The 90+ degree weather we’ve been “enjoying” these last few weeks brings to light the need for one of summer’s most quintessential treats—ice cream. Denver is no stranger to quirky and classic ice cream shops alike, and I’m sure that pretty much every man, woman, or child will be able to find their favorite spot. So in honor of National Ice Cream Day (Sunday, July 17th), here’s my curated list of Denver’s best ice cream shops of 2016.
Sweet Action Ice Cream is the kind of shop that keeps you coming back. Whether it’s the fresh ingredients, Colorado dairy, or the great selection of vegan flavors, Sweet Action is a true winner on the list! I always love the Stranahan’s Whiskey Brickle, made with Denver’s own Stranhan’s whiskey. Other favorites are limoncello ginger cookie and their delicious homemade ice cream sandwiches! Don’t be fooled by the line fool of twenty-something hipsters—Sweet Action is a place for families too, and the line moves quickly folks!
Sweet Cow is quickly becoming a Denver and Boulder staple, with six shops across the metro area, as well as their famous moomobile truck. This family-friendly establishment first opened in Louisville, where the outdoor seating and play area is just as much fun as the ice cream itself. Kids can play around the grassy lot and adults have countless options for seating while enjoying their treats! Flavors change regularly and they always have a few sorbets for the non-dairy folks. My favorite is the Nutter Butter ice cream with extra Ghiradelli hot fudge! Yum!
Bonnie Brae is a well-known Denver staple and about as traditional as you can get for an ice cream shop. Celebrating it’s 30th anniversary this year, Bonnie Brae is a classic shop with all your favorite flavors. Grab a scoop and enjoy a loop around Wash Park with the kids!
Little Man is the shop to take the kids to for the atmosphere and experience. This Highlands-based shop features a 28-foot-tall, old-fashioned cream can as the backdrop of the shop. The patio is welcoming and inviting and the flavors are a mix of unique and classic. I especially enjoy their huge selection of sorbets, made from fresh and often local ingredients.
Ice Cream Riot is one of Denver’s newest shops, though it’s quickly becoming the favorite of many locals. Between their quirky flavors (think Cheddar Goldfish or Crunch Berries), the water ice varieties, and the fact that they have ice cream sandwiches made between pop tarts, there’s something for literally everyone at this Colfax shop.
While this Boulder-based venue is actually a Gelato shop, they made the list for their focus on real ingredients and a nod to those with food allergies. Not only do they have a good selection of vegan flavors and milkshakes, they have house-made, gluten-free ice cream cones.
Denver sure loves its ice cream, and the list above is not a full list of excellent shops in our town. Other honorable mentions include Boulder’s Glacier Ice Cream, Capitol Hill’s Liks Ice Cream, and Milkbox in Union Station.