What better way to celebrate the this spring-like weather, than with ice cream?

The best NJ ice cream shops to visit! (altrendo images, ThinkStock)

These days, you could rank ice cream alongside bagels and pizza as things Jersey does best. From soft serve with *sprinkles* (that's right, I commit to the term)...to small batch flavors.  Here's the best spots to go (in no particular order, mind you)!

But wait ... before we get carried away, if we missed one, we want to know about it! Tweet me @ProudJersey and at @NJ1015 and let me know what you think.


1. Magnifico's (East Brunswick)

With more than 30 years in the biz, you better believe the ice cream is good! From soft serve, to hard ice cream, birthday cakes and ice cream-filled cannolis — they have it all. Among new menu items calling my name — the Hot Chocolate Lava Cake Sundae.

But, the above pic is a seasonal favorite, too — apple pie sundae! Magnifico's on Route 18 is open daily, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.


2. Cliff's Homemade Ice Cream (Ledgewood)

Cliff's has been a "neighborhood icon" (as it's billed) since 1975! The menu could immobilize you, with over 11 flavors of soft ice cream and over 60 kinds of hard, hand-dipped ice cream. That's not counting seasonal specials. Good places to start? Holy Cannoli, "Morris County Mud" or Lemon Raspberry Shandy.

Cliff's is on Route 46 West, within a mile of Routes 10, 80 and 206.

Editor's note: I can't believe Erin left out the Denville Dairy, just a few towns over! I've you've spent time around Morris County, the Denville Dairy vs. Cliff's question is definitional. They're both great I'm on Team DD. — Lou Hochman


3. Jake’s Cree-Mee Freeze (Manalapan)

Jake's is another landmark seasonal shop. Have your cash in-hand (no cards here), for soft serve or hard ice cream, frozen yogurt and even a Creamsicle Orange & Vanilla Swirl. Jake's also does shakes, malts, rootbeer floats and ice cream sodas.


4. Cookman Creamery (Asbury Park)

The clever tag line here "Whatever churns you on!" Along with Asbury's bustling scene along Cookman Avenue, this is your year-round spot for a sweet treat. (My family just visited for the first time, and will return.)

Tip: be sure you know which menu you're ordering from. I can attest to the quality of their vegan Irish coffee, but I would have been fine ordering from the Traditional menu.


5. Heavenly Havens Creamery(Allentown and Hamilton)

These two stores used to be Swal Dairy, and still serve the same ice cream. The former owners have moved on to expand production, with plans for a wholesale location in Monmouth.

So even by a new name, there's plenty of home-made ice cream, Italian ice and yogurt, whether on Main Street in Allentown or Route 33 in Hamilton.


6.The Bent Spoon (Princeton)

From classic to unique flavors, there's a handcrafted ice cream for every taste.

There's often a line outside the Princeton business, because as frequent visitors note, "It's that good." The Bent Spoon also offers baked goods, tea and coffee.


7. Holsten's (Bloomfield)

Aside from it's long history serving up yummy sundaes, Holsten's has a whole other fan base for being the final scene of HBO's Sopranos.

So, after taking a 'booth selfie' a la Tony and Carmela, be sure to try out a Marshmallow sundae or maybe an Egg Cream (yes, they still make 'em).

Holsten's Brookdale Confectionery also offers a diner-type menu and an extensive candy selection.


8. Petrucci's Inside Scoop (Piscataway)

Pettrucci's is a central Jersey mainstay, offering homemade ice cream and Italian ice, ice cream cakes, plus chocolate covered bananas. On most GPS devices, it comes up as Pettruci's Dairy Barn.


9. Frosty Freeze (Garwood)

For newbies to the Union County area, this is a seasonal "must-visit" in Garwood.

A nice balmy evening will see the North Avenue spot bustling with local families. Since it's been less than balm, the hours have been a bit varied — but as they put it on Facebook, they're "generally open 1 p.m. to 9 p.m."


10. Gabriel's Fountain (Martinsville)

Go for the homemade ice cream, stay for lunch or dinner. "Legendary" flavors ranging from the classics to Scarlett Knight, Spongebob and Grasshopper Pie. The menu includes Pistachio Affogato, "two scoops of homemade ice cream 'affogato' (drowned) in a shot of fresh brewed espresso."

The Somerset County restaurant also offers "ice cream tours," which could make for a fun birthday outing at any age.


11. Milk Sugar Love (Jersey City)

Another rising star on the ice cream scene, Milk Sugar Love in Jersey City offers 12 flavors daily. The four available every day: Vanilla Bean, Salted Caramel, Classic Chocolate and Lemon Olive Oil. The rest change with the season.

Milk Sugar Love also offers a pet lover's perk: Puppy FroYo (made from peanut butter, banana and yogurt). And, I leave you with this suggestion- Red Velvet cakewiches!


Proud Jersey Girl Erin Vogt’s first reporting gig involved her Fisher Price tape recorder. As a wife and momma of two kiddies, she firmly believes that life’s too short to drink bad coffee.  A fan of the beach, Dave Grohl and karma, in no particular order.

Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook as ProudJersey.