Few things bring me back to childhood the way a doughnuts does. Doughnuts are a part of several memories. I remember sprinting through my “cool-down” during my summer swim practices to snag a marble frosted Dunkin’ Donut before they were all taken on “Friday doughnut day”. In high school, a Krispy Kreme was finally built in our city, and I can still almost taste that first melt-in-your-mouth, warm, glazed confection. And when I was three, my mother was horrified when my dad brought me home from a trip to Winchell’s where he let me eat not one doughnut, but six (yes, six) full-sized doughnuts. To say my love affair with doughnuts started young would be an understatement. Of all of my childhood doughnut-related memories, my favorites were always with my dad. Sometimes we’d just sit at the store and have our little breakfast “date,” or we’d go pick up a dozen and try to spot all of the deer or other little animals on the drive home. It was a fun tradition we shared, and I hope to keep it alive with my own children. So I challenged myself to find tradition-worthy spots for myself and all of you – and yes, I have the receipts (and a few extra well-worth-it pounds!) to prove that these are some awesome family-friendly metro-area finds!
Mr. Donuts – When my baby walked into this shop, his eyes lit up and he went straight for the glass case to inspect the beautiful confections. The sweet lady behind the counter asked me if my little one could have doughnuts, and offered him a chocolate sprinkled doughnut hole. It didn’t stop there – she added several extra doughnut holes to my dozen box! These treats were light, airy, and delectable. Some of the best I’ve ever had. Bonus – the Lone Tree location is across from a fire station, and we got to watch the firemen and trucks go by. Locations: 13110 E Mississippi Ave, Aurora, CO 80012, and 8854 Maximus Dr, Lone Tree, CO
The Donut Hut Café – Located right by Skate City, it’s common to see kids rollerblade around the shop before heading out to lessons or freeskating. With a menu that changes often, you’re sure to find a flavor to love. My baby ate an entire chocolate banana cake doughnut, and my husband mused over the great buttermilk flavor in the old fashioned. Great seating, and this place offers a lot of other breakfast options if you aren’t in the mood for sweet. Location: 5816 S Lowell Blvd, Littleton, CO 80123
Yummy’s Donut House – There’s a reason why Yummy’s has a ton of regular customers – the doughnuts are amazing! I asked for a recommendation, and was given a cinnamon-coconut-crunch treat that barely stayed on my plate. There’s some decent outdoor seating, and extremely friendly service. I drove by this place daily for years on my way to work, and I’m so mad I didn’t try it sooner! Location: 7625 W Hampden Ave, Lakewood, CO 80227
The Fractured Prune – If you and your kids love the endless possibilities of a fro-yo joint, you will love the Fractured Prune! Customize your own doughnuts from a myriad of glazes and toppings to make a doughnut that is uniquely yours. They even have some pre-made specialties if the choice is overwhelming. This spot is sure to be a crowd-pleaser for kiddos! Location: 4090 E Mississippi Ave, Denver, CO 80246
Krispy Kreme – Sure, we’ve seen Krispy Kreme offered at grocery store chains or pop-up shops, but have you been to shops that actually let you watch the doughnut making process? Beyond cool! Kids will love watching the conveyor belts and ooey-gooey glaze – and will indulge in the rarity of a warm freshly-made doughnut. If the “HotLight” sign is on – get ready for a free glazed doughnut! Check the website for the “HotLight” hours – a must-see for families! Locations: 7514 E. Parkway Drive, Lone Tree, CO 80124, and 1051 East 120th Ave., Thornton, CO 80233
LaMar’s Donuts – I was raised on Dunkin’, and felt like I would somehow betray my childhood allegiance if I ventured out of my comfort zone, but I am so glad I did! LaMar’s has continuously won the hearts and stomachs of America, and they have yet to disappoint me. There’s a reason why the line often extends out the door in the morning! It’s a great dine-in place, too. Locations: 6 spots in the metro-area
Winchell’s – I get such a nostalgic vibe when I step into a Winchell’s. I can almost see my little legs dangling from the booth seat as I sip from my chocolate milk carton and munch on a doughnut or two (or six) while my dad and I talk about everything and nothing while he drinks his cup of coffee. There’s something home-y and special about Winchell’s Donut House. A big menu of food will please anyone in addition to their doughnuts (which are amazing). Locations: 4 spots in the metro-area
Honorable Mentions: It’s hard to think of doughnuts without a shout-out to Dunkin’ Donuts – they are an institution of deliciousness, very family-friendly, and a great weekend spot. And while they aren’t the most “family-friendly” (Voodoo doesn’t even have seating), if you’re just craving a good and creative doughnut, Voodoo Doughnut and Glazed and Confused have some creative and yummy treats.