Well hello, hot weather staple! Ice cream is my go-to in the sometimes unforgiving Minnesota heat. And there is no better place to kick it off than Nelson’s Ice Cream in Stillwater. Started in 1923 as the Seven Corners grocery store, owned by John Lustig, it was the place for top-heavy, cold ice cream. After John died in 1964, Art Nelson operated the grocery store until his death in 1964. His son Wade took over and changed the name to Nelson’s Dairy Store since the family already owned Brown’s Ice Cream in Minneapolis, where they served generous two-scoop ice cream cones for ten cents in the 60s. Later sold in 1992, and then again in 2006. In 2014, Nelson’s expanded and opened a second location in St. Paul.
The tiny building is quite the hot spot with lines out the door and cramped, full picnic tables – but don’t worry, the line is fast-moving and Nelson’s more than makes up for the wait with monumental portions. Who knew that someplace so small could house something so epic?! Back to the ice cream… Nelson’s has more than 40 flavors including Monster Cookie, Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl, Praline Pecan, Caramel Collision, Elephant Tracks, Moose Tracks, Mackinaw Island Fudge, Zanzibar, Pirate’s Booty, and even Superman! And for the caloric adventurer, try the Lumberjack. A challenge to eat five softball-sized scoops of any flavor with a choice of toppings. If you do actually finish, your photo will be displayed on Nelson’s “Wall of fame”. Nelson’s isn’t just a local hideaway, it carries a long list of accolades like “The Best of Minnesota Ice Cream” by WCCO, “One of the top five things to do in Stillwater” by Minnesota Public Radio and “Top 25 World’s Best Ice Cream Parlors” by The Daily Meal.
Oh! It’s helpful to know; they only take cash.