WHY VISIT DENVER?
If I’m being honest, I didn’t know a whole lot about Denver prior to going this summer. My recent trip was prompted by a connection to get backstage for a double-header at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and when asked to join, how could I not go?! Before and after concerts, I explored neighborhoods like LoHi, Cherry Creek, and RiNo, and learned that Denver isn’t just a stopover before a winter getaway, or a place to rest your head in between concerts; the Mile-High City has beautiful parks, a cool art scene, and realllllly tasty food & drinks. Spending a whole week here, I wasn’t bored, and frankly there’s still more to see. Scroll down for my recommendations on where to stay, eat, play, and more.
WHERE TO STAY
There are two schools of thought when picking a hotel in a new city: first, stay like a local. Plop yourself down in the middle of a neighborhood and explore on foot, peeping into store windows, taking workout classes, and finding local watering holes or coffee shops to get some remote work done. And the second, treat yourself. Rest your head where everything you could possibly want is within the four walls of that hotel: spa, gym, restaurant(s), and the ultimate luxury of complete convenience. Seeing as my most recent visit to Denver was a week long, I had the luxury to experience both. To start my time, I stayed at Life House in Lower Highlands.
Nestled in a neighborhood known for their cocktail lounges, skyline views, and love for small & locally owned, Life House serves up an a beautiful blend of suburban and urban living. Showcasing a keen eye for design, the property harkens back to the neighborhood’s roots with a Victorian feel and floral notes, encased in an industrial shell; a thoughtful nod to the pioneers. Their lounge offers up a great place to catch up on a couple emails before moseying to the bar for a drink or two. Enjoy a more traditional stay in their Deluxe King room, or bunk up with some friends in their quad, or explorer suites that fit more friends at an affordable rate. If you’re trekking out to the Mile-High City to catch a show at Red Rocks with friends, or for a stopover before your snowy escape in the mountains, there is no better way to stay in Denver with a crew.
The first Four Seasons hotel opened in 1961, and 60 years later, you know, and I know, the reputation they have garnered in the service industry has remained steadfast. To me, the Four Seasons has always demonstrated the epitome of luxury, and I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing their properties in some of my favorite cities, including a recent weekend in one of their newest properties in Boston. After their scheduled seven month long top-to-bottom renovation last year, the Four Seasons Denver revealed a refined take on an urban oasis with design elements that honor the surrounding landscape. While there is always a fear of tossing the baby out with the bath water during a major renovation, the gems of the property remain untouched; namely the people. From the greeting at the door, to the talented technicians at the spa (highly recommend a deep tissue massage by the way!), and the team members servicing your room, the people that the Four Seasons is what makes a stay there great.
Beyond that, they continue to have my favorite bed in the business (yes, they have their own mattress line), which presents a particularly difficult task of getting out of it for early morning meetings, but makes for a perfect locale to wake up slow, eat some room service, and recall the previous night’s activities. Some other perks of staying with one of the world’s most notorious luxury brands: a house car service that’ll drop you, or pick you up, within 3 miles of the property, a sky-high pool with a view, access to the spa amenities, and even family-friendly luxuries for those of you traveling with little ones, like game consoles and in-room tents. I might just get those for myself on the next trip!
WHERE TO EAT
3330 Brighton Blvd #201, Denver, CO 80216
Situated in RiNo, Safta is an Israeli restaurant serving brunch & dinner that contributes to the neighborhood’s ever growing cool factor. A recent addition to the menu, whipped feta with figs and mint, rounds out their salatim lineup, and is just one example of their modern take on traditional dishes. Start with one of their cocktails, like The Laureate, made with olive oil washed gin, Lillet Blanc, Salers, and chamomile, and don’t leave without trying their Pistachio Walnut Baklava.
Denver Biscuit Co.
3237 E Colfax Ave., Denver, CO 80206
With a tagline like “gourmet biscuits piled a mile high”, you know I needed to check this place out. They have 6 locations around Denver, soon to be 7, and it’s easy to see why they’re so popular. The biscuit french toast continues to call my name, but the combination of buttermilk fried chicken, local honey, stone-ground mustard, and house made pickles makes The Ellsworth the dark horse of the menu. Wear your stretchy pants if you’re planning a visit.
Edge Steakhouse (pictured above)
1111 14th St, Denver, CO 80202
Looking for the ultimate power lunch? During the Four Seasons Denver renovation, their most exciting component of the reveal would have to be Edge. The space oozes opulence, and is complemented by a menu that lives up to the pomp & circumstance. Start with a glass of Dom Pérignon “P2”. Yes, their wine-by-the-glass list boasts some impressive bubbles. If that doesn’t impress your lunch guests, the global menu will. Suitable for all preferences, you can feel confident that there is something tasty for everyone at the table.
222 Milwaukee St, Denver, CO 80206
Up until this point of the post, I haven’t given much attention to Cherry Creek, but it is an iconic Denver neighborhood. A must-do: dinner here. Walking into Narrative is a bit like walking into a library in the matrix. The clean white look with nondescript books allows for your eye to be drawn to the colorful, carefully plated dishes. The culinary team deploys the mantra of New American cuisine; cooking with seasonal ingredients using global techniques. While this restaurant is all about creating your own story with food, the extensive wine list is the perfect read to spice up your journey, and knowledgable staff will guide you in the right direction.
Tavernetta (pictured above)
1889 16th St Mall, Denver, CO 80202
Easily one of the most recommended restaurants when I mentioned I was going to be in Denver, Tavernetta lives up to the hype. I went here solo and sat at the bar, and it was a really nice way to spend a few hours before my flight. They have a happy hour between 4-5PM with some small snacks, with the full menu becoming available at 5PM. If you can’t snag a last minute reservation, plop yourself down at the bar at 4:30 and snack on some olives while you plan out your meal. I went with snapper crudo, frittelle di zucchine (my favorite dish), and the parpadelle with peaches & mushrooms – a surprisingly tasty combo. If you want a res, plan ahead because a table here is a hot commodity.
Avanti (pictured above)
3200 N Pecos St, Denver, CO 80211
Can’t decide where you want to eat amongst your group of friends? Avanti is a modern day food hall with an eclectic mix of cuisines that will make sure no one goes home hungry. Sit upstairs with a skyline view, and snag some cocktails from one of the servers. Wait staff are only there to take your drink orders, while everything else can be ordered online, and you’ll receive a text when items are ready to pick up. Out of the 8 restaurants, a friend and I tried 5, and we were not only incredibly full, but pleasantly surprised with how tasty everything was. Avanti also doubles as a good spot to do some work midday, with plenty of space and a laissez-faire approach to seating & eating.
Wildflower (pictured above)
3638 Navajo St, Denver, CO 80211
This place is so good that I ate here twice in one week. Yes – once was out of convenience because I was staying at the Life House where the restaurant is housed, but frankly, I was equally charmed by the menu and service both times. You will be wow’d from the first sip of one of their craft cocktails, all the way to white chocolate mousse to close out the meal. I was especially inspired by the mead selection, which was a perfect way to experiment with a spirit that I didn’t have much experience with, and can’t recommend the ricotta cavatelli enough.
2030 W 30th Ave, Denver, CO 80211
Another spirited recommendation from some of my followers and friends, Linger seems to be a bit of an institution in LoHi. The restaurant’s industrial feel is thanks to the former resident of the space – a mortuary, and has a pretty bangin’ rooftop, which is a good spot for a first date. I struggled whether to put Linger under places to eat and places to drink, but the wagyu sliders, and scallion & short rib pancakes made the decision for me. You cannot leave without tasting those two dishes, so eat away!
WHERE TO DRINK
Cooper Lounge (pictured above)
1701 Wynkoop St, Denver, CO 80202
Serving speakeasy vibes, The Cooper Lounge is situated in Union Station, tucked away on the second floor, up a darkly lit staircase. Inspired by the locomotive surroundings, the lounge aims to embody the high style of travel a la Orient Express. You can make reservations up to two weeks in advance, but if you show up early enough, you can usually snag a seat or two at the bar. Current cocktail favorites from here are the lavender gin fizz, strawberry & rhubarb vodka collins, and the cherry bomb. I haven’t had anything savory here, but the key lime tres leches is a crowd pleaser if you’re looking for something sweet.
Death & Co.
1280 25th St, Denver, CO 80205
With a plethora of hotel bars in Denver, it may be hard to know where to start. Let me point you in the right direction… to the lobby of The Ramble. This is the first outpost of Death & Co since its inception in the East Village in NYC. The lobby location gives some transient vibes with guests coming and going, but the drinks make you want to stay. I drank several Ramos Gin Fizzes during my Sunday evening tenure in one of the booths, but tried sips of a Golden Beautiful, Fortunella, and a Ravenmaster. All were good – can’t wait to drink through more of the menu on my next visit!
Forget Me Not
227 Clayton St, Denver, CO 80206
A cocktail bar with tinned fish?! Say no more! Their large format cocktails make this a fun stop for a crew of four or more; I especially recommend trying the Firebird with blanco tequilla, ancho reyes, chili guava, citrus, and sparkling wine. If you’re feeling fancy, they also offer caviar service, but I still leaned to the tinned fish section for tasty snacks to share amongst friends. Don’t skip the dessert. Their chocolate budino slaps.
Room for Milly
1615 Platte St Suite 145, Denver, CO 80202
Full of textures and gem tones, this Instagram-able spot encourages patrons to try new spirits and curb culinary curiosities with their inventive and intriguing cocktails. I especially am fond of the Travelogue section of the cocktail menu with exotic flavors and “tropical funkiness”. No reservations are required for groups under 6, so walk in with your favorite pal for a happy hour catch-up. I also think this could be a perfect place to host a special event; think a birthday, or celebrating a big work/financial milestone. Side note: can we normalize hosting big events toasting to things that don’t have to do with marriage or kids?! Okay, rant over.
1336 27th St, Denver, CO 80205
On par with my love of cocktails is my love of wine. Nestled next to Denver Central Market, the city’s best wine bar brings equal parts taste and education to their community. Their team of sommeliers teaches a wine school and they are host to an interactive community called the “Flight Club” where you can take free classes and even get discounts on wine. If you’re just visiting, like me, pull up a stool and let their team walk you through some local natural wines. It’s an ideal spot to wrap up a self-guided tour checking out the wall art around RiNo.
The Cruise Room
1600 17th St, Denver, CO 80202
The day after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, The Cruise Room opened its doors to what I imagine was a wild crowd. Narrow neon red lights line the walls of the preserved space in the Oxford Hotel. Channel your inner Don Draper and sip on a classic cocktail, like a gimlet or Manhattan, to honor patrons of decades past. Oysters and other luxurious snacks complete the experience, and it truly is in a league of its own in the Mile-High City.
Williams & Graham
3160 Tejon St, Denver, CO 80211
Finding itself on the list of the World’s 50 Best Bars, this is a must-visit for cocktail lovers while in Denver. Hidden behind a bookcase on the corner of 32nd and Tejon Street in LoHi, they have a library of over 500 spirits. While the entrance may be hidden in true speakeasy fashion, this is hardly Denver’s best kept secret, so come prepared to wait, or make reservations way in advance. The cozy booths and mood lighting make this an ideal third date haunt, or somewhere to warm up with friends in the cooler months.
1136 Broadway, Denver, CO 80203
Different from any of the other spots on the list, this is a true nightclub. They tout the reputation of being a venue for artists, and have brought it some major performers. After seeing What So Not’s set this past August, I see what they mean. With a custom sound system and fully immersive state-of-the-art lighting and visuals, this is the place to have a big night out. Yes, you will be drinking. No, the drinks will not be fancy. But, you will dance your face off, and that’s what this place is really for.
MY FAVORITE PHOTO SPOTS
Denver Botanic Gardens (pictured above)
1007 York St, Denver, CO 80206
When you’re blessed with beautiful weather and looking to get your steps in, the Botanic Gardens are worth a visit. There is a $15 admission for adults. Stop by the greenhouse pictured above for superior garden vibes.
RiNo Arts District (pictured above)
IMAC building on the corner of Larimer & 26th
The number one recommendation from friends was to visit RiNo to see all of the cool wall art around the neighborhood. To me, it feels like Wynwood Arts District in Miami. There’s loads of galleries and small concert venues, so you can enjoy all sorts of creative expressions.
Union Station (pictured above)
1700 Wewatta St, Denver, CO 80202
Denver’s most iconic historical landmark is flanked by modern architecture creating an intriguing contrast between old & new. I took this shot from a set of stairs leading down to the platforms; the staircase with the white archway also make for a cool backdrop.
Bonus: The Tunnel at Red Rocks
18300 W Alameda Pkwy, Morrison, CO 80465
Okay, this is a not-so-subtle flex. First off, I highly recommend going to Red Rocks during the day while there isn’t an event. The views and sheer magnitude of the amphitheater are well worth the walk up. However, I was given the opportunity to go backstage at a recent concert and snagged a shot in the famous tunnel, where the artists who perform there have signed their names over the decades. Definitely a pinch me moment.
WHERE TO WORK REMOTELY
Method Roasters (pictured above)
2011 W 32nd Ave, Denver, CO 80211
I swear I have never seen more dogs enter into one coffee shop in a morning that I have here. Make no mistake, I’m not complaining. The sheer number of furry friends is merely a testament to how much of a neighborhood joint this is. Lots of folks posted up with their pooch while taking a morning meeting or combing through their inbox made this an ideal spot to do some work while in town.
Denver Central Market
2669 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80205
Similar to Avanti, but frankly a little more casual, Denver Central Market serves comparable vibes, just in RiNo instead of LoHi. With long high-top tables, a coffee shop, and cafeteria style dining, this is a great place to bust out your laptop and get some work done. If you have calls, specifically video calls, it may be a bit loud, but otherwise an ideal spot to work remote.
244 Detroit St, Denver, CO 80206
The indoor/outdoor seating of their Cherry Creek North location gives an ideal locale for when you want to enjoy a sunny Spring day, but still have to get work done. Probably the best latte art in the city makes your second and third cortado even more of a pleasure to sip. They also have rotating pop-ups of local bakeries, so you can snack between afternoon meetings, or give yourself that much needed sugar rush to plow through your last few emails.
WHAT TO PACK
How I managed to pack for a week in Denver in a carry-on… I will never know. Obviously, bearing in mind the seasons, summer months are easier to travel light. But, a good rule of thumb is to plan for transitional weather when you’re heading up to the mountains. Plan for big temperature swings, and also a last minute change of plans if the weather turns.
My top five items to pack:
- The Women’s Court Sneaker from Everlane. These comfy nondescript sneakers were my go-to for the concerts at Red Rocks, but also just walking around the city.
- A great dress, like the one pictured below from A.L.C. While Denver doesn’t seem like the fanciest city, you’ll want something fun and comfortable for a night out, or two,
- Workout gear. I found myself participating in a couple workout classes at Fierce45 and taking advantage of the gym at my hotel. Local hikes also beckon, so a cute workout set or two, I like the affordable ones from Mono B, is a must.
- Your comfiest denim. I’m a big advocate for not wearing sweats on a flight, and denim will serve you well whether you have casual or fancier endeavors in the city. See my favorite denim brands to fly in here.
- A compact coat. The Roots Packable Jacket shrinks down to the size of a travel pillow when stowed in its accompanying bag. It a perfect item to ensure you’ll stay warm when the temperature drops at night and also be comfy on your flight ;).
If you forget something, fear not. The Four Seasons is working on bringing a styling service, so you can have items in your room for whatever you need selected by Kiri Morken. Kiri is amazing, and actually pulled some pieces for me on my recent trip. If you’re needing anything from a dress for a big event, or something buttoned up for a meeting, she is your gal. The three looks in this section she pulled from A Line Boutique in Cherry Creek; a must-visit if you’re in the mood for some retail therapy on your next trip.
Whew! If you’ve made it through this entire post – well done! There was a lot of research, walking, and chatting with locals that went into building this guide. If you think I missed something that is a must-see, please leave it in the comments below!