After a sports game, dinner or an outdoor adventure, many families like to gather over something sweet and cold. For Store Reporter readers, there are five places that really take the cake… not to mention the candy, the gelato and the ice cream.

  • CARMEN’S ITALIAN ICE & CAFE: This local favorite is packed every weekend after soccer, baseball, family outings and other occasions that call for a sweet ending. Crowds come for the homemade Italian ice, frozen custard and shakes that can be mashed together into all sorts of tasty combinations. “Carmen’s is the bomb diggety,” says reader Helene Dolan. “So many flavor combos, and everything is delicious.” Carmen’s Italian Ice & Cafe, 1115 Nelson Street in Rockville.
  • SPRINKLES: There’s always a crowd at Sprinkles, a Potomac Village institution serving ice cream, birthday cakes, milkshakes and other freshly made sweets. In the evenings, it’s often one of the last businesses to close in the Village. “My kids have been going there for over 16 years,” says reader Karen Reyes Kuchins. “They will drive across town to bring home a Sprinkles homemade coffee Oreo ice cream pie.” Sprinkles, 10148 River Road in Potomac Village. 
  • LOLLI AND POPS: If you haven’t visited Lolli and Pops, which opened last fall at Westfield Montgomery Mall, you’re in for a real treat. Even adults get that “kid-in-a-candy-store” feeling from the dazzling selection of gourmet items, retro goodies, international sweets and oddball drinks (peanut-butter-and-jelly soda, anyone?) And the gummy bear selection is not to be missed. Lolli and Pops, Westfield Montgomery Mall and other D.C.-area locations. 
  • COLD STONE CREAMERY: This recent entry has won the hearts of shoppers at Westfield Montgomery Mall, where its prime spot in the Dining Terrace makes it the perfect place for after-dinner treats and quick shopping breaks. The custom mix-ins, from candy bars to graham cracker pie crust, are a big part of the appeal. “My son tells me their ice cream is much creamier than other places,” says reader Suzanne Borden. Cold Stone Creamery, Westfield Montgomery Mall and other area locations. 
  • BASKIN-ROBBINS: Sure it’s a chain, but the Baskin-Robbins at Cabin John Shopping Center is undoubtedly a neighborhood institution. If your kids go to school anywhere in the Potomac area, it’s unlikely they’ll leave Baskin-Robbins without spotting a friend or two. And much like the neighboring California Tortilla, the outside seating is a prime spot for socializing with other families. Baskin-Robbins, Cabin John Shopping Center and other area locations.