I'll admit, I wasn't a fan of Graeter's when I first moved to Kentucky. I was still mourning the loss of not being able to go to my favorite local ice cream shop in Amenia, New York. Now that I've been living in Kentucky for a year come June, Graeter's has a special place in my heart. Here's what I didn't like about it at first, and now why I love their ice cream (and donuts!). Plus, I'll let you know a secret tip I learned from an employee one time!
The best Graeter's location is ...
Look, the ice cream is going to taste the same regardless of the location you go to. They have a very special style of ice cream called French Pot ice cream, and they've been around for over 145 years. It's a pretty special place to go, regardless of the location you pick. However, if you want Graeter's merch, pastries, and additional nicknacks to purchase, the Cincinnati, Ohio location is the best place to go for a large selection.
Of the pastries, I enjoy their blueberry muffins best. Pro tip: bakers have the day off on Sundays in this store, so if you like your pastries super fresh, go during the week or on Saturday. I'm not sure if this rule is universal across locations, but it does apply to this one, according to an employee I spoke with there many weeks ago.
Best treats to order and what to avoid
Fudgy's, my all-time favorite ice cream shop on the east coast, has a lovely black raspberry. I really dislike Graeter's version and it ruined the experience for me at first. Now that I've accepted they can't make a black raspberry, I haven't found any other flavors I don't love. Their salted caramel ice cream is perfection, and I alternate between that and the smores.
If you like sweets, they make lovely sugared fruit wedges. Above all else, my favorite thing to get from Graeter's is actually a donut. They make a wonderful Boston Creme donut, and it's on-price with Dunkin' Donuts, but ten times better. We get ours from the Florence, KY, location as it's closer to where we live, but if you go in the morning most locations will have them. People really like Graeter's donuts, so don't expect them to have any left if you try to grab a donut in the early evening.
Graeter's is like Gold Star or Skyline; it's a local classic. I'd argue that of those places, Graeter's is the one out-of-staters are most likely to get behind because of its universality and quality. I still remember my college professor back in New Jersey telling me I'd come to love Graeter's when I moved out here, and she was right. Give it a try if you haven't. They have plenty of outdoor seating for the hot summer days coming up.