| |

The Ample Hills Tour de Hills 2019: A New York Ice Cream Tour and So Much More

How much ice cream can you eat in a single day? That’s the question we answered last weekend when we completed the Ample Hills Tour de Hills.

This annual summer challenge issued by the Brooklyn-based ice cream company requires you to visit all 10 of its scoop shops in New York and New Jersey in a single day to become a Hillionaire.

(If you can also make it to one of the two Riis Beach locations in the Rockaways in the same day, you’ll become a Hillionaire Extraordinaire. But we were totally fine with being ordinary Hillionaires, so we didn’t even try to go that extra mile.)

Ample Hills Tour de Hills 2019
Photos: Casey Barber

Like a scavenger hunt, but tastier, your Tour de Hills passport entitles you to one kids’ cup at each stop. Have an enthusiastic Amployee (yep, that’s their official name) stamp and date your passport, spoon up that ice cream, and get to the next location.

But it’s not just a New York ice cream tour. This challenge is also a cultural experience in so many ways, touching on history, music, literature, and more as you take your self-guided tour throughout neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan.

Ample Hills Red Hook Factory mural
Photo: Casey Barber

This is amp-lified (see what I did there?) by the fact that each one of the Ample Hills scoop shops has a special flavor that’s only available in that particular location.

While you’re not required to pick that flavor for your scoop—you can choose anything in the case at each stop—I wanted to try every one of them in the spirit of the challenge.

Because we live in New Jersey, we chose to end our Tour de Hills at the Jersey City location. But if you’re in New York, we recommend taking a Brooklyn ferry to begin at the Red Hook factory and then ending at the charming Brooklyn Bridge Park fireboat house, where you can also collect your prize.

on the ferry toward Brooklyn
Photo: Casey Barber

And while you can bike or even take a taxi between locations, we liked the pace afforded by walking and using public transportation. After all, you need time to digest between ice cream scoops!

Here’s what we ate on the Ample Hills Tour de Hills and how we did it, along with some pro tips we picked up along the way.

Stop 1: Red Hook Factory

Flavor: The Hook, burnt sugar ice cream mixed with stroopwafel cookies and salty fudge

The flavor at this ample location is intended to combine a number of elements of the waterfront neighborhood’s history, working back through its industrial era (the now-demolished Revere sugar refinery and the shipyards) to the Dutch immigrants who settled here centuries ago.

Ample Hills Red Hook ice cream
Photo: Casey Barber

As you sit in the soaring seating area, you’ll be surrounded by the glass-walled factory area and a mural depicting the history of Brooklyn. Check out the little painted rendition of Ebbets Field!

You’ll also see the passage from Walt Whitman’s 1856 poem “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” that inspired the name Ample Hills: “I too lived–Brooklyn, of ample hills, was mine” (Don’t worry, you’ll have that line memorized by the end of your Tour.)

Ample Hills Red Hook Factory playroom
Photo: Casey Barber

Pro tip: You’ll get a free bottle of water with your passport and first scoop. Don’t refuse it! Keep yourself well hydrated on this tour.

To the next stop:

Walk to IKEA and take the B57 bus, then walk across the Gowanus Canal on Union St.

Stop 2: Gowanus

Flavor: It Came From Gowanus, salty dark chocolate ice cream with orange-scented brownies, hazelnut crack’d cookies and white chocolate pearls

It Came From Gowanus is a tongue-in-cheek homage to the Gowanus Canal, notorious for its murky color (and the oysters that are currently helping clean up the waterway). Who knows what monsters lurk down there?

Ample Hills Gowanus ice cream
Photo: Casey Barber

Since Gowanus is the only Ample Hills location with a roof deck, we had to take advantage and eat our scoop en plein air—but still in the shade, because this ice cream melts quickly. Stop in the restroom to see the original watercolors that AH artist Lauren Kaelin created for the Ample Hills cookbook!

To the next stop:

Walk! It’s a lovely stroll through Park Slope over to Prospect Heights.

Stop 3: Prospect Heights

Flavor: The Commodore, salty honey ice cream mixed with chocolate covered potato chips clusters and housemade honeycomb candy

Legend has it that steamship and railroad baron Cornelius Vanderbilt invented the potato chip when he thought the potatoes he had been served were too soggy, and sent them back to the kitchen to be crisped further.

Ample Hills Prospect Heights ice cream
Photo: Casey Barber

Take that with a grain of salt, but think of old Cornelius as you eat your scoop in the original Ample Hills scoop shop location. Also, maybe take a selfie with Walt Whitman in the kids’ reading section if it’s not too busy.

To the next stop:

Take the Q two stops from 7th Ave to DeKalb.

Stop 4: DeKalb Market Hall

Flavor: Harry & Eigel’s Marbled & Malted, chocolate malted ice cream mixed with Junior’s marbled cheesecake and malted milk balls

This mouthful of a flavor found in this underground Brooklyn food hall celebrates one of the neighborhood’s finest culinary creations, Junior’s cheesecake, paired with ingredients from another New York diner classic, the malted shake.

Ample Hills DeKalb Market ice cream
Photo: Casey Barber

Pro tip: You’re in a food hall and you’re almost halfway through the tour, so grab a savory snack while you’re here. We each ate one taco from DeKalb Taco, directly across the hall from Ample Hills.

To the next stop:

Take the A from Hoyt-Schermerhorn two stops to High St. and walk to the park.

(Note: because you can only pick up your passports and claim your prizes at Red Hook or the Brooklyn Bridge Park fireboat house, this is where we would recommend deviating from our itinerary to finish back at the park. But you do you.)

Stop 5: Brooklyn Bridge Park

Flavor: I Contain Breakfast Foods, sweet cream ice cream with a touch of cinnamon, chocolate donuts and coffee cake crumble

Just as the name Ample Hills is taken from a line in Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” this ice cream flavor’s name is a play on a line from another Whitman poem, “Song of Myself”—”Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)”

Ample Hills Brooklyn Bridge Park ice cream
Photo: Dan Cichalski

Eat your ice cream out on Fulton Ferry Landing and imagine that you’re Walt Whitman himself, standing exactly where he stood after a day of work at the Brooklyn Eagle as he gazed across the water toward Manhattan.

Walt Whitman Brooklyn Eagle plaque
Photo: Casey Barber

This was the only place where we had to pull rank and flash our passport to skip the insane line. Saturday afternoon on a hot day in a tourist-heavy spot? Yikes. But also, make that bank, Ample Hills!

To the next stop:

Because of train construction, we took the F all the way from York St. to Steinway St. in Queens and walked. But if the N isn’t messed up, you can transfer to it at 34th St. in Manhattan and take it to 30th Ave. for a shorter walk once you’re off the subway.

Stop 6: Astoria

Flavor: Nectar of the Queens, honey cinnamon ice cream mixed with pieces of baklava and galaktoboureko

Sweet-tooth ice cream lovers, this one’s for you. Greek food is the foundation of this neighborhood, so the custardy galaktoboureko and sticky baklava from Astoria’s Artopolis Bakery make this a honey of a scoop in so many ways.

Ample Hills Astoria ice cream
Photo: Casey Barber

Pro tip: One Tour de Hills passport is enough for two people to do the challenge. But if one of you is allergic to nuts, you can still sample it all!

As was so generously offered at every location with a shop-specific flavor that contained tree nuts, my husband got a scoop of a safer flavor (here, the Munchies) while I sampled the Nectar.

To the next stop:

Take the N from 30th Ave. in Queens to 49th St in Manhattan and walk west.

Stop 7: Hell’s Kitchen (Gotham West Market)

Flavor: Hell’s Kitchen Sink, chocolate stout ice cream mixed with chili spiced brownies, brown butter cookie dough and toffee bar crunch

Everyone wants to know what my favorite flavor of the Tour was, and between this, I Contain Breakfast Foods, and It Came From Gowanus, it’s a three-way tie.

The name is more a pun on the “kitchen sink” idea of including tons of complementary flavors, though the Guinness in the ice cream pays homage to the Irish immigrants who built their community here.

Ample Hills Hell's Kitchen ice cream
Photo: Casey Barber

Pro tip: Once again, you’re in a food hall, so if you need another taco or a jianbing crepe to get you through, now’s the time. The market also has taps for refilling water bottles, so load up once more before the final stretch.

To the next stop:

Take the A from 42nd St. (there’s an entrance on 44th St. and 8th Ave.) to 14th St. and walk north on 8th Ave.

Stop 8: Chelsea

Flavor: Chelsea Morning, golden vanilla ice cream mixed with rainbow cookies

The Italian rainbow cookies from Red Hook-founded bakery BAKED provide the color in this scoop in honor of Chelsea’s history as a LGBTQ-centric neighborhood, and from the line in Joni Mitchell’s song “Chelsea Morning” about “a rainbow on the wall.”

Ample Hills Chelsea ice cream
Photo: Casey Barber

Despite my deep belief in equality and deep love for Joni Mitchell, I do not love rainbow cookies–so this was my least favorite of all the shop-specific flavors. However, I know I’m in the minority on that front, so you rainbow cookie maniacs have more for you to enjoy!

To the next stop:

Walk! It’s the quickest jaunt between these two locations.

Stop 9: High Line (Bubby’s)

Flavor: Floatin’ Over the High Line, root beer ice cream with mini marshmallows and chocolate sprinkles

With copious amounts of Bubby’s root beer syrup providing the base, this float-inspired flavor is pretty intense! If you’re inclined to split your scoop, try it with Strawberries and Cream for a float/milkshake flavor combo.

Ample Hills High Line ice cream
Photo: Casey Barber

Pro tip: If you happen to be a member of the Whitney Museum across the street, did you know your membership card entitles you to a 10 percent discount at this Ample Hills location? You won’t need it on your tour, but it’s something we take advantage of frequently. Very, very frequently.

To the next stop:

Walk south to the Christopher St. PATH station and take the Journal Square-bound PATH to Newport, then walk south on Washington to Greene.

Stop 10: Jersey City

Flavor: Golden Door, cannoli filling-infused ice cream mixed with Irish dark chocolate whiskey cake and German streusel crumble

As the moon rose over “the air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame,” we hustled our tired, poor masses over to the final stop of our tour.

Since Ellis Island is mostly under New Jersey jurisdiction (and Liberty Island partially as well), it’s fitting to celebrate our last scoop on this side of the Hudson River.

Ample Hills Jersey City ice cream
Photo: Casey Barber

And the melting pot of soft, cakey bits and cannoli cream was an equally sweet way of celebrating the successful conclusion of our 12-mile trek across two rivers, a canal, and the streets of three boroughs and one Jersey city.

We finished our spoonfuls next to yet another whimsically wonderful mural, this one with homages to the greatness of the Garden State—like Bruce Springsteen and the Asbury Park carousel!—before sprinting back to Hoboken to catch the 9:15 pm train.

mural detail in Ample Hills Jersey City shop
Photo: Casey Barber

Yes, even after all that ice cream, we still had enough energy to run. Call it a sugar rush!

If you were going to finish at Brooklyn Bridge Park, you’d take the ferry back across the water from the East River to Brooklyn, following the same path as Walt Whitman on his ferry more than 100 years ago.

I’ll let the man himself send you off after such a long journey:
“And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence, are more to me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.”

FTC Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Good. Food. Stories. receives a minuscule commission on all purchases made through Amazon links in our posts.

Similar Posts