Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip

Guest Blog by Val Plagge
Val is a farmer, wife, mom and volunteer discovering “fields of opportunity” in North Iowa.  She blogs at Corn, ‘Beans, Pigs and Kids.

I have so many great memories from my childhood of having fun with my family from playing in the creek in our backyard, to going to the State Fair, to visiting National Park across the United States.  I want to create some of those great memories for my kids too and that is what I created a Family Summer Bucket List.

One item we have on our Bucket List is to go on an Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip during the month of June in honor of National Dairy Month, by visiting an ice cream destination each week.  During Week 1 we stopped at one of our all-time favorite summer ice cream stands, The Whippy Dip in Decorah.  The Whippy Dip is a seasonal walk-up stand that serves creamy and rich soft serve ice cream, along with a lunch and snack menu.  A neat side note is that The Whippy Dip sources its milk from a local dairy.  You wouldn’t expect anything different in Iowa’s dairy country!

6.4.14 Whippy Dip Trip - Sign

6.4.14 Whippy Dip Trip - cookie dough tornadoThe Whippy Dip keeps its ice cream simple by offering only vanilla and chocolate flavors and then letting you make your dish unique by providing many mix-ins.  I personally always go for a Cookie Dough Tornado with chocolate ice cream (think Dairy Queen’s Blizzard – but better!).  They double layer the delicious chocolate soft serve with real cookie dough (not the cookie dough balls found at other ice cream places.  I’m talking about a scoopful of real cookie dough so you can have some in every bite) and mix it up.  Then they add a little extra cookie dough on top!

During Week 2 we visited Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy outside of Hudson.  We thought it would be good to have a first-hand look at the process and story behind our ice cream.  Hansen’s Farm has been in Iowa for around 150 years and currently the 6th generation owns and operates the farm, with the 7th generation growing up and living on the farm.  Twelve years ago when 5th generation owners and operators, Jay and Jeanne Hansen, saw that four of their children wanted to come back to the farm they knew they needed a way to add value to their family dairy farm, so the 6th generation that wanted to come back to the farm could, and that is how the on-farm creamery began.  In November of 2002 construction began on the creamery and in February of 2004 the creamery produced its first gallon of milk.

6.10.14 Hansen's Dairy Farm - Welcome Sign

6.10.14 Hansen's Dairy Farm - Klayton petting baby calves (3)Hansen’s Dairy sells a variety of products including milk, cheese curds, butter and over 30 flavors of ice cream!  What we love about their ice cream is that it’s very rich and thick.  You can buy Hansen’s Dairy products (including their delicious ice cream) at many locations across the Northeast quadrant of Iowa, or if you are ever in the Waterloo area I recommend you going to their Moo Roo ice cream store or their Dairy Outlet store, or head out to the actual Dairy Farm.  They have products available at their tour center.

Iowa Ice Cream Decorah Hudson Le MarsAnd today during Week 3 of our Iowa Ice Cream Road Trip we are heading to the ultimate ice cream destination, “The Ice Cream Capital of the World” Le Mars, Iowa, for Ice Cream Days.  We are excited to see everything Blue Bunny and of course have some delicious ice cream!

So if this hasn’t made you crave ice cream yet, maybe this will, my family’s Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream recipe!

Val's Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream



  • 4 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1 quart half & half
  • 1/2 gallon whole milk



  1. Whisk eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla and half & half together.  Pour into canister.  Then pour whole milk up to fill line.  Put canister into ice cream bucket with ice and ice cream salt around canister and let run 30-40 minutes until thick and smooth.
  2. Be sure to celebrate National Dairy Month with a trip to your favorite ice cream destination or by making your own!

Val is a farmer, wife, mom and volunteer discovering “fields of opportunity” in North Iowa.  She blogs at Corn, ‘Beans, Pigs and Kids.