A weekend guide to Denver
Word on the street is that my guide to Denver is overwhelming. I prefer the term extensive but there's no denying that, for someone who's coming to the Mile High City for a few short days, figuring out where to start can be an incredibly challenging task. So I whittled down the guide to my very favorite spots in town (and made some updates) because the last thing I want is for someone to be stoked on visiting but have no idea where to start.
Chances are you're staying in the city so - just like the original guide - I focused on places that can be walked or biked to with ease (or result in a cab fare that's less than $20, roundtrip). If you're hell bent on renting a car, have at it. But let it be known that a car isn't necessary if you're staying in the city. Not to mention, having one will probably result in a lot of frustration when you try to park it. Just sayin'.
So where should you stay? You'll find the most charming Airbnbs in a handful of Denver's historic neighborhoods, but I recommend staying in Capitol Hill, Cheesman Park, or Five Points, but RiNo and LoDo have some decently priced spots, as well. I highly suggest trying to stay within this area as it's incredibly walkable and there are B-cycle stations scattered throughout. If I didn't live in the city, I'd stay in this charming house or this boutique apartment. If Airbnbs aren't your thang, check out The Maven Hotel and The Ramble Hotel.
Since my last guide, a number of you have emailed asking about the best gyms in town but I regret to inform you that I have a gym just outside my front door and am a firm believer in taking a break while on vacation. SORRY I CAN'T BE OF HELP.
But enough about working out, let's get to the guide.
A welcome dinner at Cuba Cuba seems fitting considering it's my favorite restaurant EVER. If you get into town before 6:30, I highly recommend trying to make it to their happy hour because they mix up cheap mojitos and that is pretty damn awesome considering they serve the best mojitos in town. After dinner you should head to Ophelia's for drinks (and maybe a live show), or to Larimer Square for a fat slice of cake at the Market and/or drinks at the Cruise Room.
You stayed out late last night and now you need coffee. From Caffe Figurati. If you're hungry and need something solid to put in your face, but I recommend heading to Jelly for an early morning feast. If you get to either before 9AM, there won't be much of a wait.
FOR THE MUSEUMGOER
After breakfast, head to the Golden Triangle to wander through the Clyfford Still Museum and Denver Art Museum. When you're finished, make your way to Union Station for lunch at Mercantile Dining and Provision, followed by a boozy milkshake from Mailbox Ice Creamery. Walk a few blocks to the Museum of Contemporary Art to check out their funky installations then head to the rooftop to enjoy a drink or caffeinated beverage.
For dinner you should head to the Highlands or RiNo. If heading to the Highlands, I recommend dining at Avanti followed by a couple of beers at Prost or cocktails at Williams and Graham. If RiNo, I suggest feasting at The Source or Zeppelin Station and ending the night at Infinite Monkey Theorem. Or devouring burgers at Park Burger and beers at Our Mutual Friend. Or mix and match, YOU DO YOU.
FOR THE WANDERER
Head to River North/Five Points and grab a second (maybe third) coffee (or almond milk chai) at Crema (or some coffee + grub at Stowaway), then take an urban hike through the streets and alleyways in search of some of the city's most visually appealing public art. If you're lucky enough to be in town during the Denver Flea, you should pop in for some souvenirs. A late lunch should be had at Biju's Little Curry Shop, followed by a beer at Great Divide Brewery. If you're not into beer, grab a gin & tonic at Work & Class. If you're not into booze (like me), hire a car and head to GroundSwell Cannabis Boutique to get some weed.
Dinner should be eaten across town at Queen of Sheba. Protip: Call ahead for 100% teff injera. Not a fan of Ethiopian fare? Grab a burger at Vine Street. When you're finished with dinner, head over to the Epic Escape Room (make sure you reserve a spot in advance) for one of the weirdest hours of your weekend. Wrap up the day with drinks at Thin Man. If you find red lighting offensive (like Thom), take your happy ass over to Bar Max (and give Max a hug for me). Or, if you wanna get suuuper divey, head to the P S Lounge.
Depending on where you're staying, I recommend grabbing early morning caffeine + sustenance from either Wooden Spoon or Vert Kitchen. I love them both but it really depends on what you're looking to get out of breakfast that morning - so make sure you check out their menus. After breakfast, rent yourself a bike and spend the day riding around town (Denver is semi-bike friendly, yo!). I recommend browsing local shops (Tattered Cover Bookstore, Twist & Shout, Fancy Tiger, etc.), getting a cold scoop from Sweet Action or Sweet Cooie's, going to a Rockies game, or watching a movie at the Mayan. Or, if you were a wanderer on Saturday, be a museumgoer on Sunday. Or vice versa.
There's a sound totem at the corner of 17th and Washington that only works about half the time, but the concept is so cool that we head over to check it out anytime we're in the area. If you find yourself downtown, there's a sculpture at the corner of 14th and Curtis called All Together Now - the big yellow bench is a fun spot for photos. While you're in the city center, you should try to find a 6+ story parking garage, as getting to the top will provide both respite and some pretty killer views. Speaking of which, if you're looking for the best view of the Mile High City, you'll find that at the Museum of Nature and Science. If you happen to rent a car and like (run down) amusement parks, you should absolutely not miss Lakeside. Oh, and ganja. That's why you came in the first place, right? ;)