I have a confession – sometimes I go to cities just to eat. Denver is one of those places where you hear about the restaurants before you arrive, and want to go back again just for the food. I can say that I was not disappointed.
The Mile High City, as it’s called (due to the elevation, not the fact that recreational marijuana is legal), has been topping the lists of places to visit in the U.S. It also has a huge influx of people moving into town, and real estate is skyrocketing. Whether you’re visiting for the nearby ski resorts, the food, or to meet up with friends who have relocated, Denver is an awesome place for a long weekend.
We drove into Denver on our way back from the ski mountain and dropped off our rental car in town. But the airport is easily accessible from the city or Union Station is conveniently located in the heart of downtown if you’re traveling by train. Along the 16th Street Mall there is a free bus that runs up and down 16th Street (no other cars are allowed on the street so it moves pretty quickly). To get across town, Uber is the easiest option.
Where to Stay
If you’re visiting for the first time, stay in Lower Downtown, or ” Lodo”, near 16th street. The 16th Street Mall is lined with tons of shops and restaurants and is the tourist hotspot. We stayed in an Airbnb at 17th Street and Larimer Street which was the perfect location – not in the center of the tourist trap, but walkable to everything. Other hotels in the area include:
- The Maven Hotel at Dairy Block – We just stopped in here for the coffee, but this adorable, new hotel is super trendy and a fun place to stay.
- AC Hotel by Marriott – A newer hotel with a cool rooftop bar.
- Airbnb – Your best bet if you’re with a group!
Where to Eat
Ah, the most important part – the food. Denver has no shortage of awesome restaurants.
- Denver Biscuit Company – This is one of those meals that you eat and then dream about the next time you can go back. A massive biscuit served a number of different ways, it will be one of the best breakfasts I’ll ever have. And save room for a cinnamon bun for dessert …
- The Delectable Egg (Denver location) – A diner-like menu, this is a great spot to grab some eggs!
- Huckleberry Roasters at Dairy Block – A great local coffee shop is a must-have for me in any new city. This place does not disappoint.
- Jelly Café – Another breakfast favorite, a little farther from Lodo.
- Union Station – While it’s a functioning train station, it’s also a cool hangout during the day or at night. Shuffle boards in the center of the terminal are surrounded by bars, restaurants, and shops within the station.
- Westfax Brewery – This new brewery is a quick Uber ride to Lakewood, and sits in the same shopping complex as the infamous Casa Bonita of South Park fame. Go for some great, unique beers and visit the food truck of the day. (And if you’re feeling adventurous, stop in Casa Bonita on the way home – just don’t eat the food.)
- Euclid Hall – A little more upscale American fare, this is a great dinner spot. Order the bone marrow to treat yourself to a delectable appetizer.
- Two Fisted Mario’s Pizza – As a NJ native, I’m picky about my pizza. But this place is worthy of the crowds. Great for grabbing a slice on the go or late night drunk food.
What to See
- Euflora – Yes, the dispensaries are a highlight of most peoples’ trip to Colorado. This one is pretty popular and has a big selection.
- Larimer Square – Near the 16th St. Mall, this little strip has some good shops and restaurants to wander around.
- Confluence Park – A big park great for a stroll or a place to sit and chat with friends.
- Botanical Gardens – We wandered here trying to kill time before our afternoon flight, but it was such a pleasant surprise, especially in winter. There are plenty of indoor green houses, including a tropical room that feels like a Caribbean resort.
Colorado is obviously attractive for those who love the outdoors. And if you want the best of both worlds, Denver is certainly a foodie city with bustling nightlife and activities, that is still super close to all open air activities whether it be skiing, hiking, or visiting a number of parks and lakes. It’s easy to see why so many East-coasters are flocking to the Mile High City.