On the ice cream trail in Maine

Try some new flavors as you travel the ice cream trail in Maine! (Paige Impink photo)

July is national ice cream month, so what better excuse is needed to get out and enjoy some cold treats? As travel these days is a bit more of a thoughtful process, and destination day tripping is limited by what may be open, more food places are adapting and service at take out windows is increasing.

What better time to combine all the best aspects of a road trip in New Eng­land than to embark on the Maine Ice Cream Trail. A group of friends and foodies in Maine collaborated to create a website which lists 343 ice cream stops in Vacationland, as Maine is known. While it serves as a marketing tool for small businesses, the trail is an inspired idea to introduce visitors to some of the hidden ice cream stand gems of the state as well as list some solid old dairy bar standbys, gelato shops, and everything in between.

The trail is divided into regions and includes an in­teractive map. Perhaps you are a Dairy Queen aficionado, prefer sherbet, or maybe you’ve wanted to try Maine frozen custard. The ice cream trail group has a public Facebook page and updates the status of Maine’s ice cream stands and shops as they (mostly) survive the pandemic.

Sadly, a few have not, so please call ahead to be sure all places on your route are operational. And please bring your mask.

Some of the special ice cream flavors to be found in Maine include wild Maine blueberry and lobster ice cream. According to the International Dairy Foods Association, vanilla is still the top flavor in the United States, with chocolate, cookies ‘n cream, mint chocolate chip and chocolate chip cookie dough rounding out the top five.

However, there are gourmet flavors that are trending including more savory flavors such as sea salt, avocado, lavender, basil, and green tea, and flavor combinations which are pairings of salty and sweet such as those made with Maine-only Needham candies (I won’t give away the secret ingredient). Ice creams with all natural in­gredients are also increasing in popularity.

So, sit down and plan out your own ice cream trail adventure using the www.maineicecreamtrail.com website. You’ll get a break from being in the house, support small businesses, and the best part is you can explore the great State of Maine in a whole new way.

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