A trip to Austin isn’t complete without a stop in Brenham. About 90 minutes north of Houston on Interstate 290, that's where you'll find the the home of Texas's beloved Blue Bell Homemade ice cream—you know, the one field trip every kid in Houston looks forward to with all their little hearts. On a recent sunny Thursday afternoon, the Blue Bell creamery drew dozens of families—as well as this grown up, who still sports a sweet tooth—to taste the 16 flavors of ice cream and get a tour of the creamery itself. 

A tour of the factory is only $6—and that includes ice cream. But beware: tickets sell out early, and the tours are on a first come, first served basis (though you can usually reserve tickets ahead of time). Extra servings of ice cream are only $1, and Blue Bell isn't shy with the servings.

The creamery's newest ice cream, Sea Salt Caramel, is the flavor of the month for March. It’s homemade vanilla with a thick swirl of sticky caramel curving its way throughout the ice cream. Another March introductory flavor, Butter Crunch, has a similar vanilla base but with chuncks of chocolate and crispy, flaky peanut butter bits that taste similar to a finely-ground Butterfinger bar. It’s sweet, crunchy, and salty.

Also up for sampling is another of the creamery's newest flavors, I Heart Chocolate. The ice cream, which was released for Valentine’s Day, is the marriage of all things chocolate. And I mean all things: the milk chocolate ice cream contains a gooey chocolate fudge swirl, chocolate cake, and chocolate heart-shaped truffles with creamy chocolate filling. You couldn't fit more chocolate in if you tried.

The factory is open for tours 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, while the gift shop and parlor is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Fridays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and holidays. I recommend grabbing a seat in the parlor by the sunny courtyard window.

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