Is there such a thing as an ice cream hangover? That was the question we debated on the morning of Day 2 of the Girls Epic Michigan Ice Cream tour. We greeted the day with slightly less enthusiasm than the previous, silently adjusting expectations and strategies for the five ice cream locations on the schedule. The crappy, carb-laden breakfast offered at the hotel was not helping the situation, but luckily, a Starbucks just a couple miles away provided the caffeine infusion Marita and I needed. This was also the day that we remembered that we brought a GoPro, so we recorded some video reviews. Highlights: a side trip to South Haven beach, cows on the roof, and HoneyMadger has a breakdown. Everyone buckled in? We’re hitting the road.
Day 2, Stop 1. Sherman Ice Cream Dairy, South Haven, MI
When I mentioned that we were going on an ice cream tour, several people asked if we planned a stop at Sherman Dairy in South Haven. Its popularity was evident from the moment we pulled into the parking lot. We arrived about 15 minutes before they opened and goofed around taking selfies with the blue cows. By 5 minutes to opening, there were nearly a dozen other cars in the lot and a line forming at the door. We were among the first through the door and clearly the least experienced. The menu was impressive–spaghetti and meatballs made with vanilla “noodles” and chocolate “meatballs” topped with strawberry sauce. So was the selection of ice cream that filled at least three cases. The only bummer was the servers, who seemed to be regretting their career choice. The Ice Cream Professional and I decided to share the Tour of Sherman’s, which was six flavors of your choice. Based on the rave reviews from Day 1, I knew cake batter had to be one of them. Rachel was interested in the pretzel cone, and you can see the rest of the choices here.
Day 2. Spontaneous Visit to Beach
We were so close to Lake Michigan we decided to take a detour and spend a few minutes at the South Haven beach. The beach features one of Michigan’s many picturesque lighthouses, this one over 100 years old. The day, although sunny, was quite windy and the waves were crashing pretty hard. Despite the No Swimming warning, many people were in the water, including a surfer. We took a walk out on the pier and tried not to get washed over, then dusted off our sandy feet and loaded up the Ford Flex Adventure Wagon and headed east. Watch the GoPro vid with super dramatic music.
Day 2, Stop 2. Spirit of Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo, MI
The Spirit of Kalamazoo wasn’t originally on the tour but the place I wanted to go, Lafayette Creamery, wasn’t opened on Sunday so I had to make an adjustment. We drove scenic county roads to Kalamazoo and found our way downtown to the Kalamazoo Mall. After struggling to find our way out of the parking garage and traversing a construction area, we made it to The Spirit of Kalamazoo. It was more of a t-shirt and trinkets shop than an ice cream place but they did serve Plainwell ice cream and that’s what we were there for. The counter help was super nice. They wanted to hear all about our tour and seemed pleased that they were included. They even took pictures of our shirts. Also, super nice bathrooms. The Plainwell ice cream they serve is amazing. I had a scoop of Key Lime that was nice and tart with a fresh lime taste and big pieces of graham crust. I have to rate this as one of the top ice creams I ate and I’m very interested in trying some other Plainwell ice creams. I might have to add the mothership to next year’s tour.
Day 2, Stop 3. The Parlour, Jackson, MI
I lived in Jackson until midway through first grade and about the only thing I remember is Loud & Jackson’s Dairy, aka L&J’s, now known as The Parlour. The ice cream shop has changed owners a few times since then, as recently as the week after our visit, but it still has the character and super large scoops I remembered. A long, snaking white counter, red covered stools, and a gleaming glass case filled with ice cream. They don’t make their own ice cream anymore but it’s still delicious. And they have a full menu, so we had some lunch. Grilled cheese on buttered white bread and dill pickles was the popular choice and it was great. Another awesome thing is the Dare to Be Great ice cream challenge. Eat 21 scoops of ice cream with assorted toppings and whip cream in under an hour and you get it for free, along with your name on the wall. Hmmm.
Here’s a the video of our choices.
We were now seven stops in to our tour and some participants were starting to lose their edge. Lilly’s ice cream eating pace had slowed so that it was practically melted before she finished it. And HoneyMadger, despite her plea for the smallest of the small scoops, nearly had a breakdown when they sat this in front of her. She rallied, though, and that’s why we call her HoneyMadger.
Day 2, Stop 4. Washtenaw Dairy, Ann Arbor, MI
We were in the home stretch now, just two more stops on the tour. The Washtenaw Dairy, set just off the edge of downtown Ann Arbor, is like a step back in time. They’ve been around for over 75 years and it’s the kind of place where you’ll find a table full of old guys sipping coffee and eating donuts in the morning and families with a flock of youngsters eating ice cream in the evening. Bonus points for being the only stop to stock beer and have a Little Free Library. We had a guest join us for this stop so that was also a plus. Washtenaw Dairy now serves Stroh’s ice cream and they had plenty of flavors from which to choose, and a super nice scooping staff. Watch the video for a review of our choices, with a cameo from Lilly’s mom, who you can tell has not been on the previous stops because she has a two-scooper.
Day 2, Stop 5. The Final Destination: The Dairy-Go-Round, Plymouth, MI
We ended the tour at our favorite hometown ice cream place, the Dairy-Go-Round, located right on Main Street in Plymouth. It looks like a giant merry-go-round with painted carousel horses (no, they don’t actually move) and a big colorful tent awning. The Dairy-Go-Round also employs one of our tour participants, but she assures us that she can be impartial when it comes to rating all of our stops. And then she said that the Dairy-Go-Round is the best, so consider that when you review the ratings. We made an exception and allowed a couple dudes to join us at this stop. The DGR serves soft serve and scooped ice cream, which is from Guernsey Dairy, and has a very creative menu. They have plenty of tables and chairs around to sit and enjoy your ice cream, that is if you are not lucky enough to get one of the horses. A fan favorite is the brownie fudge mud, which is made with homemade brownies baked on site.
See the video for our choices.
What did we learn on our ice cream tour?
- There’s no such thing as bad ice cream.
- Mom dancing is universally embarrassing to offspring.
- It takes all flavors to make the world go round.
- If we all gathered around a bowl of ice cream, we could solve the problems of the world.
Also, I never got sick of eating ice cream, so maybe I should consider that Dare to Be Great Challenge at The Parlour. But mostly, hanging out and spending time with friends is fun and we should do it more often. We are thinking of ideas for future tours–pizza, hamburgers or another ice cream tour has been suggested. Also, getting a bus might be fun. Feel free to share your ideas, or get on the list for next year’s tour.
We rated all of the stops on the tour, and you can see what the data says by clicking here.