Where to Find a Creemee, the Sweet, Uniquely Vermont Treat
With leaf peeping season upon us, your road map to six of the best stops for melt-in-your-mouth maple goodness.
Many people already know that Vermont is a point of origin for some of the country’s best ice cream. (Ben & Jerry’s alone has enough cultural relevance and freezer-aisle omnipresence to make that case.) Unless you’re a local, though, you may not know that the Green Mountain State is also a goldmine for a more under-the-radar variety of frozen treat: the maple creemee, Vermont’s answer to soft serve.
Aside from the obvious—its extraordinarily creamy texture—a maple creemee is usually distinguished from standard scoops by the use of local, higher-butterfat dairy, spun with perfect proportions of amber Vermont maple syrup. (Vermont is the top maple producer in the country, after all, with almost double the number of sugarhouses than the runner up.) That said, while maple might be the creemee’s archetypal flavor, roadside stands often serve plenty of silky offshoots—from crowd-pleasers like chocolate and vanilla to New England staples like black raspberry to novel takes like horchata, blueberry-basil, and plant-based coffee cardamom.
Even though humid summer days are generally regarded as the prime time for ice cream, if you ask us, the greatest season for enjoying a cone in Vermont is actually the fall, when the foliage erupts into dynamic shades of orange. And so, when you head north for leaf peeping (or any other reason, for that matter), keep your eyes peeled for creemee destinations tucked throughout state, including old-school landmarks, hidden-gem maple shacks, and a cadre of Vermont innovators who embody the state’s distinct knack for merging traditional and offbeat artisanship. Here are six places to start.
Lu Lu Ice Cream in Vergennes
Lu Lu owner Laura Mack grew up in the kitchen of her family’s farm-to-table restaurant, Mary’s. Her father spent over three decades as the chef-owner, her mother ran front-of-house operations, and she and her sister were servers, bartenders, and general all-rounders. With Lu Lu—marked by a giant ice cream cone that hangs over the town of Vergennes’ Main Street—Mack infuses unique and traditional scoops with her family’s commitment to hyper-local ingredients, from the coffee to the herbs to the butter. Award-winning flavors include a subtly floral, basil-infused sweet cream ice cream; the boozy Midsummer Night’s Dream with vanilla, dark chocolate chunks, and bourbon-soaked cherries; and maple creemees made with syrup that Mack, in typical Vermont fashion, sources from her own dairy department inspector. 185 Main St., Vergennes, VT, 802-777-3933, luluvt.com.
What to do nearby: Hike up Snake Mountain, a six-mile loop bursting with colors during foliage season. Or drive twenty-five minutes south to the small, beautiful college town of Middlebury, where there are eighteen miles of hiking paths and giant greenspace for relaxing by Otter Creek River’s tumbling waterfall.
Vermont Cookie Love in North Ferrisburgh
It’s easy to spot—and smell—Cookie Love’s roadside “Love Shack.” About twenty minutes south of Burlington, a small parking lot visible aside Route 7’s single-lane highway melts into a patch of grass with picnic tables; there, a chocolate brown hut quietly perfumes the surrounding area with the smell of just-baked cookies. While Cookie Love is known year-round for daily-made batches in flavors like Puppy Love, a salty-sweet peanut-butter batter studded with chocolate chips, its big following is also fueled by a seasonal creemee window swirling flavors like maple, vanilla, chocolate, and coffee (a local favorite). For the best of both worlds, top your creemee with finely crushed, homemade cookie crumbles, or sandwich a maple-coffee twist between two chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven. 6915 US-7, North Ferrisburgh, VT, 802-425-8181, vermontcookielove.com.
What to do nearby: Hike (or a drive) up Mount Philo, a quick loop with one of the best bang-for-your-buck views in Chittenden County. On your way out, make a pit-stop at Philo Ridge Farm for picnic fodder to eat now or some artisan Vermont goods—like handmade soaps, carved wooden spoons, and thickly woven blankets—to take home later.
Burlington Bay Market & Café in Burlington
Take a short, steep walk up College Street from the edge of Lake Champlain and you’ll hit Burlington Bay, a local landing spot for wine purchases, breakfast sandwiches, and, from early summer to late fall, velvety creemees tiered into cake cones. Burlington Bay offers all the staples—maple, vanilla, and chocolate—but their black raspberry is a standout. (Especially if you opt for a creemee twist, and swirl the violet-colored soft serve with the gently sweet maple.) 125 Battery St., Burlington, VT, 802-864-0110, burlingtonbaycafe.com.
What to do nearby: Rent bikes and cruise along the Burlington Greenway, a paved, eight-mile bike path along Lake Champlain, or take in a sunset from aboard the Spirit of Ethan Allen, a 140-foot-long cruise ship.
Offbeat Creemee in Winooski
The homemade, plant-based scoops at Offbeat Creemee, a stand at the Myers Community Pool in Winooski, fuse nostalgic flavors from owner Aisha Basset’s childhood with a dose of innovation and whimsy. Smoky Campfire, for instance, is churned with gently smoked coconut cream. Sunshine-colored Lemon Meringue Pie is folded with tart-sweet vegan lemon curd and crumbled Biscoff cookies. Cardamom Sweet Potato Casserole is luxuriant with warming spices and swirls of toasted vegan marshmallows. What’s more, all the creemees (including a satiny maple made with syrup from nearby Couching Lion Maple Sugar Farm), can be drizzled with Basset’s house-made toppings, like miso caramel and strawberry rose sauce. And to really top it off, there’s her super sweet, inclusivity-minded Cone It Forward program: Every Saturday, Offbeat’s tips are pooled towards a donation fund that provides free snack-sized creemees to kids without means to pay. 62 Pine St., Winooski, VT, 802-353-0355, offbeatcreemee.com.
What to do nearby: Swing by Beverage Warehouse, an unassumingly named destination for picking up rare finds in Vermont craft beer—or, for even more shopping options, hit all the charming boutiques on shop-filled Church Street in neighboring Burlington.
Canteen Creemee Company in Waitsfield
How to sum up Canteen Creemee Company? Consider its “Bad Larry,” a towering cone of maple soft-serve crowned with maple crystals, maple drizzle, maple cookies, and a melon-sized halo of maple cotton candy. The place is a glorious hybrid of Willy Wonka-like playfulness and bucolic simplicity, all set to a soundtrack of throwback rap music against the backdrop of the Green Mountains. For savory tastes, the walk-up window has a sought-after menu of fried chicken and griddled burgers—the sweet creemees, though, are the namesake for a reason. Flavors range from a rotating roster of simple swirls (maple, honey-lemon, blueberry, marshmallow…) to seasonal, idiosyncratic sundaes like Apple Crusher (a cinnamon-ginger twist with apple chips, apple compote, cider cream and cider donuts) or Pumpkin Escobar (a Choco Taco riff stuffed with pumpkin ice cream and flecked with golden chili threads). 5123 Main St., Waitsfield, VT, 802-496-6003, canteencreemee.com.
What to do nearby: Hike to the 360-degree views at the summit of Camel’s Hump, the third-highest peak in Vermont, or visit the Warren Store, one of the state’s iconic, still-operating classic general stores.
Palmer Lane Maple in Jericho
In the tiny town of Jericho, a clapboard, 1830s farmhouse with a wraparound porch sells from a kiosk window various maple confections, maple lemonade, and thick maple creemees topped with signature, homemade “maple sprinkles”—slivers of crunchy maple candy that mirror the heft and texture of their rainbow counterpart. This is Palmer Lane Maple, and it has been a destination for creemee devotees since 2012, when Colleen and Paul Palmer purchased the property and started spinning their family farm’s pure maple syrup with rich dairy from the third-generation farmers at Kingdom Creamery of Vermont. (Update: Palmer Lane Maple is currently closed, reopening on November 19.) 19 Old Pump Rd., Jericho, VT, 802-899-8199, palmerlanemaple.mybigcommerce.com.
What to do nearby: Hoof it up Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak, by foot, or simply hop a ride on the Stowe Gondola Skyride, which takes you up the mountain in a cable car with panoramic views.