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6 places to get soft serve ice cream in Tampa Bay

The creamy treat is always in season.
 
A cherry-dipped cone is served at Dairy Joy in South Tampa.
A cherry-dipped cone is served at Dairy Joy in South Tampa. [ HELEN FREUND | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Dec. 6, 2023|Updated Dec. 7, 2023

With the closing of St. Petersburg landmark Dairy Inn, we are mourning the loss of a local place to get good soft serve. So we decided to round up other places to satisfy that craving. Here’s a list.

Dairy Kurl

Morton Myers, pictured in 2019, is an entrepreneur and lifelong Clearwater resident. He owns Dairy Kurl, which has been serving customers since 1953.
Morton Myers, pictured in 2019, is an entrepreneur and lifelong Clearwater resident. He owns Dairy Kurl, which has been serving customers since 1953. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Tampa Bay Times ]

Flavors are simple at this Clearwater staple that’s been doling out soft serve since 1953: vanilla, chocolate or swirl. But you can dip it in chocolate, butterscotch or cherry and top it with sprinkles, nuts, whipped cream, cereal, cookies and candy. It also serves sundaes, milkshakes, floats and Italian ice, which can be blended with soft serve. 1555 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd., Clearwater. 727-303-0848. dairykurl.com.

Twistee Treat

The St. Pete Beach cone-shaped stand has been dishing out soft serve since 1984. A whopping selection of 66 flavors gets added to a single machine, doling out creamy, tasty swirls. Cinnamon, eggnog and peppermint are among those flavors, proving that in Florida, ice cream is a holiday treat too. While the beach location is iconic (it appeared in the 2013 movie “Spring Breakers”), it’s separate from other Twistee Treat franchises dotted around Tampa Bay, where you can also find soft serve. 6900 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach. 727-367-7690. stpetebeachicecream.com.

Related: 10 beloved, old-school ice cream spots

Bo’s Ice Cream

This shop has been serving locals since 1954. Bonus: It has a drive-thru, so you can luxuriate in your vehicle while ordering soft serve in cones or cups, regular or hand-dipped. How good does dark chocolate dipped in butterscotch sound? 7101 N. Florida Ave., Tampa. 813-302-9644.

The Cereal Bar

A Cocoa Puffs waffle cloud is served at downtown St. Petersburg ice cream shop The Cereal Bar.
A Cocoa Puffs waffle cloud is served at downtown St. Petersburg ice cream shop The Cereal Bar. [ Courtesy of The Cereal Bar ]

A newer addition to downtown St. Petersburg, this spot serves homemade ice cream that you customize by filling the machine with cereal. It’s presented as soft serve, and there are about 10 rotating flavors including espresso, cookie butter, peppermint and cinnamon. There is also a vanilla vegan option. It’s served in a waffle cone or atop a Belgian waffle. 689 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. 727-289-1127. instagram.com/cerealbarstpete.

D’Lites Emporium

Indulgence without the guilt is on the menu at this franchise with locations in Tampa and St. Petersburg. The soft serve is “low in calories, fat, carbs, and sugar, and is cholesterol free and has no artificial sweeteners.” The St. Pete store offers weekly flavors like coconut brownie, Heath bar and Nutella. The Tampa shop rotates its 100 flavors daily, which include dulce de leche, key lime cheesecake and tres leches. 3629 49th St. N., St. Petersburg. 727-525-0400. tampabaydlites.com. 1906 S. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. 813-251-5222. dlitestampa.com.

Dairy Joy

Dairy Joy has resided at 3813 S Manhattan Ave. for more than 60 years.
Dairy Joy has resided at 3813 S Manhattan Ave. for more than 60 years. [ BY MONIQUE WELCH | Monique Welch | Times ]
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Explore all your options

Whether you’re in Tampa or Seminole, you can enjoy this soft serve and 1950s nostalgia. The Tampa store dates back to 1958 and has a drive-thru. Both stores serve chocolate, vanilla or swirl that can be dipped in chocolate, butterscotch, cherry or blue raspberry. Or they can be the base for sundaes like strawberry shortcake, fudge brownie, peanut butter cup and the classic banana split. 3813 S. Manhattan Ave., Tampa. 813-839-5485. 5994 Seminole Blvd., Seminole. 727-319-6216. dairyjoy.com.