Denver's five best ice cream parlors

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Rain or shine, we spend a considerable amount of time thinking about ice cream. It's one of our very favorite desserts, not least because you can totally put it on the side of any other dessert and it doesn't count as two treats: it counts as a la mode. This succession of warm days, however, has us in a veritable ice cream-eating frenzy: we ponder eating a pint for lunch or dinner, and rarely does a day go by without us stopping somewhere for a scoop.

And when we're considering where to sate our cravings, we look to these places, our five best ice cream parlors in Denver, listed here in no particular order.

Liks Ice Cream Parlor, 2039 East 13th Avenue It's been more than 35 years since Liks first started scooping in Capitol Hill, and its ice cream -- made in two-tub batches -- continues to draw crowds. Rightfully so. The place stocks more than 300 rotating flavors that encompass everything from birthday cake to banana split, cinnamon roll to chocolate strawberry and vanilla ginger to vanilla bean, all available by the scoop or in sundaes, shakes or floats. We've never had the same thing twice -- and we've never been disappointed. Little Man Ice Cream, 2620 16th Street It's hard to miss the big silver milk jug at the edge of Highland; besides being architecturally interesting, it's always swarming with people. They come for cones and cups of creamy banana-flavored ice cream studded with chocolate chips, or sweet and spicy ginger gelato, or tangy mint-lime sorbet. We like the salted flavors best; salted Oreo, in particular, will make us brave the line, no matter how hard we try to resist. The treats, made in small batches and by hand, are so decadent that you might want to buy a whole pint. Sweet Action Ice Cream52 Broadway While several shops on the Front Range make their own ice cream, none do it as creatively as Sweet Action. The place goes above and beyond when it comes to flavors, supplementing the typical chocolate and vanilla variations with treats made from beer, baklava, a honey and chile blend, and Cadbury creme egg. Today the dessert-monger is offering up mascarpone chile blackberry, white chocolate cinnamon, pomegranate sorbet and mint chip -- and there's no telling what it'll come up with for tomorrow. Sweet Cow, 637 Front Street, Louisville This Louisville-based store is a micro-batch-focused shop that starts with cream, sugar and natural flavorings and creates a lineup of indulgences that are close-your-eyes good: thick and velvety, bursting with gooey swirls and crunchy accoutrements, and so creamy they're practically buttery. We're into the apple pie, the robust Ozo coffee and the sweet corn, but we'll basically eat a scoop of anything that comes from Sweet Cow. 1. Glacier Ice Cream, 4760 Baseline Road, Boulder This Boulder-based outfit makes celestial ice cream, churning cream and sugar into sweet, silky confections, some of them studded with tiny bits of cake or candy. You can find more popular flavors packaged up at several retail shops around town -- or offered on many restaurant dessert lists -- but it's worth heading straight to the source. The Glacier Homemade Ice Cream shop scoops a variety of frequently rotated creations into cups or cones; our favorites include the caramel Oreo, spicy chai, Junior Mint and dulce de leche. Glacier also partners with other purveyors -- including local brewers, cake-makers and restaurants -- to turn out special seasonal one-offs. The frequent collaborations with Kim & Jake's Cakes, a Boulder bakery, are particularly dreamy. And that's what earned the shop our Best Ice Cream award in Best of Denver 2012.

Honorable mentions go to Skoops Ice Cream & More and Coaches Scoop Frozen Desserts.

Have another favorite? Tell us about it below.

More Best of Denver® 2012 Lists:

- Denver's ten best new restaurants

- Denver's five best seafood restaurants

- Denver's ten best Italian restaurants

- Denver's five best Japanese restaurants

All of these lists are also available on our Best of app; see it in action at http://bestof.voiceplaces.com/denver-boulder.

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