The Roadside Ice Cream Stand

Carl's Frozen Custard in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

When I was a kid, a summer vacation typically involved a lengthy road trip to a far away destination. My father was one for making good time, so he often ignored the back seat requests of, “dad, dad, can we stop there?” There were three exceptions to the “No Stopping Rule.” First, if the Behemoth (our name for the station wagon) needed gas. Second, if one of his children looked as if a bladder malfunction was close at hand. Lastly,  when he saw a roadside ice cream stand.

I could never tell if he really loved these ice cream stands, or if he knew it would buy him precious moments of peace in the wagon. As kids, we really didn’t want to know his motivation, we were just happy to get some ice cream…and to get out of the confines of the Behemoth.

I rarely see those roadside ice cream stands these days. When I do, they’re usually closed down and boarded up — a testament to the changing times. However, if you’re traveling down Route 1 through Fredericksburg, Virginia, you will find one that’s not only surviving, but thriving.

Carl's is so popular that even snow can't keep the customers away.

Carl’s has been a popular roadside ice cream stand since 1947. Well, it’s really more of a roadside frozen custard stand. At Carl’s, you can get chocolate, vanilla and strawberry still made by the 1940 era Electo-Freeze Ice Cream machine. You can also get old time favorites like sundaes, shakes and malts. If you do decide to swing by Carl’s and see a long line, don’t let that discourage you. Apparently, the customer service is great and the line moves very quickly. Carl’s is open seven days a week, but is closed the Sunday before Thanksgiving to mid-February.

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