A lot of travellers land at Denver International Airport, the state’s largest airport, and head straight for the ski (winter) or hiking (summer) destination, without as much of a blink in the direction of Denver. Easy to do, since Denver’s airport is about an hour outside of the city. But don’t overlook this fantastic city’s charms. It might be a bigger town, but it has that same lifestyle orientation that you find in the other cities in Colorado, so breweries, good food, and a relaxed attitude are available in abundance. Here are a couple of spots to look forward to.
Downtown sightseeing is centred around the 16th Street Pedestrian Mall, which is lined with shops, eateries, and bars. Stop for a yoghurt, linger over a beer, or laugh at the hilarity of items in the oversized souvenir shop. The only downside of the mall is there are fewer local brands these days, but it’s still worth just taking a stroll for people watching.
Not far from the pedestrial mall is the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art, always enjoyable for some visual inspiration. On the other side of downtown is a confluence of museums called the Golden Triangle, where you’ll find museums such as the History Colorado Centre.
Speaking of history, there is a U.S. Mint in downtown Denver with free tours, and the amazing views from the rotunda of the Colorado State Captiol building are always free.
There is so much good food in Denver, it’s hard to recommend something! The Capital Grille is a bit harder on the budget, but well worth it as their steaks and wines are loved by locals and visitors alike. If you’re hungry, Little India on Champa Street is a gem – their delicious curries make up for their lacklustre service.
Right on 16th Street Mall is a great cafe for caffeine and sandwiches: Ink! Coffee. There’s free wifi and newspapers too, depending on if you want to just relax or get some work done.
You don’t have to go far to find an adult libation in downtown Denver. The Yard House claims to have the “world’s largest selection of draft beer” – a fact that I wasn’t able to substantiate but had fun trying. This place is packed on weekends, so be prepared. For something more relaxed and refined, have a cocktail or wine of the day from the Corner Office, which incidentally has a fantastic cheese board and lovely desserts.
Last but certainly not least is Wynkoop Brewing Company, the first brewpub in downtown Denver and the first craft brewery in the city. Sit down for a bite to eat or just enjoy a sampler of their delicious brews. They tend to test various small batch brews here in their pub, so ask what’s on special for a real treat.
Stay right in downtown – it’s definitely worth being in walking distance of museums and 16th Street Mall. I cannot recommend more highly the Curtis, which is a Doubletree hotel. You will get a tasty, warm cookie on check-in but that’s where the traditional Doubletree experience ends – the Curtis is probably the quirkiest boutique hotel you’ll ever stay in, with themed floors, a lobby full of games (for adults and children), and the only hotel I’ve stayed in where you can rent a hula hoop. It’s one of those spots that is just “very Colorado” so check it out.
Looking to splurge? Then check out another venerable Denver institution, the Brown Palace. It’s one of the oldest operating hotels in the city, and features an on site bar, restaurant, cigar lounge, and award-winning spa. Rooms are very luxurious and modern while still keeping those character features. The hotel has its own artesian water well so be sure to drink up – it might take years off your life!
Photos by ND Strupler & Andy Hayes.
Posted : Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013 at 10:00
Andy Hayes is based in sunny Portland, Oregon. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he works on his own lifestyle publication, Plum Deluxe.