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  • Writer's pictureRay Cheselka

DENVER, COLORADO


WE WILL BE UPDATING THIS POST SOON! [Ray and Maddie June 2023]

We've been living in Denver for about 2 years now. ​When visitors come out or someone we know will be in town that needs recommendations, we've developed a list that ensures you'll have a good time. Now anyone can just grab our recommendations straight from here!

Denver has so much to offer for a weekend trip, and if you're in Colorado for a full week the options are endless. There is so much to do outside, and it's versatile. It could be 60 and sunny for a good hike or hanging out on a brewery patio, while in the mountains it's 20 and dumping snow for great skiing/snowboarding. It has a little bit of everything for everyone.

Here's some of what we recommend!




Restaurants/Bars

  • El Five-Highlands

    • You should eat and drink in this neighborhood if you want to go out

  • Avanti (rooftop)-Highlands​​

  • Mizu Izakaya-Highlands

  • Williams & Graham-Highlands

    • Speakeasy

  • Little Man Ice Cream-Highlands

  • Uncle Ramen-Multiple locations

    • The place to get Ramen in Denver. They have a couple locations now. Sukiya mentioned below is solid too

  • Pony Up-LoDo

    • Lots of restaurants and bars in this area, union station, the Rockies stadium, and more. You could walk to the highlands from LODO

  • Union Station-LoDo

    • You can take a train from here to the airport for $10. Coffee shop, bar, shops

  • El Taco de Mexico-Near Downtown, South

    • Hole in the wall near downtown. Pork and Green Chile burrito smothered with green chile salsa/onions. Green chile is big out here, coming up from New Mexico

  • Westbound & Down-Idaho Springs 45 min from Denver

    • Phenomenal burgers. Great small mountain town vibe. Near Mt. Evans

  • Lariat Lodge-Evergreen

    • Close to Denver lunch/dinner, a little into the mountain. Nice patio, good food at a good price!

  • New Terrain Brewery-Golden

    • Has food trucks

  • Blue Moon Brewery-RiNo

    • Cool place, great beers, little out of the way but near downtown

    • Side note-there are a ton of breweries in Denver/Colorado. If you want something more local, they're around, like New Terrain mentioned above

  • The Source Hotel (Rooftop)-RiNo

    • This is a modern hotel with a New Belgium in the building. Along with this, there is a rooftop bar that has panoramic mountain views. Great place to see the sunset

  • Voodoo Donuts-Broadway

  • Denver Biscuit Co-Broadway​

  • Sukiya Ramen-Broadway

  • Lowry Beer Garden-Lowry

    • Nice outdoor tables and great food

  • We Have In-N-Out Now!​​​

  • Denver Central Market on Larimer Downtown/RiNo

    • lots of restaurants and stores around




Areas to Visit

  • Boulder

    • Pearl Street-strip of local shops, bars and restaurants. Street performers

    • Hikes all around

    • University of Colorado Boulder Campus

    • Surrounded by open space and mountains

  • Golden

    • Western feel​ and easy mountain access

    • A little more touristy, Coors brewery

    • Strip of restaurants and bars

    • Good hiking

    • A River that runs along the town (you can kayak/tube), and it runs into the Coors brewery (Clear Creek)

  • Morrison

    • Red Rocks-must go to a concert there

    • Strip of restaurants/shops

    • Hiking everywhere (Mt Falcon, Matthews-Winters, Dinosaur Ridge, Mt. Morrison)

  • Castle Pines

    • Great outlet mall

    • Great views

    • Lots of food options

    • Halfway in between Denver and Colorado Springs




Hikes

  • Mt Falcon

    • Looks West to the mountains, or East out to Denver Metro and Red Rocks. Good range of hike difficulty levels

  • Panaroma Point

    • Beautiful view and cool hangout area at the top. Close to Denver, not too difficult

  • Dinosaur Ridge

    • Cool hike near Red Rocks and the Morrison valley. Parks and hikes occupy a large portion of that valley​

  • North Table Top

    • A steep half-mile and then a flat top where you can get a good look at the front range, and a cool view of Downtown Denver. It's near Golden and not too far from Boulder

  • Greenbriar Connector Trail in Boulder

    • Easy hike looking at the Flatirons

  • St Mary's Glacier/Alice

    • Busy, but challenging hikes that end in alpine lakes and insane mountain views

  • Sapphire Point Overlook

    • Look over Lake Dillon at Breckenridge and the Tenmile Range. Beautiful

  • Lookout Mountain

    • Easy access from Golden and Denver. You can drive to the top, hiking is optional. Buffalo Bill's gravesite and museum is up there. You can get mountain views including the Flatirons to the north, and then a great Denver city view from above (we suggest going right before sunset)

  • Mt. Evans

    • The road is only open part of the year (so be sure to check before going). It's a fourteener you can basically drive to the top of, but tons of hikes are around too (ex: Echo Lake). Get hydrated before and bring a portable O2 tank

  • Download AllTrails

    • This is how we find hikes and track them





Mountain Excursions

  • Rocky Mountain National Park-Estes Park (1.5 hours from Denver)

    • EPIC. Get there early, it gets busy

    • The annual pass is $80. Worth it if you're going to 3+ National Parks per year, it's usually in the $25-$40 range to get into a National Park per visit

  • Garden of the Gods-Colorado Springs (1.5 hours from Denver)

    • Walk around the cool red rocks and explore nearby areas like Manitou Springs. Check out the Manitou Incline. You could make a loop from Denver down I-25 South, then drive around Pike's Peak through the mountain, and back up to Denver. It's a beautiful drive

  • Palisade/Grand Junction/Moab (4.5 hours from Denver)

    • Where the desert meets mountains, there is a beautiful valley where famous Palisade peaches are grown, and there are a bunch of wineries. Great camping nearby in Rabbit Valley. You can get a dirtbike or dune buggy and cruise around, or head a little further to Moab​

  • National Sand Dunes (4 hours from Denver)

    • Massive sand dunes in the middle of Colorado with the snowcapped Rockies in the backdrop. A site to see. Hike or sandboard!

  • Ouray (6 hours from Denver)

    • Known as the Switzerland of America. Ouray is nestled in between dramatic mountain walls and peaks nearby. This is a classic, small mountain town. If you're down here, you have to go to Telluride too, about an hour away (6.5 hours from Denver)

  • Drive into Buena Vista/ Twin Lakes/Aspen (2.5-3.5 hours from Denver)

    • You'll drive through some mountains into a valley surrounded by peaks. From there you'll descend into Buena Vista, seeing the massive mountains behind it. Really cool views, then you can head into the mountains for hiking, including nearby Twin Lakes. Last time we were there we saw an eagle perch up on a branch from probably 20 feet away, and had a beach all to ourselves to drink and snack in the fall weather

  • Salida (3 hours from Denver

    • If you're heading to the dunes, Ouray, or Crested Butte, Salida is a good place to stop. 285 North/South and 50 East/West meet there. We stayed there with some friends to break up a trip to the dunes and found great local food, and stayed in an awesome modernized western motel.




Skiing/Snowboarding

  • Leave early or expect bad traffic on weekends

  • Weather can change rapidly, and so can travel time

  • We have the Epic Pass and haven't been to any Ikon resort except for A-Basin, which is why the below only discusses Epic Pass/Vail Resorts. We've heard great things and look forward to visiting the other resorts!

  • Vail (2 hours from Denver)

    • Lionshead village has a good parking garage close to Eagle Bahn Gondola/Born Free

    • Great back bowls and a variety of terrain. Vail is massive. Be sure to go all the way back to Blue Sky Basin. The groomers are phenomenal too

    • When you're done on the slopes, grab a beer and a mountainous batch of nachos at Garfinkels

  • Keystone (1.5 hours from Denver)

    • Free Parking at River Run Village (Get there early or it will fill up and you'll have to shuttle in from further lots)

    • River Run Village is a cool little town-Pizza on the Run and Kickapoo Tavern are solid picks for post-mountain food

    • Keystone has good mountains that go straight back a few peaks, has bowls and tough terrain, while also having long greens and being family-friendly

  • Breckenridge (1.5 hours from Denver)

    • One of the most touristy resorts. Busy and longer lines

    • The town is a lot of fun. Great restaurants and bars

    • Great variety of terrain, countless runs

  • Telluride (6.5 hours from Denver)

    • Such a cool little town with everything you want. Phenomenal ski resort. Epic views. One road in and out.

    • Go to Brown Dog Pizza

    • Take a Southwest flight into nearby Montrose from Denver (if the drive is too much)




General Tips

  • Get hydrated and stay hydrated. The altitude is no joke, you don't want to get altitude sickness. Liquid IV is helpful.

  • Bring lotion and chapstick, it's super dry here

  • If you're renting a car, get a 4WD/AWD car if you're going to the mountains. It's dangerous, and you can get fined if you get stuck/cause traffic if your vehicle is underprepared. Mountain pass driving is intense!

  • Get a portable oxygen can (or 2)

  • Bring boots

  • Bring layers and options for all types of weather

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