With daily temperatures reaching nearly 90 degrees, what better way to cool off than by visiting your favorite ice cream parlors in Denver? We reached out to some of the top shops in town to get the scoop on which flavors are the “must trys” for the summer. Plus, this guide is just in time to help you celebrate National Ice Cream day on July 17!

Liks Ice Cream

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Liks Ice Cream, all photography by Elisha Knight.

Where: 2039 E 13th Ave., Denver

Neighborhood: Capitol Hill

 Top Flavors: Graham Cracker Station, honey-vanilla, s’mores, Jack Daniel’s chocolate chip

 The Low Down: Since 1976, Liks has been Capitol Hill’s very own ice cream hot spot. With a unique batch of homemade flavors such as Jack Daniel’s chocolate chip, Guinness caramel fudge and also classic kid flavors like bubblegum and “M&M’s,” Liks has no trouble keeping up with its newer competitors in the Denver area. Go grab a scoop of ice cream or a banana split and take it to one of the many nearby parks to help you stay cool in the hot summer sun.

Sweet Action Ice Cream

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Sweet Action Ice Cream

Where: 52 Broadway St, Denver, CO 80203

Neighborhood: Baker

Top Flavors: salted butterscotch, Stranahan’s Whiskey brickle, Colorado peach, sweet corn and watermelon sorbet.

The Low Down: Utilizing as many local products as possible, Sweet Action Ice cream isn’t afraid to get crafty with its treats. In fact, its sweet corn flavor, often featuring Colorado corn, is a best seller that is frequently requested.  Unfortunately, since Sweet Action only uses the freshest of ingredients, you can only try this flavor from the end of summer to the beginning of fall. But don’t let that stop you from going all year round, Sweet Action makes all of its ice cream by hand, and rotates its options daily as well as features a variety of vegan options.

Pro Tip: Sweet Action will host its annual ice cream tasting day on Saturday, July 18 from 1- 4 p.m. This year’s flavors will feature adult beverages including Avery Brewing Company Lilikoi Kepolo passion fruit ice cream, Denver Beer Co.’s Graham Cracker Porter s’mores ice cream, Ten Bears Winery’s Nutty Port ice cream, and Peach Street Distillers’ Pear Brandy sorbet!

[UPDATE, July 16, 2015]: The tasting will be held at Davidson Liquors at 5555 Boatworks Dr., Highlands Ranch, Colo. and the event will be 21 years and up.


Nuggs Ice Cream

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Nuggs Ice Cream shop.

Where: 5135 E Colfax Ave., Denver

Neighborhood: Park Hill

Top Flavors: Double-Stuffed Oreo, “Brother Finger,” “Strawberry Blonde” and Palisade peach

The Low Down: Opening in 2014, in a former Taco Bell location, Nuggs may be one of the newer ice cream spots in Denver. But despite its recent debut, its homemade ice cream, shakes, malts, and sundaes can still compete with some of the more classic parlors. Along with a large variety of flavors, Nuggs is one of the few ice cream places in Denver that has brought the Midwestern favorite “Blue Moon” to its store. And while Nuggs’ owners might be more well known for their barbecue (they founded Brothers BBQ), don’t let that fool you because their ice cream is just as good.

Bonnie Brae Ice Cream Shop

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Bonnie Brae Ice Cream

Where: 799 S. University Blvd., Denver

Neighborhood: University/Bonnie Brae

Top flavors: Cappuccino crunch, mint chocolate chip, Kahlua Cream and cookie dough

The Low Down: Located in its namesake neighborhood, the Bonnie Brae Ice Cream shop has sat on the quiet corner of University Boulevard and Ohio Street for over 20 years. This popular parlor makes all of its own ice cream on site from scratch and attracts a variety of people from around the area — including elderly couples, businessmen, students, and families. Driving by, you’ll notice that people will gather on even the coldest of days to try everything this Denver institution has to offer.

 Little Man Ice Cream

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Little Man Ice Cream

Where: 2620 16th St., Denver

Neighborhood: LoHi

Top Flavors: salted Oreo, vegan chocolate salted Oreo (other vegan options are available) and a raspberry-peach-hibiscus sorbet.

The Low Down: Whether it is because it is housed in a giant 14,000 pound milk can, or because the line wraps around the block, Little Man Ice Cream is hard to miss. Using local and homemade ingredients, this ice cream parlor offers a variety of flavors, including a large sum of vegan options. Also, with your sweet treat you will be supporting Little Man’s very own charity, “Scoop for Scoop,” — a program that provides a scoop of rice or beans to communities in developing countries for every scoop of ice cream purchased. For National Ice Cream Day the shop will also donate a certain percentage of its profits to a charity that will be voted on by customers. So if you’re planning on indulging, then make sure to do so while supporting a good cause.

Pro tip: Check out the express lane to the left of the milk can for shorter wait times. It only offers eight flavors, but they rotate as often as the main station. 

At almost any given Denver parlor there are over 30 flavors to choose from. Be sure to at least try one of the salted flavors at any of the parlors because, as demonstrated above, any of these options seem to be a fan favorite!