Denver, by my definition. . .
is an urban oasis surrounded by gorgeous mountains offering good brews, city life, and just about any outdoor activity you can think of. It truly is the best of both worlds bringing tons of fun for both residents and visitors.
Not knowing much about Denver and what to do there, I did a quick search through Instagram prior to my trip and was quickly surprised by how trendy and vibrant this Mile High City. With so many things to do and places to see, I was nervous a weekend wouldn’t be long enough.
If you are planning a weekend trip to Denver, here are some of the best things to do if you like fun!
How to Get Denver
Depending on where you are coming from I recommend checking OneTravel. My new favorite booking site. They always have amazing deals on flights, especially for last minute bookings.
I got two round trip tickets for $160.
Where to Stay in Downtown Denver
If you want a central location:
Aloft Downtown Denver is an artistic boutique hotel offering comfy beds, super friendly staff, onsite entertainment, and walking distance to Larimer Square and more.
They have pool tables and occasional live music, as well as, an indoor pool and up-to-date fitness center.
Also, make sure to check out the European Coffee House next door. The barista is hilarious and will most certainly offer to spike your morning coffee. Never have I ever had to order a virgin cappuccino.
If you want the views:
Hyatt Regency for the best views. The rooms are clean and modern, but the real charmer is at Peaks Lounge. Head up to the 27th floor for drinks and panoramic views of the entire city.
The Hyatt Regency offers all the same amenities as Aloft plus much more including dining options, bigger fitness center, a mall one block away, and steps away from public transportation lines.
If you want to be fancy:
Crawford Hotel at Union Station is sure to accommodate anyone looking for old school elegance. This hotel is located inside Union Station, a place filled with brown leather chairs, high wooden beams, and a bar serving the finest cocktails.
Not only do you get to take advantage of the many hotel amenities including a fitness center and spa, but you also have the many shops and restaurants (including Snooze) in Union Station at your doorstep. More about Snooze in a moment.
The Crawford Hotel truly has everything you need. So much, in fact, you will have to remind yourself to leave your hotel and explore the rest of the city.
How to Get Around
Denver airport is nearly an hour outside the city, which means taking a Taxi, Uber or Lyft can be pricey. Knowing this, Denver offers a train service (A-Line) to and from Union Station for $9 each way.
Not only is this your cheapest option, but Union Station is a site to see all on its own. Union Station is centrally located, so any Uber/Lyft ride should cost no more than $10.
Getting around Denver has never been easier thanks to the help of the rail system. The rail system currently covers 77 miles of rail, meaning you should have no problem getting to all your points of interest. Plus it’s cheap! Coming from a city that lacks public transportation, I can’t help but get excited when I get the chance to hop on a tram and go.
While I agree Lyft is priced cheaper than Uber, both are going to get you anywhere you need to go for less than $10 one-way. If you’re traveling to Denver during the cold months, this is a great option.
During the warmer months, I recommend walking. The blocks are short and there are plenty of boutique shops to draw your attention. One thing I love about Uber and Lyft is knowing I can catch a ride any time of the night. Very helpful for those late nights out when all railways are closed.
Where to Eat
Snooze for Breakfast:
Don’t let the name fool you. If you snooze your alarm you will find yourself without a table at this popular breakfast eatery. Originating in Denver, Snooze has grown to a few other states but still shows its local love the most.
Every day early risers or late nighters head to Snooze to indulge in one of many delicious pancakes (i.e. pineapple upside down pancakes), breakfast tacos, mimosas, and more. Breakfast food so delicious I could eat it for dinner. That’s saying a lot.
Stout Street Social for lunch:
Whenever I go to a new restaurant for lunch I judge it on two things: 1) Do they offer bottomless mimosas? 2) Does the food taste good?. I know, I know tough critic right?!
Stout Street Social checked both my boxes to the point where I wish they had a location in Vegas. I ordered the chicken sandwich (so delicious), but they have a wide array of menu options including an oyster bar. Come here for lunch and leave happy!
Avanti for Dinner:
Avanti is a one-of-a-kind restaurant concept that has young professionals and hipsters alike flocking there. Avanti is a collective eatery with a range of up and coming food vendors. Think indoor food trucks.
You simply walk up to any counter and order your food. Try one or try them all. The vendors here change all the time, which makes dining at Avanti different every time. Don’t forget to head upstairs to their back patio and admire one of the best views of the Denver Skyline!
Where to Drink
If you want beer:
Of course, Denver Breweries are a must for anyone looking to try native crafts in a lively social atmosphere. Check out this post for more detail on where to go.
If you want liquor:
Aside from beer, I certainly had my share of mixed drinks including an Apple Spice Mimosa over brunch and one of the best Sangrias at Avanti. My recommendations are Williams & Graham (a speakeasy) or Avanti. Both places will offer you a unique experience.
What NOT to Miss
There are plenty of things to do and see in Denver, but if you are short on time, I recommend visiting these must-see places.
Brown Palace: Brown Palace is a great place for Afternoon Tea, which I highly recommend. If you can’t stay for tea, the Brown Palace is still a must-see. You are free to walk in and people watch while listening to the sounds of the grand piano. Make sure to look up at one of the most beautiful chandeliers I’ve ever seen. It’s like stepping back in time to the Victorian era.
Botanical Gardens: If you are lucky enough to make it to Denver in the warmer months, check out the botanical gardens and admire the natural beauty.
Art Museum: Visit the Art Museum and unleash your Van Gogh. Here you can do more than look at art, but interact, learn, and see art in action. With live artists on site and changing exhibitions, you are sure to find plenty to fill your afternoon. Score free admission on the first Saturday of every month.
The United States Mint: Ever wonder how all those coins in your wallet are made? Find out at the U.S. Mint. Embark on this family-friendly guided tour and see how currency coins are made. Tours are Monday-Thursday with limited spots available. Be sure to snag a spot well in advance.
Larimer Square: Once the only block in Denver, now home to dozens of shops, bars, and some of the best restaurants in the city. This historic square dates all the way back to the 1400’s making it a visually pleasing place for an afternoon walk.
Come here during the day or night and take advantage of all the entertainment Larimer Square has to offer. Make sure to stop by The Market at Larimer Square for the BEST strawberry cheesecake. Life is short, eat the cake!
Is you can tell, Denver is an incredible city. A must for anyone living or visiting the good ol’ US of A.
Psst. . . Looking for more Weekend Getaways? Check out a few of these posts:
Is my Denver Travel Guide missing something? Share your must see’s and do’s in Denver in the comments below!
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