As temperatures rise and you search for ways to keep cool with the kids, going out for ice cream becomes a favorite summertime outing. From hand-dipped cookies-and-cream piled high in a waffle cone and rolled in sprinkles, to a scoop of mint chip sandwiched between super soft chocolate chip cookies—there are plenty of fresh, locally-made ice cream treats to sample at these unique creameries around town.
High Point Creamery
215 S. Holly St., Denver 2669 Larimer St., Denver
Alongside traditional ice cream favorites like milk chocolate and vanilla bean, visitors to High Point Creamery will find a list of creative sweet and savory flavors, including some best saved for parents—Tin Cup whiskey with pistachio brittle or coffee bean, anyone? Husband and wife duo Erika Thomas and Chad Stutz want to bring Denver a “happy” experience serving up scoops, layered-ice-cream bombes, malts, shakes, and coffee. Try an ice-cream flight to sample five of the flavors, all crafted with fresh ingredients.
Must Try: The Ice “Kouign” Sandwich made with a kouign-amann (a round, flaky pastry-like cake) from Izzio bakery and High Point ice cream.
5135 E. Colfax Ave., Denver
Nuggs was founded by the O”Sullivan brothers—the same duo who started Brother’s BBQ—after the pair noticed the Park Hill neighborhood was lacking a good old-fashioned ice cream spot. Cones are made daily and dairy products are sourced locally for a truly old-fashioned and delicious experience. Ask about their vegan, nut-free, and gluten-free options.
Must Try: Tuesdays are for ‘tacos”—ice cream scoops served in crunchy waffle cone ‘shells,” topped with whipped cream, sprinkles, and a cherry.
637 Front St., Louisville; 3475 W. 32nd Ave., Denver; 2628 Broadway, Boulder; 669 S. Broadway, Boulder; 1882 S. Pearl St., Denver; 2501 N. Dallas St., Denver
With six locations from Boulder to Denver, there are great options to step up to the counter at these bright, airy shops and try their small-batch ice cream mixed in-house with locally sourced ingredients. Not only does Sweet Cow offer some of the creamiest dips for those with dairy allergies or intolerances, but there are also several rotating options.
Must Try: Oatmeal cookie ice cream with chewy chunks of cookie in each bite.
Inside Scoop Creamery
1535 Platte St., Denver 5654 S. Prince St., Littleton
This quaint ice cream spot has a full menu boasting 20 new flavors made daily and a rotating variety almost weekly. This family-owned ice cream shop focuses on a small batch ice cream process, guaranteeing its customers the freshest dips with flavors that include gluten-free and dairy-free options. The Littleton location serves paninis and soup Monday through Friday, making it a great place to have a family date.
Must Try: Dive into something a bit more adventurous like the horchata or lemon lavender, when available.
Little Man Ice Cream
2620 16th St., Denver
Since opening the windows on the 28-foot-tall silver milk can just less than a decade ago, Little Man Ice Cream has quickly become a Denver staple. With all that love, owner Paul Tamburello decided to expand into three sister locations, including the recently opened Sweet Cooie’s located in Denver (see page 41). The other locations—Constellations in Stapleton and Churn in Fort Collins—are expected to open later this year. Grab a scoop from the extensive flavor menu and enjoy a Talent Thursday or Flick Friday, knowing that a scoop of rice or beans has just been donated to a community in need through Little Man’s scoop for scoop program.
Must Try: The salted Oreo in a waffle cone is a delicious take on the classic cookies and cream.
3506 E. 12th Ave., Denver
The second location from the owner of Little Man is a dedication to his mother (the location’s namesake). Upon entering, you are coated in nostalgia and your fondest memories of hand-dipped ice cream, chocolates, and childhood. In the scoop-for-scoop tradition of Little Man, a portion of each scoop purchased here supports women’s education around the world.
Must Try: The Gooey Cooie made with a brioche donut split in two, and filled with your choice of ice cream.
52 Broadway, Denver
It’s easy to support a Colorado business that not only powers their shop with wind, but also uses compostable and recyclable packaging, especially when they serve up scoops of creamy goodness with names like chocolate malt Whopper and biscuits and jam. Sweet Action creates a rotating daily menu of hand-dipped ice cream using fresh Colorado dairy and local produce and ingredients. Located on Broadway near E. 1st Ave., parking can be tricky, but it’s worth the walk to grab a scoop and people-watch by the big front window.
Must Try: The menu at Sweet Action is constantly rotating, but if you get the lucky opportunity to try the blueberry Oreo—do it.
Ice Cream Riot
1238 E. Colfax Ave., Denver
Ice Cream Riot offers a variety of small-batch ice cream flavors alongside their Philadelphia-style water ice (Philadelphia’s take on Italian ice). Try any of their wacky ice cream creations including ones with cereal or goldfish crackers.
Must Try: Order a custom ice cream sandwich made with Fruity Pebbles ice cream sandwiched between two Pop Tarts of your choice. Don’t miss the wild cherry or pink lemonade.
Chaos & Cream
3350 Brighton Blvd., Denver
Thai-style rolled ice cream is just the creative take on ice cream that Denver has been waiting for. Chaos & Cream starts with a frozen stainless steel preparation surface and pours locally-sourced ice cream base and fresh ingredients, such as strawberries or cookies into the cool mix. Using metal spatulas, the mix is spread thin, rolled, and placed in a cup, then sprinkled with toppings like fudge and crushed Oreos. Watching the prep is part of the fun. Currently open Monday through Thursday.
Must Try: The Smart Cookie made with crushed Oreos and cream.
The Inventing Room
29th Ave. and Tennyson St., Denver
The beloved mad scientist, Ian Kleinman, closed the doors to his Larimer shop last November, but look for the re-opening of the Inventing Room in early August 2017. Fan favorites will be readily available, such as liquid nitrogen ice cream, nitrogen smoking cheese curls, and the miracle fruit. The thing that makes this shop a must-visit is each dessert is made to order, and customers can watch as Kleinman uses liquid nitrogen to change the way we view dessert—a modern day Willy Wonka.
Must Try: The butter beer liquid nitrogen ice cream float has billowing clouds falling from the frozen ice cream, floating in a sweet butter beer.
Magill’s World of Ice Cream
8016 W. Jewell Ave., Lakewood
Magill’s is one of the oldest locations on the list with more than 35 years of experience churning out hand-dipped cones, silky soft serve, and gluten-free options—there will always be something for everyone in the family. The pickiest to the most adventurous eaters will find a flavor they can’t resist, especially since the menu boasts 40 flavors at all times.
Must Try: The Slam Dunk is just that, raspberry ice cream swirled with chocolate chunks and fudge.
Lucy Beaugard is a Denver-based writer and photographer.