If you are looking for recommendations on where to go, where to eat, and where to drink in Denver, or even just for itinerary ideas, then this is the post for you!
I spent about 48 hours in the city, which was DEFINITELY not enough time. I will be back. We managed to pack so much into that short time though, and I have tons of AMAZING recommendations from locals that I didn’t even get to try yet. Those recs will all be included on my Google Map List for Denver at the bottom of the post 🙂
I was not planning on writing about Denver or even really posting much about it…
BUT there was so much interest in my trip…so here we are lol.
The pictures I took were just supposed to be for myself because I hadn’t planned on writing about it. I’m including them here, but you’ll have to excuse my quick snapshots. There are some places we went where I didn’t even take any pictures.
This was one of those trips where I was really just living in the moment and being present. During those times, I rarely take out my phone. I did take my nice mirrorless camera too, but I didn’t take that out either.
When I take a trip and I know I want to blog about it, it’s a different kind of a trip in a way. I am much more intentional. I plan more. I spend a lot of time documenting exactly where I go, what I do, take tons of photos, etc. I’m more in a head space of, “How am I going to write about this?”
It was really nice to take a trip, actually, where I really didn’t have the blog at the forefront of my mind.
We went here on the first night for dinner and drinks.
It is SUCH a cute area.
There are tons of restaurants, bars, and shopping (I imagine during the day).
At night, there are cute lights hanging above the street. It is just magical.
LOTS of recs on my Google Maps List for Denver are in this area.
We had dinner at Osteria Marco. It’s an Italian place with pizza, pasta, salad, etc. The rigatoni was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. That could be the wine talking, but I don’t think so haha. We also got the fig and goat cheese pizza, but I filled up on so much pasta and wine that I didn’t even try a slice. I embarrassed about it. I love trying new food. Guess I’ll just have to go back.
(Make a reservation.)
Speakeasy (Unnamed on Purpose)
After dinner, we meandered across the street to a little speakeasy inside a restaurant. Now, I feel like this is a little hidden gem, and I don’t want to give away the name just yet. The bartenders will make you a special drink (that’s not on the menu) if you tell them what you like. I said I preferred vodka…something fruity (maybe citrusy) and sweet. Boy did they deliver. I’m not 100% what was in it, but I know that there was some prosecco and a pineapple frond.
Half of the fun is stumbling across cool little places like this, so it’s up to you to do some detective work haha.
Located the historic ticketing office in Union Station (which is a must see I think). The whole thing has been recently restored to it’s former glory. Union Station was in pretty rough shape not too long ago. I love stuff like this because it reminds me of Detroit. We still have a long way to go, but it’s been so cool to see all of the progress downtown.
I REALLY wish I would have taken some pics here. Sorry guys 🙁 I guess you’ll just have to go see it for yourself 😉
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
I wanted to get out and see some mountains and nature. (I was really just flying by the seat of my pants on this trip and didn’t do any research beforehand.) I expected the mountains to be much closer to the city. To my dismay, I discovered that it’s about 1.5 hours (one way) just to get out to some mountains.
Also, something important to consider (coming from the flat lands of lower Michigan) is the change in altitude. My attitude going into this was all like, “I’m tough. Altitude smaltitude.” Haha…yeah…
It’s no joke. I was out of breath just walking from Union Station to the apartment I was staying in.
I was definitely out of breath and struggling just climbing up and down the steps at Red Rocks.
This places is COOL. It’s only about 30 mins out of the city. When you’re short on time, it’s a great place to go to see some amazing nature.
If you’re not familiar with Red Rocks (I was not), it’s a famous concert venue and park. *Adds see a concert here one day to list*
Right from the Red Rocks website: ” At 6,450 feet above sea level, Red Rocks Park is a unique transitional zone where the Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains…Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a geological phenomenon – the only naturally-occuring, accousitcally perfect amphitheatre in the world.”
I mean, if that doesn’t give you some travel tingles, I don’t know what will. Also, maybe I’m just super nerdy, but I think it’s awesome.
There is a little hall of fame you can walk through to see all of the people who have performed here and other events since the amphitheater opened in 1941.
Even if you’re not short on time in Denver, I think Red Rocks is an absolute MUST.
Dinosaur Ridge Trail
We planned to do a little (easy) hike right near Red Rocks, but just as we pulled up, the park ranger shut down the trail because it was too muddy.
Honestly, this was kind of a relief because I wasn’t sure I was going to survive even an easy hike at this point. The slight hangover did not pair well with the change in altitude.
We drove a little farther down and stumbled across the Dinosaur Ridge Trail. There were lots of young families and small children, so I knew this was the perfect hike (walk) for me haha.
It was actually very cool to see real dinosaur fossils and footprints that have withstood the test of time.
Kind of mind-blowing really to think back to a time when dinosaurs walked the land (and to see the proof with my own eyes).
If you’re suffering from altitude sickness, you’re hungover, you’re out of shape (or all three like me), this might be the perfect trail for you.
It also might be the perfect trail for you if you’re a super nerd (also like me).
The plan was to head here for lunch. We were starving after the Dino hike. We rolled up to the location next to Ale House in the Highland area just to discover that the restaurant was closed and reopening in a different location on Monday. Boo.
I’m still dreaming about the turkey sandwich that I never got to have.
We grabbed some food at Ale House instead. Good burgers and fries. Sports Bar.
It was 60 and sunny and we wanted to sit on the patio/rooftop, but it was closed.
Recess (Beer Garden)
This place was very cool.
Young 20s crowd mostly, but really all ages.
Good people watching haha.
It would be a lot of fun to hangout with a big group of friends here on the weekend (if I lived in Denver). It kind of reminded me of a few beer garden type bars that I have been to in San Francisco.
Postino (Wine Bar)
Great happy hour specials!
You can get a glass of wine for $5…or just get a bottle for $20 haha.
We did not try any of the food here, but they had a nice patio to enjoy the sunshine and 60 temps!
We kind of also stole this table from a nice couple who let us go first. I still feel guilty about it, but they were seated at a nice table on the patio shortly after us (so it’s all good, right?).
YOU MUST GO HERE. (Make a reservation.)
The dinner is tapas style (which I love). The tapas were out of this world good. (And I have had some pretty amazing tapas in Barcelona. These tapas rivaled those that I had in Spain.
The rooftop view of Denver is also pretty incredible. After dinner, we got a second round of drinks and just hung out on the rooftop patio for a while.
We both had the Pineapple Mint Collins. I couldn’t tell you what we in it, but we both had two each so…
The tapas we tried were:
Lebanese Garlic Dip (Might have been my favorite of the night. I don’t know how to make this, but I’m gonna be Pinteresting the shit out of it until I can recreate it.)
Patatas Bravas (Spanish Potatoes are ALWAYS the right choice.)
Goat Cheese Croquettes (These tie with the Lebanese Garlic Dip for me.)
Grilled Hanger Steak (Also, very good, but comes in behind the garlic dip and croquettes.)
So this place is indoors, but they do have a rooftop that I imagine is fabulous in the summer.
The lower level is all different kinds of food stalls, but we had just finished dinner so we did not eat.
We went to the bar upstairs (there are more food stalls up here too). Lots of community style seating.
I feel like this place would be a great hangout on the weekends with a large group of friends too.
I had a passion fruit margarita because I have been obsessed with passion fruit ever since my most recent London trip.
Hearth & Dram
Such a cool interior! I could have just chilled here all day.
The waitstaff was super friendly and helpful.
I hear that the burger is the best in Denver (although I did not try it).
It was not busy for brunch at all. We did make a reservation, but I don’t think it was necessary.
I hear that this place is PACKED for dinner though.
I have a lot more pictures of Hearth & Dram than everywhere else because I met up with my childhood friend Gabi and her mom for brunch. They were like, “Why aren’t you taking more pics for your blog!?!?!”
Getting to Downtown Denver From the Airport
This is one that used to cause me a lot of stress when I was a newbie traveler, and I traveled somewhere new.
Uber and Lyft help take away some of that stress now, but usually there are (FAR CHEAPER) options in any city.
From the Denver airport, you can take the Airport Rail. Just follow the signs for the train. It is $10.50 each way. It’s about 40 minutes to get to Union Station.
Safe and clean 🙂
When you’ll get to Denver, you’ll notice that the different neighborhoods/areas have nicknames.
I was puzzled by these, but my friend Gabi explained…
LoDo (Lower Downtown)
LoHi (Lower Highlands)
RiNo (River North)
Just in case you run across some of these and are confused!
Denver Google Maps List
I think that pretty much covers everything! If you have any questions or need more info, just drop me a line.
Also, make sure you grab my Google Maps List for Denver (it’s free and has all of my notes about these places + more that came highly recommended).