July is ice cream month and Staunton is chock full of fantastic places to celebrate and sooth your sweet tooth. Whether you like soft-serve, gelato, classic malts, or traditional cones, here’s the scoop on Staunton-area frozen treat sweet spots.
Wright’s Dairy Rite
Wright’s Dairy Rite has been a Staunton mainstay since 1952, and you can still park your car in the glow of the retro neon sign and get curbside service. Originally serving only frozen custard, this slice of classic Americana expanded to include a full menu, but frozen treats remain a solid reason to visit. The menu offers flurries, splits, milkshakes, malts, and drink freezes to cool you off on the hottest days. For a true sugar rush, try a Wright’s Wheelie. This treat incorporates a warm donut loaded with ice cream, whipped cream, and a topping. If you’d like a helping of nostalgia with that, visit during one of the Cruise-In antique car rallies Wrights hosts twice a year.
Klines Dairy Bar has been serving ice cream since 1943 from its original Harrisonburg location. The Staunton site opened in 1997 and makes fresh ice cream each morning using the same “continuous freeze” production method. This creates a soft dessert that is packed with goodness instead of air. Chocolate and vanilla are always available, and each location produces a weekly special flavor (or two). Enjoy a rotation of can’t-miss options like banana and cake batter or local favorites like razberry and lemon gingersnap in cones, cups, shakes, and sundaes. Pick up a printed flavor card to keep in your car (or just drive by and check the signs). Klines in Staunton also offers Hog Wild BBQ, so you can eat sweet or Carolina-style barbecue and burgers before dessert.
The Split Banana
Ever wonder how gelato differs from ice cream? Gelato contains more milk and less cream, making it lower in fat. But it’s also dense and creamy because it contains less air. And let’s talk taste: gelato lends itself to intense flavors and is served slightly warmer, so those flavors pop. Experience this for yourself at the The Split Banana, an adorable gelato and sorbet shop decorated with a traditional ice cream counter, a piano you’re invited to play, and old-timey black, white and green tile. The Split Banana serves 18 delectable and fresh-made flavors each day. Enjoy traditional flavors or more innovative and adventurous options like banana stracciatella, sticky rice, and peanut butter and jelly. The Split Banana earned a TripAdvisor’s 2011 U.S-wide top ten ice cream/gelato spot. It is also a Virginia Living Magazine’s 2012 Best of Virginia pick. A favorite of locals and tourists alike, this shop stays open late, so stop in after dinner, a movie, or a play.
You might be lucky enough to catch the Smiley’s Ice Cream truck at a local event, but if your craving for cones, shakes or sundaes must be fulfilled, it’s worth a drive to the Mt. Crawford Creamery to visit the new brick and mortar shop. Smiley’s Ice Cream specializes in “porch ice cream,” which is slowly churned to eliminate much of the air added to commercial ice creams. Check out regular flavors like coconut almond chocolate chunk and pina colada sorbet as well as weekly specials. The ice cream contains milk and cream produced onsite. Grab a gallon of milk and visit with the cows while you’re there! You can even order larger batches of ice cream online and pick them up at your convenience.