As Colorado's summers continue to get hotter with heat waves bringing temperatures over 100 degrees, staying cool in Denver — where having central air conditioning at home is no guarantee and some pools still aren't open for the season — can be challenging. Fortunately, finding cool treats in the city is way easier than installing that old window AC unit.
Ice cream and other cold desserts options are abundant in Denver, but these ten unique cool treats are our picks for this summer's must-haves:
Snowl: Mango Snow
1930 South Havana Street, Aurora
5612 South Parker Road, Aurora
Extravagant, international summer travel may not be possible for everyone, but the corner of East Jewell and South Havana in Aurora is home to some of the best Korean cuisine in Colorado — including the beloved dessert shop Snowl. Serving up boba drinks and taiyaki creations, Snowl’s most popular and shareable desserts are its unique Korean snow bowls. A customer favorite, the Mango Snow ($14) is a large bowl containing layers of shaved milk ice, fresh mangoes and condensed milk. It's topped with a generous serving of mango chunks, popping boba and a mango mochi sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Kamala Cafe at the Denver Zoo: Coco Loco
The pineapple Coco Loco from Denver Zoo's Kamala Cafe is a tropical refreshment.
2300 Steele Street
A wildly popular destination to take summertime visitors, the Denver Zoo regularly appears on lists of best zoos in America and earns the accolades with its diverse animal exhibits and expansive grounds next to City Park. With so many animals to see and steps to walk, a cold ice cream at the halfway point is a delightful treat. The Kamala Cafe, located next to McGrath Family Amphitheater and elephant enclosure, serves a refreshing tropical treat called Coco Loco — a pineapple Dole Whip with coconut flakes and white chocolate chips served in a toasted coconut cone ($6.49). Grab one and take a seat to watch the very popular Jake and the rest of the all male (unique for zoos) elephant gang splash around in the pool, but beware: Buying an ice cream treat in the vicinity of young kids will cause a chain reaction (and possibly some annoyed stares from parents).
Smith+Canon: Nitro Cold Brew Ice Cream Float
Enjoy a cinnamon cold brew with Foxy Brown ice cream on the patio.
2260 East Colfax Avenue, #102, Denver
It’s no secret that summer heat and cold brew coffee go hand in hand (and no judgment for any wintertime cold brew drinkers, either). Smith+Canon, located near the intersection of East Colfax and York, has elevated this warm weather trend by marrying its two passions — ice cream and coffee — into one refreshing treat. Pair its nitro cold brews (which are available in five different flavors: straight, whiskey barrel, cardamom, cinnamon and the seasonal chocolate mint) with scoops of its creative small batch ice cream for $5.25. Following a Saturday morning stroll through the City Park Farmer’s Market a few blocks away, the Cinnamon cold brew accompanied with a few scoops of Foxy Brown, a brown cinnamon cheesecake ice cream, is an energizing refreshment best enjoyed on Smith+Canon’s patio which has European-vibes.
Ice Cream Riot
The Cookies & Creme Pop-Tart Sandwich, made with Dirty Cookies and Cream ice cream, is a classic choice.
1238 East Colfax Avenue
If a cold-brew coffee float is a great Saturday morning start, then the perfect end to a Saturday night following a concert at the Fillmore is Ice Cream Riot’s Pop-Tart Ice Cream Sandwich ($7.50). Ignore the
Anytime Fitness next door and give into late-night indulgences by popping into the edgy shop for one of the sweetest dessert creations — two generous scoops of Dirty Cookies and Cream ice cream squeezed between two full sized Cookies & Creme Pop-Tarts.
Customers waiting to buy the exclusive ice cream at Right Cream.
1825 Blake Street
Fueled by viral popularity, Right Cream's inventive ice creams are this summer's most exclusive treats, acquired by being in the know (and on Instagram
) to score a bite. Weekly pint flavors, personally crafted by owner David Right, are announced via a Sunday night Instagram story, and orders go live the following Monday morning for purchase during a small window of opportunity; pickup is available at its new location
, a small window located in the alley next to Foraged known as Blake Passage. The decadent treats have from-scratch ingredients as well as creative, cheeky names, such as the recent Fourth of July-inspired Summer of 1776. Walk-up items, including sundaes and other treats, are often available in addition to the pre-sold pints.
The Constellation Ice Cream: Baked Alaska Pop
A Baked Alaska Pop from Central Park's Constellation Ice Cream is an easy grab-and-go dessert.
10175 East 29th Drive
Fans of The Great British Bake Off
may hear “baked Alaska” and immediately cringe, remembering season four's (alleged) defrosting sabotage and trash bin tragedy for contestant Iain Watters — a must-see episode for anyone who enjoys cooking competitions. But at Constellation Ice Cream in Central Park (a sister concept to the popular Little Man Ice Cream), the retro dessert is reimagined in cake-pop form. The perfect on-the-go treat, it's made with a core of s'mores ice cream, dipped in a thick chocolate shell and covered with a torched-to-order meringue, giving it a flavor reminiscent of marshmallows roasted over a campfire.
Dang Soft Serve Ice Cream: Double Dang in a Waffle Cone
A Double Dang serving in a waffle cone topped with cookie dough, Oreos and caramel drizzle.
2211 Oneida Street
Another Little Man offshoot, Dang is the company's only soft-serve store, and it offers a wide variety of toppings, including chunky bites of cookie dough, gummy worms and even Froot Loops to pile onto the soft-serve ice cream swirls available in cups or cones — though we prefer the classic waffle cone option. Pair it with French fries, sold here by the pint, for a fun sweet and savory treat. Located in the family-friendly Oneida Park near the outdoor courtyard and play area, Dang hosts many summer events, including live music, family bingo nights and an afternoon Summer Art Camp for kids.
Heaven Creamery: Mango Sticky Rice
Rice is a surprisingly sweet addition in this Mango Sticky Rice dessert.
Sticky rice may not be the first thing that comes to mind when sweet tooth cravings hit, but Heaven Creamery’s Mango Sticky Rice ($13.50) is a standout. Served in a coconut-shell bowl with a scoop of sweet rice, fresh mango slices and mango gelato, it's accompanied by a warm cup of coconut milk for drowning the rice — or sipping separately. It's a light option for fueling a long summer day of shopping in Belmar — as are many of Heaven's other items, which include over twenty vegan flavors.
Union Lodge No. 1: Rabble Rabble Rabble
The bright-blue Rabble Rabble Rabble fizz cocktail from Union Lodge No. 1.
Union Lodge No.1/Instagram
1543 Champa Street
Dessert-like cocktails are plentiful in Denver, but this one is crafted with a particularly impressive dose of artistry. At this intimate, pre-Prohibition-inspired escape near the 16th Street Mall, you'll hear a gentle tapping on the bottoms of Collins glassware as a bartender (fittingly named Colin) creates the delicate egg-white clouds that top the selection of fizzes. Before catching a summer musical at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, stop by and enjoy the seasonal fizz, Rabble Rabble Rabble, made with Salers Aperitif, Chareau, Malört, Blue Curaçao, pineapple, lime and egg white.
Hidden Gems Ice Cream
1411 Larimer Street
This TikTok-popular soft-serve ice cream shop located in Larimer Square places all of its focus on toppings. Selections include several different breakfast cereals and some more surprising options, like Cheez-Its. With whimsical decor, Hidden Gems is brightly painted with floor-to-ceiling murals; there's even a secret room. Open late, this downtown spot is perfect for a post-dinner or bar-hopping snack.