Ice Cream in San Francisco: My Six Favorite Spots in SF

Jill on a windy day at the Golden Gate Bridge

by Jill Loeffler  •

Updated: January 4, 2023

Where can you find the best ice cream in San Francisco? If you love this sweet creamy dessert like me, you will be excited to check out some of my favorite places in SF.

Many of them offer homemade options created from fresh ingredients. Some offer more traditional flavors such as chocolate or vanilla. However, you will also find some fun, new flavors such as Irish coffee, chocolate malt, and cinnamon brittle.

Read on for a list of the six places I frequent when I have a craving!

Two examples of tasty ice cream in San Francisco

1. Mitchell's Ice Cream

Mitchell's Ice Cream in the Mission

Mitchell's is a family owned ice cream shop in SF's Mission District. This popular stop makes small batches of creamy goodness every day in their store. They offer many standard flavors such as chocolate, chocolate chip, and vanilla. They also serve up interesting flavors such as toasted almond, peanut butter indulgence, and Kahlua mocha cream.

In addition to the variety of the flavors they serve daily, they also make special seasonal treats. These include flavors such as peppermint candy (winter), pumpkin (fall/winter), and Irish coffee (spring).

The only downside to Mitchell's is that there is almost always a line. However, it's worth the wait!

Mitchell's only has one store, but they do sell their ice cream in many local restaurants, stores, and shops.

Address: 688 San Jose Ave. in the Mission District at 29th Street

Hours: Daily from 11 am to 11 pm 

2. Bi-Rite Creamery

Ice cream cone from san francisco creamery.

Another one of my favorite places for tasty ice cream in San Francisco is Bi-Rite Creamery. They make small batch, organic ice cream in their Mission District store. Right next door in their bakery, they also make all of the sweet goodies that go in their ice cream.

They offer flavors such as salted caramel, TCHO chocolate, and cookies & cream. They also sell delicious ice cream sandwiches, pies, and cakes.

The line here is also usually long, but it usually doesn't take too long to get your ice cream.

For a long time, they had just one location in the Mission. A few years ago, they opened a second location near Alamo Square. The Alamo Square location is a full grocery store, so make sure you find the secondary door, which is the line for ice cream.

Mission District

Address: 3692 18th Street

Hours: Every day from 12 pm to 9 pm (this is just for the creamery, the grocery store is open from 8 am to 9 pm)

Divisadero (Near Alamo Square)

Address: 550 Divisadero

Hours: Daily from 8 am to 9 pm

3. Swensen's Ice Cream

Swensen's Ice Cream cone in San Francisco

Swensen's Ice Cream shop opened in the Russian Hill District at Hyde and Union in 1948. They were the first to offer premium ice cream with natural ingredients.

Today, their original store still serves up amazing ice cream dishes. They've also expanded and serve up their delicious treats through the US and the world. In fact, during our last visit to Malaysia, we entered an ice cream store that served Swensen's. It's was a nice piece of home in a faraway land!

Even though their ice cream is served in many locations, I recommend stopping by their original store for a walk-through ice cream history.

Address: 1999 Hyde Street

Hours: Noon to 10 pm Tuesday through Sunday, Closed on Mondays

4. Salt & Straw

Salt & Straw is another local brand that's making it big in the Pacific Heights and Hayes Valley Districts. It's rare to find them open without a line!

Several of their handmade treats include some type of chocolate, but you will also find some unique flavors with vanilla, strawberry and other tasty flavors. Some of my favorites include their Salted, Malted, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Chocolate Gooey Brownie, and the Strawberry Tres Leches.

They change their flavors regularly and you are free to sample a couple before you choose. Salt & Straw will not disappoint!

Pacific Heights

Address: 2201 Fillmore Street

Hours: 11 am to 11 pm daily

Hayes Valley

Address: 586 Hayes Street

Hours: 11 am to 11 pm daily 

5. Humphry Slocombe

A variety of unique flavors at Humphry Solocumb

Humphry Slocombe is a must try for serious ice cream lovers. They offer several unusual flavors that you will not find anywhere else.

Their flavors include options such as Hibiscus Beet Sorbet, Tahitian V*n!ll@, and Carrot Mango Sorbet. Other popular flavors include Cinnamon Brittle, Blue Bottle Vietnamese Coffee, and McEvoy Olive Oil.

They are also newbies and started their business in 2008. However, they bring in crowds from all over San Francisco and the Bay Area.

Their main shop is in the Mission District. You will also find a second store in the Ferry Building.

Mission District

Address: 2790 Harrison Street

Hours: Monday - Thursday from 3:30 pm to 10:30 pm, Friday - Sunday from 1 pm to 10:30 pm

Ferry Building

Address: One Ferry Building

Hours: Monday to Thursday from 12 pm to 9 pm; Friday from 12 pm to 9:30 pm, Saturday from 11 am to 9:30 pm, Sunday from 11 am to 9 pm

Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Shop

Sundae at Ghirardelli Square in Fisherman's Wharf

This entry is a little different from the others on this list as this entry focuses on the tasty sundaes at Ghirardelli.

The huge desserts features a variety of Ghirardelli ingredients including their chocolate squares, brownies, and chocolate sauce. They are worth a trip over to Ghirardelli Square.

The one in the picture above is their Crissy Field. My other favorites include Painted Ladies - Mint Bliss Sundae and Lands End - Salted Carmel Brownie Sundae. 

What I love about this shop is that you also get amazing views of the bay. You can see Alcatraz, Sausalito and other parts of Fisherman's Wharf. 

If you love chocolate, ice cream, or both, I highly recommend indulging in one of these sundaes here. 

You will find Ghirardelli Square on the western end of Fisherman's Wharf.

My Favorite Places to Eat In SF

There are hundreds of places to enjoy a meal in San Francisco. These are just some of my favorites.

Burgers: If you love burgers, you will find several amazing options in San Francisco. Some of my favorites are casual drop in diners and others I frequent are higher end restaurants. Click here to check out where I go when I'm craving a burger.

Pizza: I LOVE pizza and could eat it every day. In SF, you will discover a long list of great places for pizza. I've narrowed down my list to my top 10 favorites. Some of them only sell by the slice, some only sell full pies, and others offer both options. .

Italian: You can't talk about top restaurants in San Francisco without including some of our top Italian Restaurants. Many of them are in or near North Beach. You will also find some great options in Nob Hill and Pacific Heights. Click here for just some of my favorites.

Clam Chowder: On a cool day in San Francisco, nothing beats a warm bowl of clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. Most SF restaurants offer New England Clam Chowder (the creamy white soup) with a few offering Manhattan Clam Chowder (the red, tomato based soup). My list includes the best of both options. Click here for the best places for Clam Chowder in SF.

Other Fun Tips for Your Visit

Disclaimer: I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.

Fisherman's Wharf: This popular district sits on the northern end of the city along the waterfront. This is where you will find several top attractions such as Pier 39, Ghirardelli Square, and the Aquarium of the Bay. You can learn about this district's history, enjoy a variety of foods, and more. Click here to learn more about what there is to see and do in this famous district.

Alcatraz Island: One of the must see attractions in SF is Alcatraz Island. It's a historic gem and an experience you will not find anywhere else. During your visit, you will see what it was like for the prisoners here and listen to stories from both prisoners and guards. Make sure you book this as soon as you can as spots fill up quickly. They sell tickets 90 days out. Click here for details and to pick up your tickets today!

California Academy of Sciences: Can I also call this a must see attraction? This is really a great option for the entire family as it's four museums in one. Under one roof, you can visit an aquarium, see a show at the planetarium, learn more about natural history, and walk around a four-story rainforest. You can also step inside the earthquake simulator to feel what it's like to be in an earthquake and stop by to say hi to Claude, the rare white alligator. Book your tickets in advance for skip the line privileges. Click here to learn more.

Self-Guided Itineraries: Do you love to explore on your own? Do you wish you could see as much as possible during each day of your visit? Now you can, with my self-guided itineraries. You will find options to explore all of SF in one, two, three, or more days. You can also get an in-depth look at each of SF's top neighborhoods including North Beach, Fisherman's Wharf, and Chinatown. Click here to check out all of my self-guided itineraries.

Comments? Questions? Suggestions?

I would love for you join me in my private Facebook group

It’s a great place to interact with me and others that know the area well.

You can ask questions, get advice for your upcoming stay, and then share your photos and advice with others when you return home. It’s a great community and the fastest way to get answers to those nagging questions about your visit!

Come join the fun here!

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Exclusive Member of Mediavine Travel

Copyright © 2009-2023 by All rights reserved.

This website does not sell any personal information. (See privacy policy)