The cold and creamy taste of summer

A guide to the Denver metro area’s must-try ice creams


Summer is here. July is upon us. And perhaps nothing defines the season as well as a cold, creamy scoop or two on a cone — or in a bowl, if you prefer. What else appeals so effortlessly to all ages, putting summertime smiles on kids and kids-at-heart?

In fact, Americans consume about 23 gallons of ice cream annually, according to the International Dairy Foods Association. And in case you didn’t know, July has been celebrated as National Ice Cream Month since Ronald Reagan signed the proclamation way back in ‘80s. July is also, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, tied with August for the two most popular months to eat ice cream — a statistic that surely surprises no one.

Ask a few people who has the best ice cream in the Denver metro area, and then sit back and be amazed at the number of answers you get.

In the old days, it was easy. There was Baskin Robbins and DQ, and for a special occasion, you might get a counter seat at Dolly Madison.

Then there was Farrell’s, and later, Swensen’s, but these were both chains that came here from other places. Nothing about them was particularly connected to Colorado. And in more recent history, the opening of Magill’s in Lakewood and Bonnie Brae in south Denver signaled that a new era was at hand.

These days, the continuing trend of boutique ice cream joints using premium ingredients has ushered in what is undoubtedly the golden era of cold and creamy goodness in the metro area. When you make a list, it’s easy to see there are several formidable contenders cranking out delicious frozen delights. So, making a list is what we have done.

To be clear, this is no contest. The order of the list is not scientific or any type of ranking at all, but merely the order in which they popped into the author’s head. You may use it as a type of map, as it were, to the coolest mini road trip in the metro. Pun intended.

• Bonnie Brae Ice Cream opened in 1986 and has been cranking out the cold stuff ever since.

• Little Man Ice Cream Company started in 2008 in the Lower Highlands neighborhood and has grown to six distinct locations across the Front Range including — aside from the flagship store — The Little Man Ice Cream Factory, DANG Soft Serve, Old Town Churn, The Constellation and Sweet Cooies.

• Sweet Cow now has six locations plus a truck, the MooMobile. Their ice cream is made in small batches and crafted at each location.

• Liks Ice Cream has been a staple in Capitol Hill forever. They’re family-owned and now have a second location in Conifer.

• Nuggs, the brainchild of Chris and Nick O’Sullivan of Brother’s BBQ, has been serving cool, creamy treats to folks in Park Hill and Mayfair since 2014.

• Magill’s on the west side of Denver has had you covered for the last four decades. This unassuming Lakewood strip-mall shop has them lined up most evenings, no matter the weather. The huckleberry is to die for. Plus, it’s just fun to say huckleberry.

• Sweet Action opened on Broadway in 2009 and now has four locations serving flavors as fun as you’ll find anywhere, with plenty of vegan options in the mix. You can also find them in Washington Park, Uptown and Jefferson Park.

• High Point Creamery’s Erika Thomas and Chad Stutz have been serving ice cream with elevated flavor profiles in Hilltop, RINO and Berkeley. They also have a food truck they call “Big Pinky” — it’s pink — to cater to every ice cream need.

• Em’s Ice Cream in Park Hill is getting ready to launch a second location in Wheat Ridge at 26th and Kipling.

• Scrumptious can be discovered a bit further north in Olde Town Arvada. According to its website, the business makes all of their ice cream in-house.

• Inside Scoop in Littleton, with another location on Platte Street, serves 20 flavors that are homemade daily and go perfectly with a handcrafted waffle cone, which they also make fresh. 

If your favorite didn’t make the list, don’t fret. But feel free to drop us a line about what makes it great, and we’ll update the web version of this story to keep the metro area’s ice cream addicts up to date on all of the news they need to know.


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