The Mile High City is just plain awesome!! We love to visit our family here and enjoy the great outdoors.
Most people assume that Colorado is really cold, but that's not true. It is the state with the third most days of sunshine (behind Arizona and California), so even when there's snow it's beautiful and sunny and you still want to be outside.
Denver is a fun up-and-coming city akin to Chicago or DC but with wayyy less people. And they're ALL friendly! We always enjoy the difference in air quality and pleasantry between Denver and Los Angeles ;).
WHAT TO DO:
There is so much to do in Denver, and right outside of Denver as well!
- Red Rocks - the best concert venue in America, hands down. Outdoor amphitheater made of gorgeous red rocks. Every band sounds amazing here and it's so stunning to watch the sun set and moon rise there. Not to mention people get TURNT (and really high 😉 ) even when it's raining. Pro tip: take the shuttle from Denver! It's $35 round trip and they give you water and Kind bars on your way home. Score!
- Garden of the Gods - this is kind of a trip considering it's down in Colorado Springs (so about an hour South of Denver), but an absolute must see!!! Gorgeous nature-made red rock formations and a gorgeous large park to drive/walk around to see them all. Once you hit the top you've got a breathtaking view of Colorado too.
- The Broadmoor hotel - you have to see this place, but when you first get there you must brunch. There are quite a few restaurants in this hotel/resort grounds, but we went to the Natural Epicurean because they have healthier options. I had some incredible juice that I can't remember all the ingredients but I think papaya and pineapple were in there so how can you go wrong. The hotel itself is worth taking some time to explore too. Gorgeous pools and lakes line the buildings. Beautiful fresh flowers in every room. A whole hallway dedicated to every celebrity who's been there, and even a bowling alley. The outside is kind of like the Grand Budapest Hotel on a much much smaller scale hehe.
- Rafting - you kind of can't go wrong rafting in Colorado! Here are two of our favorites though:
- Poudre - class 3 so nice and steady, but still invigorating and exciting!
- Clear Creek in Idaho Springs - depending on where you go in this creek you can hit a class 3, 4 or 5. We did class 4 right after a ton of snow run off, which meant the river was moving so fast it cut the normally 2 hour trip down to 1 hour 15. Beautiful and fun though, not too scary!
- Skydive! - so you're probably asking why the hell would I go to Denver to skydive. You would do this for two reasons: 1) Colorado is flipping awesome and you know you'll have the nicest tandem dive master 2) since Denver is inherently a mile off sea level, you get to jump from way higher than you would in say LA. With Mile-Hi Sky Diving - the group we used - you're looking at going 17500 ft in the air before coming down!
- Confluence Park - this was a new find of ours since it's right by my brother's office. Cute little creek by a huge grassy field, pawwwwfect for your pooch!
- Hiking a 14 ft'er or take the Train up Pike's Peak
- Rooftop Bar at Rockies Stadium - okay okay so this is technically a place to drink, but you can also watch the baseball game here! This stadium is unique because they bulldozed a bunch of nosebleed seats and turned into an awesome open air rooftop bar. Entry is $14 for a "ticket" and that comes with a $6 drink ticket - so it's basically free haha!
- Casa Bonita - why is this in the "to do" and not "to eat" section, you might ask? Because I would never eat here hahaha, it's TERRIBLE Mexican food. But boy is it worth the trip! If you haven't seen the South Park episode about this joint make sure you do first, because it's exactly how it is, down to the strip joints across the street.
- Buy weed - DUH.
WHERE TO EAT:
- The Kitchen - one of my favorite restaurants in Boulder recently opened a shop in Denver and it's the same delicious taste. They embody farm-to-table - I ordered a truffle omelet once and the waitress told me they had just picked those mushrooms the day before in the Rockies.
- Vesta Dipping Grill - Brazillian dipping restaurant where in true to its name, you pick a bunch of sauces to dip the grilled meat of your choice in. Do I need to say anything else?
- Rioja - delicious American / Mediterranean restaurant in Larimer Square, perfect for a nice family dinner!
- Snooze - I'm not gonna lie to you: everyone loves this brunch place, but it's just not my cup of tea. Lots of delicious pancakes, french toasts and egg dishes, but all really hearty and indulgent. If that's your type of thing I highly recommend this!
- Solera - this place is on the South end of Denver but definitely worth the stop if you can swing it! They run a seasonal menu so you know you're always getting something local, fresh and delicious.
- Acorn - we recently discovered this deliciousness at The Source, which is an old warehouse converted into several delicious restaurants. This place is our favorite though, with contemporary American small plates and a really nice atmosphere.
- Panzano - one of the best Italian meals I've ever had was at Panzano! Really awesome for family style, we got a ton of plates and shared them all between two families. Delicious wine and dessert too. Cannot go wrong here! This restaurant closer to LoDo in the Kimpton Hotel Monaco. I found this place randomly on OpenTable and when I mentioned it my brother (who lives in LoDo) immediately said "oh yeah, let's go there." What a great find, we will definitely be back there!
- Machete - sadly we ran out of time to hit this spot last time we were in town, but my brother swears they have the best tacos in Denver!
- Mercantile - another amazing lunch spot in the Union Station building. Fabulous cheese and meat selection too for purchase if you're on the way to a picnic or Red Rocks show!
- Cheese Importers in Longmont - this place has one of those fridges that you have to put on a jacket they supply to go in and not freeze to death. The cheese is organized by place of origin and they have lots of samplers. And meat too. It's heaven! Plus there are some really cute kitchen goods and pasta, crackers, spreads etc. to shop from as well. There are lots of other fun things to do in Longmont too if you have time, like
WHERE TO DRINK:
- Terminal Bar - in the recently redone Union Station area, this bar is a must go to. Super chill vibes in an old train station setting with really good beer.
- Breweries - Colorado is known for its breweries, and rightfully so! There are way too many to visit in one trip, they're all over the state, and the list is ever-growing. Just means you need to go back several times ;). Here are a few of our faves:
- Green Russell - by far my favorite place to drink in Denver! This bar is speakeasy style and you enter through what looks like the back kitchen doors. It's one of those bars where the bartenders like for you to say "I like slushie drinks!" or "I like wiskey and lemons" and they'll make something up for you. Also delicious food: we could not get enough of the pretzel bites!
- Stranahan's - amazing whiskey distillery right outside the town! Each bottle has a different saying on it - including HARRY POTTER quotes (oh yeahhh). It's also worth checking out their tour for sure.
- The Tavern - awesome rooftop patio at an otherwise pretty normal bar! This place is huge though, we spent a pretty fun New Years Eve there.
- 1up - arcade bar!! Super fun and in my opinion much better than the popular ones in LA (and less crowded!). They've got a ton of pinball games and giant jenga in addition to your regular arcade selection!