The world has felt a bit smaller this year. No spring break trips to visit my sister in New York City. No last-minute trips to Lansing to watch an obscure Broadway production. Some days I barely made it from Zoom research paper conferences to my kitchen for some melted cheese on a tortilla.
At one point this year, someone told me it was their goal to compile a book reviewing mom-and-pop ice cream shops across the country. While my world was unexpectedly small this year, I did make it to a few such shops across the state of Michigan. I consider this piece my humble attempt to commandeer someone else’s dream for my own uses:
1. Rockies. Rockford, Michigan.
A staple of the past five summers that I’ve spent working in Rockford. It can be found in the cute and colorful storefronts of downtown Rockford. A cheesy name celebrating the town it can be found in? 10/10. A charming new addition of orange pool noodles glued to its exterior to ensure social distancing? Dreamy. Flavor ordered? You guessed it. Peanut Butter Cookie Dough. Hard to go wrong at this classic establishment.
2. Herald’s Dairy Delight. Carson City, Michigan.
When I found this little pocket of sunshine across the street from my new place of employment, I knew I had to try it. Aesthetically, it is captivating, from its greenhouse-like glass exterior to its pastel interior. I was particularly inspired by the mural of pizza on the walls next to the counter. I made the adventurous decision to order Mom’s Cookie Dough and wouldn’t change it for the world. If you find yourself driving down M-57 anytime soon, you should check this joint out.
3. The Croton Trading Post. Croton, Michigan.
On the outside, it looks like a standard Northern Michigan convenience store, supplying anything from gas to pizza to live bait. But sometimes, after your plans for a weekend canoeing trip have been foiled by a feisty thunderstorm, the ice cream available here is the only chance to bring up your spirits. You may be surprised to hear that I ordered a cup of cookie dough from the trading post. The service was warm and welcoming, and the ice cream in a cup was perfect for riding in a packed and sweaty SUV.
4. Goody’s Juice & Java. Manistee, Michigan.
I know what you’re thinking. That doesn’t sound like an ice cream place! But I am telling you, take a chance on Goody’s and step inside that colorful main-street facade. Hidden on their menu is the option of an Oreo or Snickers Freeze. It’s something like a milkshake blended with straight angel’s wings. Truly, heavenly. I’ve never had a milkshake like it. And neither have you.
Perhaps your world has felt deceptively small this year too. If so, maybe you need to try one of these gems. Maybe you need to find your own hidden gem. Adventure can still be found on a smaller and simpler scale. Like a coffee shop in Manistee, Michigan. Or branching out and ordering something that doesn’t involve cookie dough.
Susannah Boersma graduated from Calvin University in May of 2020. She studied secondary English education. She lives in Grand Rapids and works at Carson City-Crystal High School as an English teacher.