Best Soda Fountains in the U.S.
Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain; Brooklyn
Opened a few years back in a restored 1920s pharmacy, this modern fountain is a favorite neighborhood hangout, with old-timey knickknacks lining the walls, cola syrup made from scratch and kids sipping shakes at the counter overlooking the mirror-backed fountain. Don’t miss an original Brooklyn egg cream, made with the borough’s own Fox’s U-Bet syrup, Hudson Valley milk and seltzer jerked from the tap.
Leopold’s Ice Cream; Savannah, GA
It’s no accident if you feel like you’ve stumbled upon a movie set inside this bustling soda fountain in downtown Savannah. Owner and Hollywood producer Stratton Leopold hired an acclaimed set designer to re-create his father’s soda fountain from 1919, complete with the original black marble fountain, retro neon window sign and wooden phone booth. There’s almost always a line for the old-fashioned fountain drinks and hand-dipped ice cream, including Leopold’s signature flavor, tutti-frutti.
Bubby’s Soda Fountain; NYC
It’s no surprise that Bubby's, which has been hand-making colas for years, has launched a full-fledged soda fountain revival. Inspired by the innovation of the ’20s, Bubby’s extracts root beer flavor from sweet birch and sassafras for its classic float, macerates sour cherries for the Shirley Temple and crafts ice cream from a local dairy for its original sundaes.
The Ice Cream Bar; San Francisco
The signature alcoholic soda drinks make this 1930s-style fountain as thrilling for adults as it is for kids. Thoughtful period touches like the porthole mirrors, black tiles and vintage lamps match the intense attention to detail on the menu. Everything from the ice cream, to the syrups, hot dog buns and waffle cones are made from scratch, while the phosphates and lactarts (sodas with a tart foam) follow pre-Prohibition recipes.
Shady Glen; Manchester, CT
Originally a dairy farm, Shady Glen hasn’t changed much since 1948, when it started producing its own ice cream and operating as a soda fountain and luncheonette. The staffers don retro uniforms (down to the branded white paper hats), water is served in tiny waxed cups and the fountain remains the focal point of the room. Oh, and in 2012, the James Beard Foundation deemed the Shady Glen cheeseburger an American Classic.
La King’s Confectionery; Galveston, TX
It feels like a carnival inside this massive old building, where you can play a penny arcade game, ride a hobby horse, watch taffy being pulled on a 100-year-old machine, sample dime-store candy from the confectionary or order a root beer float from the antique soda fountain. This is currently the only place you can find Purity ice cream, Texas’s oldest and beloved brand. It’s made on the third floor.
Hillside Farmacy; Austin
The historic former drugstore has been beautifully restored in vintage chic, with white mosaic tile floors, copper-topped tables and framed old prescription sheets on the walls. But in a truly contemporary concept, the soda fountain in this farm-to-table restaurant is all about the cocktails. Artisan syrups are made from seasonal ingredients with spirit pairings to match, like the Country Doctor: ginger, fresh apple, cinnamon and either whiskey or applejack. Hillside Farmacy also serves ice cream from Coolhaus and coffee from Stumptown.
Blueplate; Portland, OR
There are a few decade-old fountains still operating in Portland, but Blueplate is bringing back the old-school ways the others couldn’t hold onto. Syrups are made from fresh fruit and cane sugar, carbonated water comes from the gooseneck tap, ice cream is sourced from a family-owned dairy, and Americana classics, like a “better than the lunch lady’s” Sloppy Joe, are served at the counter. Don’t miss the locally grown–huckleberry shake.
The Franklin Fountain; Philadelphia
The two brothers who own and operate this Old City fountain are so devoted to history that everything from the antique marble fountain to the hot fudge cooked in copper pots to the homemade vintage ice cream flavors (ever heard of teaberry?) to even their period-appropriate mustaches heighten the neo-retro experience. They are equally fanatic about the authenticity of their phosphate sodas (soda with acid phosphate added for an extra bite) and the provenance of their ingredients.
The Pickwick; Greenville, SC
Patrons perch on blue-upholstered swivel stools to watch as freshly squeezed orangeade and griddled sandwiches are made at the ’40s-style fountain inside one of the few independently operated pharmacies left in South Carolina. Opened in 1947, Pickwick closed the fountain in the ’80s to focus on prescriptions. In 2007, the third-generation owners, two brothers, found and restored a marble-and-steel fountain from a closed-down shop and brought it back to Pickwick, reviving a Greenville tradition.
Zaharakos; Columbus, IN
Perhaps Columbus’s most popular site for rehearsal dinners and engagement photos, Zaharakos is not exactly a hidden treasure. But this historic landmark/soda fountain/museum really is a sight to see. Careful renovation has kept the onyx fountain, stained glass and carved oak detail resembling its early days in the 1900s. Hand-drawn seltzer is mixed with original flavored syrups for sodas, floats and shakes, while the Welte orchestrion has been self-playing for 100 years and counting.
Doc’s Soda Fountain; Girard, IL
Built in 1929 inside an already 45-year-old pharmacy, this soda fountain on Historic Route 66 was purchased by a friend of the original owners, the Decks, when the pharmacy shut down. A renovation amplified the 1920s Coca-Cola theme and kept the original fountain, which churns out phosphates and floats alongside a luncheonette menu. The Decks gathered what was left of their grandfather’s pharmacy to create a museum of herbal remedies, medicines and elixirs inside the shop.
Lynden’s Soda Fountain; St. Paul
Wedged between a florist and a bowling alley, this two-year-old fountain devotedly re-creates nostalgic classics—phosphates, malts, eggs creams and more—with artisan syrups from Brooklyn’s P&H, in addition to specialty flavors like Hibiscus and 1886 Cola, made in-house. The fountain itself was refurbished after it was rescued from a nearby church, and opposite the white marble counter stands a wall of vintage candy (remember Pop Rocks?) and chocolates. Free Wi-Fi is a welcome modern amenity.
Highland Park Pharmacy; Dallas
Opened in 1912, Highland Park has become a nostalgic Dallas institution. Vestiges of its former life as a pharmacy remain (you can still pick up a toothbrush). The lunch rush is still the busiest time, when regulars settle onto stools at the counter for the most popular order: a grilled cheese with a pile of pickles and a chocolate shake served in the stainless steel mixing cup with a chilled glass on the side.
Model Pharmacy; Albuquerque
Model is often referred to as “Jack’s place” after the pharmacist who’s owned and operated the pharmacy and soda fountain for almost 30 years. Jack still prepares the phosphates for the sodas in the pharmacy (which remains in business despite the Walgreens across the street) and juice is still squeezed fresh for the lemon- and limeades. In addition to drugs and soda concoctions, Model specializes in greeting cards, high-end perfumes, and upscale grooming products like Mason Pearson brushes and artisan shaving kits.
Jerry’s Soda Shoppe; Canoga Park, CA
Inside an independent pharmacy in a nondescript Valley strip mall is a small no-frills counter with arguably the best ice cream float in the L.A. area. The frosted mug is dipped in chocolate and left to harden before the addition of two scoops of Lappert’s ice cream (favorite flavors are the Kauai Pie and Hawaii Pink Sea Salt Caramel), chocolate syrup and seltzer, then topped with whipped cream, sprinkles and a cherry.
St. Francis Soda Fountain; San Francisco
Changing with the times since opening in 1918 has kept St. Francis as bustling and relevant as its early days, particularly with young Mission hipsters. While original fountain offerings remain, the ice cream, once homemade, now comes from a long-standing local producer, the candies are retro, a diner menu caters to vegans and the soda jerks have traded bow ties and hats for beards and hoodies.