The writer holds a A vegan peanut butter chocolate chip cone from Page's Dairy Mart.
Vegan peanut butter chocolate chip cone from Page Dairy Mart. Photo by Michaela at @theveggie_mic courtesy by Page Dairy Mart.

The dog days of summer are here, the sun is high and bright, the thermostat needle is on the rise and a cool sweet treat is just what’s in order. While there seem to be endless varieties of ice cream shops in the city, finding a truly delicious dairy-free alternative has become easier. Here are a few of our favorites for vegan ice cream and other delicious desserts that rival any milk-based options.

Page Dairy Mart, South Side

To know of Page Dairy Mart is to know of Pittsburgh ice cream royalty. Page Dairy Mart is a slice of the city’s history starting out as a store selling to mill workers in the early 1900s, then as a gas station until the 1950s, and now a present-day ice cream stand. While the location at 4112 E. Carson St. has evolved, Page has been selling ice cream for more than 100 years. In addition to the usual offerings, Page’s now has vegan, oat-based soft serve on the menu. It’s the classic style you’ve grown up with using elevated ingredients.

Vegan sundae by Sugar Spell Scoops. Photo by Amanda Burk.

Sugar Spell Scoops, Sharpsburg

In Sharpsburg sits the city’s first vegan ice cream shop. At 1014 N. Canal St., Sugar Spell Scoops serves up exclusively vegan ingredients, with cashew, hemp and other nut-based ice creams. The concoctions are true sorcery, consistently coming up with new flavor profiles. If just a scoop doesn’t satiate your sweet tooth, you can order a vegan ice cream cake or preorder pints for your next celebration.

Photo courtesy Happy Day Dessert Factory.

Happy Day Dessert Factory, North Side

The Happy Day Dessert Factory supplies the most refreshing water ice on a warm summer day. The mango or lemon water ice is exactly what you’re looking for in a late summer dessert. If you want to try something unique, order the granny’s green apple ice for a tart treat. Located at 906A Western Ave. near CCAC, the North Side ice cream parlor regularly has more than 50 flavors of traditional homemade hard ice creams in addition to their vegan variety of water ice and the vegan coconut hard ice cream.

Gus & Yiayia’s, North Side

A sweet city staple that is sure to trigger your “summer in the park” nostalgia is Gus & Yiayia’s. Found sitting happily under an umbrella next to his bright orange sno-ball cart, Gus took over his small but busy business from his father in 1951 and has been serving refreshing treats ever since. Everything is heartwarmingly hometown — from the ice sourced from DiMartino Ice Company in Jeannette, to the house-made syrup flavors and the peanuts and popcorn that have long been on the cart’s menu. On any sunny day, you’ll find satisfied customers both old and young enjoying their ice balls over in Allegheny Commons Park on the North Side. They even have their own model in Carnegie Science Center’s Miniature Railroad & Village.

Millie's Homemade Ice Cream
Photo courtesy of Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream.

Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream, multiple locations

With 11 locations around the Pittsburgh area, you’re never very far from having a scoop of Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream in your hands. While the traditional scratch-made ice cream is first-rate, don’t forget about the delicious dairy-less options. The fruit sorbets are wonderful, but a decadent dessert is the dairy-free brownie batter, made with sustainably sourced coconut milk. It’s a sumptuous swap for a more traditional scoop. If you somehow can’t get your fix here in the ‘Burgh, Millie’s ships nationally. To see where all the magic happens, book a tour of their “pink collar” production facility in Homestead, à la Willy Wonka.

Naturoll Creamery ice cream
The Sweet & Salty at NatuRoll Creamery.

NatuRoll Creamery, Lawrenceville and Cranberry

With locations at 4318 Butler St. in Lawrenceville and in Cranberry's Piazza Plaza, NatuRoll Creamery pays tribute to that unique Thai-style rolled ice cream technique. The vegan ice cream is flattened and hand rolled with ingredients of your choosing, and the concentric circles neatly rest in the bowl. Mix and match any three toppings to customize your experience, making new creations each visit. The dairy-free options are truly endless.  

Dairy-free shakes. Photo courtesy of The MilkShake Factory.

The MilkShake Factory, multiple locations

These silky smooth shakes at The MilkShake Factory are made with soy and coconut, then finally spun with almond milk for velvety, chilled joy in a glass. A chocolate shop and soda fountain that began in Lawrenceville, this fourth-generation family business has been serving up sweets since 1914. There are now 11 different locations in the Pittsburgh area offering shakes and chocolates, so you can satisfy your cravings anywhere you roam.

Pittsburgh VegFest
Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh VegFest.

Pittsburgh VegFest, North Side

Getting more curious about a plant-based diet? Head to Pittsburgh VegFest this summer on Saturday, Aug. 10, 2024, at Allegheny Commons Park in the North Side. The 10th annual outdoor festival is a great way to support local businesses who are striving to offer more alternative and diverse food options in the city. With food, shopping, live music and an itinerary of events, this free festival offers up a myriad of entertainment in the name of advocacy for animal welfare.

Abbie Synan is a freelance writer and blogger who focuses on sustainability, travel, food and culture. When she isn't adventuring in a new country she is often found exploring Pittsburgh and rediscovering her hometown.