Guide to Visiting Denver, Colorado: Where to Eat, Drink, Stay, and Play
I traveled to Denver in the spring for the IPW travel conference along with my husband and friend, Howard. It was my first time to the state of Colorado and I couldn’t wait to explore a city I’d heard so much about.
With over 30 breweries in the downtown area, 7 unique arts districts, 7 pro sports teams, and over 300 days of sunshine, you’ll soon see why this metropolitan city is one to add to your travel agenda!
Check out my guide to visiting Denver, Colorado (Mile High City) including where to eat, drink, stay, and play based on my trip.
Where to Eat in Denver
Food Truck Extravaganza
A superb summer food truck scene (CivicCenter Eats), that is sure to please any palate, sets up near the Colorado state capital. It runs early May through early October with at least 25 vendors daily. I enjoyed a tasty grilled sandwich with an overdose of melted cheese, but unfortunately I cannot remember the name of the food truck. There were so many tantalizing options to choose from.
Be sure to stop in the Colorado State Museum while you are in the area. The Beaux-Arts inspired Civic Center Historic District became a National Historic Landmark in 2012 and shares a home with the Colorado State Capitol.
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Hard Rock Cafe
Many restaurants close relatively early in Denver, something I found really surprising. If you are looking for a late night bite, stops in the rock & roll themed chain, Hard Rock Cafe. Order the truffle fries or a flatbread, both perfect midnight snacks.
Sams No 3
Sams No 3 is a colorful Colorado food establishment (circa 1927) that I learned about from Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. It was so delicious that we ended up eating there twice. During our breakfast visit, we had Classic Eggs Benedict and a Denver Flat Top Omelet. The hollandaise was velvety and so freaking good.
For dinner, we started with the ooey-gooey Mac & Cheese Dip, with chunky chorizo sausage and Sam’s Kickin’ Green Chili that you eat with tortilla chips. For our main courses, we went with a Souvlaki Burrito and a Chili & Greek Salad Combo. Yum-o! It is easy to see why Sams No 3 has been voted Denver’s best diner time and time again.
Lucile’s Creole Cafe
We ventured over to Lucile’s Creole Cafe for breakfast and I immediately loved the ambiance and friendly staff who wore clever “Friends with Benedicts” t-shirts. We started our meal with homemade beignets, heavily dusted in powdered sugar. The front of us was shortly covered with the fine sugar, but we enjoyed every bite of them!
Between the three of us, we ordered Eggs Benedict, an Omelet, and the fabulous Cajun Breakfast. Picture this, the epitome of a cajun/creole meal: Red beans (w/meat), poached eggs, and hollandaise. Oh my heavenly day, the Cajun Breakfast was a fantastic dish! It also came with perfectly cooked cheesy grits and a honkin’ big cathead biscuit. We also tried a side of Lucile’s yummy sausage gravy to go with our lusious biscuits.
Lucile’s is in the top 20 restaurants of 2700+ Denver eateries on TripAdvisor. Trust me and obviously everyone else, your taste buds will thank you for an excellent meal from Lucile’s.
Serving amazing breakfast, brunch, and lunch is Syrup, the sweetest spots in Denver with their three locations.
I had the awesome Jalapeño Popper Omelet with fresh jalapeños, jalapeño cream cheese, and crispy fried onions across the top. Eddie chose a Breakfast Burrito with classic Denver pork green chili and chorizo. Our meals were both quite tasty.
Other Tasty Mentions
Mici Handcrafted Italian is a perfect quick service restaurant with really good Italian food at a reasonable price. The paninis and Penne (or spaghetti) with hand-rolled Meatballs are both good choices. Be sure to have a slice of crusty garlic bread with your pasta!
Grab a rich bowl of Beer Cheese Soup from Henry’s Tavern, topped with green onions, bacon, and cheese. Henry’s also makes stellar cocktails and has a large selection of beer.
Ready for something sweet? Look no further than French for Sugar, an upscale sweets and treats store with beautiful decor and divine cupcakes. I swear by the Earl Grey and White Lavender ones.
The Irish Snug is a great little Irish pub to hang out in, watch sporting events, and enjoy a variety of whiskeys. Take advantage of the 2 for 1 happy hour deals from 3 to 7 PM and 10 PM to close and by all means order the delectable Corned Beef Eggrolls and Pretzel with honey mustard sauce.
Where to Drink in Denver
The Wynkoop Brewery is in LoDo (the heartbeat of Denver) inside of an 1800’s warehouse. It was Colorado’s first brewpub. Whether you are in the mood for cocktails, mules, wine, cordials, or good beer, you’ll find them all. Wynkoop also has a whole floor of pool tables for your entertainment pleasure. Explore your adventurous side by sampling the Oyster Stout, made from bull testicles.
I tried a flight of beer that included Monk-y Business (Belgian), Bad Habit Nitro Blonde, Move Your Car Porter, and Cowtown Milk Stout. The stout was one of the best I’ve ever had! Wynkoop also serves food with many classic elevated bar food items.
Las Margs Tavern
Have the best margarita in Denver, at Las Margs Tavern. I had two absolutely delicious raspberry margaritas with a sugar rim. Pair your libations with Las Margs’ tasty salsa trio (Picante chipotle, avocado salsa, fire roasted) and guac dip.
Note: Due to the altitude in Denver, one drink equates to two to three anywhere else. Be cautious, as a buzz slips up very quickly.
Machete Tequila + Tacos
Before leaving Denver, head over to Machete Tequila + Taco for a killer blood orange margarita. Wow, what a fantastic drink! I would come here for the decor alone, but it helped that the staff was friendly and the drinks were so tasty.
Where to Stay in Denver
Our home-away-from-home during our Denver stay was the spacious Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center. The rooms were stylish, comfortable, and met all of my needs with plenty of outlets, good lighting, and great picturesque windows overlooking the city. The bathroom had a powerful and awesome shower and kenetMD toiletries.
The Hyatt has an impressive lobby with a kickin’ coffee bar and onsite bar and restaurant. It was filled with little seating areas, perfect for having a cocktail and chatting about business.
Where to Play in Denver
Visit the Dispensaries
First things, first. Visit a legal cannabis store because why not—you are in Denver! My husband and I visited Native Roots Dispensary and learned the ins and outs of how to buy marijuana. The selections are high-tech and the budtenders (those who help you with your purchase) have incredible knowledge about the products. The store’s atmosphere is very professional and it is a no-joke environment. Of course, you can come to look and ask questions, but the dispensaries were way more sophisticated than I ever imagined.
Admire the Street Art
Denver’s street art is abundant and noteworthy. You’ll see impressive artwork at pretty much anywhere in town.
Across from the Denver Convention Center, was a really cool mural dedicated to Teddy Roosevelt that I was drawn to. Be sure to go to 16th Mall Street (the downtown pedestrian street and transit mall) full of public art installments and street performers. The mall contains 50 restaurants and 300 stores in its 1.25 mile long area. You will also find the MallRide buses and MetroRide Service here, Denver’s free public transportation.
See Big Blue Bear
The 40-foot-high Big Blue Bear statue mysteriously peeks into the Colorado Convention Center’s lobby and is worth checking out. He is adorable! The piece is officially called “I See What You Mean” and was designed by artist Lawrence Argent.
Tour the Molly Brown House
If you recall the Unsinkable Molly Brown from the Titanic, yep, she is a real person that lived in Denver and survived the sinking of the RMS Titanic. If you don’t remember her, Kathy Bates played Molly Brown in the Titanic movie. You can visit activist, philanthropist, and socialist Margaret “Molly” Tobin Brown’s gorgeous historic 1887 home. The tour is highly popular and fills up fast so I recommend making reservations.
Visit Union Station
Located in the LoDo neighborhood (Denver’s oldest!), Denver’s Union Station is a stylish transport hub that is mostly used for dining and entertainment. You can catch Amtrak, light rail, or the free MetroRide here. The 100-year-old landmark building also houses The Crawford Hotel, a luxury modern place to stay.
Union Station offers quite a lovely photo-op, both day and night. Inside, top-rated cafes and foodie hotspots offer a wide array of delicious food and drink, as well as concerts and a weekly farmers’ market. Be sure to check out the string lights that decorate Larimer Square after dark.
Explore the Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Visiting the Nature & Science Center is a must! This natural history museum is filled to the brim with all sorts of engaging exhibits.
Our favorite areas at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science included the wildlife exhibits, with areas like the tundra, alpine, and the Expedition Health. The nearly 3,000 year old Egyptian mummies were cool to see, but the Gems & Minerals exhibition stole the show. It was our favorite!
Colorado was founded on mining so it was only fitting to see the six-foot wall of blood-red rhodochrosite crystals. They were gorgeous! I could have spent hours admiring all of the California watermelon tourmaline, Australian opals, and blue azurite, or just reading the trivia facts about each one. The museum also has a planetarium and IMAX theater.
Stroll Through the Denver Zoo
Within walking distance of the natural history museum is the Denver Zoo. This walkable zoo offers captivating displays with rhinos, leopards, camels, African and Humboldt penguins, golden lions, emperor tamarins, lemurs, and rams.
The bird exhibit has a big variety of exceptional birds including kingfishers, kookaburras, starlings, pigeons, and pheasants. Many of them posed for their pictures to be made. The Denver Zoo offers up-close animal encounters for an additional fee.
Tour The Denver Mint
Want to learn how money is printed and what it costs the American public? Learn this and more on a tour of the US Mint in Denver, printing American money since 1906. There are more coins produced at the Denver US Mint than anywhere in the world!
This free guided tour was one of my favorites of the year. The amount of money that is kept in the mint is mind-boggling–but I won’t spoil it for you. Afterwards, you will be given sealed uncirculated pennies as a souvenir.
Note: Cell phones, purses, and bags are prohibited.
A Perfect Car for Our Denver Trip
During my Colorado trip, I drove a sleek and attractive 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander 2.4 SEL S-AWC. She was a real beauty with her Rally Red metallic paint against the brown and green landscapes of Denver and Colorado Springs. The Outlander got great gas mileage (26 MPG), had a huge sunroof for enjoying the weather, and a stellar stereo/speaker system.
I didn’t want to return it when my trip was over!
Denver, A City with Everything
Sharing my guide to visiting Denver with you brought back wonderful memories of my first time in Mile High City. You are sure to have a wonderful time in this thriving mountain destination.
Denver, Colorado Photo Gallery
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Thanks to the Denver CVB for hosting my accommodations and providing me with a VIP card for attractions.
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