Riding your bicycle 100 miles for a few scoops of butter pecan is one way to show ice cream devotion.
David Gross, of Schererville, does just that a few times each summer and says the treats at Fair Oaks Farms are worth the trip.
He’s part of a cycling group that rides together every weekend, leaving from the Schererville/Griffth area bike trail. Guys from the group are always looking for a “century ride,” a 100-mile roundtrip trail, he said and a few years ago realized they could take one to Fair Oaks, 856 N. 600 E. in Fair Oaks, Ind. Visitors to Fair Oaks can take tours of its dairy farms and stop for a bite in its café that serves ice cream and sandwiches featuring its famous cheese.
Ice cream at Fair Oaks, fofarms.com, is made on site using the dairy’s own milk. Flavors include butter pecan, Gross’ favorite; vanilla bean; cookies and cream, chocolate and strawberry.
With three teenage daughters, Gross said he knows a lot about ice cream cravings. The bike trip to Fair Oaks takes about six hours round trip but the “good, creamy and rich” ice cream makes it worth it, he said. “Part of it is just the feeling of having ice cream on the farm where the cows were raised and the ice cream was made.”
Laura Radjenovich, of Dyer, is a long-time fan of Gayety’s Chocolate and Ice Cream, gayetyschocolate.com, which currently has locations at 3306 Ridge Road in Lansing and 36 Route 41 in Schererville. The original store was in South Chicago and run by the current family of owners since the 1920s.
Radjenovich said in her high school days in the early ‘80s, she would get off the bus at the original Gayety’s, order a chocolate shake or malt and walk about one mile, just finishing her frozen treat as she walked in the front door.
Nowadays, she works a few doors down from the Lansing location and still stops in for a shake. She said Gayety’s whipped cream is the best around.
Kim Farbak, of New Lenox, said she has been coming to Gayety’s since she was in diapers and still makes the 20-plus mile drive with her kids for her favorite ice cream treats.
“I have to say that for the past 20 or so years, I have my heart set on the banana split hot fudge sundae, and it has to be in a to go container because there is more there to devour.”
Carolyn La Belle, of Crown Point, also comes back to Gayety’s to relive ice cream memories.
“My parents used to go to the South Chicago location back in the day,” she said. Her mom told her stories about her dad bringing Gayety’s ice cream after giving birth to her and her brother.
“We were so excited when (Gayety’s) finally came to Lansing,” she said. “The sundaes, especially the whipped cream, were unforgettable.”
Gayety’s also specializes in handmade chocolates and La Belle said the chocolate Easter eggs are the greatest concoction. Her parents have passed away, but their family keeps the tradition of picking up a basket or egg from their favorite sweet shop.
“We have never come across anything like it and never will. It brings back all my childhood memories.”
Eleven-year-old Logan Ozdyck is still busy making childhood memories at the Valpo Velvet Shoppe, 55 Monroe St. in Valparaiso.
“I love the chocolate phosphates. They are very chocolaty and very good,” he said. “I've been going to Valpo Velvet for many years. We go on the last day of school. I love all of their ice cream except mint. I would tell everyone to get phosphates, any of them.”
Valpo Velvet, valpovelvet.com, features about 50 flavors of ice cream, all made fresh weekly on site. The old-fashioned ice cream parlor also features ice cream treats like sodas, malts, shakes and gourmet sundaes.
Nicole Bishop Ferris hasn’t replaced the spot in her heart for Valpo Velvet ice cream even after moving hours away. Born and raised in Valparaiso, she remembers hot fudge sundaes being on special after Valparaiso High School basketball games, with the price based on how many points the Vikings scored.
Her parents, Darryl and Mary Lou Bishop, still live in Valparaiso and receive special requests from her three kids - Hunter, Chloe and Logan. They call to tell them which ice cream flavors to bring to their birthday parties.
“My parents carefully pack two coolers full of ice cream for the five-hour trip to Madison, Ind. Some may think that is crazy, but we know it is worth the effort for the best ice cream we've ever had. Valpo Velvet ice cream is an ice cream everyone should taste.”