"Kids' Activities Nearby " is sponsored by The Goddard School of Long Hill." This column will provide a round up of interesting things to do with kids in and around the area. To kick off the column, we wanted you to get familiar with the local libraries and their weekly happenings and upcoming special events.

Put These New Jersey Ice Cream Spots On Your List This Summer

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer along the Jersey Shore and its right around the corner. With the sun and sand comes a favorite sweet treat because who doesn't love ice cream?  Well, perhaps there are some, especially those with dairy allergies and folks who are lactose intolerant though ice cream remains a universal favorite, dating as far back at 3000 BC.

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Ice cream is thought to have begun with different flavored ices. The creamy dessert is said to have originated with the Chinese. Thanks to Marco Polo’s travels, the cool treat made its way to Italy. Catherine de Medici, an Italian, introduced the frozen dessert to the French when she married Henry II of France, but the general population didn’t start enjoying ice cream until 1660. The masses never looked back from there.

Ice cream has come a long, yummy way and how far would you drive to savor the best ice cream around? Would you travel farther if it meant dairy-free or vegan ice cream? There isn’t any shortage of ice cream places in New Jersey. On the boardwalk alone, you can’t walk the length of a town’s planks without encountering several that sell the treat. Yet, are they really spoon worthy? If you are an ice cream aficionado, here are the best ice cream shops that you absolutely have to put on your bucket list. There’s really delicious reasons why these places usually have lines. And, yes, it is definitely worth the wait.

Milltown Ice Cream Depot

Milltown is a slice of small town America. The Milltown Ice Cream Depot is a family-owned business that is the place to go for ice cream. From the outside, the diminutive red building that stood by the rail tracks looked more like an old train station than an ice cream shop, but delightful things actually do come in tiny packages. This season the popular Milltown Ice Cream Depot has moved to new digs in Milltown. The fabulous ice cream and the reasonable prices attract people near and far. Even in the cool of early spring or on a rainy day, cars in the parking lot. The Depot used to be seasonal, but now it is open year-round in its new location on Main Street in Milltown. Parents will love the off-the-menu size for younger kids and the ice cream cakes are a birthday favorite.

Cookman Creamery

Asbury Park may be better known for its rock clubs and Bruce Springsteen though this revitalized trendy shore spot also has one of the tastiest ice cream shops around. The Cookman Creamery doesn’t have a huge array of flavors like some places, but there’s enough and they are delectable. Flavors vary and you can check out Instagram to see what's hot on the menu this week. Cookman Creamery also offers vegan hard and soft ice cream as well as other gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free frozen delights. Cakes and pies are ideal for parties and holidays.

Days Ice Cream

Ocean Grove is a seaside Jersey gem. This quiet Victorian village is a direct contrast to the rockin' city vibe of neighboring Asbury Park. Nestled on Pitman Avenue, just a couple of blocks in from the Atlantic Ocean is Days Ice Cream. Days has been serving ice cream for more than 130 years. The shop first opened their doors in August of 1876. The quaint ice cream spot remains the oldest operating business in this historic town. Days is seasonal, opening in May and closing in the middle of October. In the summer, the lines will stretch outside the small shop. For those that want ice cream, but not a huge portion, they offer the perfect size. Enjoy it on the adjacent veranda that offers cool shade and wonderful views. Days even offers selection of dairy-free ice cream.

Bent Spoon

Princeton is the perfect place to walk around and take in the sites and stores. The town is home to prestigious Princeton University and houses an ice cream shop that is definitely spoon-worthy. Tucked in the popular Palmer Square just off of bustling Nassau Street is the Bent Spoon. You won’t find a dizzying amount of choices and the flavors are deliciously unique like beet streak, but once you have your first taste, you will be hooked. The Bent Spoon has an array of inviting desserts on the menu too.

Gil and Bert’s Ice Cream

Why not open an ice cream shop in your house? It’s a good idea especially if you live in lovely Cranbury. That’s pretty much what Gil and Bert did. Gil and Bert's Ice Cream serves delicious ice cream from their home with the enchanting yellow awnings right on North Main Street in Cranbury and have been since 2008. The shop is seasonal and usually opens around April Fool's Day and closes on Halloween. Stop by and enjoy their homemade ice cream or some tasty Gifford’s Ice Cream from Maine. Big Bertie is their ice cream truck that is available for rent for events or businesses. Gil and Bert’s is cash only.

Owowcow Creamery

The Owowcow Creamery has racked up the awards for top ice cream including being named to Huffington Post's Top Ten Ice Cream Shops in the USA. Featuring organic ice cream, the Owowcow Creamery in Lambertville is a must do. Flavors do change on a weekly basis. Some delicious favorites are i hate chocolate and blueberry lemon. In addition to its NJ location, Owowcow Creamery has additional shops across the Delaware River in Pennsylvania.

Coney Waffle

Angioliona D'Esposito opened Coney Waffle in 1946 in Coney Island, New York. Coney Waffle has four shops in New Jersey in Asbury Park on the boardwalk, Long Branch, Belmar and Red Bank. Coney Waffle has a bit of a cult following along the Jersey Shore. If you love enjoying delicious ice cream with a wide range of choices, make it a plan to check out Coney Waffle this summer. Vegan choices are available as well.

Ice Cream on 9

Located on Route Nine in Howell, Ice Cream on 9 offers 127 homemade flavors, more than 30 sugar-free flavors, 12 vegan flavors and more. With ample indoor and outdoor seating, this mom and pop ice cream shop makes for a yummy stop. Ice Cream on 9 also has ice cream cakes and novelties on the menu.

If your local favorite ice cream shop didn't make the list, let TAPinto.net know the location of your go-to ice cream hot spot.

"Kids' Activities Nearby " is sponsored by The Goddard School of Long Hill." This column will provide a round up of interesting things to do with kids in and around the area. To kick off the column, we wanted you to get familiar with the local libraries and their weekly happenings and upcoming special events.

Places to visit: 

The Great Swamp -- The 8,000 acre Refuge, located in Morris County, New Jersey, provides excellent recreational opportunities for visitors as well as protecting valuable habitat for wildlife.Click here for upcoming events, things to do, and ways you can help.

Raptor Trust -- They are dedicated to the fulfillment of three primary missions: To provide free care and assistance to injured, sick, or orphaned wild birds; To educate people about wild birds, especially birds of prey; To provide a humane example for others. Click here for upcoming events. 

Trailside Nature Center -- Trailside Nature & Science Center is Union County’s Environmental Education Center , located in the Watchung Reservation, a 2,065-acre preserve containing woodlands, fields, lakes, streams and more than 13 miles of hiking trails. Click here to learn more about upcoming events. 

Duke Farms --you’ll find over 1000 acres of land devoted to an ongoing exploration [in Hillsborough]—of native species, preservation and sustainability efforts, and of the area’s natural beauty. Join us for a walk or bike ride through the landscape. Attend a workshop, event or festival.  Click here to visit website. 

Reeves Reed Arboreetum -- Historic estate in Summit, NJ of gardens. The property engages, educates and enriches its visitors so that they become better stewards of nature and the environment. Click here for upcoming events. 

Loantaka Brook Reservation: a general purpose park comprised of 877.487 acres with 10.448 miles of trails in Morris Township. This linear greenway through a lush flat terrain park is perfect for bicycling, jogging, hiking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, and much more. There are both paved and unpaved trails through a variety of scenery. Digital trail maps are available online. Visit website to learn more. 

LIBRARY HAPPENINGS (Make sure to check Library Websites or call to verify schedules):

Berkeley Heights Library Happenings:

110 Roosevelt Ave, Berkeley Heights, NJ  908.464.9333

Tuesdays: 9:30 - 10:00 am; story time & a craft for ages 3 - 5.

Bernards Township Library Happenings:

32 S Maple Ave, Basking Ridge 908.204.3031     

Tuesdays: 9:30-10 a.m. Tot Time 2 1/2 - 3 1/2; 10:30-11 a.m. Preschool Storytime 3 1/2-5 yo; 6:30-7 p.m. Twilight Tales-Family Fun

Wednesdays: 10-10:30 a.m. Tot time Ages 2 1/2 - 3 1/2; 1:30-2 p.m. Preschool Storytime 3 1/2-5 yo 

Thursdays: 9:30-10 a.m. Baby Time Birth-15months; 10:30-11 a.m. Todler Time 16-30months 

Fridays:  9:30-10:00 a.m., Toddler Time (16 to 30 months) 

Saturdays: 10:30-11 a.m. Saturday Stories for all ages

Long Hill Library Happenings:

917 Valley Road, Gillette 908.647.2088

Warren Township Library Happening: 

42 Mountain Boulevard, Warren 908.754.5554

Watchung Library Happenings: 

12 Stirling Rd, Watchung 908.458.8455

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Know of an upcoming children's event? Email details to bpeer@tapinto.net for consideration to be included in this weekly column.