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2019
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Booking.com celebrates Ice Cream Day with 6 destinations perfect for ice cream lovers

Those with a sweet tooth will be happy to hear National Ice Cream Day is just around the corner (July 21st). For many travelers, ice cream and vacation go hand-in-hand and wherever you go, there’s a different spin on this classic frozen treat, so if you are part of the 6%* US travelers who enjoy a gastronomically-themed getaway (and have a particular penchant for ice-cream), Booking.com, the global leader in connecting travelers with the widest choice of incredible places to stay, has delved into its more than 28 million listings across 150,00 destinations to identify some of the top destinations for ice-cream enthusiasts.

A hot take on ice-cream in Xi’an, China

A kind of ice cream is said to have been invented in China as early as the year 200BC, which was originally a milk and rice mixed with snow. Today, China is the world’s biggest ice-cream market[1], making the perfect destination for a sweet stay. Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi Province is one of China’s top foodie destinations, with local delicacies like roujiamo (pulled meats in a doughy bun) and guantang baozi (steamed buns) top of the menu. For ice cream lovers, Xi’an offers a twist on the much-loved classic, with street food vendors serving up fried ice cream - a breaded scoop of ice cream that is quickly deep-fried, creating a warm, crispy shell around the still frozen ice cream. For those who prefer the chill factor, Shan 13 in the Muslim Quarter of Xi’an is a locally owned ice cream parlor serving unique flavors from smoky tofu and black vinegar to wasabi.

Where to stay: Xi’an’s Muslim Quarter is a foodie-lovers dream, with great street food and restaurants to explore. Located in the heart of the Muslim quarter, Xi'an Simple Palace homestay is the perfect place to rest your head while exploring all the area has to offer. As well as the foodie options nearby on Muslim Street, the accommodation is also near tourist sites such as Drum Tower and a short journey from the Shaanxi History Museum.

Have a chilled vacation in Costa Mesa, California, USA

Costa Mesa, California is renowned for having a vibrant art scene and an even bigger foodie culture. From amazing beaches, fancy boutique stores and a diverse range of food and desserts on offer, there is a lot in store for visitors. The OC Fair celebrates national events, and on July 16th, will be celebrating all things ice cream. From sundaes and ice cream sandwiches, to unique flavors to sample, there’s something to delight every sweet tooth.

Where to stay: The Westin South Coast Plaza is the perfect spot for travelers to experience the best of what Southern California has to offer. The hotel is a short drive from the OC Fair, Disneyland, South Coast shopping center and the best outlets for food and dessert. Within the Plaza, guests can enjoy an outdoor pool, a sun terrace and an on-site restaurant for must-have meals between all that ice cream!

Gobble Gelato in Florence, Italy

Starting out with a similar base to ice cream, gelato is a milkier variant on its ice cream counterpart, often made with no eggs. First invented by Bernardo Buontalenti in Florence, those looking for a gelato getaway won’t be disappointed by its birthplace. La Carraia is the gelato hotspot among locals, offering super creamy and decadent scoops. Even more central, Perche’ no!... is a gelateria that offers delicious scoops of flavors such as Tuscan Rose, Sicilian Pistachio and Sesame & Honey to tourists and locals alike.

Where to stay:  Gelato lovers can stay at centrally located Campo Di Marte at the beautifully quaint Florence Liona Apartments. With exposed beams and rustic tiled flooring, this apartment is the perfect Italian home away from home. Well connected with great transport links, this area is perfect for exploring and foodies can feast further at Sant'Ambrogio Market.

Sweet stays in Auckland, New Zealand

As New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland is a great place for tourists to experience the very best of what the country has to offer, including its ice cream hotspots. With amazing beaches, great exhibitions and amazing food, it’s a great vacation choice. Auckland boasts a number of gastro-delicacies for travelers, including restaurants offering traditional Maori hangi (meat and vegetables slow-cooked in an underground oven) and Kina (the local name for sea urchin which boasts edible fleshy insides). For ice cream lovers, the local treat is Hokey Pokey flavor (caramelized honeycomb) which is served at Giapo, a unique ice-cream spot, popular amongst many locals for its incredible handmade ice-cream and adventurous flavors. Giapo’s other unique flavors include Yellow Kumara (an indigenous potato) flavored scoops and Yorkshire Pudding lined with milk chocolate in lieu of traditional cones. Giapo even offers masterclasses for those looking to learn even more about their favorite sweet treat.

Where to stay: Avani Metropolis Auckland Residences located across from Albert Park, is situated at the heart of Auckland. Each apartment comes with comfy sofas, a TV, an open-plan living and dining area plus a fully-equipped kitchen. Popular tourist attractions, such as Auckland Art Gallery, Queens Wharf and the Sky Tower are all within walking distance. The best part of the location is that guests are close to the dessert spots serving up some of New Zealand’s best ice-cream; Giapo, Liky Liky Gelato and Island Gelato – those with a sweet-tooth are in for a treat.

Frozen delights in Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki is somewhat of a hidden treasure, but the destination boasts a flourishing food culture. Finland’s world-renowned modern design heritage can be seen in Helsinki so there are beautiful designs all over the city. If good art didn’t win you over, great food might! Foodies can sample local sweet treat, Runeberg Torte, small circular rum cakes topped with icing and jam and for ice cream lovers, ice cream shop Jädelino is known for making some of the best ice-cream in the city. The local delicacy is thickened using natural carob bean gum and guar gum and offers delicious flavors such as local Finnish Honey, Mint Liquorice and Carrot White Chocolate.

Where to Stay: Apartment Hotel Aallonkoti  is filled with modern apartments which come with a furnished terrace with views over Finlandia Park - the hotel is just a short train ride from Jädelino. Restaurants, cafés and bars can be easily accessed, and guests can visit the Helsinki Music Centre and Tennispalatsi Finnkino Movie Theatre nearby.

Have a helados in Ibarra, Ecuador

For fruit fans, Ecuador’s twist on traditional ice cream is a labor of love that won’t disappoint. First created in Ibarra, Ecuador, this frozen treat is said to envelop the history and palate of the country in one mouthful! Created when refrigerators were very rare in Ecuador, the origin story claims this sweet treat was made with hailstones and local tropical fruits. Today, travelers should visit the dessert cafe Helados de Paila Rosalia Suarez to experience this tradition and try a variety of flavors.

Where to stay: Bungalows Yahuarcocha overlooks the beautiful yahuarcocha lake, and sits amongst the serenity of Ibarra’s mountainous backdrop. Located just a short shuttle trip into Ibarra city center for travelers to sample the local ice-cream delicacy.

[1] The Telegraph

*Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 53,492 respondents across 31 markets. In order to participate in this survey, respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have travelled at least once in the past 12 months and be either the primary decision maker or involved in the decision making of their travel. The survey was taken online and took place between October 16th and November 12th, 2018.