italy in south central Arkansas with their Italian ice cream, also known as gelato. It’s easy to see why Dolcé boasts a feature mention in a 2010 USA Today edition as one of the nation’s best ice cream parlors. At this welcoming café, we experienced attentive service and spent several minutes chatting with staff and tasting samples before deciding on a few flavors. Their gelato is similar to our American traditional ice cream but does not contain eggs, heavy cream or butter—giving this decadent treat a dense flavor and making it an ideal choice for people with discriminating tastes.

Dolce Gelato, Hot SPrings

Those with a dairy allergy or intolerance aren’t left out at Dolcé. My son, who is lactose-intolerant was able to choose from several nondairy options, settling on the delicious and strong raspberry sorbetto. His brother picked gelato in chocolate mint, and my sister enjoyed cappuccino gelato in a cup. I walked around and sampled a taste of everyone’s with a spoon of my own before washing it down with coffee drink from the café’s coffee bar.

 Dolce Gelato Flavors, Hot Springs 

Stop at Dolcé on the weekend, during a lunch break, or when it’s time to set down the shopping bags from the surrounding stores. You’ll find friendly service and a variety of foods, including Panini sandwiches and salads. Don’t hesitate to sample gelato or sorbetto before committing to a purchase; they’re happy to oblige any questions you have about their food.

Dolcé Gelato is open:
Monday – Thursday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to midnight
The café is closed on Sundays.


Frosty Treat, 1020 E. Grand Avenue

Frosty Treat is a drive in with a special mission: all profits benefit the Shalom Women’s Center, a community in Hot Springs supporting women who are learning to live a life free from drug and alcohol addiction. So, while you’re eating your ice cream from Frosty Treat, you’re purchase is making a difference. 

Order ice cream in any size cone or in the form of a sundae or banana split. They make custom shake malts, shakes, and floats with fruit and candy flavors. Fries and burgers are also a favorite with their customers.

Frosty Treat is open:
Monday – Thursday 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Purple Cow, 1490 Higdon Ferry Road

At Purple Cow, you can eat your ice cream and have dinner, too. This restaurant, and its explosion of purple color, comes with food, fun, and a plenty of nostalgia for the old days of diners and soda fountains. The extensive menu has something for everyone. Visit just for the malt, shakes, and specialty sodas or stop in for a full meal.

Purple Cow even has ice cream drinks for grown-ups, so you can refresh with a White Russian or Grasshopper, which might be just what you need after a birthday party at the restaurant for your child. That’s right: Purple Cow is the place to go for birthday celebrations complete with jukebox music and yes…purple ice cream.

Regular hours at Purple Cow in Hot Springs:
Monday – Thursday 11:00 to 9:00
Friday and Saturday 11:00 to 10:00
Sunday 10:00 to 9:00

Weekend brunch
Saturdays 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Sundays 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

King Kone, 1505 Malvern Avenue

This drive in has been around for over 40 years, kept alive by customers who keep coming back. The workers serve ice cream in a cone, a banana split, as a sundae—you name it and they’re all over it. Their menu also lists a variety of hamburgers and classic goodies like chili cheese fries and onion rings. Bonus: King Kone also makes fried pies in apple and peach so your ice cream will have some nice company. For best results, order both. Check out the place and see for yourself what all the fuss is about.

King Kone is open:
Every day except Sunday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Bailey’s Dairy Treat at 510 Park Avenue is another Hot Springs staple. This family-owned drive in is well-known and appreciated among the locals and has been around for over 20 years. Bailey’s is best known for their soft serve ice cream and handmade burgers, but you’ll find a bunch of great foods on their menu. Banana splits, cones, shakes and malts are all part of the ice cream creations at Bailey’s. They’re open by 8:30 in the morning, and that means breakfast is ready is when you are.

Bailey’s is open:
Monday – Saturday, usually 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.


* Some hours listed might be seasonal.