Abroad & Travels

Travel Tips Tuesday – Denver

Welcome back to another edition of Travel Tips Tuesday, where bloggers share their must-see and must-do in cities I’ve never been to before. We chat a lot about traveling and exploring here on Positive Publicity, and there’s so much of the world we haven’t seen yet. Thankfully, we can live vicariously (and plan future trips) through some amazing bloggers who have offered to chat about some of their favorite cities.

Today’s Travel Tips Tuesday blogger is Sarah of smoorelovin, an extremely talented interactive designer, whose work you may have spotted around Philadelphia (you should definitely check out her designs here). Today, Sarah is sharing her tips on her hometown of Denver. Take it away Sarah!

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Illustration: Sarah Photo: Alex Benison

Hi, hi hi! I am so excited to share some travel tips for a visit to my home town of Denver, CO 🙂 Like Camille said, I am an Interactive Designer and all-around creative. I attribute a lot of this to the fact that I grew up in a place where the emphasis is on getting outside and seeing the beauty in the world around you.

I am going to do my best to not turn this into an Ode to Denver and why everyone should visit… but seriously – You should visit. I’ve lived a number of places, but grew up in Denver and lived there until I was 18. I can 100% say that growing up there, I inherited a deep respect for nature and the people around me. People you pass on the street will give you a smile and a “Hello there,” they hold the door and lend a helping hand at pretty much any opportunity, and best of all… there are dogs everywhere (No seriously…they are everywhere, it’s great.)

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Image via Sarah of smoorelovin

What to see and do:

Let’s start of with the must-see’s. You know, the things that people will ask you about if you tell the you just got back from a vacation in ‘X’. Then we will move into some of my personal faves:

Red Rocks Travel Time from Denver: approx 30 min. – If you haven’t heard of Red Rocks, you may live under a rock. Which is totally fine, but consider this your introduction to an incredible monument. Red Rocks was constructed as a public works project after the great depression and has since become one of the most famous music venues in the world. On top of being a great place to see a show, it’s a flat out beautiful spot for a hike. If you happen to be in town when there is a show happening, I highly recommend getting tickets, but if concerts aren’t your thing a day trip for a short hike is 100% worth it.

Glenwood Springs Travel Time from Denver: approx 2.5 hours. – The hot springs are something that I have found myself longing for on a fairly regular basis since moving. This may not be at the top of everyone’s list, but it is seriously worth venturing out of the city if you have a spare day or two on your trip! Glenwood Springs is a giant man-made pool filled by natural hot springs. It will smell a little funny, but dannnng are those pools good for your skin! Also a great way to relax your body if you have taken part in any of the awesome outdoor activities Colorado offers. There are some great spas in the area as well that utilize the springs and their natural healing properties.

The Highlands  – Not to be confused with the suburban city of Highlands Ranch, the Highlands is a Denver neighborhood that has grown into an awesome shopping and dining area. This is a great spot to go for an afternoon of shopping, followed by drinks and dinner (See rec’s in the next section.)

Union Station – What used to be an old transit station has been transformed into a pretty incredible hotel and food hub. In high school I used to go to Union Station to take photos because of its’ beautiful architecture and the cool ‘Union Station’ sign on top…now I got to grab a drink at the Terminal Bar or for breakfast at Snooze. When the space was transformed, they did an incredible job restoring the building, and the natural light will blow your mind. Added bonus: there is a hotel attached, so if you are looking for a place to stay that’s always an option!

LoDo – The Lower Downtown Denver District technically encompasses Union Station. It’s the definitely where the heart of Denver’s downtown district started. Coor’s field is in the area along with a number of historic hotels and buildings. There are a lot of bars and restaurants in the area, but fair warning the bars can be a little bro-y on a Friday or Saturday night.

Washington Park – Personal opinion – all the cool kids are hangin’ out at Washington Park on a sunny afternoon with beers and a frisbee. I would recommend checking out one of the breweries in the area, grabbing a 6 pack and then heading over to the park to relax and sip on your local brews (I also recommend having a non-glass container to put them in.)

RiNo – The River North Art District is a great area if you are looking to support local artists, and even better if you’re trip falls on first Friday. Lots of galleries to wander, and their website is kept pretty well updated with upcoming events.

Botanic Gardens – The Denver Botanic Gardens are pretty beautiful. They are nestled near the Cherry Creek Shopping District so there’s a little something for everyone!

Twist & Shout – Twist & Shout is an awesome, Independently owned, record store. The place has been around since before I was born and has a pretty big selection.

Tattered Cover – Before the days of Amazon, finding specific books could get a little bit tricky. Tattered Cover was the bookstore to hit. Every time my grandparents visited from Nashville my grandpa would spend an entire day there, which usually ended with them shipping him a number of books.

Casa Bonita – If you have kids (or maybe if you don’t) Casa Bonita is the spot to hit up. It was kind of the independent Chuck-E-Cheese of back in the day. Ask anyone who grew up in the area and they can probably recount watching the cliff divers at birthday parties as a kid!

Museums/Attractions

If you love going to museums, or if you are super into western American history, there are tons of spots to check out in and around Denver. Here’s a list of a few of my favorites:

  • Denver Art Museum
  • Aquarium
  • Museum of Nature & Science
  • Elitch Gardens Theme Park
  • Lakeside
  • The Big Blue Bear at the convention center

Going Out

Both of these places are great for a night out/dancing, one is bigger and one is more intimate.

  • Herbs Hideout << smaller
  • Mile High Spirits << bigger
  • Larimer Square: A good place to start the night, lots of restaurants to choose from for dinner and drinks, also a good place to walk around in the afternoon
  • Broadway: There are tons of bars on Broadway if you are looking to check out morethan one in a night and want them closer together.
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Image via Sarah of smoorelovin

Where to eat:

General Spots to Hit

  • The Brown Palace: Brunch – or tea if you’re brunch list is full!
  • Steuben’s: Great for Lunch or Dinner
  • Beast + Bottle: Tons of Locally Sourced goodies!
  • Ophelia’s: Can take you from Brunch all the way through happy hour to dinner
  • WaterCourse: For any veg peoples out there
  • Recess Beer Garden
  • Populist: For fancy cocktails
  • The Matchbox: Bocce and an awesome happy hour
  • Avanti: Shipping Container-turned-food hall with a rooftop beer garden

Breweries
Colorado is filled to the brim with breweries because of the clean water that runs down from the mountains, here are a few of my favorites:

  • STEM Ciders
  • Grandma’s House
  • Denver Brew Co.
  • Renegade Brewing Co.
  • Lost Highway
  • Tivoli Brewing Co.

If you go to the Highlands 

  • Little Man Ice Cream
  • William’s & Graham for drinks
  • Walk in anywhere for din! There are so many places to choose from

If you go to Union Station:

  • Breakfast at Snooze. Absolutely prepare yourself to wait for a table,
     but it’s one of those things you should do once.
  • Burgers at ACME.
  • Drinks at the Terminal Bar.

If you go to Washington Park:

  • Bonnie Brae Ice Cream ❤

Why you love this city:

Having moved away for college and then staying in Philly post-grad, I have watched the transformation of Denver from afar. I have smiled when I hear people recounting their visit with the awe that I know my home can easily bring about. I have been a little sad to go back and not recognize some of my favorite areas, but hey I can’t blame people for wanting to live in the most perfect state ever (which obviously means lots of growth and exciting things.) Also, did I mention that Denver/Colorado get more sunny days than any other state? Yup! Beautiful blue skies and sunshine, even on winter days when it snows.

Anything else we should know?:
Denver is SUPER casual. You can wear jeans pretty much everywhere, and I guarantee 90% of the people you pass on the street will be wearing either work out clothes or hiking gear. Also, do not underestimate the power of the sun, I highly recommend sunscreen and sunglasses if you plan on being out and about…and also water. The Mile High City can have a bit of a drying effect if you aren’t accustomed!

Honestly, I could go on forever, there are so many things to see in Denver and we didn’t even really talk about the mountains! I hope these tips help you get the feel of all Denver has to offer, and please feel free to ask me anything 🙂

P.S. keep an eye out for the creepy blue mustang statue at the airport.

Thanks for sharing Sarah! Don’t forget to follow her on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Pinterest @smoorelovin for more.

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