By Andrew Farinaccio
What is it about being served your favorite flavor of ice cream through a small window at a roadside stand that seems to make it so irresistibly good? Maybe it’s the feelings of nostalgia we get as we recall childhood memories of enjoying a sprinkle-speckled ice cream cone in the summertime. Or maybe it’s the idea that we can lounge outside and appreciate the weather as we also appreciate a frozen treat. Or maybe it’s just the boundless delicious topping options to choose from!
Check out these fantastic roadside ice cream stands that aren’t far off the beaten path—in fact, they’re right next to it.
Pamby’s, 1211 Route 31 South, Lebanon, 908-310-0041
All of the ice cream is freshly made by hand in a small, shack-like laboratory behind the ice cream stand, resulting in a richly textured product with a silky mouthfeel that can’t be found anywhere else. Because of their in-house style of frozen confection production, Pamby’s offers a variety of uniquely delicious flavors, including Bordeaux cherry, laden with sizeable chunks of chocolate chips, and bittersweet chocolate butter pecan.
Pamby’s brings its made-from-scratch approach to more than just ice cream, also offering a selection of other frozen treats including ice cream cakes, gelato, sorbet, and Italian ice—all homemade. There’s both indoor and outdoor patio seating at Pamby’s, so whether you’re trying to beat the heat or soak up the sun as you enjoy their delicious frozen fare, Pamby’s has you covered.
Polar Cub, 380 US Highway 22, Whitehouse Station, 908-534-4401
A longtime Central Jersey summertime landmark, Polar Cub has been serving up cups and cones of the good stuff since the 1950s. Still as popular as ever, fans of the stand turn out in droves to get their ice cream fix, often filling the surrounding parking lot to capacity—and for good reason: Polar Cub offers an unparalleled selection of ice creams, frozen yogurts, Italian ices, milkshakes, sundaes, slushes, floats, egg creams, and much more.
The assortment of toppings available at Polar Cub is equally as extensive. From classic topping options like caramel, hot fudge, and wet walnuts, to more adventurous selections such as Sno-Caps and black cherries, they’ve got it all.
The ice cream I enjoyed during my visit to Polar Cub veered more toward the classic side of things, consisting of a cup of cool, creamy soft serve vanilla ice cream, topped with strawberries in bright, sweet syrup and doused in chopped peanuts. Needless to say, I could got a true taste of what all the hype is about.
Once you try Polar Cub’s ice cream for yourself, you too will understand why it’s been a New Jersey staple for over 50 years and why, as some Yelpers have remarked, it “creates its own lane of traffic on the highway” during summer nights.
Gronsky’s Milk House, 125 West Main Street, High Bridge, 908-638-6030
By now, you might be thinking, But what if I want to order more than just ice cream? In that case, Gronsky’s Milk House is the place for you.
Originally opened in 1978 as a convenience store and ice cream stand, Gronsky’s went on to add a conjoined restaurant just 10 years later—and the cooks have been flipping pancakes and, yes, scooping ice cream ever since.
The restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch every day. For breakfast, Gronsky’s offers classic Jersey diner fare like omelets, breakfast sandwiches, and pancakes so big they claim it’ll “feed you and a friend!” Once lunchtime comes around, Gronsky’s serves up a variety of sandwiches—pork roll, tuna melt, cheesesteak, pulled pork—along with burgers, wraps, soups, salads, and more.
Make no mistake: the frozen fare at this quaint roadside milk house is top notch. Not only do they serve a variety of ice cream flavors sure to satisfy even the pickiest sweet tooth, but Gronsky’s also features an ever-changing selection of frozen yogurts, including raspberry New York cheesecake and strawberry cappuccino.
Best of all, you can enjoy your frozen treat at a wooden picnic table with beautiful riverside views, shaded by a canopy of trees—not something many other roadside ice cream stands offer!
So, next time you’re driving around New Jersey on a hot summer day, slow down and look around for these and other fantastic ice cream stands nestled all throughout our great state.