Opened March 2
On the west side, the first sign of spring is not the trill of Robin Red Breast, it’s the glow of neon around the rim of the flat roof at Zip Dip on Harrison Avenue in Bridgetown. From early March until October, long lines of locals, who have been coming here for most of their lives, form at the two walk-up windows.
The soft-serve ice cream and yogurt is tasty but it’s the ambiance that keeps people coming—savoring their treats on a hot night under that neon glow. Opened in 1950, Zip Dip is not some pre-fab retro-kitsch establishment; it’s the real deal. The classic sign—an ice cream cone lanced with a thunderbolt—has blazed like a beacon from atop the building for more than 50 years, letting west-siders know it’s time to celebrate summer. 4050 Drew Ave., Zip Dip, Bridgetown, zip-dip.com —Jack Heffron
opened March 23
The Cone is part ice cream shop and part carnival, complete with kiddie rides and an indoor arcade. Your kids can suck down soft serve and burn off the ensuing sugar buzz all at once.
But owner Keith Wren’s best marketing tool is the iconic cone-shaped building itself. Wren’s parents, who owned an ice cream store when he was a kid, spotted the structure for sale in Florida. Their son liked it so much that he bought it and hauled it back in pieces, opening up for business in 1995. Amid all of that, it’s easy to forget the ice cream, so take note: The Cone’s is excellent, especially their signature vanilla and orange twist creamy whip, which the Wren family has been perfecting since 1973. 6855 Tylersville Rd., The Cone, West Chester, (513) 779–7040, thecone.com —William Powell
OPENED March 28
Nestled near the entrance to Mt. Airy Forest, Putz’s Creamy Whip has been a warm weather sensation at its current location since 1950. The menu’s array of soft-serve specialties is hailed by west-siders as the best.
That tradition nearly ended in 1971 when I-74 was slated to pass within three feet of the property. Convinced it would destroy her business, Lil Ehrhardt wrote to President Richard Nixon asking for help. And she got it. State officials nudged the interstate far enough away to keep Putz’s in place. Today, it stands where you’d expect to find a westbound on-ramp—but there isn’t one. Bewildered travelers who get off at Montana Avenue for gas cannot get back on. Putz’s has that kind of power. 2673 Putz’s Place, Westwood, (513) 681-8668, putzscreamywhip.com —Jack Heffron
→Mt. Washington Creamy Whip & Bakery
OPENED April 2
Even though there are tables and chairs out front (and it was the first dry day in a water-logged April), I settled on Mt. Washington Creamy Whip’s campy dining room, with its blown-up photos of celebrities, kitsch-perfect booths, and flat-screen TV. (That day they chose to show Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Why? Because they can.) Get the classic vanilla or try their rotating flavors of the week, like cake batter, blueberry, or key lime. And if you ask them to, they’ll dip your soft serve in crazy-sweet cherry candy. Or pop open a fresh bottle of root beer from the cooler and make you a stellar root beer float. Add to all of this a smiling staff and a full bakery and your perfect summer afternoon is in the bag. 2069 Beechmont Ave., Mt Washington Creamy Whip, Mt. Washington, (513) 231–5295, facebook.com/mtwashcreamywhip —Amy Brownlee
Opened March 1
Up in Hamilton, right across Eaton Avenue from the six fields occupied this time of year by West Side Little League—the league that’s sent four teams to the Little League World Series in the past two decades—sits the curiously named Flub’s.
Could it be that those teams were fueled by the homemade soft-serve, sherbet, Italian ices, and cyclones dished out under the pink-and-white-striped awning at Flub’s? It’s possible. (Let us dream, OK?) Locations in Hamilton, Fairfield, and Ross, flubsicecream.com —Amanda Walters
Originally published March 2016. This post has been updated.