Kimball’s at Bates Farm – Carlisle MA

17 04 2009

With an unexpected day off, I checked around to find ice cream stands that were open. A bunch of answering machines provided teases for forthcoming opening dates, but a little research revealed that all three Kimball’s locations are up and running. A new route brought me right through Carlisle where I found a Caramel Cashew Chip cone.

kimball farm at bates farm carlisle mass ice cream

Most people who know Kimball Farm Ice Cream, do so because of their main location in Westford. It’s one of the  biggest revelations  for people to realize just how important ice cream is to the Massachusettsian palate. What began in 1939 as a simple dairy farm has expanded into a bona fide ice cream amusement park. In the late eighties, this second location just a few miles away was set up. A third store in Jaffrey, New Hampshire is the most recent addition to the Kimball empire.

The thing of it is, the Carlisle stand doesn’t seem like it’s the part of anything else. It’s a simple ice cream stand  built on the site of another farm. The only thing that intrudes from the old farm is the adjacent field with sheep and the duck pond. Instead of bumper boats and various sizes of golf, the only thing here is a picnic bench filled veranda behind the stand. Best of all is that the lines are short and quick, the zoo atmosphere only exists at all when the wind blows from where the sheep are feeding.

Ice cream isn’t made at this location, so by definition, it is not homemade. However, with the headquarters less than seven miles away, things here are just as fresh as they are in Westford. With a more relaxed pace, there are certainly aspects of this small spot that make it superior. I was focused in on the German Chocolate cone, but a sample drew me away from that and instead to the caramel cashew chip.

Even in this mild spring weather, there was no way to control the dripping of this cone before it started to leak all over my hand. Kimball’s is known for their large portions and this was certainly no exception. The thing that is sometimes forgotten when you check the size of a cone is that this is damn fine ice cream. With a rich caramel base, and equal portions of chocolate chips and fresh cashews, this was the sort of cone that’s the right way to start spring. The cashews really control the flavor and they are strong yet subtle and the result is an ice cream that isn’t trying for novelty so much as quality.

caramel cashew chip ice cream kimball bate farm carlisle mass

The old farm equipment around the lot is pretty amazing. Both the tractor in the picture above and a till in the middle of the parking lot are stuck in cement. They are vestiges of a different era, but at the same time, likely as far as the town of Carlisle will ever allow Kimball’s to encroach on their idyllic nature. While there may be room for a few bumper boats in that duck pond, I wouldn’t expect any such changes during the next century.

Related Review:

Cone – small $3.60 large $3.95

Sundae $4.95 Doubledae $5.65 Banana Split $6.20

Frappe $4.65 extra thick $4.95

Kimball Farm Ice Cream At Bates Farm

343 Bedford Rd (Rt.225), Carlisle, MA 01741

978 369-1910

Open April-October

Daily 10a-9p




3 responses

22 03 2011
Kevin Crowley

I went to grade school with Harriet Bates in the Carlisle schools. I have been far away for years. I want to hear if thngs are OK. kevin

12 08 2012
Alan Lydiard

While in College I drove a milk truck for Bates Farm Dairy. In the last few days, for what ever reason, I kept remembering those days. If I’m not mistaken the truck was a Divco and Mr. Bates taught me to drive and showed me the routes. They were a great family to work for and I hope they are all happy and well !

7 09 2013

My friends and I, including Harriet Bates who was a very best friend, visited the stand frequently (late 60’s)…her dad made the ice cream back then….SOOOO goood! My sister Sharon worked at the stand during at least one summer. Great memories. When I visit Carlisle in a few weeks, will swing by for a treat for sure! Joanie (Elliot)

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