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Hot weather is just one (obvious) excuse for ice cream. Based on the American Way five-scoop rating, here are the seven coolest parlors ever. — B.H.

Hot Fudge
Boston-area chocoholics can’t get enough of J.P. Licks’ bittersweet hot fudge, made from scratch from a secret recipe. Layer it over homemade vanilla ice cream, add a dollop of whipped cream and a smattering of walnuts — and that’s what we call a sundae. Head to the flagship Jamaica Plain store for the best people-watching. www.jplicks.com

Artisan Ice Cream
What Picasso is to painting, Jeni’s is to ice cream. Meander to the store at the North Market in Columbus, Ohio, where even the marshmallows are made in-house, and try Gravel Road (salty French-style caramel with coarsely chopped smoked almonds) or Queen City Cayenne (milk chocolate with cayenne and cinnamon). www.jenisicecreams.com

The Miniscoop on Top
Not just for kids (though they dip a mean blue-cotton-candy cone), Izzy’s Ice Cream in St. Paul, Minnesota, understands the desires of the adult palate. Gorge on Dark Chocolate Zin (balsamic vinegar, cocoa, and Zinfandel) or Fig Tart. All cones come topped with a miniscoop of a separate flavor of your choice. Eat yours outside in the Adirondack chairs. www.izzysicecream.com

A metaphor for all that we cherish about South Beach, the Frieze Ice Cream Factory revels in its vivid interiors and art-deco surroundings. What they’re known for is the fruitiest sorbet in Miami Beach, made with the freshest ingredients (like mangoes imported from India) and the most whimsical indulgences (like Almond Joy ice cream). www.thefrieze.com

Funky Bi-Rite Creamery & Bakeshop draws crowds, even on chilly San Francisco days. Located in the Mission, this new über ice cream parlor supersedes its local competition with flavors like goat yogurt and honey lavender. But the best splurge may well be the ice cream sandwiches, made with gingersnaps and pumpkin ice cream. www.biritecreamery.com

Gifford’s Ice Cream and Candy Co., the Washington, D.C., area’s oldest and most distinguished ice cream parlor, gets rave reviews for its signature Swiss Chocolate, a mousselike milk-chocolate extravaganza. Linger to enjoy the nostalgic, feel-good ambience in the Bethesda location, a favorite of more than one past president and of Goldie Hawn. www.giffords.com

Veteran travelers to Italy know that there is gelato, and then there is gelato. For the real thing outside the boot, mangia (eat) what Tèo in Austin, Texas, concocts in its tiny midtown spot. The owner studied with master gelato makers at Vivoli, Florence’s famous gelato shop — and he learned his lessons well. Our favorite: organic Peanut Butter and Nutella. www.caffeteo.com