NEW JERSEY - 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.

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.

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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.