Smart urban development and a vibrant food and craft beer scene have made Denver a cool getaway for travelers seeking a combination of culture and adventure. Hip neighborhoods like LoDo (Lower Downtown) and RiNo (River North) boast third-wave coffee shops and destination restaurants. Coors Field, home to the Colorado Rockies, ranks as one of America’s best urban ballparks. And the trails of Rocky Mountain National Park and the famed natural amphitheater, Red Rocks, are just a short drive away.
- Cult Coffee.
Wake up with a perfect shot of espresso made in a La Marzocco Strada MP (the Ferrari of coffee roasters) at the tiny, beautifully designed Little Owl Coffee in the historic Lower Downtown District.
- Bike to Beer.
Colorado has one of the country’s most dynamic craft beer scenes. Downtown Denver’s flat bike paths and urban bike program, BCycle, makes a beer tour by bike a no-brainer. Stop by Crooked Stave for sour brews, Baere Brewing Co. for saisons and Great Divide for the hit Yeti Imperial Stout.
- Three T’s.
Lunch on tacos, tortas and tostadas at Comida, a food truck-turned-cantina in the Source, a hip, multiuse space in the up-and-coming RiNo neighborhood. After your meal, grab a coffee at Boxcar and stop in Svper Ordinary Gallery to peruse the art.
- Culture Fix.
Designed by Daniel Libeskind, the Denver Art Museum makes an architectural statement with its spacecraft-like exterior. Inside, you’ll find 7,000 works, including a deep collection of Native American art.
- Catch a Game with Locals.
If it’s football season, the next best thing to scoring tickets to the game is watching it from Elway’s at The Ritz-Carlton, Denver. Named for the beloved Broncos’ Hall of Famer, the restaurant and bar is known for its NFL viewing events.
- A Taste of Italy.
Sommelier Bobby Stuckey and Chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, the James Beard Award-winning duo behind Frasca in Boulder, Colorado, recently opened Tavernetta near Union Station. The dining space is decorated with sexy Slim Aarons photos and the food — homemade pastas, cured meats, cicchetti — will transport you straight to Italy. The wine program is exceptional.
- Fuel Up.
Snooze, an A.M. Eatery in LoDo always draws a crowd. Choose from a half-dozen types of eggs Benedict, creative breakfast sandwiches and sweet treats like the pineapple upside-down pancakes.
- Hit the Trails.
Just 70 miles from Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park boasts 355 miles of trails. Those still acclimating to Denver’s elevation, should start out with the 3.6-mile round-trip hike from Emerald Lake to Bear Lake. Before you set out, stop by Spinelli’s Market in Park Hill to pick up hearty sandwiches for a mid-hike picnic.
- Find Your Zen.
Soothe your sore muscles with a post-hike treatment at The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Denver. Try the Microbrew Ex’beer’ience, a full-body exfoliation that incorporates the healing properties of two beers from the nearby Great Divide Brewing Co. and ends with a cold beer served after your service.
- Happy Hour.
After work, locals head to Terminal Bar, a buzzy spot in Union Station with an encyclopedic craft beer list, a large patio and shuffleboard.
- Locavore Dinner.
Experience Chef Alex Seidel’s elevated take on comfort food at Mercantile Dining + Provisions at Union Station. The menu features highly seasonal, local dishes like Fruition Farms’ ricotta gnudi and grilled chicken with succotash.
- Coffee Snob.
Local roaster Corvus refers to its Broadway location as a tasting space rather than a café. Owner Phil Goodlaxson handpicks the best artisanal beans from around the globe.
- Mountain Style.
Browse the boutiques of Denver’s hot LoHi (Lower Highlands) neighborhood. Don’t miss Armitage & McMillan, a men’s store that has received accolades from GQ thanks to its well-curated selection of brands like Saturdays Surf and A.P.C.
- Sushi Fix.
There’s always a crowd at Sushi Den, a perennial favorite in the charming Washington Park neighborhood. Fish is flown in daily from Japan, and you can never go wrong with the catch of the day. If the weather is warm, try to score seats on the festive rooftop patio.
- Gallery Hop.
Peruse the nearly 20 galleries in the Art District on Santa Fe between Alameda and 12th avenues. Essential stops should include Bitfactory Gallery, Access Gallery and Georgia Amar’s Habitat Gallery & Studio.
- Rock Show.
Just 30 minutes from downtown Denver, the century-old Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre is an acoustically perfect natural phenomena carved out of 70-million-year-old sandstone. Catching a show here is high on every music lover’s bucket list. The lineup hits all genres from James Taylor to the Shins. Be sure to order tickets in advance.
Williams & Graham, a Prohibition-era speakeasy in Denver’s LoHi neighborhood, has been called one of the best cocktail bars in America. Bartenders serve until 1 a.m. and reservations are a must. Stick to the classics, like a Manhattan.