Beautiful Denver, Colorado is known as the Mile High City. It’s located on picturesque, high-rolling plains with mountains rising up in the east to heights of 11,000 feet, and the front range of the Rocky Mountains soaring just beyond them. While the city itself is not actually in the mountains, the snow-capped peaks surrounding it dominate Denver’s picture-perfect panorama. Add to that a climate that offers 300 days of sunshine, a farm-to-table dining approach, diverse neighbourhoods and enough natural eye candy to appease even the most advanced photographer, and you’ve got a must-see destination. If you’re planning on discovering this Mile High beauty, here are some of this city’s best bets.
Where to Eat and Drink
“Farm fresh” and “locally foraged” are themes explored in eateries and markets throughout Denver. At Beatrice & Woodsley on S. Broadway, guests dine in a room that evokes a forest full of the state’s signature aspen trees. The menu combines the flavours of Europe with early American recipes. You might find a Barbeque Billy Sam’ich, for example, made with braised and pulled Colorado goat, topped with a pickled watermelon rind slaw and served on a toasted quinoa brioche bun with a side of warm German potato salad. Gluten and dairy-free menus are also on offer, as well as an inventive cocktail list. Washington Park’s Bittersweet restaurant offers edibles harvested from its onsite, 600 square foot organic garden. Expect scratch-made, in-house breads, charcuterie and desserts. Its Tangerine Dream, a pistachio macaron and cake combo layered with chocolate cremeux and paired with a blood orange sorbet is worthy of a calorie splurge! For craft brews, head to the city’s first brewpub, Wynkoop Brewing Company, opened by former Denver mayor and now Colorado governor, John Hickenlooper.
Where to Shop
Denver’s 16th Street Mall is a festive, mile-long pedestrian promenade with 42 outdoor cafes serving up some of the best java and people-watching in the city. Architect I.M. Pei designed the promenade using red, white and grey granite that, when viewed from above, looks like the skin of a diamondback rattlesnake. MallRide free shuttle buses traverse the mall, stopping on every corner. If you like an historical edge to your shopping, head to LoDo (lower downtown Denver), the city’s oldest neighbourhood, home to some of the city’s best-known galleries, shops and restaurants. While you’re there, saunter to Rockmount Ranchwear, the very same shop that invented and introduced snap button Western shirts. If they’re good enough for Elvis and Eric Clapton, they’ll do just fine for us too!
Things to See and Do
Heading indoors, the Denver Art Museum houses a world-famous collection of Native American art, along with countless other fine art objects, including works from European masters. The Frederic C. Hamilton building’s exterior was designed by master architect Daniel Libeskind and resembles a titanium crystal. The other fortress-like structure is the work of Italian architect Gio Ponti. Insider tip: get free general admission on the first Saturday of every month. If you can, catch a live musical performance at the stunning Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Visitors Centre. Carved from towering red rocks, this 9,000-seat, open-air arena is one of the most iconic concert venues in the world, and has hosted everyone from the Beatles to Bruce Springsteen. No concert? No problem! Head to the Visitor Centre’s museum and Rock ‘n ‘Roll Hall of Fame to get inspired, or take a walk along the surrounding park’s red rock-lined hiking trails.
Where to Stay
If you’re staying in LoDo, book a room at the historic Oxford Hotel, Denver’s oldest, still-in-operation gem. In 1979, $12 million was poured into a historic restoration project to bring the grande dame back to her original glory. Today, it’s a beloved landmark and one of the city’s most popular luxury hotels. If you’d prefer something a little more modern, but with a boutique-like feel, there’s The Crawford Hotel, located in the downtown core at the city’s Union Station. In the station, you’ll find various restaurants and shops, Coors Field (home of the Colorado Rockies) is nearby, and you’re within a stone’s throw of the city centre and Denver’s extensive biking and running paths. Just in case you need to work off the indulgences of your vacation!
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