Ice cream and travel: Two essentials, natives will tell you, for surviving summer in the Valley. So, why not take a road trip — a short one that is mindful of $45 fillups — where the reward at journey’s end is a cone of deliciously cold dairy delight. And it can’t just be vanilla. Trips like this require flavors and/or locations worthy of the mileage.
For instance, how about a scoop of the rosy-hued concoction that has tourists from about the globe trekking daily into the Superstition Mountains?
“It has a tangy flavor, about like raspberry,” says Carol Lewis of California, who, with Christina Hurtrado of Colorado, took their rental car up the hairpin turns of state Route 88 (historically known as Apache Trail) to the one-time stage coach stop of Tortilla Flats. The sixtysomethingyear-old Country Store there was the only location they could find that sold the rosy-hued concoction made from cactus berries.
“This is so very good. It’s worth the drive,” says Lewis.
The sentiment is echoed shortly by a woman from Britain, a man from Minnesota, and another couple just up from the Valley. It’s one of the top attractions of the Western store front that includes a restaurant and post office, says Cindy Levi, co-owner. During peak season, the store goes through 40 tubs of prickly pear ice cream a week.
Tortilla Flats Country Store, 1 Main St. Scoops start at $2 or $2.80 for a double cone. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. (480) 984-1776 (this is for the Apache Junction office only, because there’s no phone service in Tortilla Flats).
About 18 miles west on state Route 88 (and about five miles east of Apache Junction) is the Goldfield Ghost Town and another chance for ice cream. Martin Mendoza has been selling Dynamite Crunch ice cream there for years — mostly in waffle cones made daily. The ice cream flavor, named in honor of the mining town that boomed and busted 100 years ago, tastes a lot like pralines. Miner’s Grill & Ice Cream Parlor, Goldfield Ghost Town. Cones start at $3. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. (480) 983-9591.
This popular combination of ice cream and fruit goes back to the ‘30s and ‘40s, when these were the milkshakes to order when passing through Dateland on the road to Yuma. They are made with the medjool date, said to be the best date in the world. But a road trip is no longer necessary for anyone hankering for a taste of nostalgia — date shakes are sold at the Sphinx Date Ranch in Scottsdale, too.
• Dateland Restaurant, Interstate 8, Milepost 67 (about 90 minutes outside Phoenix). Shakes start at $2.80. Hours are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. (928) 454-2772.
• Sphinx Date Ranch, 3039 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale. Shakes start at $3, says owner Jason Heetland. Summer hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Closed Sunday. (480) 941-2261.
HASSAYAMPA MUD ICE CREAM
Named after the underground river that emerges in Wickenburg, this homemade chocolatey/java/pecan treat costs $2.49 for a single scoop. Chaparral Ice Cream Parlor, 45 N. Tegner St., Wickenburg. Summer hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday. (928) 684-3252.
LONDON BRIDGE SUNDAE
Dig into a span of ice cream while admiring Arizona’s piece of British history in Lake Havasu City, home of the London Bridge. The sundae includes three scoops of ice cream (vanilla and chocolate) topped with more chocolate and caramel, smothered in whipped cream and then dusted with nuts and the requisite maraschino cherry. London Bridge Ice Cream Parlor, 101 English Village, Lake Havasu City. Prices start at $4.35. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday. (928) 453-2300.
In honor of Sedona’s red rock landscape, the owners of I-Scream Cyber Cafe have produced a dessert of Oregon’s Cascade ice cream laced with crumbled Oreos and thoroughly dusted in reddish-brown sprinkles. A gummy worm is added to enhance the resemblance. “It’s not pretty,” says manager Trisha Thompkins. I-Scream Cafe, 100 Verde Valley School Road, Suite 108, Sedona. Sundaes start at $4. Hours are 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. (928) 284-3500.
This treat doesn’t necessarily have any wordplay to reflect the beauty of surrounding Sedona, but it is served in freshly made waffle cones. The Black Cow, 229 N. State Route 89-A, Sedona. Cones start at $2.95. Hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day.