With snow-capped mountains in the distance and 5,000 acres of parkland, the “high city of the mile” will take your breath away on the beauty alone. Dig even deeper and you’ll find plenty to explore in the capital city of Denver.
Whether it’s catching a show at the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater, sipping the craft beer scene, or stopping by a farmer’s market of epic proportions, adding the following “must sees” to your list will ensure you a worthy visit to this Western town. Here are the top insider tips for making the most of a trip to Denver, and then don’t miss 10 US islands to add to your bucket list — no passport required.
Artists from across the country and around the world relish the opportunity to perform at the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheateran open-air concert hall nestled between towering red rock formations.
“Fans love it, too, because there’s something for every music fan on the calendar every year and the setting is unparalleled,” said Jennifer Osieczanek of Visit Denver. “In 2021, Red Rocks was the highest-grossing and highest-traffic music venue in the world, according to Billboard Magazine.”
If you can’t sneak into a concert, there are hiking options nearby.
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the Pearl Street Farmers Market takes place from May to November every Sunday from South Pearl Street, and it is considered the best in Denver.
“Come for the vegetables and stay for the art, food, drinks and other merchandise,” says Bill Werlinco-founder of Listen here, an audio app that tells stories about places around the world. “Having visited farmers markets in various locations, Pearl Street Market tops the list.”
He says there’s no way you won’t leave without something, whether it’s flame-roasted chilies on site, freshly baked goods from Denver’s best local bakeries, or good vibes from the live band that play that day.
Denver is a mecca for hip speakeasies, which have remained a key part of the city’s history since Prohibition. There are many choices, but you still have to know where to look!
“Enter an ice cream shop to ring the doorbell of the freezer which allows you to enter Retrograde (one of Denver’s newest speakeasies), or check out the hip milk market and try to find the elevator that will take you to the Run for the Roses Speakeasy,” suggests Jill Collinsfounder of Denver Walking Tours and Eventbrite Creator.
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Once you’ve had enough, consider heading to one of Denver’s many rooftop bars. You’ll climb the highest at Meredien’s 54Thirty, a chic open-air bar that offers an exceptional seasonal cocktail program and tasty light bites. It overlooks the vast cityscape, which sparkles at night. Great photo ops, upbeat music, amazing drinks and delicious food – what’s not to love?
Denver’s culinary scene has grown in recent years, to the point that it has become nationally recognized for its offerings. Osieczanek says that in 2020 alone, 11 Denver chefs, makers and restaurateurs have been semi-finalists for the coveted James Beard Awards.
“Dine in an innovative concept from an award-winning chef or check out the growing market and food hall scene for a broader view of the Mile High City,” Osieczanek suggests. “No matter where you choose, you’re sure to be eating local, as many chefs work directly with local farmers to source the freshest ingredients.”
If you fancy something low-key where you can relax, stop El Taco from Mexico, a 30-year-old taqueria that looks ordinary but is anything but. This James Beard nominee will leave your tummy very happy. For a candle splurge, try Frasca food and wine on Pearl Street, which features unique Friulian cuisine and features an incredible wine program by master sommelier Bobby Stuckey.
If you pick just one of Denver’s neighborhoods to explore, make it this one. River North Arts District, known to locals as RiNo. This creative district is home to visual artists, furniture makers, outdoor gear producers, craft brewers and more, each lending to the eclectic, creative and entrepreneurial vibe.
The Santa Fe Art District is also rich in creativity, and it takes things up a notch every first friday of the month. Werlin says, “Hundreds of local artists share their work in galleries, co-ops, studios, the street, the alley, etc. It’s truly a different way to experience the creative side of the people of Denver.”
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Out of town on a first Friday? There are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy the local art scene.
“Denver residents love our art and we love sharing it with visitors to the city. The city has invested more than $40 million in more than 400 pieces of public and street art,” Collins said. . “The best and most fun way to see it is to visit meow wolfDownload Denver Public Art Unplugged Audio Adventure Touror join the party Denver Street Art + Graffiti experience, which also includes a local chocolate tasting.”
Also consider visiting the 125-year-old Denver Art Museum, which features one of the oldest and strongest collections (20,000+ pieces), representing the artistic traditions of nearly every American tribe. and Canadian dating back to prehistoric times. The museum recently underwent a $150 million renovation, which is all the more reason to visit.
Denver knows beer, and with over 100 craft breweries, brewpubs, and taprooms, it outshines any other city in the United States. Additionally, it also hosts America’s Great Beer Festivalwhich is the country’s largest annual beer competition, notes Osieczanek.
Brain shufflingthe Great Divide Brewing Companyand Renegade Brewery are all must-visits for beer snobs. Located about an hour from the city, in Fort Collins, you will find the famous Odell Brewery Headquarter. (There’s also a bar in Denver if you don’t have time to drive.)
Whether you are heading to Denver for a weekend getaway or exploring for longer, all of the above are sure to make for a trip to remember.
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