After 2016, travel to Denver by air got much easier, as the city opened the A Line that runs from Denver International Airport right to downtown. Previously, that part of the trip had felt like an interstate journey all by itself, especially for uninitiated drivers, but now the rail drops travelers into the heart of one of premier entertainment districts on a Denver vacation.
Denver functions as a hub for Colorado vacation travel with its proximity to skiing, camping, hunting, fishing and other outdoor activity destinations, as well as the world-famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre. The city also boasts one of the country’s best microbrewery cultures, new distilleries and a food scene that has drawn much-deserved international attention in the past decade. Denver is also known as a sports town, and the excellent public transportation makes it easy to catch a game.
Where to Stay
The Maven Hotel is a standout lodging option. The 172-room boutique hotel is spacious and well-lit — much of it natural light — and boasts one of the most striking bars in the city in the Poka Lola Social Club. Brilliant modern design meets old world charm all through the hotel, and the touches of art throughout feel as if they’re part of the hotel and not an afterthought. The Maven’s location puts you adjacent to some of Denver’s busiest attractions, including Coors Field and the LoDo and LoHi neighborhoods.
What to do
Larimer Square, which is walking distance from The Maven, is an historic street — Denver’s first commercial district — featuring buildings that date to the city’s founding. Now the district is full of restaurants, bars and entertainment options, plus enough boutiques and specialty shops for a full day of shopping.
Denver’s weather is famously mild (most of the time) from spring through fall, so take advantage of comfortable temps and beautiful blue skies to go on a 4-mile outdoor art excursion with 40 West Artline. You can also rent bikes and hit the paths to enjoy fence art, murals, sculptures and even some interactive exhibits.
Like many cities in the United States, Denver has its own checkered past with the city’s Black residents. In 2002, Five Points Historic Cultural District, a historically Black neighborhood, was declared a historic district, and residents and organizations have worked hard to turn it into an educational destination as well as an entertainment district. The absolute must-do is the Rossonian Hotel, which was the gathering place for the best jazz musicians of the age.
History nerds of all kinds will love Molly Brown’s House, an anchor of Historic Denver. Once home to Titanic survivor (yes, the unsinkable woman) Molly Brown, the house now tells the story of Brown’s lifelong advocacy for women’s rights and against poverty.
Day trips are made easy in this neck of the woods. Denver is close enough to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park and Boulder that it would be a shame not to take at least one day trip to these stunning locations. Whether you want to shop or dine in Boulder and Estes Park or see all the natural beauty on display in Rocky Mountain National Park, the trip can be done and have you back at the hotel in time for dinner.
Where to Eat
Frasca is a partnership between Chef Lachlan Patterson and master sommelier Bobby Stuckey, who opened the restaurant as a way to showcase wine and food from Italy’s Friuli region. The best experience is just to purchase one of the tasting menu options and trust these two experts to guide you through their favorite food and wine region of Italy.
Safta is another excellent choice. Chef Alon Shaya brought Israeli cuisine to Denver in 2018 when he opened Safta in the RiNo neighborhood. The lamb shank is the star of the menu, but take the culinary journey with baba ghanoush, fresh pita and hummus first.
If Frasca belongs on the Mount Rushmore of Denver dining, Ultreia, a Spanish and Portuguese tapas joint, deserves space alongside it. Jennifer Jasinski and Beth Gruitch have created a brilliant culinary experience around food that is as beautiful and striking as the mural and terrazzo flooring that are the backdrops for this excursion through southern Europe.