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Planning Your Trip

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Whether you’re planning a family ski vacation or a sightseeing adventure around Denver, the Mile High City offers an array of year-round activities. Here is what to pack so you arrive ready to explore.

What to Pack

Don't Forget: Bring your baseball glove. Certain nearby fields boost an outlandish number of home runs and pop-fly balls because of the altitude. If you plan to go to a game, make sure to bring your leather and be ready as soon as you hear the pop-crack of a batter making solid contact.

Winter Vacation

The views of snow-topped mountains and the snow-laced sidewalks will dazzle visitors to Denver in winter. It is truly America’s winter wonderland, but you should be prepared for all that Father Winter can deliver.

Denver winter weather can be unpredictable, so a jacket with ventilation zippers is convenient for covering up or airing out as necessary.

Insulated but fashionable boots with traction are a must. Denver is a great walking city — even in winter — so keep your feet toasty as you explore its boutiques or craft breweries.

Convertible mittens are a lifesaver on cold days. Snap back the tops when inside, then cover up your digits when you plunge back into the refreshing but cold mountain air.     

Outdoor Adventure

Denver is a launch pad for adventures of all kinds, from skiing in Beaver Creek to hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park and road biking from Copper Mountain to Frisco. Here are the essentials to pack.

A light-down jacket can fold easily into a day bag or tie around your waist. Whether you’re hiking or biking, the weather can shift without warning and it is best to be prepared.

Bring high-powered binoculars for observing wildlife while on hikes or boating trips. Mountain goats, moose, and elk are frequently spotted in the areas and parks around Denver.

In summer, bring sturdy sports sandals that wrap around the ankle for a water-based adventure such as a scenic sunset paddle on Sloan’s Lake.

Exploring the City

From the 16th Street Mall to fashionable LoDo, there are lots to see and do in Denver. Take in a baseball game, a basketball game, or a hockey game.

Whether you plan to spend a day shopping, hiking, or on a cultural excursion, bring a lightweight tote or day pack that leaves your hands free.

Hiking boots are a smart choice for the Rocky Mountains trails, which are rugged enough to require solid footwear that protects your ankles and supports your knees.

Sunscreen seems like an odd thing to bring to the Midwest, but you are much closer to the sun in the Mile High City, so make sure your skin is protected.  

A magnificent blue bear statue seems to peer inside the Colorado Convention Center
A magnificent blue bear statue seems to peer inside the Colorado Convention Center
What to Reserve

Make your Denver getaway one to remember. From romantic restaurants to resplendent hikes, it pays to plan ahead. Here is your guide to the best experiences and most coveted reservations in and around the city.

Once upon a time, Denver was the spot where cattle drives ended, and the local ranchers are still supplying the area with high-end cuts of beef nearly year-round, so the steak options are endless and magnificent. Head to ELWAY’S Downtown at The Ritz-Carlton, Denver for 100 percent USDA prime steaks, hand-cut on the premises, and an award-winning wine selection. Other establishments making excellent use of the local beef include Guard and Grace, where Chef Tony Guard opened up his own take on the Haute steakhouse to rave reviews, as well as the buzzy 5280 Burger Bar, which also offers miniature slider versions of its big, meaty burgers.  

A two-hour drive south of Denver, Pike’s Peak is the highest summit in the southern range of the Colorado Rockies and an unbelievable sight no matter how you tackle it. Pike’s Peak can be hiked (though it’s a grueling 26 miles round trip), driven to on the Pike’s Peak highway, or seen by railway via the Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cog Railway that transports you to the 14,115-foot summit. Summit County, a 1.5-hour drive from Denver, offers year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure. In winter, take a few turns at Arapahoe Basin, a local gem of a ski resort that offers steep runs and easy greens; in summer, go for the adventurous road biking on paths that circle Dillon Reservoir or take you from Copper Mountain down to the charming city of Frisco.  

Arts and culture are inherent to the soul of Denver. The city of artists and innovators is constantly dreaming up new creative expressions to see and experience. The Denver Art Museum, one of the largest cultural institutions between the West Coast and Chicago, features an incredible collection of American Indian art. The Denver Museum of Natural History and Science has ongoing programs about the natural history of Colorado and the universe at large.   

From the chic lounges of Larimer Square and LoDo to the dance-floor scene in the South of Colfax Nightlife District, Denver is the place to visit when you are really ready to unwind. Start on the patio of ELWAY’S Downtown, where a lively happy hour kicks off at 4 p.m., then check out Hi-Dive on South Broadway, where local bands love to take the stage thanks to the fantastic acoustics. Before the last call, head to Church Nightclub to catch local DJs and acts from around the world, or enjoy a nightcap at Lost Lake Lounge, a retro cocktail spot on historic East Colfax that showcases both up-and-coming and established musicians.   


Kayakers on manmade rapids
Kayakers on manmade rapids

With ballparks and bike paths, mountains, museums, and a mouthwatering culinary scene, Denver can surprise even the most sophisticated traveler. Plan the perfect vacation with one of these compelling itineraries, or use them to jumpstart your own customized getaway.


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, make 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, multi-use 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.

Late Afternoon

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. ELWAY's restaurant and bar is known for their 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 pasta, cured meats, and 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 a 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 phenomenon 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.


Tipple: 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.


Short Stack: No need to worry if jet lag keeps you in bed. Capitol Hill’s Jelly Café serves its beloved breakfast menu, including warm doughnut holes and prosciutto, pesto, and Swiss egg sammy all day.


Solo Show: The Clyfford Still Museum holds nearly all of the American painter’s works, making it one of the most comprehensive collections of a single artist. Largely credited with laying the groundwork for the post-World War II abstract expressionist movement, many of Still’s works remained unviewed until after his death in 1980. You can view more than 3,000 paintings and works on paper, plus archives of letters and photo albums.


Hot New Hood: Explore River North, known as RiNo. A few years ago this area was made up of run-down warehouses. Now, it’s full of art galleries, music venues, and of-the-moment restaurants. Check out the creative business in the Source, a mixed-use 1880s brick building with over a dozen vendors.

Farm to Table 2.0: You’ll smell the wood-fire goodness wafting from Acorn as soon as you step foot in the Source. Don’t miss the oak-smoked pork posolé; even lighter dishes like the grilled chicken and quinoa salad are standouts.


Modern Art with a View: Take in the rotating exhibits at the Museum of Contemporary Art and head upstairs to the rooftop café for a late-day caffeine hit and killer views of the city.

Sweet Treat: Order a cone of salted Oreo from Little Man Ice Cream, housed in a 28-foot old-fashioned cream can.



Dinner and a Show: Denver’s Five Points neighborhood once attracted jazz legends like Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. Influenced by the supper clubs of the ’40s and ’50s, Nocturne Jazz & Supper Club in the adjacent RiNo neighborhood pairs live performances by top musicians, like jazz artist Pat Casey and the New Sound, with a tasting menu inspired by hit jazz albums.

Nightcap: Finish the night with a perfectly executed craft cocktail at dimly lit, speakeasy-inspired Green Russell or with a cold craft beer at Star Bar, one of the city’s best casual bars.  


Mile-High Jog: Join uber-fit locals for a 2.3-mile run around Washington Park. No shame if you need to stop to catch your breath at 5,280 feet.

Brunch: You’ve earned your brunch. Head to Uptown’s Beast + Bottle for strong coffee, Arctic char eggs Benedict, and fallen pancake soufflé with whipped pork and maple butter.


Window Shop: Designed by architect I.M. Pei, the 16th Street pedestrian mall is made of red, gray, and white granite in a pattern that, seen from above, resembles a diamondback rattlesnake. Browse the boutiques and stores and caffeinate at Ink! Coffee, which serves joe from beans roasted in Basalt, Colorado.


Bike Off That Brunch: Pedal off your food coma with a bike ride along the popular Cheery Creek Bike Trail. Denver’s bike-sharing program, called BCycle, has stations throughout the city, or ask the concierge at The Ritz-Carlton, Denver to arrange bike rentals.

Shop Hop: Larimer Square, Denver’s oldest and most historic block, is home to independent shops including Scarpaletto footwear, Jon Atencio jewelry, and Element modern home furnishings. Pick up a few mementos to take home.


Hoppy Pampering: The 6,000-square-foot spa at The Ritz-Carlton, Denver embraces a local ethos, going as far as partnering with local breweries on its treatments. Try the Microbrew Exbeerience, which incorporates two beers from nearby Great Divide Brewing Co. in a malt and hops exfoliation.


Hot Table: Book in advance to dine at Rioja, a Denver staple in Larimer Square from James Beard Award-winning chef Jennifer Jasinski. The menu embraces flavors from Spain and the Mediterranean coupled with highly approachable wines.