Denver is a city known for its delectable dining, thriving craft breweries, outdoor adventure and booming music scene, all within reach of the breathtaking Rocky Mountains. The Mile High City is sure to exceed all your mile-high expectations, whether you plan for a quick weekend visit or a week-long stay. Here are Canadian Traveller’s suggestions on how to best experience Denver, in all its diversity.
See & Do
With more than 100 kilometres of paved and dirt bike trails connecting must-see attractions, cycling is a great way to explore Denver. If exploring on two wheels is your thing, try the Cherry Creek Bike Path, one of the most popular (and prettiest) trails in the city. Beginning at Confluence Park, the path runs 65 kilometres along Cherry Creek, stretching beyond the city into smaller towns and counties, ending at Franktown. Several attractions and scenic parks are located along the way – you’ll pass the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, the Denver Country Club and Cherry Creek North Shopping District, which consists of 16 blocks of different stores and restaurants.
It won’t take you long to discover that Denver is a place of rich history. Although there are countless museums throughout the city, one of the most interesting is Molly Brown House Museum. This 18th-century home, now a local landmark, belonged to Denver’s own “Unsinkable” Margaret “Molly” Brown, a leading visionary in the early women’s rights movement and survivor of the Titanic shipwreck. Take a tour through the beautiful home, which still contains original furnishings and mementos from Brown’s life.
A resident herd of elk in Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park | Matt Inden/Miles
Colorado’s majestic landscape and mountainous backdrop is too beautiful to just pass up, so be sure to get out and explore everything the area has to offer beyond the city limits. Located just an hour drive northwest from Denver, you’ll discover Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. There stands the Stanley Hotel, Stephen King’s supposed inspiration for The Shining. A guided tour is a great way to experience the iconic hotel in all its eeriness, before hitting any portion of the 500 kilometres of hiking trails throughout the highest elevation national park in Colorado. Estes Parks’ aerial tramway, which runs all the way up to the summit, provides a much more leisurely alternative for the less-ambitious.
Eat & Drink
Denver Milk Market | © Ryan Dearth 2018
The Milk Market is not like most other food halls, which typically feature a collection of restaurants from several different chefs. Instead, all of the options at this 16-venue cornerstone are from the same company and run by long-time Denver chef, Frank Bonanno. The expansive space is full of all-local eats from pizzerias to fresh poké bars to quaint coffee shops, catering to a wide range of appetites. Plus, there are three bars, each dedicated to a specific type of booze. So, whether you’re in the mood for a cocktail, a taste of the local draft or a glass of red, they’ve got the perfect selection.
Did you know that Denver has been dubbed "the Napa Valley of Beer"? Check out the biggest single-site brewery in the world, Coors Brewery. Located just a 20-minute drive from Denver, this impressive establishment brews close to 22 million barrels a year. If you’re looking for something a little closer to the heart of the city, there are countless micro and craft options in the downtown area. But to even scratch the surface on all there is to offer, we recommend a guided tour through Denver’s hip and ever-so-artsy RiNo district, packed full of unique and innovative breweries.
Although Denver’s local cuisine has long been impressing culinary aficionados, Top Chef Colorado certainly helped officially put the city on the foodie map. Denver’s food scene is truly defined by the talented and innovative chefs, many of whom you’ll recognize from the latest season. Take a visit to Denver’s wildly popular Bar Dough, where the restaurant’s chef and co-owner, Carrie Baird, made it to the show's final four. She ran some of the most highly regarded restaurants in Denver before co-opening this Italian inspired kitchen. Be ready to load on the carbs because you won’t be able to say no to the wood-fired pizzas or “fancy toast,” Baird’s tasty take on bruschetta.
Stay & Sleep
The Brown Palace is nothing short of extravagant. Opened in 1892, this historic downtown hotel easily impresses its guests: The open-concept lobby is complete with a stained-glass skylight and winding balconies, leading to the 241 different guest suites. You won’t have to go far for some good eats, with six unique restaurants and bars on-site, each serving up dishes using fresh honey from the rooftop beehives and pure artesian water from the hotel’s very own well. There’s also a renowned spa for a little self-pampering – because we can’t think of a more perfect end to a day of exploration than a relaxing massage.
Found in Denver’s lively LoDo district, a popular downtown neighbourhood, The Oxford Hotel opened in 1891 making it the oldest hotel in the city; it has even been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. And it’s a place brimming with stories from the past; the hotel bar was originally an illicit speakeasy during prohibition. Today, it’s an upscale cocktail lounge complete with a historic art deco interior and delicious martinis. Recently renovated, the hotel perfectly combines its past with modern comfort and luxury.
Why not stay in a luxurious and historic Victorian mansion? The Lumber Baron Inn was built by a wealthy Scottish man, who amassed his fortune from the lumber industry. The 790-square-metre estate was his family home and continued on to become the charming bed and breakfast it is today. With five different rooms to choose from, each option is uniquely designed and complete with antique furniture, a private bath and Jacuzzi tub. There’s even a grand ballroom, with access to a small tower that offers a spectacular view of downtown Denver. The backyard garden is shaded by looming cottonwood trees and full of different flowers and fountains.