Since we started non-stop service from Cincinnati to Denver with my airline, Colorado has been a must see on my travel list. We invited along some friends, and chose a weekend before it got too cold and the Rockies were still playing. Going in late September ended up being the perfect time of year and I’m already dreaming of things to do on a return trip! Here are the places we ate, stayed and visited, (and also how I packed) to help you on ideas for your own short Denver trip!
I’ll admit, I didn’t pack perfectly for the rapidly changing weather of Colorado. Layers, layers, layers! High 60s/Low 70s during the day and high 40s/low 50s at night was our September experience there, and the forecast was constantly changing. Also, if you are going to the mountains like we did, it’s cooler with a chance of snow that time of year. Sadly, the kitty wanted to come along in the suitcase…maybe next time Marble! Here is my amended packing list:
* 2 dresses (that can be worn with tights or hose, and layered with cardigans or a light jacket)
* Light jacket (I brought my leather one)
* Comfortable flats
* Comfortable boots or stylish tennis shoes (I have an awesome pair of Oxford wingtip tennis shoes that I got on sale. They have a retro flair while also providing much needed support for lots of walking)
* Short sleeve top
* Long sleeve top (I bought a flannel one at the Goodwill while there)
* Crossbody purse (helps with hands free walking and is more secure from theft)
If you are doing serious hiking rather than just the scenic byway like we did, I recommend warm athletic clothing as well.
Like usual, we stayed in an Airbnb in the North Park Hill area of Denver. It was a nice neighborhood of well-maintained historic houses with easy street parking and was a 15 minute drive to downtown. We chose to stay slightly outside the city for the price and easy parking for the rental car.
It’s not hard to find delicious food in Denver, but here are the restaurants we ventured to:
* The Egg Shell – One of many good brunch spots, near the 16th St Mall area. I recommend the potato cakes!
* Denver Biscuit Co/Fat Sully’s/Atomic Cowboy Bar – This multi-venue building (located on Broadway, a great vintage shopping area) was a great casual spot for every time of the day. One night we went for Fat Sully’s NY style pizza, and we went for brunch the next morning when the Denver Biscuit Co portion was open. Both meals were cheap and delicious and I highly recommend! For brunch, we shared a ginormous cinnamon roll and for my meal I had a standard dish of bacon, eggs and a giant biscuit with apple butter (the apple butter was really really good with their biscuits).
* Falling Rock Taphouse – We happened upon this restaurant when our first choice fell through before the Rockies game. It’s super close to the stadium, has a huge selection of beer, and the menu is a step above standard pub food. I got the spicy French dip which was pretty delicious.
* 16th St Mall & Larimer Square – We didn’t eat at these locations, but walked through them and they seemed to have a plethora of restaurants and bars to choose from.
* Adrift – As usual, if there is a tiki bar, I’m going to visit! I was really impressed with the decor, which was a classy version of tiki decor. It was small but a great use of the space, and the ambiance was relaxing. The drinks were hand crafted and interesting, but we made sure to go during happy hour to cut our costs. I got a Shark’s Tooth (which has a cinnimon kick) and Ryan got a pineapple margarita (chilled not blended).
* Larimer Square – When we ventured to this area, there was a lively firefighter chili contest, so we did a bit of people watching and perused the shops on the outskirts since we didn’t have tickets for the chili booths. This area is full of unique curated shops and restaurants in beautiful historic buildings, which I wish we could have explored more.
* 16th Street Mall – This is the standard area for mainstream restaurants and shopping, and some interesting hang out spots with colorful pianos and chess tables. There is also a free bus that crosses through the area.
* Broadway St – As mentioned before, this street is great for vintage shopping, among other things. It had unique restaurants and bars like Adrift and Denver Biscuit Co, along with quirky coffee shops/used bookstores like Mutiny Information Cafe (which also has vintage records and arcade games). I was tempted by some great pieces in the vintage shops, but I came away with some retro style heels from True Love and some pieces from the Goodwill (their Goodwill is amazing!)
* The Coors Stadium – My husband’s bucket list includes going to all the baseball stadiums, so we attended a Rockies game and boy was it exciting! Because of the high elevation of Denver and the air being thinner, home runs are more common and make for an interesting game.
* Union Station – This is by far the most beautiful train station I’ve been in, with its sparkling lights and marble walls. It still has a regular train and bus schedule, and the waiting area is filled with tufted leather sofas, beautiful shops and vintage decorated cafes. I hope to take a train from there some day, and feel the glamour of the heyday of train travel.
* Mount Evans Scenic Byway – This was the most beautiful and awe-inspiring part of our trip. We rented a car and drove through the mountains on the byway, which is the highest paved road in North America (up to 9,000 ft!). It was the perfect time of year to go, with the leaves turning and fresh snow on the ground at the higher peaks. There are numerous scenic spots to park and take in the scenery, along with trails and a lodge to grab some snacks and souvenirs. Beyond the lodge, the Mt Evans road was closed due to significant snowfall, but we still saw plenty of beautiful sites. It was one of the most varied vistas I’ve ever seen, with its turning leaves, dense forest, jutting rocks, and snow capped mountains. The fresh springs and lake were gorgeous and serene and I can’t wait to go back someday!
I hope you all make a trip to Denver, you’ll love it!