Le Mars, Iowa
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Get the Inside Scoop on Le Mars Iowa – the Ice Cream Capital of the World

The sweetest place in the Midwest is a small town in Northwest Iowa. In Le Mars, visitors of all ages can feel like kids again as they explore a place dubbed the Ice Cream Capital of the World.

From a multi-day festival celebrating all forms of ice cream to towering ice cream sculptures to the factory that’s the largest producer of ice cream novelties in the world, there’s plenty of ice cream-related goodness to cater to anyone who visits.

Prepare to scream (with joy) as you discover the wonders of Le Mars and enjoy delicious ice cream. 

Wells Visitor Center & Ice Cream Parlor | photo via dakotameg

Getting to Know Le Mars

Le Mars was originally known as St. Paul Junction due to its connection to railroads, but it was renamed Le Mars as an acronym for ladies who were part of an excursion to the town in the late 1800s.

There’s some uncertainty about the names in the acronym, but one well-told tale includes the names (excluding double letters): Lucy Ford, Laura Walker, Ellen Cleghorn, Elizabeth Underhill, Martha Weare, Mary Weare, Adeline Swain, Rebecca Smith and Sarah Reynolds.

While Le Mars is just inside the top 40 of the biggest cities in Iowa, it remains a popular stop for politicians during election years.

With a population of just over 10,000 people, the Le Mars skyline and several events are centered around Wells Enterprises, Inc., the producer of Blue Bunny ice cream products, Blue Ribbon ice cream, Bomb Pops, and many other tasty ice cream treats.

The original Wells Enterprises, Inc. opened in 1925 and sold in 1928. Fred H. Wells and his sons opened another plant in 1935, which was named “Blue Bunny” after a “Name That Ice Cream” contest. The winner suggested the name because his son enjoyed seeing blue bunnies in local store windows at Easter.

Today, Wells produces more than 200 million gallons of ice cream each year, which is distributed to all 50 states.

The Blue Bunny Dairy’s 900,000 square-foot plant with a 12-story-tall refrigeration tower is a family site in the Le Mars skyline and is known as the “South Ice Cream Plant” because of its location on the south side of town.

Wells Visitor Center & Ice Cream Parlor-Le Mars, Iowa-
Wells Visitor Center & Ice Cream Parlor | photo via wanderingwalksofwonder

The Ice Cream Capital of the World

Le Mars Iowa became known as the Ice Cream Capital of the World in 1994 and continues to produce more ice cream than anywhere else on Earth.

Le Mars takes its ice cream reputation seriously and the Wells Visitor Center and Ice Cream Parlor celebrates all things ice cream. Residents and visitors alike can learn about the history of Wells and how it grew into a national brand with so many well-known ice cream favorites.

The parlor offers plenty of ice cream treats (of course) and the folks here don’t just if you grab one right away or wait to get one on the way out. Visitors can enjoy a variety of interactive experiences, including photo ops, a virtual production line, a movie theater, a history wall, and more.

Whenever you choose to sit down with your favorite ice cream treat, the parlor has plenty of seating on its main floor or outside on the patio during the warmer months.

Prepare for your eyes to buldge and your mouth to water because the parlor has 40 ice cream flavors and sampling is encouraged! Visitors can get classic treats like banana splits and ice cream sodas, freezer treats, sundaes, and more.

Don’t forget your swag at the on-site gift shop, where customers can find giant plush toys, keychains, clothing, and more.

Wells Visitor Center & Ice Cream Parlor-Le Mars, Iowa
Wells Visitor Center & Ice Cream Parlor | photo via intomybelleyyyyy

Ice Cream Days

Le Mars celebrates its status as the Ice Cream Capital of the World every day, but things are taken to another level each June during the annual Ice Cream Days celebration.

Past festivals have included live music performances, car shows, axe throwing, pony rides, a carnival, numerous kids activities, a 5K, and more.

Don’t worry, there are plenty of ice cream related activities too. The event schedule includes an Ice Cream Days Parade, an “I Spy Ice Cream” scavenger hunt through downtown Le Mars, ice cream bingo, and several ice cream socials.

Ice Cream Cone Sculptures-Le Mars, Iowa
Ice Cream Cone Sculptures | photo via theunknownbucketlist

More to Explore in Le Mars

Ice cream may be the main attraction in Le Mars, but there’s much more to do and explore in town for those who make the journey to Northwest Iowa.

Alley Art and Historic Murals

Before or after getting their fill of ice cream, visitors can meander through downtown Le Mars to explore nearly a dozen different alleys and see amazing art created by Midwest artists.

Ice Cream Cone Sculptures

Did we mention that Le Mars is the Ice Cream Capital of the World? In addition to exploring art in downtown alleys, Le Mars is dotted with 55 different ice cream cone sculptures. Each of these sculptures stands six feet tall and was painted and designed by local artists.

Browns Music Theater

This state-of-the-art theater is housed inside a century-old bank building and welcomes nationally touring artists during the year for fun, entertaining shows.

Le Mars Recreational Trail

Visitors can see a different side of Le Mars on a scenic trail that stretches over 10 miles and includes two wooden bridges, a railroad underpass, and recreational amenities along the Floyd River.

Bob’s Drive-In

There’s nothing quite like comfort food at a drive-in and Bob’s serves up classics at affordable prices. Bob’s is so good, it’s been dubbed the “Best Hot Dog in Iowa.” In addition to award-winning franks, Bob’s menu includes chicken strips, tacos in a bag, chili, nachos, and more.

Wells Visitor Center & Ice Cream Parlor-Le Mars, Iowa
Wells Visitor Center & Ice Cream Parlor | photo via along_the_way

Treat Yourself to a Trip to the Ice Cream Capital of the World

If candidates vying for President of the United States are visiting Le Mars Iowa, you should too. The Ice Cream Capital of the World presents something for everyone from delicious frozen treats to stunning public art to a fun celebration of all things ice cream.

Whether you can’t get enough of Blue Bunny frozen treats or you’re just looking for the next Midwest hidden gem to explore, Le Mars is a sweet experience you won’t want to miss!