America's Best Old-Fashioned Soda Fountains

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Brent's Soda Fountain: Jackson, Mississippi
©Visit Mississippi
Brent's Soda Fountain: Jackson, Mississippi

By the time it was featured in the 2011 movie "The Help," Brent's Soda Fountain had already enjoyed more than 50 years of success. The soda fountain sees patrons return time and time again thanks to its use of imaginative ingredients such as ginger syrup and Nutella alongside its lauded pie selections.

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Leopold's Ice Cream in Savannah, Georgia
©Chia Chong
Leopold's Ice Cream: Savannah, Georgia

This legendary soda fountain—and its rum ice cream with candied fruit and fresh-roasted Georgia pecans—was the inspiration behind the song "Tutti Frutti," written by Johnny Mercer who worked at Leopold's as a boy. The parlor still uses the same ice cream recipe now as it did on opening day in 1919. 

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La Kings Confectionary in Galveston, Texas
©Galveston Convention & Visitors Bureau
La Kings Confectionary: Galveston, Texas

La Kings Confectionary is a a working 1920s soda fountain that uses 19th-century formulas and methods handed down through the King family generations. The malts, shakes, floats, sundaes and other fountain creations are made with Purity ice cream, Texas' first ice cream manufacturer, founded in 1889.

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The Franklin Fountain: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
©The Franklin Fountain
The Franklin Fountain: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Berley brothers, spurred by their passion for ice cream and turn-of-the-century furnishings, founded The Franklin Fountain in 2004. Ice cream is made in the historic building with dairy from Pennsylvania grass-fed cows. Amid the space's features are ornate tin ceilings, mosaic penny tile floors and a working bronze and onyx soda fountain from 1904.

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Pickwick Pharmacy & Soda Fountain: Greenville, North Carolina
©Pickwick Pharmacy & Soda Fountain
Pickwick Pharmacy & Soda Fountain: Greenville, South Carolina

The family-owned and operated Pickwick has long been one of Greenville's busiest and most popular hangouts; it is a rare case of a soda fountain predating its adjoining pharmacy. The fountain has served up lemonades, limeades, cherry smashes and strawberry fountain sodas for more than 70 years. 

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Zaharakos: Columbus, Indiana
©Lee Lewellen
Zaharakos: Columbus, Indiana

Zaharakos is known as much for its fabulous furnishings as its brownie sundaes, floats and old-fashioned fountain sodas; a museum that accompanies the parlor features a restored orchestrion from the 1870s and the largest collection of marble soda fountains that pre-date 1900 on public display.

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Elliston Place Soda Shop: Nashville, Tennessee
©Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp.
Elliston Place Soda Shop: Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville's oldest continuously operating restaurant, Elliston Place Soda Shop, is on the National Register of Historic Places. It's a favorite of locals, community leaders and celebrities alike who stop in for dreamsicles, malts, orange freezes, egg creams and hot fudge banana sundaes.

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Crown Candy Kitchen: St. Louis, Missouri
©Daniel Doelling/Flickr, Creative Commons
Crown Candy Kitchen: St. Louis, Missouri

There is no stopping one of St. Louis' oldest and most revered attractions. Crown Candy Kitchen—open since 1913—sees visitors flock in for its butterscotch malteds, chocolate phosphates and over-the-top sundaes. The fourth-generation chocolatier still handcrafts its original sugary creations. 

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Fort Davis Drug Store & Hotel
©Dave Hensley/Flickr, Creative Commons
Fort Davis Drug Store & Hotel: Fort Davis, Texas

This drug store and hotel complex was once a one-stop-shop for doctor visits, prescription pickups and liquid refreshment. Fort Davis Drug Store & Hotel has been a gathering spot since 1913 and is known for its Coke floats, malteds and banana splits. Homemade fudge and flavored popcorn are also on the list of sweet treats.

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Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain: South Pasadena, California
©Philip Pelosian/Shutterstock
Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain: South Pasadena, California

It took only a scant few years for this South Pasadena landmark to become a popular stop for sustenance along the westernmost end of Route 66. The confectionery is still open with its tin ceiling and honeycomb tile floor gleaming with soda jerks ready to serve up a lime rickey, a grape phosphate or bubble gum ice cream soda.

By Jennifer McKee

There's nothing better than a cold soda or an ice cream sundae to combat the heat of a summer day. You'll get a nostalgic feel when you enjoy these cool treats at a soda fountain; since the turn of the century, these meeting places were the go-tos for the community to enjoy carbonated beverages and treats of days gone by such as phosphates, malteds and egg creams.

Find classic treats at these vintage soda fountains, some of which still use the same techniques—and even equipment—from 100 years ago. A quick spin on the upholstered stools is completely optional, but highly recommended.