The coronavirus pandemic can take away this year’s fireworks and cancel our holiday concerts. It can jettison boat parades and waterfront festivals. But this we know: It cannot take away our ice cream.
That Fourth of July and summer staple is the stuff of seasonal memories.
For me, it was Stowaway Sweets in Scituate Harbor (alas, long gone). As a child I’d pedal my bike down to the harbor, sails in a bag over my shoulder, and hop on my wooden Turnabout sailboat to make my way to the other side of the harbor for a gooey, out-of-this-world Brownie Delight Sundae.
So while you may not be able to travel for celebratory fireworks this Fourth, why not take a drive to the other best thing: the perfect ice cream? There’s a perfect spot in almost any town (These folks even built an “Ice Cream Trail” for you to follow: onlyinyourstate.com/massachusetts/ice-cream-trail-ma/). Here are a few of my favorites to get you going.
Oxford Creamery, Mattapoisett: If your visit to Oxford Creamery (oxfordcreamery.com) brings back all the retro ice cream stop feels, that’s no coincidence. Oxford Creamery has been open and operating in much the way it does today for 90 years. That’s a lot of scoops, along with plenty of clam rolls, hot dogs, french fries and more.
Oxford Creamery is tucked in the middle of Mattapoisett, a quiet, lovely part of the state’s southern coast. They serve Richardson’s Ice Cream in cones, bowls and sundaes; however you like it. Their grounds are perfect for this COVID-19 time; picnic tables are spread out with lots of distance, and their grassy area is perfect for a picnic blanket, where you can savor your choices.
To amp up your visit, eat your dinner there and take your ice cream to go, then head to nearby Ned’s Point for a lighthouse sunset. Now that’s summer living.
Sally’s Ice Cream Sandwiches, Bramhall’s Country Store, Plymouth: Bramhall’s (bramhallscountrystore.com), owned by generations of the Bramhall family, is tucked into a beautiful part of Plymouth called Chiltonville. Woodsy and cooler, it’s true countryside just a block from the ocean. Bramhall’s has long been a popular stop for ice cream (they remain the only non-franchised Ben and Jerry’s location in existence). But something happened to up their ice cream game.
Sally Bramhall, one of the newest generation, had a “Hey my chocolate fell into the peanut butter” moment a few years back when, having baked another batch of her then just family-famous cookies, she looked over at the ice cream set up in the store and thought, “Hmmm, I wonder?” Thus, Sally’s Ice Cream Sandwiches were born.
Now she’s busy keeping up with supply. Bramhall bakes each cookie and then creates sandwiches with various ice creams (although the chocolate chip cookie with vanilla is a fan favorite). Cookies are packaged for take away (bring a cooler and stock up) or you can order a custom one (even with different cookies on each side) at the window, as supplies allow each day.
Bramhall’s is shady and quiet, with scattered picnic tables and room on the grass to hang out. They’re also known for their ridiculously fresh lobster rolls, as well as their tacos, made from corn ground in the historic Jenny Grist Mill in downtown Plymouth.
Sally’s Ice Cream Sandwiches are a must. Enjoy them there, or take a ride not deep into Chiltonville, where you’ll see bison, horses, and where the stop signs read “Whoa.”
Bubbling Brook Ice Cream, Westwood: When an ice cream (and more) spot has been in the same family for 40 years, you know they’re dedicated to their craft. Such is the case with Bubbling Brook (bubblingbrook.net) a kind of oasis in the middle of our city/suburban lives.
Pull into the lot off busy Route 109 and you are transported. Picnic tables are scattered across the lush, green landscape, and grassy hills and fields along the brook make a perfect spot to set up a picnic (all you need is the blanket).
The brook is your backdrop as you dig into all kinds of ice cream choices: soft serve and hard, sundaes and special flavors that come from the inspiration of the staff.
Right now, they’re soothing your “I can’t go to Disney” malaise by serving Dole Whips, that Disney staple. Don’t miss their fried clams and their homemade creamsicle as well. The side trip here? No need. The grounds are an escape in itself. Dip your toes in the brook, sip your Dole Whip and savor summer.