Now that the thermometer has hit 90-degrees for the first time this season in Central Florida, it’s time to talk about something of the utmost importance. No, it’s not a lecture about pool safety or the dangers of UV rays. Those things are important, but not what I want to address in this Good Spot column.
I travel extensively around Central Florida and every now and then find myself craving a good cone of soft serve ice cream. There’s nothing like a large twist of chocolate and vanilla soft serve on a hot day to remind you of your childhood. Unfortunately, in this age of ice cream shops that specialize in mix-ins, places that cater to those of us that like soft serve aren’t always the easiest to find. So I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite soft serve ice cream shops here in Central Florida to get your taste buds ready for the warmer months. In no way am I suggesting the shops on this list are the only places that have soft serve. They’re just some of the ones I have found with consistently good soft serve at affordable prices.
Twistee Treat (397 E Burleigh Boulevard, Tavares) – Look for the giant ice cream cone when you’re traveling between Tavares and Eustis and you’ll find delicious swirls served from a unique, retro building. At one point in the 1980s, there were around two dozen Twistee Treats in the Sunshine State. But the original company went belly-up in 1990 and many of the cone shaped buildings sat empty for years. A new Twistee Treat company was formed in 1996 with the pilot store located in Lake County. What makes this shop so great for soft serve aficionados is that this is one of the few places in Central Florida where you can find a triple twist cone – chocolate, strawberry and vanilla.
Big Twist (17195 US Highway 441, Mt. Dora) – Jeremy DiFiore originally opened the shop in the town’s historic district a couple of years ago. Located at the front entrance to an antique mall, The Big Twist only featured soft serve ice cream and outside seating. Then in 2010, Jeremy decided to cater more to locals and relocated the shop to the Lake Louise Plaza on U.S. 441. Now, in addition to soft serve, The Big Twist stocks a good selection of Hershey brand hard ice cream and has plenty of outdoor and indoor seating.
Del’s Freez (402 N Harbor City Boulevard, Melbourne) – It seems that almost everyone who grew up in Melbourne has a fond childhood memory about Del’s Freez. Located on US 1 just south of Eau Gallie, this has been the place to bring your sweetheart in Brevard County for more than forty years. When the weather is hot, dozens can be seen waiting in line for some of the smoothest soft serve around. According to locals, the ice cream hasn’t changed in years. It’s good to see some good old-fashioned places still exist.
Rodeo Whip (1250 South Woodland Boulevard, DeLand) – So you need your cone to go? That’s no problem at Rodeo Whip. This DeLand institution features a drive-thru window for busy soccer moms or those of us who are just too lazy to get out of the car. The business was ravaged by a tornado several years ago, but has managed to rebound and is better than ever. When you’re driving on Woodland Boulevard, keep your eyes open for the little cowboy on the window of this quaint shop.
Ho Daddy O’s Surf Cream (4600A South Atlantic Avenue, Ponce Inlet) – I discovered the newest ice cream shop on the list by accident one day while driving to Ponce Inlet. Open since late 2010 and just steps from the Atlantic Ocean, Ho Daddy O’s sells what it calls “surf cream.” The walk-up window near the 7-11 has a funky beach vibe with a oversized lifeguard chair and surf boards for decoration. The place scored points the first day I tried it. Ho Daddy O’s is one of the few places I’ve found in Central Florida to sell Mayfield’s, a brand from my native Tennessee.
Sally’s Ice Cream (401 N A1A, Flagler Beach) – What better way to end a day at the beach than with a cone of ice cream? Sally’s never disappoints. This mom and pop operation across from the ocean on A1A in Flagler Beach has good soft serve at affordable prices. They also have a small selection of other foods like hot dogs and chili fries. Be warned that outdoor seating at Sally’s is limited and there can be large crowds on the weekends. My suggestion. Plan on taking your cone back to the beach and eating it there. It’s more special that way.