Denver is another one of those unique cities everyone should visit. There are so many things that make it special, it’s nearly impossible to list them all. One thing’s certain. Denver has something for everyone. Calling all nature-, sports-, art-, history-, and music-lovers; all shoppers, hikers, bikers, runners, and climbers; all foodies. There are plenty of activities for everyone in The Mile High City.

Visit the following websites for resources and tools to help plan your visit to Denver and surrounding locations:

  • Visit Denver.com- The Official Travel and Visitor Bureau for Denver, Colorado. HINT: Order your FREE Denver & Colorado Official Visitors Guide – a great resource on how to navigate the Mile High City, with highlights, tips, maps and as well as info on attractions, hotels, restaurants and more! Plus, you can sign up for their monthly e-newsletter to keep you up on the latest Denver happenings.
  • Denver.com – A valuable source for what’s happening in Denver. Focuses on restaurants, nightlife, events, and neighborhoods.
  • Eat Drink Denver.com – No explanation needed!
  • Colorado.com – Helpful planning tool for visiting locations near Denver – including Colorado Springs, Boulder, and Estes Park.
  • Golden.com – Plan a side trip to Golden (see Shelley’s Picks)!

I also recommend the following books:

  •  Moon Denver (Moon Handbooks) by Mindy Sink
  •  Walking Denver by Mindy Sink – lots of great suggestions for seeing Denver!

Shelley’s Picks

Carly and I had a great time exploring Denver. Here are some of our favorite things to see and do in – and around – the Mile High City!

  1. Larimer Square - Known as Denver’s hippest block, Larimer offers unique boutiques and restaurants. Carly loved Goorin Bros. Hat Shop where she purchased a really cool fedora. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Tamayo. We both recommend the slow roasted pork carnitas – with avocado, black bean, Mexican ricotta cheese, and red onion-mandarin salsa. Delicioso! Larimer Square is easily accessible on foot – or take the free 16th Street shuttle bus to the corner of Larimer Street
  2. Coors Field – Y’all know I’m a huge baseball fan, so this pick probably comes as no surprise. A short walk from the hotel (2001 Blake Street), Coors Field offers great views of downtown Denver and some of the best ballpark food. Plus, you’re exactly a mile high if you sit in the row of purple seats!
  3. Tattered Cover – Best. Bookstore. Ever. If you love books, you’ll love this independent bookstore. Lots of levels, lots of nooks and crannies to explore. (1628 16th Street)
  4. 16th Street Mall – If you love to shop and/or love to eat, this mile long pedestrian promenade is the perfect place for you. Best of all, it’s just outside the hotel. Carly and I enjoyed a nice meal at the Paramount Cafe (519 16th Street). We had crispy fried dills to start. Very tasty! For her main dish, Carly had the Paramount Cafe Burger. I had the Inferno Burger. Very spicy. Very unhealthy. Very good! Carly recommends the chocolate milkshake. I recommend the locally crafted brews. 
  5. Denver Biscuit Company- This was Carly’s favorite Denver restaurant. I loved it too. While it’s two miles from the hotel (3237 E Colfax Avenue), it’s a quick, inexpensive cab ride and totally worth a visit. Carly had the Strawberry Shortcake made with the world’s largest biscuit. It was love at first sight. I had the Ellsworth – a giant biscuit sandwich with buttermilk fried chicken, honey, stone-ground mustard, and homemade pickles. Words cannot describe. You’ll just have to try it for yourself. 
  6. Snooze, an A.M. Eatery – S’mores for breakfast! Another Carly favorite. Snooze’s version is made with french toast. I have to agree, it was excellent. I loved the Snooze Breakfast Burrito. Menu headings include: Flavors From the Hen, The Art of Hollandaise, Pancake Bliss, Like a Feather, and Sweet Utopia. The eatery is just a mile from the hotel at 2262 Larimer Street. It’s an easy walk – or you can do the walk/shuttle combination (see Larimer Square above). 
  7. Highlands / Lower Highlands (LoHi) – a culturally diverse neighborhood just northwest of downtown. Filled with boutiques, galleries, and eateries, it’s a great walking neighborhood. Just a couple of miles from the hotel on 16th Street; simply take the free 16th Street shuttle bus to Union Station (last stop), continue walking along 16th Street, crossing the Highland Bridge.
  8. Golden, Colorado – Home of the Coors Brewery (free tours show every step of the brewing process and end with free samples), Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre (breathtaking scenery and concert venue), historical attractions, and art galleries. Golden is 25 minutes (15 miles) from Denver. Cab fare is about $40. We recommend you hit Baby Doe’s (delightful clothing, artisan jewelry, fine craft) and the Foothills Art Center for shopping (great local handcrafted jewelry at both!) and the Golden Skillet for a meal. Their breakfast tacos were da bomb! I enjoyed their bacon infused Bloody Mary.
  9. Buckhorn Exchange – For carnivores only. You’ve got to experience it to believe it. Known as Denver’s oldest restaurant and steak house, it’s also a historical landmark and western museum. Seriously, you can knock several things off your sightseeing list with a visit here. In addition to beef, there’s buffalo, elk, and quail – to name a few. Consider Gramma Fanny’s Pot Roast (specialty of the Buckhorn since 1893).  Try not to think about the fact that your dinner may be staring at you while you eat. Located 1.5 miles from the hotel (1000 Osage), it’s probably best to take a cab – although you may feel the need to walk back after dinner! Portions are not small.
  10. Public Art – Seems like everywhere you look, you see sculptures, murals, and various and sundry public art. Denver’s Public Art Program requires one percent of any capital improvement project over $1 million be set aside for the “inclusion of art in the design and construction of these projects.” The result is more than 150 public art objects throughout the city. There’s the 40-foot-tall Blue Bear at the Colorado Convention Center. In front of the Performing Arts Complex 50-foot-tall Dancers “cavort happily.” There are Old-West themed sculptures in Civic Center Park. You get the idea.

Getting Around

Luckily, the Sheraton Denver Downtown is in a great location for exploring The Mile High City.  It’s located on the 16th Street Mall – a 12-block pedestrian walkway with loads of shopping, dining, and entertainment options. It’s adjacent to (if not part of) LoDo (Lower Downtown) and only a block away from Colorado’s State Capital and the museum district (aka Golden Triangle). It’s just a short walk to Coors Field and the Pepsi Center.

Navigating the 16th Street Mall is easy. The 12-block surface is flat AND there are free hybrid shuttle buses that leave either end of the mall as often as every 90 seconds, stopping on every corner.  (This actually comes in very handy if you’re not used to the altitude. After 12 blocks of walking, Carly and I welcomed a shuttle bus ride back to the hotel.)

For exploring areas a little further, cabbing it the easiest and fastest method of getting around. Usually there are cabs waiting outside the hotel, but hotel staff are always willing to hail a cab in the event there isn’t one nearby.

The RTD light-rail is also a great little way to get around – depending on where you want to go. While I didn’t use the light-rail on this trip, I have used it many times in the past and found it to be safe, affordable, and easy to use. Consider taking the light-rail to downtown Littleton. In Walking Denver (see above), Mindy Sink offers a super (and easy) walking tour of Main Street, South Rio Grande Street, and West Alamo Avenue. (I bet our friends in Littleton would love to see you!)

Beyond Denver

There are so many wonderful places near Denver, you can’t go wrong. If you have the opportunity to spend the weekend in Denver, Carly and I recommend one or more of the following trips.

  • Colorado Springs – Actually, I wasn’t able to get there with Carly, but several years ago my son, David, and I had a spectacular time visiting Colorado Springs. Located about 70 miles South of Denver, it’s – without a doubt – one of my favorite places. David and I spent time at Garden of the Gods and took a ride on the Cog Railway to Pikes Peak.
  • Rocky Mountain National Park – Absolutely. Beautiful. If I had to recommend one side trip, this would be it. I think it’s amazing regardless of where you’re from, but as Floridians we’ve never seen anything quite like RMNP. The are are 150 lakes, 60 mountains taller than 12,000 feet, wildlife, and snow even in summer! We took Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous motorway in the United States, above the treeline to 12,183 feet.
  • Boulder – Carly adored this place. It’s got a funky vibe (sort of like Carly). There are lots of great shops, outdoor cafes, and street performers at the Pearl Street Mall. Our favorite shops were Boulder Arts & Crafts Gallery, Peppercorn, and Boulder Book Store.  Our favorite eatery? Foolish Craig’s Cafe. Try the Attitude Adjustment Crepe or the BLT Guacamole. And I must give them a shout out for serving excellent grits. If you love grits (and I do), you’ll love them here. Save room for the Crepe Cake of the Day. You won’t be sorry.