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The Ice Cream Diaries: Kimmer's Ice Cream in St. Charles

I actually have already written about Kimmer’s Ice Cream before. Or at least the location. Kimmer’s is located in the space occupied for many years by the former Gramp’s Frozen Custard, along the Fox River in downtown St. Charles.

Kimmer's Ice Cream is located in St. Charles.But along with a name change and interior makeover, Kimmer’s is owned by an enthusiastic young woman who is eager to try out new flavors of her homemade ice cream and work with the community. Read on to find out more about the latest entry in the “Ice Cream Diaries.”

Name: Kimmer’s Ice Cream

Address: 1 W. Illinois St. in Charles, in the Fox Island Square complex and across the street from the Blue Goose SupermarketPhone: 630-762-9480. There’s a parking lot in front of the store with plenty of shops.

Hours: Monday through Saturday from noon to 9 p.m., Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. 

Good for: Anyone enjoying an outing in downtown St. Charles or riding the Fox River bike paths. It makes for a wonderful, scenic walk along the river from the nearby Mt. St. Mary Park. Kimmer's would definitely be of interest to ice cream connoisseurs who want to try some gourmet scoops. Kimmer’s offers your standard favorites, but on a recent visit it also had Aztec hot chocolate, honey with lavender infusion, black raspberry and caramel sea salt. Other unusual flavors the shop often has in its rotation include red velvet cake, coffee and donuts and cinnamon roll. In total, you’ll have about 20 flavors to choose from.

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The Ice Cream Diaries: Huntley Dairy Mart

As someone who came up with a feature called “The Ice Cream Diaries,” you’re probably not surprised that I get excited when I find an ice cream shop that’s open year round. The focus of the latest entry has something even better going for it: It’s located less than a mile from one of the best parks for toddlers and preschoolers in Chicagoland.

The Huntley Dairy Mart is located on Route 47. Photo by Tara Burghart.Name: The Huntley Dairy Mart

Address: 10706 North Illinois Route 47 in Huntley. Phone: 847-669-5737.

Hours: Sunday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Good for: Anyone who appreciates Americana, the 1950s, ice cream or a good deal.

The Experience: My family spent a recent sunny Sunday at the spot that kicked off the “Great Parks!” series: Discovery Zone at Huntley’s Deicke Park. The pretend play area in the Discovery Zone has a barber shop, a police station and a red plastic shack called the Huntley Dairy Mart. A quick consult of my smartphone revealed the play shack's inspiration was just up the street, so we after we were done at the park, we set out to check out the real thing.

The Huntley Dairy Mart has been around since 1955, and it doesn’t look like much about it has changed since then. You walk up to an outdoor window to place your order and there are hexagon-shaped picnic tables under an outdoor awning where you can sit down and eat.

I was impressed by the all choices for dipped cones, which included cotton candy sprinkles. (Yes, I get impressed by these things.) There were also lots of varieties of sundaes, floats, sodas, shakes, malts, etc.

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The Ice Cream Diaries: The Dairy Hut on Main in Oswego

You know the old saying. If you can’t stand the heat, you might as well just eat ice cream. So it’s a perfect day to welcome back one our personal favorite features from last summer, “The Ice Cream Diaries.”

Photo by Tara Burghart.Name: The Dairy Hut on Main

Address:  121 South Main Street in Oswego

Hours: Summer hours are Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Note that those hours become more limited once summer is over and it closes entirely in the winter. To make sure you’re not making a trip that might end in disappointment, call 630-554-6800.

Good For: Anyone who likes ice cream – or a slice of Americana.

The Experience: The Dairy Hut in Oswego is located on Main Street, and that’s perfect, because it seems as American as apple pie – even if that’s a weird comparison to make for an ice cream shop.

Once known as the “Dari-Boat,” this tiny ice cream joint has been around since the 1960s. While you place your order and pick it up inside, the seating is all outdoors, much of it under an awning that provides good shade.

The Dairy Hut services soft ice cream – vanilla, chocolate or twist – and it’s one of the least expensive spots I’ve visited recently. A small cone is $1.65. A “kiddie” cone is just 50 cents. If you want to get a bit more fancy, you can order sundaes, shakes floats, smoothies and “tornadoes” (like a DQ blizzard). If you bring your pup along, you can order a "Doggie Dish" for him.

But the Dairy Hut also offers food: Burgers, hot dogs, pork tenderloins, Italian beef, French fries and various other cheesy or fried items. I didn’t say it was a health food store, did I? A 1/3 pound burger will cost you $3.30.

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The Ice Cream Diaries: Gramp's in St. Charles

It’s been a tough couple of years for Gramps. Gramps as in Gramp’s Frozen Custard in downtown St. Charles.

Imagine you. Here. Eating frozen custard. Photos by Tara Burghart.The First Street Redevelopment Project meant that the area surrounding the shop was usually filled with more orange cones and detour signs than pedestrians.  A couple businesses in its shopping plaza have closed since construction started, and I’ve spoken to at least one owner of a shop on Main Street who blamed the project for eliminating her walk-in clientele. (She’s since closed her doors.)

But a major part of that redevelopment project has been completed: A string of retail shops (topped by offices and a parking garage) that is drawing a crowd of shoppers and diners to the area just west of the Fox River south of Main Street.

It looks like the change has been very good for Gramp's, which is located in a shopping complex called Fox Island Square, just kiddy corner from that new retail development. My family visited at about 9 p.m. on a Friday night, and the place was very busy. It’s a good thing, too, because Gramp’s serves some creamy, delicious frozen custard.

The shop is decorated with antique glass milk bottles, cow statues and other dairy-related paraphernalia. It has wooden tables and chairs with wrought-iron backs like you might see in an old time soda-fountain 100 years ago – plus a miniature table and chair set for young children.

Gramp’s usually offers several flavors each day, and about two dozen topping choices. When we were there, the flavors were vanilla, chocolate, brown cow (a chocolate and vanilla mix), a caramel and Oreo mix  and pomegranate. You can get them in a cone or cup, or a selection of waffles bowls and cups. A single scoop in a cone or cup will cost you $2.69 and two scoops $3.09; a bit pricy, but the scoops are generous.

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The Ice Cream Diaries: Graham's Fine Chocolates & Ice Cream

I have a confession to make. I like soft serve ice cream. I love frozen custard. But my heart really belongs to regular, traditional ice cream. Preferably in a sugar cone.

Graham's front patio is filled with Adirondack chairs. Photos by Tara Burghart.So that makes Graham’s Fine Chocolates & Ice Cream one of my favorite spots in the Fox Valley. Many of you have probably already been there, but for the few who have not, it’s a spot to put on your must-do list before summer ends. Although Graham’s remains open year round, your first visit should really involve humidity, ice cream, napkins and one of the shop’s signature white Adirondack chairs.

Graham’s is located in a 140-year-old house on Geneva’s Third Street, a short walk from the Metra station. It’s been in the current location for about 20 years, but actually opened in 1987 kiddie-corner across the street, in the Berry Shops.

The store is owned by Robert Untiedt, a former music teacher, and his wife Beckie, a musician. Their backgrounds probably explain why you’ll often seen flyers for cultural and music-related events hanging in the store, which is decorated with antiques and memorabilia.

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