The love of ice cream seems to be a commonly shared universal truth. You Gov America reveals data that says “96% of Americans eat ice cream. The most popular flavor is chocolate (14%), followed by vanilla (13%) and butter pecan (11%).”
There are some phenomenal places to get your ice cream fix here in Colorado. Whether you’re a Denver native, new to the area, or just visiting, we’re here to help! Keep reading to learn about the best ice cream spots you should taste for yourself.
Best ice cream shops in Colorado
If there’s one thing you won’t have trouble finding in Colorado, it’s craft beer and ice cream! Whether it’s the middle of the Summer or dead of Winter, YouGovAmerica reports that “Almost three-fourths (71%) of people say they eat ice cream year-round, regardless of the weather.” Fortunately. We can get our ice cream fix no matter the time of year. So don’t wait for National Ice Cream Day in July to roll around before you try these places!
These days it’s hard for people to agree about things. Although, surprisingly, most seem to agree on Colorado’s best ice cream destinations. Whether recommended by friends, residents, or internet searches, the following are the most popular places to get your chill on:
- Bonnie Brae -Denver
- Colorado City Creamery- Co Springs
- Cream Bean Berry- Durango
- Glacier Homemade Ice Cream and Gelato- Boulder
- Sweet Cow- multiple locations
- Sweet Action- Denver
- High Point Creamery- Denver
- Smith+Canon Ice Cream
- Little Man Ice Cream- Denver
Best ice cream in Denver
Whether you’re on a mission to find your new favorite craft ice cream flavor or looking to enjoy your tried and true favorite, there is a unique ice cream experience for you in Denver. Digging deeper into finding the best parlors comes down to choosing what kind of adventure you’re up for.
Choose Your Adventure:
Bonnie Brae Ice Cream Shop
Opened back in 1986, this family-owned, vintage-themed ice cream shop seems to crop up on every top 10 list. Their boasting rights include winning the Colorado Parent Family Favorite Ice Cream award in 2020 and 2021. There is something for every taste bud with over 30 flavors to choose from, including vegan options.
Do you like that old-school soda fountain shop feel? Bonnie Brae has you covered. But don’t expect to find only traditional malts or flavor options here. Of course, they serve the basics, like vanilla and chocolate. But they keep things interesting with fun flavors like Lemon Custard or Sinfully Cinnamon, to name a couple. In addition, their hours of operation are generous. They’re open daily from 11 AM to 9 (10 on Fridays and Saturdays).
Smith+Canon Ice Cream
While this may be your first time hearing about Smith+Canon Ice Cream Company, it’s not for lack of phenomenal reviews or a cult-like following. It is a must-try destination for those seeking small-batch, craft ice cream that packs a punch. The owner, Curt Peterson, crafts the made-from-scratch ice cream and curates an impressive variety of flavors. All while being on hand to talk with customers, explain his process, and help people select coffee and ice cream pairings.
Yes, they have coffee as well! From Nitro cold brew, house coffee, lattes, and affogatos, to freshly roasted beans you can purchase, there is something for every coffee and ice cream enthusiast. Almost every glowing review seems to mention Curt, his mastery, kindness, and phenomenal Philidelphia-style ice cream flavors.
Many reviews even claim that Smith+Canon is the best ice cream they’ve ever had. If that’s not enough of an endorsement to get you to check them out, maybe this will; it is recommended to go early in the day to get your scoop or reserve your pint of ice cream since they have frequently sold out of both ice cream and coffee, forcing them to close their doors early. However, if you’re looking to support a local business that produces hand-made, unique flavors and might just become your new favorite spot, Smith+Canon deserves your immediate attention.
Little Man Ice Cream
How about a tasty scoop of ice cream with a side of socially and environmentally conscious business practices? Little Man Ice Cream wears its heart on its sleeve and offers up a delightful dose of whimsy and nostalgia while serving up some seriously delicious ice cream. The whimsy comes in the unique and recognizable form of the twenty-eight-foot-tall cream can where the ice cream is served.
The nostalgia is served up in the name itself. Paul Tamburello, the founder, named his ice cream shop after his father, who was lovingly referred to as Little Man. The name is more than just an ode to a man – but stands as a living testament to the power of love, legacy, and making a positive impact on the world. They actively support the community through philanthropic efforts, including the Scoop for Scoop program. So regardless of what unique homemade flavor you choose, you can feel good about supporting Little Man Ice Cream.
Sweet Cow’s first shop was opened in Louisville in 2010 and has grown in popularity and demand. They currently have locations in Denver, Aurora, Louisville, and Boulder. There are around 24 flavors on the menu daily. Nine of the flavors are their popular staples, and the other fifteen include their vegan and different rotating flavors.
Smail batch ice cream is made on location. With a very thoughtfully curated menu that doesn’t rotate too often or deprive people of their favorite flavors. Sticking to what works, their goal is to spread smiles, serve excellent ice cream, and make a positive impact on everyone who walks through the door.
What makes supporting Sweet Cow even sweeter is their dedication to being as environmentally friendly as possible. They serve their customers in recyclable containers and strive to support the community through locally sourced ingredients. They even have MooMobiles – ice cream trucks distribute their ice cream to events and parties around Denver and Boulder. So next time you’re scratching your head over what to serve at a birthday party or work function, don’t forget to reserve your very own MooMobile!
Sweet Action and Frozen Matter
Founded in 2009, Sweet Action was one of the first local ice cream shops to bring about the craft and small-batch ice cream movement to Denver. There are currently three locations around downtown Denver, and they are worth a visit. They even offer homemade baked goods to order alongside your ice cream. You can even find their ice cream pints in grocery stores around Denver, so if you’re not near one of their parlors, search your location to see the closest place that carries their product.
It is refreshing that every ice cream shop we highlight in this article is dedicated to reducing its carbon footprint and incorporating more environmentally friendly ways of producing and serving its product. For example, Sweet Action leads the charge by sustainably running their operations off wind energy and paying their employees a livable wage. They are dedicated to creating a great product, protecting the environment, and making their employees feel secure and valued.
In January of 2020. the owners of Frozen Matter have purchased the Sweet Action brand from the original owners, Sam Kopicko and Chia Basinger, in an effort to expand. Thankfully, the branding seems to be remaining true to the above Sweet Action core values and flavors. The Frozen Matter location on East 19th Avenue in Denver even holds a fun surprise. After 5 PM, you can access a hidden speakeasy and cocktail lounge called Retrograde through a door at the back of the ice cream shop. It is perfect for those who like to top off their evening ice cream with a craft cocktail.
Are you someone who likes a little kick to your ice cream? A little bit of a boozy flavor might be your jam. Next time you are out at your local liquor store to grab a bottle of your favorite spirits, check to see if they carry Bootleg Creamery, or check these locations to find the closest shop to you. Made in small batches, this alcohol-infused ice cream comes in delicious flavors like Maple Bourbon, Pina Moo’lada, Irish Coffee, and Mudslide Moo’d. If you need something unique to take to a party, Bootleg Creamery pints are sure to be a hit.
Try out Milkbox Ice Creamery located in downtown’s Union Station to try one of their alcoholic milkshakes. One other must-try is Liq-Creme, another alcohol-infused brand offered at liquor stores all around Colorado.
Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream
For those who like a little adventure with their ice cream in the form of liquid nitrogen, we’ve got you covered too. Historically liquid nitrogen ice cream was a popular activity of science teachers trying to teach chemistry to students. However, no one is sure how it evolved or when nitrogen was first used to make ice cream. The idea is that when nitrogen is frozen, it becomes liquid, flash-freezing the ice cream, which then becomes must creamier in consistency. If this is your adventure of choice, try out The Inventing Room Dessert Shop or Eskimo Bros. Nitro Ice Cream for a one-of-a-kind experience for your inner child.
Rolled Ice Cream
A sweet treat that originated in Thailand rolled ice cream is a frozen dessert spread out on an ice pan, then rolled into cylinders and placed into a cup or bowl vertically. This dessert comes in various flavors, and the toppings are where it’s at. If you are looking for a spot to try your first or millionth rolled ice cream treat, try out Milkroll Creamery, Milkit, or Frozen Spirals in Denver. We suggest you try all three and decide which one is the best from there.
Believe it or not, folks, we have just scratched the surface of the ice cream scene in Denver! There are too many places to list here. But, we feel confident that the brands and shops we’ve covered are the literal cream of the crop here in the Mile High City. If you are new to Denver and want to learn more about the Mile High City, check out our article that breaks down the history of Denver’s moniker.
Leave a comment below with your suggestions or reviews because there are so many great, local, small-batch ice cream shops around Colorado not mentioned here that are also worth a try. Hopefully, this has inspired you to leave the house and try something sweet to brighten your day! You can do that all while supporting local businesses working hard to make the world a better place while serving up happiness one scoop at a time.