Ice-cream. At the airport, the hotel and beyond.

We’re having a heat wave.

Well, a lot of the country is having a heat wave. The kind of tropical heat wave Ella Fitzgerald, Marilyn Monroe and Gale Storm sang about.

And when there’s a heat wave there’s only one thing to do: eat ice-cream and lots of it.

Back in the 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice-Cream Month and set aside the third Sunday of the month as National Ice-Cream Day.  And, as this photo proves, President Barack Obama is a big fan of ice-cream too.

(Photo courtesy Wells’ Dairy, Le Mars, Iowa)

So as you’re traveling around this month, be sure to stop and eat some ice-cream.  If you’re stuck at the airport, it’s a good chance you’ll find a branch of Ben & Jerry’s, Haagen-Dazs or some other well-known ice-cream or frozen yogurt chain in the food court.

Better yet, here’s hoping you land at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, where there’s a branch of Amy’s Ice-Cream, a local favorite, or at Little Rock International Airport, where you can find Arkansas-made Yarnell’s Ice Cream.

Know of some other airports where you can get great ice-cream? Please share your find in the comments section below.

And while you’re out on the road, why not learn something about this sweet treat?  For a recent msnbc.com article, Ice-cream fans celebrate sweet treat – I found a few factory tours that not only offer an ice-cream education but, in the three cases below, a free sample.

Ben & Jerry’s, Waterbury, VT

(Courtesy Jeff Pecor, Yapta)

If you’re in New England and your travels take you anywhere near Vermont, make your way to Waterbury for a tour of the Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream factory. The adventure includes an entertaining “moo-vie” about ice-cream production and a visit to the “Flavoroom” to taste the flavor of the day. Details at Ben & Jerry’s.

Blue Bell, Brenham, TX (Broken Arrow, OK; Sylacauga, AL)

Ice-cream at Blue Bell Factory, Brenham TX

Named for the Lone Star State’s native bluebell wildflower, the Brenham, Texas-based Blue Bell Company offers tours of its ice-cream plants in Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama. Each tour ends with a complimentary scoop of ice-cream and the opportunity to purchase additional scoops for $1 or less.  Details at the Blue Bell website.

Velvet Ice Cream, Utica OH


(Blue icing getting mixed into a special birthday cake ice cream)

The Velvet Ice Cream factory in Utica, OH makes more than five million gallons of ice-cream a year in “small” (for the industry) 800-gallon batches at the Ye Olde’ Mill, a 20-acre site that houses an ice-cream museum, a historic grist mill with water wheel, a fishing pond and other attractions.  Factory tours don’t usually include a complimentary taste of ice-cream, but for National Ice-Cream Month visitors who show up weekdays between 1 and 3 p.m. will get to taste the flavor of the day as it comes off the line. For details see the Velvet Ice-Cream Company website.

If your travels don’t take you near these shops, consider stopping by one of the Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants participating in the company’s “Scoop for Success” program.  During National Ice Cream Month part of the proceeds of a specially-designed ice-cream dessert at each restaurant will be donated to Dress for Success, an organization devoted to helping women re-enter the workforce.

And we’re not just talking chocolate sundaes. At Firefly in Washington, DC, the designated dessert is peanut butter ice cream sandwich with chocolate decadence, banana’s foster sauce and praline crumb.

Firefly, Washington DC dress for success dessert

NIOS, in New York City, is serving vanilla bean gelato with caramelized popcorn and caramel sauce. And at the Red Star Tavern & Roast House in Portland, Oregon, the decadent dessert is red velvet doughnuts with bourbon-pecan cheesecake ice cream.

Kimpton Portland Red Velvet Donut dessert

On July 15th, 2010 Kimpton Hotels will also be hosting a National Ice Cream Social.  All proceeds from special desserts sold in the hotels’ “living rooms” will be donated to charity.

Do you need any more reasons to go eat ice-cream?  Go!