Summer heat getting to you? Cool off with some of Tampa's favorite local ice cream shops

There are lots of places to go when it comes to satisfying your sweet tooth with an ice cream cold treat.

As the temperatures rise throughout the summer months, you may want to add variety to your traditional 'go-to' flavors. 

Check out these unique, local ice cream shops to satisfy an assortment of tastes, portions, and serving settings that you may not know.

Astro Craft Ice Cream at Armature Works scoops up Tampa Guava and Cream Cheese, Café Con Leche and Ybor Rum Toasted Coconut pie.

Astro Craft Ice Cream
1910 N. Ola Ave., Tampa, FL 33602

Located inside of Armature Works, Astro Craft Ice Cream, opened their one and only store back in 2018. Unlike big chain shops, all their ice cream is made in Tampa with the goal of producing the freshest product possible. The owners show their love for their hometown city by bringing a variety of flavors to the community focused on exhibiting the diversity and history of the area. 

“All of our flavors were created to pay homage to Tampa,” Partner Ferdian Jap says. “For example, we are proud to be the first ice cream shop locally to create our Tampa Guava and Cream Cheese flavor, made from very creamy cream cheese and real guava pastels.” Other local inspired flavors include Café Con Leche and Ybor Rum Toasted Coconut pie. 

You can get your ice cream in a cone or change it up by getting your treat either on a brownie, between cookies, over pie, or made into a Cuban sandwich. The ice cream Cuban sandwich comes with your choice of flavors between two toasted pieces of Cuban bread from La Segunda. Jap’s must try pick from their menu is their Brown Sugar Whiskey Cookie Dough. 

Astro Craft Ice Cream not only brings the community together as guests stand in line to taste their exclusive treats, but they also give back through donations. They’ve sponsored sports bags for a youth baseball team, donated ice cream to local film groups and foster homes, etc. 

Moving forward, the local shop is looking to open one or two additional locations in the Tampa Bay Area and become “recognized as the local craft ice cream spot that created the Tampa-centric flavors,” Jap says. 

Among the unique flavors offered at Chill Bros? Belgian Brown and Café con Leche Chunk!

Chill Bros Scoop Shop
Ybor City: 1910 E. 7th Ave., Suite #101, Tampa, FL 33605
South Tampa: 3302 W. Bay to Bay Blvd., Tampa, FL 33629

The three Chillura brothers and their sister had the dream of opening up their own ice cream in their Tampa neighborhood ever since they were kids. Between the ages of 4 and 12, the siblings laid out their plans to sell the best homemade ice cream in town, and 12 years later, they began turning their vision into a reality. 

The shop, Chill Bros, a spin-off of their name, opened first in Ybor City in September of 2019. They then added their second location in South Tampa in October of 2020. 

Maximilian Chillura, Owner and Master Gelatier, packed up and decided to move to Bologna, Italy, for a short stint. That’s where he “learned from some of the most skilled and passionate Gelato makers in the world,” he says. Upon coming back to the states, he used his new knowledge and tools to begin crafting his very own product. “I spent the next year developing a truly all-natural, American style ice cream made from absolute scratch, with passion, care, and the best ingredients we could get our hands on,” M. Chillura says. 

Throughout the progress of their shop their goals have remained the same; to bring the neighborhood together with their ice cream. They want to keep improving their product while continuing to expand their brand in the greater Tampa Bay Area, possibly even adding one on the beach. Down the road M. Chillura aspires to publish his very own ice cream cookbook with their head pastry chef, Amy. 

They make their own traditional, all-natural custard base using only five simple ingredients, “Florida milk and cream, egg yolks, pure cane sugar, and a dash of salt,” M. Chillura says. Their rich, velvety product will never contain unnatural stabilizers, emulsifiers, gums, starches, coloring, corn syrups, or sweeteners, “not here, bro!”

Flavors you can find in shop include their pistachio ice cream, made with pistachios from the slopes of Mt. Etna in Sicily, orange creamsicle, oatmeal cookie, café con leche chunk, mad vanilla bean, made with vanilla beans all the way from Madagascar, bees knees, and many more. 

“To top it off, it’s a chill spot to be. We are a neighborhood hangout where you can bring your girlfriend, kids, or grandmother and feel at home,” M. Chillura says. “The music is fresh, the seats are comfy, the place smells like waffle cones and the ice cream is pretty darn good.”

The Revolution Ice Cream
Brandon: 220 W. Brandon Blvd., #104, Brandon, FL 33511
Seminole Heights: 6701 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33604
South Tampa: 4032 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL 33609

The Revolution Ice Cream Co. flavors include a goat cheese and habanero ice cream with a raspberry ribbon, blueberry muffin tops, Nutella with biscoff, Callie’s hotcakes, and porky’s delight.“The goal of Revolution Ice Cream is to take over the world. We want to revolutionize your taste buds,” says Tampa Bay Area Manager Dawn McKean. “To be successful, you have to grow with your surroundings. So we may change the path, but the ultimate goal never changes.”

The first location opened in 2012 in Brandon, the second shop came to Seminole Heights in 2016, and finally, their newest store on Kennedy Boulevard opened in June 2020. Owner Bill Workman started creating and experimenting with ice cream after stumbling into an out-of-state ice cream store that let you create your own flavor on the spot. In experimenting with different funky flavors out of his house, the demand for his ice cream among his friends grew until he decided to take a leap of faith and open the Brandon location. 

Every flavor is hand-crafted. “You can’t get flavors like ours in many places,” McKean says. Flavors include a goat cheese and habanero ice cream with a raspberry ribbon, blueberry muffin tops, Nutella with biscoff, Callie’s hotcakes, and porky’s delight.

The owners give back to the community through different charity events they host such as an Autism Awareness festival in which all proceeds from the event are donated to the Autism Awareness charity.  

Revolution Ice Cream also owns a spin-off called “Oh Yeah Creamery,” which opened in March at 224 South Blvd. in South Tampa. “[Oh Yeah Creamery] uses the hard-scooped ice cream made by Rev to make soft serve of your choice of mix-ins,” McKean says. 

Uptown Snoballs is a startup concept inspired by New Orleans-style snow cones.

Uptown Snoballs 
1003 4th St. N. St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Uptown Snoballs is a startup concept inspired by New Orleans-style snow cones. The snow cones are their main focus, but they also offer homemade ice cream, adult beverages, and whole fruit popsicles. 

Their one store opened in February of 2020, 30 days before their closing due to COVID. Back open now, they are looking forward to more business as people get vaccinated and the pandemic starts to wind down.  

The idea stemmed from one of their partners at the shop who is from the Uptown New Orleans area and grew up eating and enjoying shaved ice. Kurt Peterson, Co-Founder of Uptown Snoballs, helped one of his life-long friends make his visions come to life. 

In addition to their famous snow cones, they also offer ice cream to appeal to a larger audience. All ingredients are locally sourced, and include sugar-free, all-natural options; no artificial additives, colors, or preservatives, offering healthier options to customers. The shop partners with a local creamery that makes their custom ice cream. 

Some ice cream flavors offered include Oreo cookie and cream, peanut butter Oreo cookie, blue lavender, and strawberry shortcake. Some signature snoballs include Uptown dream, campfire, better butter beer, and relax. Additionally, for customers 21+ you can add a shot of rum or tequila to any snowball flavors. 

“What separates us on the shaved ice is that it is very thinly shaved, so it absorbs all the syrups, so every bite is consistent,” Peterson says. 

Their goal is to open a couple more stores in the Tampa Bay Area, he says. Being a very pet-friendly shop, they offer pet snowballs as well. 

“Surprisingly, we have a lot of New Orleans transplants who live in the Tampa Bay Area and our greatest compliment is when they say, ‘I haven’t had a snowball in five years and this snowball brings me back to my childhood,” Peterson says. 

Dough Nation serves as a training platform for students and employees of the Metropolitan Ministries culinary art program and catering division.

Dough Nation
11642 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, FL 33618

The idea behind this store came about after the owners popped up a small booth at the Gasparilla Music Festival offering samples as eager customers lined up around the block. 

Chef Cliff Barsi is behind the award-winning Dough Nation. He takes his business a step further in an extensive focus on helping other locals achieve success. Working together with Metropolitan Ministries, the shop serves as a training platform for students and employees of the Metropolitan Ministries culinary art program and catering division. 

Enjoy a variety of classic ice cream, safe to eat cookie dough, and milkshakes. 

“Ours [cookie dough] is unique because most cookie doughs that they sell in the store … it’s not bakeable,” says Barsi, Metropolitan Ministries VP of Social Enterprise and Food Services. “You can eat ours and, if you have leftovers, you can take it home and put it in the oven and bake cookies.”

Some cookie dough flavors include sugar cookies, toasty s’more, sweet and salty, and red velvet. Ice cream flavors include mint chocolate flakes, sea salt caramel with praline pecan, and butter pecan. The team makes a monthly “Dough over the top” shake with January’s being “Survived 2020.” Enjoy a cookie melt, Sunday nation, dough shake, or all of the above! 

In addition to unique ice cream flavors, Sea Maids Creamery offers vegan ice cream, fresh baked goods, empanadas, french fries, and organic dog ice cream that’s all made in house.

Sea Maids Creamery
4230 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33603

Sea Maids Creamery’s unique name comes from owners Emily Macias and her mom Zoe Vera’s Latina background. Being from Puerto Rico, they were always surrounded by the sea, so Macias and Vera decided to call themselves “maidens of the sea,” which became Sea Maids for short. And thus, began the birth of this delicious ice cream shop. 

Opening in May of 2020, the vision of creating their business stemmed from the simple pleasure and joy Macias' grandmother and great-grandmother got from going to get ice cream.

“We were both working in the dental field but wanted to make more out of life,” Macias and Vera say. “We wanted to create a place where family and loved ones could come together and have a good time without breaking the bank.”

The duo decided to ship their grandmother’s favorite coffee from Puerto Rico to Tampa and blend it into an authentic flavor with roots to their hometown. They work together to incorporate their culture in all of their unique flavors. They explain that a lot of thought and love goes into every pint of ice cream they make because it reflects what’s in their hearts. 

Every week the shop features a new flavor and they always have holiday/seasonal specialties. In addition to their traditional ice cream, they also offer vegan ice cream, fresh baked goods, empanadas, french fries, and organic dog ice cream that’s all made in house. Looking to spoil your guests at a big event? Ice cream pies, ice cream cakes, flans and cookies can be preordered for any occasion. 

Some local favorites include their mermaid milkshake, Seminole Heights gator, and brownie and cookie sundaes with unlimited toppings. Looking forward, Macias and Vera hope to open up another location while continuing to grow their menu. 

“We want our shop to be a happy memory with their loved ones to hold in their hearts,” Macias and Vera say. “Bring your fur babies!”

Bright Ice recently opened a third shop in the new Tampa Marriott Water Street.

Bright Ice
3701 5th Ave. N., St. Petersburg, FL 33713
5591 Park Blvd., Pinellas Park, FL 33781
505 Water St., Suite A-01, Tampa, FL 33602

In February 2021, Bright Ice added another location in Pinellas Park to their original St. Petersburg location, which opened in November of 2019. Partnering with Kurt Drake, co-OwnerSteven Garrahan started Bright Ice with the desire to do something entrepreneurial. Garrahan being an engineer, and Drake an architect, they used their creativity combined with their logical thinking to create their business.

“We wanted to try something different that neither one of us had ever done before,” Garrahan says. “I like ice cream a lot, I always have it in the freezer.”

Featuring 16-20 flavors, all their ice cream is made in shop weekly with mostly local ingredients, and no artificial dyes or flavors. Some of the flavors include blueberries with cinnamon, brownies and cream, caramelized bananas with peanut butter and honey, lemon with crystalized ginger, and more. They also serve a limited expresso-based coffee service pouring a double shot of expresso over your favorite ice cream. You can get this in a bowl (Affagato) or as a drink (Café Affagato). Every month Bright Ice features a new series with two to four new flavors.

Recently, Bright Ice opened a third shop in the new Tampa Marriott Water Street.

“A lot of customers are very fiercely loyal to local businesses. A lot of customers would come in and say 'we are only supporting local businesses',” Garrahan says. “That really helped us get through the early spring and summer months [2020]. It was local residents that really shined and came through for so many small businesses, including ours.”

Jeni's Salted Peanut Butter with Chocolate Flecks

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream
615 Channelside Drive, Tampa, FL 33602
305 West Palm Ave., Tampa, FL 33602

Last summer, Jeni’s made their debut in Tampa with their first scoop shop opening up in Sparkman Wharf. In Spring 2021, they opened their second location at The Pearl in Tampa Heights. 

The history behind the brand goes back to 2002 when Jeni’s was founded in Columbus, Ohio by Jeni Britton Bauer. More than 24 years ago, she started the artisan ice cream movement with her vision of creating a product made from scratch. When buying your ice cream from Jeni’s, you’re assured that there’s never the use of chemical dyes, cheap commodity milk, or off-the-shelf ice cream mixes. After years of shipping ice cream to customers in Tampa, the Jeni’s team was inspired to come see the city on an ice cream truck tour in 2018.

“We completely fell in love with the city’s energy - the strong sense of community, the entrepreneurial spirit,” Jeni’s team spokesperson says. “We knew we had to open a shop here.”

With their mission being to make better ice cream and bring people together, the scoop shop offers a wide assortment of flavors, all of which are made in partnership with the makers and producers that supply the fresh ingredients. Signature flavors include Brambleberry Crisp, Brown Butter Almond Brittle, and Gooey Butter Cake. Customers can also expect new and seasonal flavors. Recent limited-time flavors include Lemon and Blueberries Parfait, Pineapple Upside Down Cake, Goat Cheese with Red Cherries, and more. 

Stop by for one scoop, or two or three.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Lauren Wong.

Lauren Wong is a graduate of the University of Tampa with a degree in journalism who is freelancing while she looks for a full-time job. Originally from the Chicago area, she enjoys travel and aspires to be a travel photojournalist. During the summer of 2019, she worked for Premier Travel Media in Chicago and as a correspondent for Input Fort Wayne, another Issue Media group online magazine based in Indiana. She loves spending time outdoors camping, kayaking, and taking pictures.