It’s official – it’s summertime on Vancouver Island! This time of year is a magical one here on the West Coast, with glistening waters, blue skies and endless greenery, the island comes alive when the warm weather hits. The outdoor activities are myriad, whether it’s cycling, hiking, exploring new places on the island, revisiting old favourite haunts, shopping at the outdoor markets or just enjoying a seaside stroll, when the time comes to cool off, there is one tried, tested and true way to beat the summer heat: ice cream. And not your run-of-the-mill, chain restaurant ice cream. No, here on Vancouver Island, we have some incredible, locally owned and operated ice cream shops that are churning out incredible, unique and delicious flavours of our favourite icy confection.
Sooke & Metchosin
In the beautiful, sleepy little area of Metchosin, the Sugar Shack is where the locals get their ice cream fix. A part of the beloved My-Chosen Cafe, the Sugar Shack is a blend of classic west coast, farmhouse-style bakery with a 50’s twist. Here you can find fluffy, seasonally flavoured, single serve cheesecakes, perfectly, soft, celebratory cupcakes, thick milkshakes with architecturally dubious towers of whipped cream that threaten to tumble out of the mason jar receptacles – which really makes it even more fun to drink, and classic ice cream flavours. Whether you’re looking for a spot while riding or walking on the Metchosin stretch of the Galloping Goose, finishing a day at the beach or staying nearby at Arbutus Hill or Pacific Coast Beach House and Suite and just popping in to satisfy your sweet tooth, this pastoral cafe is the perfect place to stop for a refreshing treat to beat the heat.
Victoria is a stunning city with a huge influx of visitors each summer and as such, you’ll also find a veritable plethora of ice cream shops. Alas, not all are made equal and that’s why we’re giving you the scoop on where to go for the very best ice cream in the garden city!
In the funky little downtown neighbourhood of James Bay, right around the corner from the Harbourview Executive at the Reef or Reef Executive Condo you’ll find Jackson’s Ice Cream in the colourful float-home community of Fisherman’s Wharf. This small ice cream stand really packs a punch with what they have to offer! Here you can get frozen lemonade, ice cream floats, old fashioned milkshakes, sundaes, plus soft serve ice cream, sixteen different flavours of Island Farms ice cream, non-dairy sorbet and frozen yogurt all in their handmade waffle cones.
If you’re staying at Fernwood House, your local ice cream shop is the Can Canteen. Since 2010, these ice cream aficionados have been whipping up truly decadent, unique, satisfying and oh-so-delicious ice cream with the highest quality, local ingredients. Every batch of their incredibly popular ice cream is lovingly made with organic BC cream, eggs from happy, local hens, fair trade sugar and chocolate, fresh fruit and seasonal flowers and herbs. With Cold Comfort ice cream, you can feel good about eating ice cream while feeling good about supporting this innovative local company.
While you are wandering around downtown or if you’re staying a few blocks away at Ironworks Living Executive Condo or The Corazon, you’ve got to make your way to Kid Sister in Fan Tan Alley. This small batch glacier makes each and every batch from scratch using the highest quality ingredients – and it shows. For an out-of-the-ordinary ice cream experience, try one of the unique flavours like London Fog or banana coconut caramel. Looking for the classics? They’ve got them too! The Madagascar whole bean vanilla and local fresh strawberry will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about classic ice cream flavours. And if you’re not in the mood for a rich, creamy treat, they have incredibly decadent popsicles too! Craving a taste of Italy? Look no further than Mosi Gelato on Johnson St. In 1920’s Torino, Nonno Mosi made gelato in the summer in his Pasticceria and today, his grandson, Stefano carries on that tradition right here in Victoria. At Mosi, you can find delectable, creamy gelati and light, crisp sorbetto all handcrafted using locally sourced, quality ingredients.
There’s a lot to be said about this little seaside town. You can find incredible shopping and dining and you won’t have to look much farther for your ice cream fix than Quince Cafe right in the heart of Sidney. It doesn’t matter if you’re staying right nearby at Heron View Cottage or on the other side of the peninsula at Ardmore Executive House, this modest, hardworking cafe is worth the trip! They make all of their menu items in-house, daily and it’s here that you can find all your classic ice cream treats. Get a cafe affogato and head out for a walk along the seaside trail, be a kid again with an ice cream float or stick to the classic flavours served in a delicious waffle cone.
Tucked right in the Cowichan Valley is the historic seaside community of Cowichan Bay and for more than a decade, the Udder Guys have been serving up small batch, old fashioned artisanal ice cream right in the heart of Cowichan Bay Road village. Using top-quality ingredients and local seasonal fruit, this ice cream is absolutely phenomenal. Order a couple of scoops in a cone and wander around the bay or pick up a pint or two to take back to the Cowichan Bay Oceanfront Estate – either way, you’re in for a real treat!
Just north of Nanaimo, and right near Hammond Bay, you’ll find Burnt Honey, the labour of love for local couple Kara and Fiona Shedden. Since their recent opening in February 2019, these two have been making waves with their incredible confectionery and have quickly become the go-to place for decadent ice cream and expertly crafted macarons near Nanaimo. Using locally sourced, high quality, ingredients and unique flavour combinations, Burnt Honey ice cream and macarons are imaginative and delicious. Plus, their packaging is all recyclable or compostable and they have implemented green initiatives in the bakery – going here for your sweet fix is a real win-win!
While you’re staying at Kye Bay Beach House, the best pairing for the beautifully warm, dry, summer heat of the Comox Valley is artisanal small-batch ice cream from Blue Spruce. This little glacierie offers traditional custard ice cream and a variety of frozen vegan ice creams as well! Using only locally sourced, artisanal ingredients in their traditionally handmade ice creams that are all inspired by the beautiful Comox Valley, Blue Spruce is really one-of-a-kind in Courtney! Reignite your childhood nostalgia at The Big Scoop at the Comox Marina! This ice cream trailer slings seriously delicious Island Farms soft serve ice cream by the scoop. Grab yourself a scoop or two of your favourites and take a stroll around the marina – it’s a great way to end a sunny summer day!