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Denver is more than just the gateway to the Rocky Mountains and a transit point for skiers and hikers. It’s a welcoming, relaxed, culturally vibrant place to spend time. You’ll fall in love with it in no time.
You can restrict yourself to Downtown Denver (LoDo), and dine on Mexican food at d’Corazon (1530 Blake St), window shop for art and crafts products, and sit on Larimer Square with an artisan croissant and coffee.
If relaxing isn’t on the agenda put on your Broncos NFL jersey and join the crowds at Sports Authority Field at Mile High or dive into the massive range of boutiques at Cherry Creek Shopping Center.
After you’ve seen the city; you can always jump in a rental car and drive to some of the most beautiful spots in the country, like Alberta Falls, the Old Fall River Road, or the Trail Ridge Road.
Whether you love the outdoors or you’re a natural city dweller, Denver has something to love.
Denver is a sports-crazy city, with a successful NFL franchise (the Broncos) and the Colorado Avalanche, two-time Stanley Cup winners in the NHL. Denver is also the home of The Rockies (MLB) and the Denver Nuggets (NBA).
Denver has a huge array of art galleries, from the massive Denver Art Museum to the Robischon Gallery (1740 Wazee St), which showcases local talent, the more experimental Counterpath (613 22nd St) and Svper Ordinary (3350 Brighton Blvd) where you can pick up great works of art at bargain prices.
Denver is a stunning city. It may be over a mile above sea level in places, but it feels like it sits in a bowl beneath the soaring Rocky Mountains. You don’t need to venture into the hills to capture beautiful vacation photos. There are wonderful views from Ruby Hill and the Aurora Dam Road, and the top of many city center hotels.
Colorado isn’t always thought of as a prime dining destination, but it should be. Denver is home to some of the finest chefs working with traditional American dishes. Fruition (1313 E 6th Ave) turns the area’s fruit and vegetables into gorgeous stews, curries, pies, and pasta dishes. Then there’s Tocabe (3536 W 44th Ave), possibly the best Native American eatery in the country.
Denver is one of the most chilled-out destinations in America (and that’s not just because the city pioneered a relaxation in marijuana laws). Denver has always been a relaxed city, and it’s a great place to unwind. Rent bicycles at outlets like Denver B-cycle and hit the 85 miles of paved trails, or hit the Denver Beer Trail with an expert guide and visit 20 of the best craft ale breweries in the U.S.A.
The Broncos are one of the NFL’s most successful teams, having won the Superbowl in 1998, 1999, and 2016. If you get the chance, a game at Sports Authority Field is not to be missed. Getting there is simple thanks to the stadium’s own light rail station, while there are 6,500 parking spaces as well.
Denver has a couple of great amusement parks. Elitch Gardens (2000 Elitch Cir) is the largest, with a selection of adrenaline-pumping thrill rides like the “mind eraser” and more child-friendly attractions too. Lakeside Amusement Park (4601 Sheridan Blvd) is another old-fashioned set of rides, including an original 1940s roller coaster.
Coors is one of the world’s most popular beers, and it hails from Downtown Denver. If you want to find out how it’s made, book yourself a Coors Brewery Tour in Golden (13th and Ford St).
Lower Downtown Denver (LoDo) is the historical heart of the city. It’s home to some of Denver’s major artistic institutions like the Museum of Contemporary Art (1485 Delgany St) and it’s a great place to eat and drink, with the Union Station Farmers Market and restaurants like Coohill’s (1400 Wewatta St) to try.
Denver is known as the Mile High City because it is in the foothills of the Rockies, and beautiful spots like Red Rocks Park, and Bridal Veil Falls are a few hours away by car. In the winter, you can even drive to ski resorts like Echo Mountain, which is just 35 miles from Denver’s city center.
Denver is a superb summer destination, but it also has an appeal in the winter months. When the sun shines, the temperatures average around 86 degrees Fahrenheit, which should be comfortable for most travelers. Summer also brings a range of events to attend like the Taste of Colorado music festival (Sept 2-5) which combines R&B, hip-hop, indie rock, and roots artists. Spring brings beautiful blossoms, particularly at Denver Botanical Gardens, which runs several free days every month. Winter can get bitterly cold, but it has its charm too. There are excellent ski slopes in the nearby Rockies, outdoor ice skating rinks at Skyline Park, and winter events like the Mile High Snowfest. So there’s really no bad time to go.
Most visitors to Denver arrive via Denver International Airport, 18 miles north of the city center. Getting from there to the center of town is simple. The best way is to catch the A-Line, a rail connection to downtown Denver, which costs $9, leaves every 15 minutes and takes 35 minutes. There are also car rental options at the airport, including companies like Hertz and Budget. With rates commonly topping $50 per day, it’s a relatively expensive place to rent a car. If you do need to rent a vehicle, you will find much lower rates in the suburbs. Taxis are another option for getting into town. Expect airport taxis to cost around $55 to most parts of the city.
Denver’s Union Station is on the national Amtrak network and is regularly served by the Zephyr route (from California to Chicago). There is also an efficient light rail network in the city region which is a good way to reach suburbs like Lincoln, Westminster, and Littleton.
If you are coming from the west, take I-70 straight into the center of town. Drivers approaching Denver from the north will probably take I-25, while I-70 and I-76 connect the city with destinations to the east and north-east.
Greyhound is the major bus company serving Denver, and their buses stop at 1055 19th Street in the center of town. You can catch Greyhound buses to Denver from a huge variety of American cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Salt Lake City, and St. Louis.
Other bus companies serving Denver include:
Bustang – a regional service which connects Denver with Colorado destinations like Colorado Springs and Glenwood Springs.
Autobus Americanos – Provides connections between Denver and Mexican cities, as well as destinations in New Mexico and Arizona.
Denver’s city center is the most popular area for accommodation, and there is a wide range of options available. High-end choices include the Brown Palace Hotel (321 17th St), which regularly hosts politicians and business leaders, and the Four Seasons (1111 14th St). The Warwick Denver (1776 Grant St) is a mid-range family option while budget travelers might try the Melbourne International Hotel & Hostel (607 22nd St) which is right next to the main train station. Woolley’s (16450 E 40th Cir) is a good luxury hotel near the airport, while the Southeast Four Points (6363 E Hampden Ave) offers gorgeous mountain views.
Downtown Denver – Downtown is the business hub of Denver, but there’s more to the area than commerce. Visitors can head to the Downtown Aquarium (700 Water St) which hosts over 500 species, see the home of socialite “unsinkable” Molly Brown (1340 Pennsylvania St) who survived the Titanic disaster, or head to the Denver Art Museum, with its jagged, striking buildings designed by superstar architect Daniel Libeskind.
Five points – Famous for its elegant streets of Victorian houses, Five Points is a fantastic place for families to base themselves during a stay in Denver. It was once also a thriving music center known as the “Harlem of the West” thanks to performances by legends like Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday. Nowadays, you can find out about that fascinating past at the Black American West Museum or just relax at some of the area’s many craft ale bars like Spangalang (2736 Welton St).
Cherry Creek – The place to stay if you love shopping and want to be conveniently placed for Downtown attractions, Cherry Creek is just southwest of the city center. Cherry Creek Shopping Center is the city’s premier luxury brand mall, with big names like Burberry and Tiffany & Co., while you will find boutiques and art stores in Cherry Creek North. You can also dine at Elway’s (2500 E. 1st Ave) the steak and fish restaurant owned by Denver Bronco’s legend John Elway.
Regional Transportation District (RTD) is the public transit provider across the Denver area and operates a handy network of buses and trains. To make a light rail journey you’ll need to buy individual tickets at station vending machines (prices vary from $2.25 to $5). All bus trips cost $2.25 (one way). You can also save money by purchasing an RTD day pass ($5.20) or a monthly pass for $99.
Denver taxis cost $2.60 for the base charge, and then $2.25 per mile after that. However, you can save money by using UberX, which has a base fare of just $0.75 and a rate of $1 per mile after that.
Denver is quite spread-out and many visitors will want to have the option of exploring the Rockies or the Colorado countryside, which makes car rental a great option. When driving in the city, be aware that the streets are numbered north and south from Ellsworth Avenue (the city’s “equator”). They are also numbered east and west from Broadway. Parking is cheap by American standards, with an average daily rate of $24. Meters can be even cheaper for shorter stays, but remember to use them if they are required, as a $25 meter penalty applies to anyone who fails to buy a ticket.
Denver is a great city for shoppers. If you want to stock up on the latest designs from leading fashion brands, the best place to head is Cherry Creek Shopping Center (3000 E 1st Ave). 16th Street Mall is packed with stores like H&M and Gap, while Denver Pavillions (500 16th St) is next door and offers a selection of restaurants and cocktail bars to break up your shopping. For artisan food and fresh produce, Larimer Market (1445 Larimer St) is the place to visit.
Denver tends to be cheaper than other major US cities like San Francisco or Chicago, but it’s not super-cheap. Expect to pay around $3.20 for 12 eggs, $14 for a good bottle of wine or around $50 for a pair of jeans. Finding supermarkets in town shouldn’t be hard, with chains like Target, Trader Joe’s, and Safeway all represented.
Denver has a thriving dining scene with an emphasis on high-quality meat dishes along with a diverse range of Asian and Mexican eateries. If you are after a succulent steak, head to the Buckhorn Exchange (1000 Osage St) or Guard and Grace (1801 California St). For Mexican, head north of the city center to La Loma (2527 W 26th Ave), and don’t miss the spicy green chili. Great Asian fusion dishes are available at ChoLon Modern Asian Bistro (1555 Blake St) while Rioja is a high-class Spanish restaurant (1431 Larimer St), and Fruition (1313 E 6th Ave) focuses on showing off Colorado’s local produce. Expect a good meal to cost around $60 per head and a filling medium-range meal to cost $20.