Sure, we love Rancatore’s, Christina’s, Toscanini’s, and JP Licks. But there’s something gorgeously nostalgic about pulling your car into a parking lot on a hot summer’s eve, lining up, ordering a towering scoop (or three) of ice cream at a tiny window screen, and then carting it off to a picnic table while rivulets of dairy dribble down your arms. In that spirit, a few of our favorite drive-in ice cream parlors in the Boston area. Feel free to suggest your own!
181 Washington St., Boxford
Best hot-fudge sundaes in the ‘burbs, and it’s a perfect pit-stop on the way home from the beaches in Maine, New Hampshire, or Gloucester.
331 North Ave., Weston
This clam-and-cream shack is smack in the middle of swanky Weston. Prices match the setting, but it’s a tried-and-true choice for tasty soft serve and skinny onion rings.
Four Seas Ice Cream
360 S. Main St., Centerville
This small shop has two things going for it: impossibly creamy ice cream (our favorite is mocha chip) and prime Kennedy-spotting, since they live just down the road.
Great Brook Farm
247 North Rd., Carlisle
This sprawling conservation area is a gorgeous place for a sunny strut, and we recall a fantastic peanut-butter-chip flavor on offer a few years ago.
400 Littleton Rd., Westford
What started out as a humble little ice cream stand has ballooned into a circus filled with farm animals and rides. We think they even serve panini. Whatever, the real reason to visit remains the enormous Kimball’s Special: a towering sundae with every topping known to man (and some unknown to man), best shared between at least three people.
328 N. Billerica Rd., Tewksbury
Best frappes on the North Shore. Plus, you might see Mickey Ward.
What are your favorites?