Hello, hello! I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since our Denver trip! For those of you who didn’t know, Brian and I planned a spur-of-the-moment trip to Denver back in November. This was our first real vacation together and his first time ever in Colorado. We had the best time and can’t wait to go back again! Since it was a last minute trip, we only went for a long weekend (Thursday through Monday). We absolutely loved every minute of it, particularly all of the restaurants — the food was amazing! Honestly, there isn’t much we’d do differently, so if you’re wanting to take a quick getaway to Denver, here is a guide for where to stay, eat and play!
Where to Stay
Airbnb, Washington Park
I’ve been to Denver twice before and both times we stayed in a hotel downtown. Personally, I’ve never liked hotels. Even in really nice hotels, I never feel at home and don’t feel comfortable walking around barefoot (Mama Kath taught me well as a child). Ultimately, Brian and I decided to get an Airbnb. This was our first time doing so and the process was incredibly easy.
I definitely recommend going the Airbnb route for a few reasons. First off, you get to stay in a part of the city you normally wouldn’t get to see. We stayed in a house in the Washington Park neighborhood and felt completely safe (enough to even go for a walk in the park). Second, this was cheaper than most hotels — it also allowed us to have a full kitchen, so we could make breakfast every morning and save money from not going out. Lastly, because it’s a home, we felt comfortable enough to just hang out there when we were too tired to do anything else. They had Apple TV, so we watched plenty of The Office in our down time.
Where to Go
Of course there are so many things to do in Denver, but here are the things we did and enjoyed.
Union Station — We took the train in from the airport to Union Station. This place is a destination in itself with multiple restaurants, bars and casual, open seating. We grabbed lunch here on our way into the city. I absolutely loved their holiday décor!
Denver Zoo — In general, I’m a pretty big fan of zoos, as long as they’re well maintained and they make an effort for each animal’s space to resemble their intended habitat as much as possible. My favorite zoo ever is the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, so I definitely needed to make a trip to the Denver Zoo for comparison. Although the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo remains my favorite (since it has the best taco salad ever and it legitimately is on a mountain), the Denver Zoo is a definite must! We saw animals we’ve never seen before — polar bears, rhinos and leopards. It was super well-kept and a great way to spend 3-4 hours.
16th Street Mall — If you want to get a little shopping in, 16th Street Mall is the way to go. This outdoor walking-only mall is full of your favorite stores, plus tons of local restaurants, coffee shops and bars. We actually found ourselves at 16th Street twice, both for shopping and food.
Denver Nuggets Game — If bae is a basketball fan, the Denver Nuggets is a must. The arena is super nice and we had a really fun time. Plus, it was much cheaper to go the basketball route than the football. For reference, we sat in the lower bowl, about half way down and our tickets were $70 each. The Patriots were in town that weekend and if we wanted to see them play the Broncos, we were looking at $280 each for the nosebleeds.
Hiking — There is no shortage of hiking spots around Denver, so you won’t have trouble finding one that fits your fancy. I’ve done Rocky Mountain National Park before and definitely recommend it. There are so many trail options and it was just crazy beautiful. You also have the ability to drive up to the top, which gives you the most killer view.
Brian and I both really wanted to check out Boulder, so we did our hiking there. We hiked the Chautauqua Trail, which has different trails with varying levels of difficulty. It was a tough hike since it was just walking straight up for the first mile or so (I was WINDED, guys), but it wasn’t a super uneven terrain — just a little icy at times. The view we got of Boulder was beautiful. Totally recommend.
Where to Eat
Guys, we had some GREAT food in Denver. Our Airbnb hosts had sent us a few recommendations, but we got plenty of recs from our Lyft drivers. Here are a few of our favorite places.
Punch Bowl Social — If you are a big kid at heart, but also love to drink and eat great food, GO HERE. Punch Bowl Social is like an adult’s playground with bowling lanes, giant wall scrabble, arcade games, ski-ball and a variety of board games. The caveat is that you do have to pay for most of those things (minus the board games), but it was still super neat. Brian and I got dinner and a drink (the chicken and waffles is TO DIE FOR, guys), then played shuffleboard and chess for a few hours. Super fun.
Marlowe’s — This place is apparently a pretty upscale steakhouse, but we went for brunch. Their challah bread french toast is one of the best meals I’ve ever had (it’s battered in raspberry créme brûlèe). Enough said.
Wazee Supper Club — We went here our first night since it was walking distance to the Nuggets game. Brian had a calzone that he still talks about and I had a sensational pizza. It’s a super cool atmosphere and a definite must.
New China Café — By the end of the trip, we were burned out, so we decided to stay in and order Chinese delivery. We came across New China Café online and had the BEST experience. First of all, if you do happen to order from there, please note that any entrée comes with a pint of fried rice (even though it doesn’t mention that online) and if you order lo mein, you get nearly two pints worth rather than one. Needless to say, we ended up with WAY more food than expected (especially since they seemed to throw in an additional order of crab rangoons), but everything was delicious. That fried rice was so damn buttery, I still daydream about it.
Until next time —