What to do in Denver, Colorado
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Enjoy the beautiful city of Denver, in this post: What to do in Denver, Colorado. Stay at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Denver, right in the city’s center!
Friends, a few months back, my daughter and I visited Denver, Colorado for 5 days! We so enjoyed the beauty! Hopefully you also enjoyed my recent What to do in Sydney, Australia post, too!
What to do in Denver, Colorado
Denver, Colorado. The Mile High City. The city that has an astounding 300 days of sunshine, brews more beer than any other city, and has one of the largest city park systems in the United States. I could go on with the impressive facts, but needless to say, this city is special. My mom and I only stayed for a few days, but even if I had a month here, it still wouldn’t be enough.
The geography of Denver is a humorous contradiction: the flat, levelled city scape juxtaposes the jagged peaks and mountains that enclose it. Denver is like a grandiose, distant basecamp to the foothills of the Rocky Mountain range, a geographic feature that provides inescapable panoramic views.
Stunning Denver colors
As we drove from the airport to downtown, I was taken aback by the sky. It appeared a lighter shade of blue. I thought it might be the altitude getting to me, but I read later that, because there is less water vapor in the air due to the higher altitude, the shade of blue is indeed different. I’m no atmospheric scientist, but I’d like to think that my eyes weren’t deceiving me, as the color was spectacular.
But, beholder beware, the colors of the sky are stunning, but the air is thin, thin enough to make you feel a bit nauseated—here are tips to adjust to the altitude.
Stay below 7,000 feet the first day (the city of Colorado Springs is 6,035 feet above sea level.)
Give your body time to adjust (there’s lots to see and do at lower altitudes.)
Follow these easy tips: Avoid strenuous exercise the first day. Limit alcohol intake. Drink a ton of water!
Where to stay in Denver
We were lucky enough to stay at another Kimpton Hotel during our visit to Denver, the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Denver. Immediately upon entering the lobby, the Kimpton staff possessed a warm aura, that contrasted with the cool-toned, chic, modern interior—shades of deep blues, stoic greys, metallic accents, and pops of rich yellow and white entice the eye not only in the lobby, but throughout the hotel.
All Kimpton Hotels are designed to instill a hospitable ambiance, and The Kimpton Monaco in Denver is no exception. One of our favorite aspects of staying at the Kimpton is their social hour, during which they serve wine and hors d’oeuvres from 5:00-6:00 pm in the lobby. I recommend going early to make sure you can taste every delicious appetizer they offer—we loved the crispy polenta with eggplant and Parmesan the most.
In addition to the food, the energy of the room is vibrant and lively, which sets the mood for any evening outings you may have planned.
The rooms in the Kimpton are much like the lobby. They are layered with textures, floral patterns, metallic accents, and rich colors of royal blue, olive greens, and stark white. The lofted ceilings and eclectic touches invite guests to settle in and recline. [Above, mom working.]
Although we couldn’t bring our Alder Bear, the Kimptons are all pet friendly, so if you can bring your furry companion along, do it!
Oh, and did I mention the “welcome appetizer” in our room? Thank you Kimpton!
What to do in Denver
Simply walk around the city! My mom and I got turned around using our maps (thanks Siri…) but, despite leading us astray, we ended up walking. A lot. And because of this, we stumbled upon some very cute shops and restaurants, like Sacred Thistle and Leven Deli Co. (where we had the best tahini brownie). We also had the opportunity to simply take in the architecture of Denver.
We walked for blocks, as the urban landscape changed drastically. The gilded and noble capitol building, the French Gothic Cathedral Basilica, the distinctive and modern Denver Art Museum, Queen Anne style houses, textured and colorful stucco dwellings, the list goes on. Not only is exploration free and gets you exercising, but it’s an engaging act of mindfulness, being aware of your surroundings to the point that you aren’t thinking about the past or future, only the beauty of now.
Additionally there are parks galore, so take a stroll!
DENVER ART MUSEUM
The Denver Art Museum is a must see, especially if you’re visiting on an especially warm or snowy day and need an indoor escape. The building itself is a work of art, with its vast, continuously curving silver exterior.
The staff is inviting and accommodating and there are plenty of kid-friendly spaces. Bonus! If you have large bags or luggage, storage lockers are available for free. If you’re able to see the Monet exhibit, The Truth of Nature (on view through February 2, 2020), do it! It is visually stunning, and educational.
The Denver Botanical Gardens on York Street take you on a 24 acre horticultural journey. The gardens are extensive; one can explore gardens of the west, internationally inspired gardens, ornamental gardens, shady gardens, and water gardens.
And for kiddos, the Mordecai Children’s Garden is designed for children to immerse themselves in nature.
The gardens are a quiet oasis in the midst of the hustle and bustle of city life, so use your time inside to slow down and take in the abundance of fresh air.
The Red Rocks Amphitheater is a sight to behold. This concert venue is a fusion of natural raw beauty and auditory bliss. We weren’t able to see a concert during our visit, but the activities extend beyond music: there are hiking and biking trails, a gift shop, the Colorado Music Hall of Fame Museum (hey, John Denver), various places to eat, and more, so go explore!
WHERE TO EAT
Where to eat—the million dollar question for a food blogger. We didn’t quite venture into trying bison steaks and Rocky Mountain Oysters (maybe next time), but we did explore the many other culinary flavors of the city.
For breakfast, we ate at Panzano, the restaurant located in the Kimpton Monaco. The Panzano eggs benedict is comprised of two poached eggs, smoked mozzarella polenta cakes, prosciutto cotto, fontina, roasted tomato, prosecco hollandaise, and basil pesto.
The depth of flavor in this dish is comparable to the Mariana Trench. For a sweet contrast we chose the banana bread french toast—made with fresh bananas, a brown butter anglaise, and crunchy pecans. Oh and don’t forget to try their pastries and coffee!
“Food is a blessing, and we want to share a variety of blessings with you—whether you call it luck or blessings, charms or well-wishing,” this is the mission of the Denver Milk Market, and what a wholesome mission it is.
This market is a food playground—inside are 16 counters to choose from. We devoured a popcorn shrimp po’boy from Albina by the Sea, and a barbe-cheddar burger from Ruth’s Butchery.
Had we been with a few more people, we undoubtedly would’ve sampled something from every counter.
Denver Central Market, located in the RiNo Art district, runs in a similar vein—the large, industrial dining hall offers numerous dining options, from morning provisions to late night drinks and takeout. For breakfast, definitely try the Izzio Bakery’s cinnamon rolls. Their custardy brioche rolls with a thick coating of cream cheese frosting might put you back to sleep, but it’s worth it. For dinner, we gravitated to the Green Seed counter, to balance out our hearty burger from The Local Butcher.
Want to combine shopping, eating, and exploring in one stop? Venture down to the historic Larimer Square for more shopping and dining options. For a fast, affordable, and healthy dining option, check out Bubu—their menu is simple, nourishing, and fresh.
The Market is another option if you’re looking for a laid back cafe feel—they even offer shaved cake pieces at the back counter for free if you want a little snack. Bonus–get your food to go and make your way to the Bull and Bear Courtyard, a shady, blockwide space that acts as a quiet escape from the rush of the surrounding streets.
We visited Levan for lunch one day, refreshing and delicious–on our way to the Botanical Gardens.
Finally, for a fine dining experience, make a reservation at Guard and Grace. Owned by Troy Guard, the menu is comprised of an eclectic flavor spectrum, making it difficult to choose from their many tantalizing offerings.
Luckily, our waiter was well versed on the menu and suggested the perfect dishes: roasted beet and burrata salad, handmade truffle gnocchi, Alaskan black cod in sweet soy butter, and sticky toffee cake for dessert, a “congrats” dessert for my college graduation celebration.
Although our days were packed with outings and activities, we were barely able to dip our toes into the vastness that is Denver. If you’ve lived in or explored Denver, leave a comment with any recommendations and suggestions for our next visit!
Oh, and a little “mom and daughter fun” we had, in our Kimpton room!
This post is sponsored by Kimpton Hotel Monaco Denver where we stayed for 5 days! As always all opinions are my own!
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