Finishing up our week of mini-moons, and an amazing run of guest posts, our girl Shanley is here to share her picks for a short stay in the Mile High City: Denver…
Having lived in Colorado my whole life, I have so much passion and love for this state! There is nothing like 300+ days of sun, the mountains a short drive away, and some of the nicest people around. Come September, I’ll be rounding out my 2nd year as a Denver resident and am still exploring and finding new gems in this up and coming city. It’s the perfect spot for a mini-moon, especially for the active couple who enjoys being out and about!
WHERE TO STAY
If you’re a boutique hotel person like me, then you’ll love what Denver has to offer. Of course, you can find a Westin and Ritz-Carlton here (among others) but I always think a weekend getaway is best stayed in a fun and funky hotel.
Hotel Teatro – Located in Denver’s music and theater district, Hotel Teatro is surrounded by up-and-coming culinary hotspots, top sports franchises and a breath-taking Rocky Mountain views. A lovely local spot.
Hotel Monaco – In the heart of downtown, Hotel Monaco is a bold hotel with everything you’d expect plus some fun perks – including large rooms with comfy beds, a complimentary happy hour, and the option to bring your pooch along if you choose. Insider tip – ask for a pet goldfish to keep the two of you company.
Magnolia Hotel – Comfortable but stylish, Magnolia Hotel has everything you need – nothing less and nothing more.
EATS & TREATS
Denver is hands-down a foodie town. With a restaurant and bar on every corner, there is always something new to try and always a coveted spot that is fairly easy to slip into sans-reservation. The city is known for restaurant’s ranging from farm to table, to gastropub goodness, to truly inspired creations.
For a great view of the city and a unique menu: try Linger in LoHi. Their street food inspired menu “embraces diversity of food, people, ethnicities, culture and life” and has this foodie town buzzing. (Make reservations!)
For a fancy night out: try ChoLon in Larimer Square, a modern Asian bistro with a swanky vibe. (Make reservations!)
For a taste of a locally sourced menu: try the Kitchen in LoDo, a community oriented bistro committed to environmentally friendly practices and big community tables.
For a retro atmosphere and gourmet American classics: try Steubens in Uptown. The nightly special on Sunday is chicken & waffles.
For a meal under $10: try Illegal Pete’s. Colorado’s local and favorite build your own burrito bar.
For a quick (but incredible) breakfast sandwich, biscuits, or waffles: try Hi*Rise in Downtown.
In case you haven’t heard, Denver is known for its craft breweries! Of course, the mega Coors brewery is down the street in Golden, CO but I’m a fan of the little (but still well known) breweries around the downtown area. And it’s not just about beer anymore – a few distilleries and an urban winery have popped up recently. Another perk – there is usually a favorite Denver food truck parked outside for your munching pleasure!
For the best outdoor patio (and board games!): try Denver Beer Co. located in the fun Platte neighborhood.
For an experience and taste of an urban winery: try Inifinte Monkey Theorem. Located in the up and coming RiNo/Five Points district, they provide all the goodness of a winery (the tastings, of course!) without a pretense.
For a well known but still craft brewery: try Great Divide Tap Room which features 16 taps of seasonal and year-round beers. Try to catch a tour of the brewhouse too!
For a tour and tasting of a local whiskey distillery: Try Stranahans Whiskey in the Santa Fe art district. Bring a bottle home for a later celebration!
For a true local vibe: try Mile High Spirits in the up and coming RiNo neighborhood. All liquor is distilled on location, of course. The Moscow Mules (which could be considered Denver’s signature cocktail) with fresh pineapple or cucumber vodka are delicious!
For an upscale cocktail: try Green Russell in Larimer square. Drinks are steep but the speakeasy vibe and innovative creations make it worth it. (Make reservations!)
SHOP & BROWSE
One thing I love about Denver is the sweet boutiques scattered throughout the city. There are a few concentrated areas to get your shop on, but I enjoy stumbling upon unique-to-Denver shops as I explore the city. (So keep your eyes out!) A few specific places will satisfy your shopping cravings:
Larimer Square and LoDo – Larimer Square, located in the historic Lower Downtown (LoDo) district of Denver is filled with sweet boutiques and restaurants. Aside from 16th street mall which is home to numerous chain stores, Larimer Sqaure is the most concentrated shopping area in the city. Stores to peruse: Blush, Tattered Cover Bookstore, Hailee Grace Boutique, and Cry Baby Ranch.
Cherry Creek North – A little bit south of Denver, Cherry Creek is home to Cherry Creek mall but also the upscale Cherry Creek North neighborhood. Chalk full of home stores, galleries, boutiques, upscale designer stores, and restaurants – you could really spend a full day here if you’re the marathon shopping type. Be sure to check out: HW Home, The Blue Jeans Bar, Paper Source.
Highlands – The highlands and lower Highlands (LoHi) is known as Denver’s newest and coolest neighborhood. Fairly well established at this point, it is filled with fun shops and things to see. Certain areas are definitely walkable, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a car or bike to get around the Highlands. Be sure to catch: wordshop., lulu’s furniture and décor, KISMET.
THINGS TO DO
Be sure to check out the local websites and blogs such as 5280.com and Westword.com to find out what is happening in Denver during your stay! There are always special events, free live music, and art features each month as well as a few tried and true weekly happenings. If you’re an art museum lover, there are a few great ones here including the Denver Art Museum and the MCA Denver. If anything, try out one or two of these must do Denver activities:
B Cycle to to Cherry Creek – Rent a B Cycle, Denver’s own bike sharing program, and go for a cruise down the Platte River Path. It will take you right to Cherry Creek! Grab lunch, some frozen yogurt, and shop around before heading back on your bike. Interested? Here is a Google map of a suggested route.
Visit the Farmer’s Market in the Highlands – While Boulder is known for their farmer’s market, I love Denver’s take on the fun (and practical) Saturday morning event. Yes, there are plenty of fresh fruits and veggies all from local farms but it also boasts locally made lotions, wine, and food trucks. (Check out the Hey PB & J truck!)
Brewery Tour – While you can certainly sign up for a brewery tour through denvermicrobrewtour.com or banjobilly.com, I recommend doing one on your own! You can walk from brewery to brewery in the city or rent a B Cycle bike to reach destinations outside of the city. This activity will take a little planning – mapping your route and also making sure the brewhouses are open for a tour on the day of your adventure. (A few breweries to choose from in addition to those mentioned above: Wynkoop Brewery, River North Brewery, and Breckenridge Brewery. Have a car? Avery Brewing in Boulder is pretty fun and Fort Collins is home to O’Dell Brewing and New Belgium Brewery. Coors Brewery is in Golden, CO.)
Art District on Sante Fe – Right outside of downtown is a strip of over 60 art galleries on Sante Fe. An art walk happens of the first Friday of every month with live music and free viewings. Any other day, the galleries and restaurants make for a cultural 3-4 hour activity.
Visit Wash Park – Great views and a sweet surrounding neighborhood, Wash Park is the largest park in the city. Perfect for a picnic! If you’re lucky enough to be around on Sunday night in the summer, check out Jazz in the Park.
Denver Botanic Gardens – In the summer months especially the Denver Botanic Gardens is a lovely place to take a leisurely walk. Showcasing some of Colorado’s beautiful wild flowers, a visit here is both educational and beautiful.
Enjoy your trip to Denver! Please add anything I may have missed or some honorable mentions in the comments!
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