Tale of Two Thompsons

A Guide to Knoxville’s Best Ice Creams

Most folks aren’t aware that there’s a sixth love language. Yes, indeed. It’s called ice cream. Here’s a guide to your best bet for ice cream around Knoxville.

#1: Cruze Farm

Cruze Farm had a shop in downtown Knoxville, but they recently moved out to a big, beautiful old farmhouse in East Knox County. (Update: As of August 2018, Cruze has opened a permanent location on Gay Street!) The house has an expansive front porch where you can enjoy your waffle cone or churn. They’ve renovated the inside of the house to include seating as well and they also have a cute shop where they sell shirts, mugs and other dairy items like their famous Coffee Milk. As you can see from the pictures below, we frequent Cruze Farm quite often. They have really rich, flavorful soft serve and they’re pretty popular around these parts, as you can see by the long lines in the photos. I hope to one day be as photogenic as these waffle cones.

Flavor recommendation: Vanilla lavender, strawberry cheesecake, cookies & cream or plain ol’ chocolate. Their menu rotates weekly, so these flavors might not always be available. 





#2: Phoenix Pharmacy and Fountain

This blast from the past location is a dream for those who enjoy the old timey feel of exposed brick, creaky wood floors and 1930s music. The current building was erected in 1899! You can read more about its history here. The atmosphere and design of the pharmacy draws you in, but the desserts are what keep you coming around. The menu is strictly desserts, so don’t come here expecting to eat a full dinner. Our favorite item is the Classic Brownie Sundae with hot fudge dripping down the sides. You can choose between the full or half option. The half is big enough for two.


#3: Coolato Gelato

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between ice cream and gelato? We have the Italians to thank for gelato. It’s creamier, smoother and silkier than ice cream and uses more milk and less cream than is used to make ice cream. Gelato doesn’t have egg yolks either, which are sometimes present in ice cream, or custard. There are some other factors that distinguish gelato from ice cream, including less butterfat and air than is in ice cream, which makes gelato more dense. It’s served at a warmer temperature and with a spade instead of being scooped like ice cream. To me, gelato is just as delicious as ice cream, it just goes by a different name 🙂 Coolato Gelato is the dessert spot we go to most often in Knoxville because it’s so close to where we live and it’s served in smaller portions, so you don’t feel as bad (or full) after eating it. The flavors pictured below are raspberry, lemonade and birthday cake. They also have a yummy pumpkin spice flavor in the fall.



#4: Kay’s Ice Cream

Kay’s is a Knoxville staple, having been around since 1946. It closed last year actually, but a new owner purchased the property and it’s set to reopen by the end of the summer! I enjoy going here mostly for the history. It’s reminiscent of a 1950s burger joint, and I’m pretty sure their prices haven’t changed since then either. They only take cash, but there’s an ATM right around the corner if you forget. The staff is friendly and the epitome of southern hospitality. Kay’s sits along Chapman Highway and I can imagine how much traffic it’s received in the past from families stopping in for lunch on the way to Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge.

Flavor recommendation: Chocolate chip cookie dough and plain chocolate. 



#5: Tennessee Smokies Ballpark

I still can’t get over how perfectly swirled this ice cream cone was. Maybe it’s because it was so hot that day or because we were at the ballpark at sunset and it hit me that it was finally summertime, but this soft serve was just the best. Who knew that a concession stand swirl would make the list!


What are you favorite ice cream or dessert places around town? If you have other recommendations in Knoxville not mentioned in this post, comment below!

Thanks for reading,


P.S. Are you sad summer is ending? Read about the 9 things you need to do before the season ends!

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