5 small-town Wisconsin ice cream shops with big-city flavor worth the drive this summer

Daniel Higgins
Green Bay Press-Gazette

Most Wisconsinites probably don't have to travel more than 15 minutes to order a cone full of creamy sweet ice cream. For starters, there are more than 200 shops selling Madison-based Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream. The distance between you and a cool summer treat shrinks further if you add frozen custard options from local and statewide favorites like Zesty's and Culver's, respectively. 

But it's the warm season in Wisconsin. It's perfect weather to take a Sunday drive for a, well, sundae. Or malt. Or waffle cone. Or however you take your ice cream.

Here are five small town ice cream shops serving scoops with big city flavor worthy of a stop on your next Sunday, or weeknight, drive out in the country.

Note: I defined small-town as population under 5,000, but even at that size there is a zero percent chance that this is anywhere near a complete list. I excluded Door County because that's another story in itself. Let me know which small town I need to visit next for ice cream (not frozen custard or yogurt).


Where: 550 Business 141 N, Coleman

Gayle Maye spent a couple of weeks at ice cream school in St. Louis before opening Corner Scoop Creamery with her cousin Peter Nasgovitz in July 2019. Maye must have graduated top of her class because Corner Scoop's ice cream is rich, sweet and creamy. Well worth a 3-minute detour off U.S. 141. 

Fun factor: Alcohol infused ice cream. Yes, it's popular. Yes, you must be 21 to order a scoop (or two) of Brandy Alexander, Grasshopper or Old Fashion Wisconsin. It's a whiskey Old-Fashioned. Sweet. Obviously.  After testing several options Maye found Southern Comfort paired best with the cherry, orange and ice cream flavors.

Having put most of their energy into the business and craft of making and selling ice cream, the owners stumped on a name. After some crowd sourcing and a voting contest they landed on Corner Scoop Creamery. 

In the cone: All flavors start with premium ice cream made with 12% milkfat that boosts the creamy factor.

A dozen ice cream flavors, three alcohol-infused ice creams and a dairy-free option (made with oat milk) are available daily. Non-alcoholic flavors range from Very Vanilla and Classic Chocolate to Peanut Butter Cup and Texas Butter Pecan. The pecans (which come from Texas), cashews and other nuts are roasted in house, Maye said.

Specialty flavors rotate weekly throughout the year. 

Malts, shakes and sundaes are available but the quality and flavors of the ice cream itself are best enjoyed in a cone here.

Guests scream for: The aforementioned Old Fashion Wisconsin and Texas Butter Pecan flavors are popular. Demand for caramel cashew bumped it from weekly special to a permanent spot. 

Contact: (920) 897-1005; facebook.com/cornerscoopcreamery


Where: N370 Military Road, Sherwood

Frogg's sits near a bend in Wisconsin Highway 114 as it winds its way around the northeast corner of Lake Winnebago. It would be easy to miss this ice cream pad if not for the green and white awning, white picket fence and sign with a frog holding an ice cream cone. 

Fun factor: Cute critter names dot the menu. The Toadally Awesome One is a sundae topped with Creme de Menthe and mint Oreos. The FROGGaritaville blends ice cream with with strawberries, pineapple, bananas and chocolate syrup in a cup.

Bill Flynn — who owns the shop with his wife Karla and their kids Micky, Kadie, Murphy, and Jack — says he's not clever enough to have come up with those names but smart enough to not change them when they bought Frogg's 17 years ago.

Nine solar panels help power Frogg's and 10 more panels are scheduled to be installed this summer. Flynn said they also use biodegradable sundae cups and spoons and other similarly green products.

Order at the walk up window or the drive-thru. Either way it's cash only. A couple of seats are inside the white picket fence. More seating is available out back at picnic tables with a view of the neighboring farm. 

In the cone: Soft serve vanilla, chocolate and twist. If you think the soft serve is creamier than most, you're not alone. Flynn credits the combination of a slightly higher milkfat in their mix from Lamers Dairy running through their Stoelting ice cream machines. 

Guests scream for: Frogg On a Log (triple chocolate chunk brownies and hot fudge) sundae, Cricket Carmel Cashew sundae, and Turtle (caramel, hot fudge, pecans) sundae are top sellers.

Contact: froggsic.com; facebook.com/FroggsIceCream; (920) 749-1672

You enjoy a sundae while watching the cows that made milk in the ice cream at Kelley Country Creamery in Eden.


Where: W5215 County Road B, Eden

You're eating about as local as possible while enjoying an ice cream cone here. If you want to know where Kelley Country Creamer gets the milk for its ice cream, look west. That's the barn and pasture where the Kelley family's 65 Holstein cows reside. Eating ice cream on a farm might be the most Wisconsin thing you do all summer.

Karen and Tim Kelley opened the ice cream shop on the family farm in 2010. 

Before opening, Karen took an ice cream making course at UW-Madison to learn the craft. Clearly she was paying attention. The quality of their ice cream has earned national recognition and it's not unusual to have lines out the door, literally, on a warm summer evening. 

Not bad for an ice cream shop that, by its own admission, is "in the middle of nowhere." 

Fun factor: The country vibe builds as your car wheels turn off the two-lane country road and crunch onto the gravel parking lot. You're surrounded by farmland. Straight ahead is a red farmhouse-styled building with a covered porch and row of white wooden rocking chairs. Picnic tables are in the lawn out back and along side the parlor.

Young couples, co-workers from Fleet Farm and families with kids in baseball uniforms (still wearing their gloves) were all enjoying a mild June evening during a recent stop.

"I always liked ice cream," said Karen. "It was something my family did, take a Sunday drive and get ice cream. It's enjoyed by people of all ages and brings people together."

Karen learned on her birthday in July 2013 that Kelley Country Creamery had been named America's best ice cream by Good Morning America. Business was bonkers after their appearance on the show, Karen said. "We could have probably opened up a shop in every state."

So, the “Best Ice Cream in the Middle of Nowhere” slogan on T-shirts worn by staff is more than just bragging.

Getting inventive with the ice cream names like Pack Rat (vanilla with fudge, caramel, Oreo cookies, brownies and cookie dough) and Puppy Tracks (vanilla with puppy chow, fudge and a peanut butter swirl) is also part of the fun.

In the cone: Kelley's started with 32 flavors but now has recipes for more than 350 ice cream options. Sorry, only 22 are available at a time.

Pro tip: If the line is long, have a backup flavor in mind if it's not one of the regulars. When one specialty flavor runs out, it gets replaced by something different.

Specialty and build-your-own sundaes are always an option. Kelley's rotates a set of themed specialty sundaes.

To-go containers, ice cream cakes and pies and other treats can be found in the freezer case.

Guests scream for: Leo's Butter Pecan is the best seller. Some people think it's an old person flavor, Karen said, but they see kids of all ages enjoying this flavor. White chocolate raspberry and anything with mint are also super popular. The best selling sundaes are the Slow Moving Vehicle (caramel, hot fudge, pecans), Black and White Special (brownies and hot fudge), Farmer's Wife (white chocolate raspberry ice cream with raspberry and chocolate topping) and Campfire Pit (graham crackers, marshmallow, and hot fudge).

Contact: kelleycountrycreamery.comfacebook.com/Kelley-Country-Creamery; 920-923-1715


Where: 445 Wilson Street, Amherst

This one's a bit of cheat, because King Cone has shops in the metropolises of Plover and Wisconsin Rapids. But, it started in Amherst. In the former IGA to be exact. The shop has since moved to it's Wilson Street location. Not only does King Cone make its ice cream, it makes many of the additions like pecan brittle, Heath crunch and rhubarb puree.

Fun factor: If ice cream taste tester is high on your fantasy jobs list, here's your chance. Customers who order quarts of ice cream to be picked up in December receive pints of test flavors with comment cards. King Cone uses feedback from those cards to make adjustments and decide which new flavors will dished out next season.

King Cone sends trucks and trailers packed with its ice cream to sell at festivals and events around Central Wisconsin. Trailers can be rented for wedding receptions with an eight-cup case of flavors for indoor venues. 

In the cone: An ever-growing rotation of flavors like Rhubarb Delight (vanilla ice cream with rhubarb sauce and rhubarb crumble), Coffee Heath Crunch (coffee ice cream with homemade Heath crunch) and The Salty Squirrel (maple ice cream with walnuts) make appearances each season.

Though award-winning flavors like Caramel Apple Sucker (all the candy's flavor without having to dig gooey caramel from your molars), Lemon Pie and Zanzee Chocolate Bar are available daily. 

Guests scream for: Butter Pecan Kruncher (butter pecan ice cream, homemade pecan brittle and pecans) remains king of sales. Salty Caramel Truffle (salty caramel ice cream, salty caramel swirl and salty caramel truffles) has been gaining on the sales champ since being named world's best at the 2018 World Dairy Expo Ice Cream Contest.

King Cone makes its own caramel and hot fudge for sundaes, shakes and malt mixers but the homemade waffle cones are the most popular option for enjoying ice cream here.

Contact: kingconehomemadeicecream.comfacebook.com/KingCone01; 715-824-5464

More King Cone: If you don't want to go for a drive in the country, head for the shops at 2534 Post Road, Plover or 1600 Baker Street, Wisconsin Rapids.


Where: 131 East Chestnut Street, Chilton

Fun factor: A vintage truck with cardboard eyeballs in the windshield and a bucktooth smile on the grill looks like a sibling to Mater from the animated "Cars" movie. There's bench seating with tables in the bed of the truck for guests to enjoy their ice cream. A banana split painted on a board with cutouts for kids faces to poke through for photo ops and hopscotch squares painted on the ground keep the spirit young. 

In the cone: Scoops keeps 24 flavors in the case.

The "Sweet 16 Flavors" are always available and cover all tastes with additions of fruits, nuts, cookie dough, caramel and, of course, chocolate. Death By Chocolate starts with double dark Dutch chocolate ice cream and then ups the coco count with chocolate swirls and chocolate chunks. There's also Blue Moon for kids (young and old).

The "Fantastic 8" is a rotation of specialty flavors like Peach Pie, Coffee Toffee and Maple Nut.

All the fixings are here to build your own sundae. There's also a set of 15 specialty sundaes topped by whipped cream and cherry including Peanut Butter Volcano (vanilla ice cream, peanut butter topping, hot fudge and Reese's Pieces), Kitchen Sink (ice cream of choice, hot fudge, caramel, peanut butter topping and Oreos) and Scoops of Heaven (vanilla ice cream, butterscotch, brownie pieces and Oreos).

Scoops also makes ice cream cakes and pies. Pre-scooped pints and half-gallon rounds can be ordered online. 

Guests scream for: Bear Bait for good reason — brownie ice cream with peanut butter, caramel swirl and caramel cups — gets ordered often.

Contact: scoopsicecreamhouse.comfacebook.com/scoopsicecreamhouse; 920-849-2520

Contact Daniel Higgins dphiggin@gannett.com. Follow @HigginsEats on Twitter and Instagram and like on Facebook.