For a warm weather destination, Miami has a surprising lack of ice cream shops. This, however, did not stop me from seeking out as many as I could over a recent 2-day stopover.

Most of the ice cream parlors in and around Miami are independent shops. I like this because I love to support the little guy. The added bonus is that indie shops can be so much more creative with their offerings. Here are some of my faves:

The Frieze

The Frieze is just a stone’s throw from an outdoor shopping mall in South Beach and has a wide range of high quality ice creams and sorbets, all made from natural ingredients and real fruit. All of their ice creams are kosher, as well.

Flavors here are creative and fun. Because I can’t ever pass up Dulce de Leche, I tried that and Cinnamon Styx. In a waffle cone. Covered in chocolate and sprinkles! (Hey, you only live once.) Other interesting options included Salty Caramel, Grape Nuts & Raisins, Bourbon Maple Walnut, and Ooh La La Lychee.

Toppings at Quarterman’s Ice Cream Parlor

Quarterman’s Ice Cream Parlor

In the heart of downtown, surrounded by businesses, clothing stores, and hotels, you’ll find Quarterman’s, a small shop that regularly adds new flavors, many of which cater to Miami’s large Cuban population. Guava Cheesecake, Mexican Hot Chocolate, or Toasted Coconut anyone?

Viewfinder Tip: Don’t be shy of Cuban-inspired ice cream flavors; especially in Miami, these often are the best of the bunch.

Waffle cone at Dolce Vita Gelato

Azucar Ice Cream Company

I nearly missed going to this shop in Little Havana as I was rushing to catch a flight but as luck would have it, Azucar isn’t far from the airport (and so worth a stop on your way into or out of Miami).

Over the years, the shop has been featured in the BBC World News, The Wall Street Journal, and the Miami Herald. That means you can bet it’s good. Ice cream flavors here are geared toward the Cuban market. Some of the most intriguing: Mulatica (cinnamon and oatmeal raisin cookies), 9½ Caramels (chocolate, caramel, and sea salt), Abuela Maria (guava, cream cheese and Maria cookies), and Cuatro Leches (four cheeses).

Flavors are constantly changing, which is a good reason to hit this place more than once during your visit to Miami.

  • Cup of Mulatica and 9 1/2 Caramels at Azucar

Dolce Vita Gelato

This is a small chain of gelato shops (five in all) located throughout the greater Miami area. I visited the North Beach cafe, located in a little strip mall. With plenty of tables inside and out, it’s a great place to have a bite to eat (they have a full food menu), but, of course, I was there just for the gelato. A regular size includes three scoops so I tried Chocolate Mint, Dulce de Leche, and Coffee. Mmmm, mmmm, good!

What types of goodies do you seek out when you travel?