48-hour guide to Denver

I get asked A LOT what to do in Denver. Readers, imma be real, it’s hard to respond in a a simple text, a Facebook message, even an email, what you should do while you are in Denver. And what you are looking to do while you are here also changes my response. While I would love nothing more than to be everyone’s Denver Tour Guide (even though I still get confused between Wewatta and Wazee, and don’t fully understand Speer and stumble upon new spots every day), mama’s gotta pay the bills.

But in an attempt to ensure that you love my city just as much as I do, here is my 48-hour guide to Denver with recommendations on what to eat and drink and see. But don’t forget to make your own adventure!

Friday

  • Land in Denver: Congrats! You made it and you are now a mile high. Drink LOTS of water, this is not a joke or an exaggeration and you will thank me later. As you leave the airport, comment on hoooww faaaarr the airport is away from basically everything, then hush. Look right, and soak in the glory that is the Rocky Mountains. *sigh*
  • Brunch time: Denver does brunch. Finding a good spot without a tortuously long wait is an art form, one that is perfected by trial and error. Here are a few of my favorite spots:
    • Snooze – there are several spots around Denver and prepare for an aforementioned wait. I’ve only waited it out once, so I cannot honestly attest to the worthiness of the wait, but the long lines have to be a good sign, right?
      • Eat: Pancake Flight. Have your cake and eat it too!
      • Drink: Bangkok Bloody
    • LingerLinger – Formally, Olinger Mortuaries. Yup, you read that correctly. But this breakfast spot will give you life. One of the best and most creative menus in Denver, Linger will not disappoint. Not to mention the views of downtown Denver alone are worth the wait.
      • Eat: Hangover Ramen (TRUST) and Donut Holes
      • Drink: Bottomless Mimosa (duh)
    • Lucile’s – If you are looking for a more authentic brunch with with a Creole taste, head to Lucile’s. A Denver-must for nearly 3 decades, Lucile’s is the perfect combination of comfort and eccentrics.
      • Eat: Beignets
      • Drink: Chicory Coffee (Idk what this is, but it is delicious and sounds like something Thomas Jefferson drank. If its good enough for a our forefathers, it’s good for me!)
  • Head to the Mountains – If it is your first time in Denver, I hope you are a planning a full day in the mountains. If you are short on time or here for something other than the purple mountain majesties, you can still soak in some of that Colorado goodness just minutes from Denver.
    • Lookout Mountain
      • Only about 20 minutes from Denver, you can drive right up to Lookout Mountain and…lookout. You can also see Buffalo Bill’s grave if you are feeling up for a little mountain nostalgia.
    • Red_RocksRed Rocks
      • If this isn’t already on your bucket list, go home. JK, you newb. You can stay. Red Rocks is on bucket lists of many and being just 25 minutes from Denver, you should absolutely make the trip. Walk the trails or run the bleachers, whatever strikes your fancy.
    • Golden
      • To be honest, I’ve only drank in Golden. But word on the street is there are a ton of great hiking and biking trails just 25 minutes from Denver. And Coors Brewery. Be active and then go grab yourself a free beer!
    • Chatauqua
      • Only 45 minutes north to Denver’s bolder sister, Boulder, lies Chatauqua Park. Just a hop, skip and a jump off US-36, Chatauqua is the perfect getaway. Take the Bluebell-Baird Trail to First-Second Flatiron for a scenic and relatively easy hike.
    • panorama_pointGolden Gate Canyon
      • About 60 minutes from downtown Denver. I recommend the Panorama Point Trail. Don’t worry, you don’t have to hike the full 7 miles. But the trail head is perfect for a panorama. Get it.
  • nap, shower, rally – Colorado is not for the faint of heart. We eat, drink, play and party hard. You only have 40 hours left!
  • Head to Happy Hour
  • Dine! 
  • Dance and drink
    • Herbs – one of my all-time favorite bars in Lodo. This hole in the wall will remind you of college, in the best ways. It’s dark and crowded, the floor is sticky, but the drinks are cheap. And you can dance! Friday’s and Saturday’s Herbs hooks it up with awesome, local jam bands, playing covers of your favorite songs. You’ll be sweaty and sleepy when you finally stumble out the door, but honestly, aren’t those the signs of a good night?
    • Sputnik – A slightly less college-y spot is tucked away on South Broadway. This little bar with retro vibes has amazing circle booths and surprisingly sensational DJs on Friday nights. You can rock out to Backstreet Boys while sipping killer cocktails.
    • Cold Crush –  If you are looking to twerk and whip and also nae nae, may I recommend Cold Crush. There will probably be a line and also a cover, but sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants.
    • Nocturne – on a completely different level (but across the street from Cold Crush in RiNo) is Nocturne. This hole in the wall, literally, will knock your socks off. Off a side street and through black curtain, you will be transported to post-modern, art-deco jazz bar. Play it cool and act like you belong there and enjoy the lively beats. When in doubt, order a French Martini
  • or Play and Drink – if have two left feet and you would prefer to play and drink, we got that too!
    • One Up – One Up (and Two Up) are old school arcade bars that harken back to old school arcades or on my case, Chuckie Cheese. But with booze. Need I say more? The is one in the Ballpark District and also on Colfax.
    • Ace – If ping pong is your sport, head over to Ace on 17th. When you work up a ping-pong sweat, order a Bao Bun (or honestly 4).
    • Zanzibar – For all my (wannabe) pool sharks out there, check out Zanzibar. In the heart of Lodo, this billards bar is a fun place to pretend like you know what you are doing…or maybe that is just me. The hop down a few bars to the Retro Room for pickle shot, just for fun!
    • Punch Bowl – If you still haven’t found a bar with your game of choice, Punch Bowl Social on South Broadway has it all. From private karaoke rooms to bowling to shuffle board, if you can’t find it here, you can’t find it anywhere.
  • Late night pizza! – No night out on the town is complete without late night pizza. I haven’t met a slice that I haven’t liked, but here are my recommendations based on wherever you end your night!
    • Lodo – Marquis Pizza. The long line is a good sign and worth the wait.
    • Uptown – Benny Blancos is pushing the boundaries of Uptown (and normal pizza establishments), but worth it.
    • South Broadway – Pie Hole. You knnnnow how I feel about Pie Hole.
    • Colfax – Slice Works, NY-style pizza. The possibilities are endless.
    • Capital Hill – Cosmos. Spicy Ranch. Do it.

Saturday

  • Brunch Round Two
    • DBC_TheElmerDenver Biscuit Company – After a long night of drinking, only one thing will do: Denver Biscuit Company. Known for their big, buttery, southern-style biscuits (and biscuit sandwiches), this spot is best enjoyed when “a little under the weather” or perhaps with just a big appetite. All of the sandwiches are to die for, but my stand-by is “The Franklin”. Or try the Diners, Drive ins and Dives favorite, “The Elmer” (pictured). Fork may be required.
  • Hop on a B-Cycle
    • Denver is a bike-friendly city and after a big brunch and a long night, its either time for a nap or a leisurely ride through the city to get the blood going. Rent a bike at the many B-Cycle Stations around the city and cruise. Find the Cherry Creek Trail and enjoy the unique and ever-changing murals. But save room for shopping!
  • Stop on South Broadway  – South Broadway is one of my favorite parts of Denver, full of hidden gems and amazing finds. Here are some of my favorite stops:
    • Relevant Goods – Urban met Earth
    • Buffalo Exchange – The vintage/thrift Mecca
    • True LoveShoes
    • Starlet -Stylishly sweet
    • Decade – Fun junk
    • Sewn – With love
    • Ironwood – Eclectic oddities
    • and save room for Sweet Action!
  • Lunch – If you are still hungry post DBC and Sweet Action, I am impressed and proud. And also trust that you can find somewhere to feed yourself. When in doubt, Yelp.
  • Pre-dinner drinks at Peaks Lounge – To kick off your classy Denver evening, head over to Peaks Lounge, atop the 27-story Hyatt Regency for a cocktail and a Rocky Mountain Sunset.
  • larimer_squareDinner in Larimer Square – Next head to the Historic Larimer Square for a dinner by some of Denver’s best. You can’t go wrong with any of the restaurants down here, but reservations are recommended.
    • Tamayo – Fancy Latin fare
    • Euclid Hall – Sausages, Schnitzels an Poutine.
    • Osterio Marco – Rustic Italian
    • Tom’s Urban – Fun, Funky, International Noms
  • Late Night Drinks at Cooper Lounge – Wind down your night at Cooper Lounge, because you deserve it and who doesn’t like feeling like Gatsby. 

Sunday

  • VoodooDoughnutsGrab a donut at Voodoo Doughnuts  – Started in Portland, Voodoo Doughnuts is taking the the world by storm. Voodoo recently rbought its talents to Denver and there has been a line ever since. Featured on Man vs. Food, Good Morning America and EPSN, Voodoo Doughnuts has a doughnut for everyone.
  • Catch the game
    • Denver is a football town. But not just the Broncos. We have transplants from all over the country and a sports bar for every NFL team where you can gather with your people and scream things like WHO DEY while talking about cinnamon chili
  • Hit the road – it’s that time.
  • bluemustang.jpg.CROP.promo-large2Arrive at the airport and withhold your tears – Take notice of the creepy bronco stature as you arrive at the airport . I promise the story behind it is way creepier.

P.S. Yes, you can go to a dispensary. No, you can’t take it with you when you go. And don’t act a fool, play it cool. Here are some other things you should know about the Denver dispensaries .

1 Comment

  1. Hi Holls, Paige here, I’m a bit confused, are we not going OUT OUT on Saturday night? That just doesn’t seem like it’s done in true Coloradan fashion.

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