Sports fans, arts enthusiasts, foodies, and the monumentally hip collide here with plenty to keep everyone busy. Four pro teams play home games within about a mile of each other, so bars and restaurants downtown are usually bustling. Add in the performing arts center and a new interactive art experience, and you’ve got attractions for days. Ignore high prices for rental cars. You can take the light rail directly from the airport, forgo driving entirely, and get all your steps in while you tour this vibrant area.
Dine West Young Man
With a motto of “Seek, never settle,” West of Surrender Saloon & Kitchen is a family-owned place with an Old West vibe. Rather than a dark saloon, it’s light and cheerful with huge windows that offer great people watching on the 16th Street Mall. Try the Front Range grain bowl ($14.25) featuring wheat berry, lentil, and quinoa with lemon vinaigrette. Add a protein to go with the dish’s avocado and hemp seeds. Or start with lamb sliders featuring peppercorn aioli with gruyere on brioche ($12.50), but be sure to save room for the bourbon basil peach crumble ($12).
If being a mile high isn’t enough, venture to 54thirty, the rooftop bar at Le Meridien Denver that adds another 150 feet to your experience. The open-air venue boasts stunning views of the mountains and the city. Cozy lounging areas include firepits and surround the vast bar. Go all-in with the local vibe and order the Colorado mule, which includes vodka, ginger beer, apricot liqueur, and lime juice ($12). The rooms at Le Meridien are bright and modern ($262 and up), and the chandelier in the hotel’s lobby is worth many photos all on its own.
Old Shop, New Spot
An institution in Denver since 1971, Tattered Cover Book Store has two locations downtown, the newest in McGregor Square. The two-story shop has plenty of nooks that are perfect for mulling over the latest bestsellers. Knowledgeable employees are happy to offer recommendations, and there’s a welcoming children’s area. Wander outside of the store and find yourself smack in the middle of the latest gathering space. McGregor Square sits near Coors Field and houses The Rally Hotel, eateries such as The Grandstand Cafe and Carmine’s Italian Restaurant, an outdoor plaza for concerts and movies, Milepost Zero Food Hall, residences, and office space.
Describing the experience as a combination of jungle gym, haunted house, children’s museum, and immersive art exhibit, the creators of Santa Fe-based Meow Wolf opened the Denver location in September. Meow Wolf Convergence Station leads visitors of all ages through a four-story interactive world of art and creativity, featuring work from 300 artists ($40 to $45). Eat first and plan to spend a few hours—re-entry is prohibited. You’ll want to buy the timed tickets in advance to be sure you get in, particularly as this attraction is new. Take the light rail from Union Station—the E and W lines go directly there.
A Dining Road Trip
Blending flavors from Mexico and the Southwest, Kachina Cantina welcomes patrons with colorful wall murals and a lively bar. Sip on tasty margaritas in an open setting, or go non-alcoholic with the Raised Garden aqua fresca ($6) featuring blackberry, blueberry, and lime. Order tacos a la carte ($3.50 to $5.50) and add fry bread for an extra 50 cents. Dive into the vegetable relleno with cotija cheese and a poblano pepper ($15). Kachina Cantina anchors the Dairy Block, a historic area that includes shops, restaurants, bars, and The Maven hotel.
For a central stay with plenty of extra space, try one of the 27 suites at Denver Grand Hyatt ($252 and up). The spacious living areas include dining tables, large closets, and king-size beds, plus accessibility to all the things you want to see downtown. Lounge in the welcoming lobby with a glass of wine. Keep up your fitness routine with an indoor pool, fitness center, outside track, and tennis court high above the city.
Tea for You
Take a respite with a refined afternoon tea service at the Brown Palace Hotel. Sip from delicate cups while nibbling on finger sandwiches and housemade pastries ($42 per person). Upgrade to the Royal Palace package, which includes a glass of Kir Royale ($48). Live music sets the elegant tone for a few hours. You might even be inclined to don a hat for the occasion.
Tip from a local
“Dazzle at Baur’s on 15th and Curtis is really good, fun, and exciting. It has great live jazz music, amazing cocktails, and daily specials that are all made in-house.”
—Chris Marcus, Denver native and longtime resident
Mark Your Calendar: Nov. 19 and 20: The Hip Hop Nutcracker combines contemporary dance moves, a DJ, an emcee, and the classic Tchaikovsky score for a remixed version of the show. Buell Theatre, denvercenter.org