Caffe Gelato

It's almost summertime here in the city, and my kids and I are already making daily pit stops for ice cream. Luckily, we live in Chicago, where we can select from a number of ice cream parlors to match our moods. Here are our top three favorite (kid-friendly!) spots for ice cream in Chicago.

Scooter's Frozen Custard (1658 W. Belmont)

Scooter's Frozen Custard

Scooter's offers frozen custard, a smooth, creamy, delicious version of ice cream. You'll know that this ice cream is fresh and made with the highest quality ingredients at first lick. Choose plain vanilla or chocolate, or a selection of special daily flavors, and the Scooter's staff will mix it with your favorite add-ins, creating a customized ice cream treat dubbed the "Concrete." (Check out the Blackhawks Concrete above, perfect for game day!) Check Scooter's website to discover the special flavors of the day (recently featured: Strawberry Oreo and Whisky Caramel). Little ones will adore Scooter's toddler cone, a mini-cone filled with fresh frozen custard, just right for little hands.

Caffe Gelato (2034 W. Division St., pictured at top) in Wicker Park is a tried and true Italian gelateria. I love the light sorbetti here, more refreshing than American ice cream, while my kids love the fact that they can choose more than one flavor - my son always picks his top three: a just-right scoop of strawberry, straciatella (plain cream with dark chocolate swirls), and pistachio. Don't forget to request a topping of fresh panna - it's unsweetened, so you can enjoy the smooth creaminess of whipped cream without the cloying sweetness.

Margie's Candies (1960 N. Western Ave.; 1813 W. Montrose Ave.) is a Chicago original, the backdrop of many first dates, engagements and good report card celebrations. Since 1921, this Chicago candy and ice cream shoppe has been serving its patrons - including Al Capone and The Beatles - their signature sundaes, splits and housemade chocolates from its small parlor at the corner of Western, Armitage and Milwaukee avenues. 

Margie's Candies

I love Margie's classic Turtle Sun: vanilla ice cream served in Margie's signature oyster shell-like dishes, topped with nuts, caramel, a generous swirl of whipped cream, a cherry, and a small metal pitcher filled to the brim with the best hot fudge sauce ever. The portions here are so huge that I still share my sundae with my five-year-old daughter. Every sundae and split comes with a vanilla wafer cookie, delightful for dipping. On your next visit to Chicago, hop on the Blue line to the Western Avenue stop and walk the half block to this Chicago legend, making sure to arrive with an empty stomach!

Photos: Caffe Gelato by Grace Allen via flickr; Scooter's Frozen Custard via Facebook; Margie's Candies