6/21/2019 11 Comments
Weekend Guide to Denver, Colorado
One of my travel goals this past year has been to visit more major US cities. Surprisingly, Denver hadn't even crossed my mind until my husband said he wanted to visit the mountains. We had a flight credit from our trip to Hawaii earlier this year and when we found a deal we couldn't pass up we booked a weekend to the Mile High City. And wow I'm so glad we did! This city had so many great things to offer and checked so many things off our travel list - hiking, beer, and baseball! We had almost four full days in Denver and were committed to making the most of our time and squeezing in as much adventure as possible.
We found a great Air BnB located just 10 minutes outside the city which was a perfect home base. We also rented a car which I highly recommend if you plan to explore Rocky Mountain National Park or any of the smaller surrounding towns. If you're staying right downtown and don't plan to go far you can get away without one. Denver has a great public bus system as well as Bird scooters and ride share.
We had an early flight out of Chicago and with the time change we landed in Denver around 9:00 a.m. with a whole day ahead of us. We couldn't check into our Air BnB until 3:00 p.m. that afternoon, so after picking up our rental car we hit the road for Golden, Colorado - home of Coors Brewery - the largest single-site brewery in the world. Tours begin with a bus ride to the brewery from the visitor parking lot on 13th & Ford Street. Unfortunately, there are no advance tickets available for purchase so be prepared to wait or arrive right when they open. We waited about an hour and half before boarding the bus and heading to the brewery facility for an inside look at the malting, brewing and packaging processes on the same ground where Adolph Coors first opened the doors in 1873. The tour is self-guided with a radio headset that guides you through the facility. The tour costs $10 per person for those 21+ which also includes a commemorative beer glass and three 8oz samples at the end of the tour.
We wrapped up the tour around lunch time and decided to explore historic downtown Golden to find a place to eat. After walking around for a bit we ended up deciding on Woody's Wood Fired Pizza and Watering Hole for their all you can eat soup, salad, and pizza buffet. There are also a number of breweries downtown Golden if you're looking to cool off with a cold beer including Golden City and Barrels & Bottles.
After freshening up at our Air BnB we were ready to explore downtown Denver's LoDo neighborhood and Skyline Beer Garden was our first stop. Located in the middle of the city, this was a beer drinker's paradise. In addition to beer, food trucks and live music, you could spend all evening here playing corn hole, ping pong, and mini golf. We had a late lunch and decided to go straight for dessert at the Cheesecake Factory before walking through the shops and famous string lit streets of Larimer Square. We had also planned to grab drinks on the rooftop bar at 54 Thirty but after a long day of travel decided to call it a night early.
Our second day in Denver started bright and early with breakfast at Denver Biscuit Company offering a variety of delicious biscuit sandwiches as well as their famous biscuit cinnamon roll. Be sure to also try the Colorado honey on your biscuit - so good! There are multiple DBC locations throughout the city but we went to the one on Tennyson street which was only a couple miles from our Air BnB (and I'm so glad we did). This was the cutest neighborhood with tons of street art, a book bar, and a number of shops. Don't miss the photo op with the sunflower field mural located outside Tesoro, the floral butterfly wings, and Toms LOVE peace sign.
Around 9:00 a.m. we hit the road for Rocky Mountain National Park which is located only an hour and half from Denver. As much as I travel, I had never been to a National Park before and was excited to check this one off my list. And boy have I been missing out all these years! Rocky Mountain National Park was absolutely breathtaking - I've never seen anything like it before. We only had an afternoon to enjoy the beauty of the park so we tried to pack in as much adventure as possible in a short amount of time. Click here to read my day trip guide to Rocky Mountain National Park including the best hikes, scenic drives, and Estes Park stops.
One of the other main reasons we decided to book this trip was because the Chicago Cubs were playing the Colorado Rockies at home and my husband is a huge fan. We had tickets to the game at night and planned to make a full day out of it exploring downtown Denver. We started our morning at one of our favorite breakfast spots when traveling out west - Snooze an A.M. Eatery! This place is always packed but if you go early enough you won't have to worry about a wait. They are known for their unique pancake flavors and have a flight option that allows you to try multiple different cakes.
After breakfast, our first activity of the day was a tour of Coors Field. They offer multiple tour times each day and for only $12 you can get an hour and twenty minute behind-the-scenes look at the facility as well a chance to step foot on the field. Our tour guides were great and shared so many interesting facts about the field and the franchise. One of the most unique aspects of Coors Field is SandLot Brewery, established in 1995 it was the first brewery inside a Major League Ballpark. This is also the brewery where Blue Moon was brewed and if you want a pint of this delicious beer, you'll have to order it by it's original name, Bellyslide Ale.
Once the tour was done, we walked a few blocks to one of Denver's most iconic historic landmarks, Union Station. The railway station and transportation hub has been transformed into a gorgeous great hall featuring numerous shops, restaurants, and bars. Grab a cub of locally roasted coffee at Pigtrain Coffee, indulge your sweet tooth at Milkbox Ice Creamery, or sip on a cocktail at the dreamy Terminal Bar.
From Union Station, we hopped on the Free Mall Ride which will transport you all the way down 16th Street. You can easily hop on an off and the many shops lining the street that make up 16th Street Mall. There are also a number of restaurants and food trucks along the way if you're looking for somewhere to grab lunch. If you didn't get a chance to see Larimer Square, you can hop off at the Larimer Street stop. We rode the bus all the way to Civic Station and made the short walk to the Capitol Building. Along with stunning views of the mountains, this is also where you'll find the famous "One Mile Above Sea Level" step which makes for a perfect photo op.
The rest of our afternoon was dedicated to a brewery tour and Denver offers so many great choices. We had the summer edition of the Denver Passport Program which allows 2-for-1 drinks throughout the city. Our first stop was Great Divide Brewery which offers both an outdoor patio and indoor taproom. A few of my favorites were the Strawberry Rhubarb Sour Ale and Grapefruit Radler. From here we hopped on Bird Scooters (located everywhere throughout the city - all you need is the app) and headed for the next destination on our passport - Stem Ciders. On your way you'll pass the giant Love this City Denver mural which makes for another great photo op (2314 N Broadway). Stem Ciders was one of my favorite stops with so many delicious cider combinations, board games, and a large outdoor patio. Next, we walked across the street to Our Mutual Friend - the most colorful brewery in the city.
Time flies when you're having fun and before we knew it, it was time to hop back on our Bird scooters and head to Coors Field for the Cubs vs, Rockies game. Parking can get upwards of $50 right around the field, but if you're willing to walk a few miles we found a lot for only $5. Even though the Cubs didn't take home the win, Coors Field offers stunning views of the mountains and an affordable (and fun) way to spend an evening. In fact, "Rock Pile" seating, located in center field, retails at $4 for adults, and $1 for children under 12 and adults over the age of 55.
Our flight home didn't leave until later this evening so we still had a full day left to explore! After breakfast at our Air BnB, we hit the road for Red Rocks - an open-air amphitheater built into a rock structure about 10 minutes outside of Denver. They regularly host concerts and other events on site so be sure to check the schedule prior to your visit to see if there's something that might interest you. If you just plan to take in the gorgeous views, and maybe do some hiking, be sure to get their early as the amphitheater closes at 2:00 p.m. on concert days. You can also dine between two massive boulders at Ship Rock Grill open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Concerting goers can also make reservations for a preconcert meal. We only had a few hours to explore, so after climbing the famous amphitheater steps and taking the views we headed down to hike Trading Post Trail - a 1.5 mile loop trail that offers stunning views of 10 of the parks most popular rock formations. The trail is easily accessible and suitable for all fitness levels with moderate elevation changes.
After working up a sweat, we headed back toward downtown Denver to cool off with Little Man Ice Cream. Easily the most popular ice cream spot in Denver, the 28 foot tall cream can is hard to miss. We tried to stop here on Sunday evening but the line was wrapped around the block. Thankfully, when we went back on an off day we were able to walk right up to the counter and order a scoop of their delicious homemade flavors in a fresh waffle cone. Enjoy your ice cream on the adorable cobblestone plaza that also hosts a variety of events throughout the summer.
For our last meal of the day we decided on Avanti Food & Beverage which is right around the corner from Little Man. This was honestly one of my favorite stops of the whole trip and a unique culinary experience. The modern day food hall offers seven different restaurants options, two bars and a rooftop deck with gorgeous views of the city. We decided on the Firebird sandwich from Chicken Rebel with a local peach cider and relaxed for a few hours on the patio. The top floor is also home to another #WhatLiftsYou mural by Kelsey Montague.
We still had some time to kill before we headed back to the airport so we made a quick stop at the National Ballpark Museum located right next to Coors Field which offered a look into the history and memorabilia from all of the classic ballparks. It was a quick tour and only took around 30 minutes to walk through, but if you're a baseball fan and love history it's definitely worth a stop.
9/22/2020 04:13:02 pm
Such a fun city - definitely worth the trip!
9/22/2020 04:07:25 pm
Thanks, Anna! I'm so glad you found it helpful. We loved our trip to Denver.
10/15/2020 09:00:05 am
Please tell me where that beautiful butterfly wall art is. I am in Colorado now and would love to get a pic of that
10/15/2020 09:05:33 am
Hi Sue - the butterfly wings were located right down the street from Denver Biscuit Company on Tennyson Street!
4/11/2021 02:01:39 pm
I read that Denver was voted the best place to live in America in the 2016 US News and World Report. And I think, this article proves it.
3/11/2022 09:05:01 am
We waited about an hour and half before boarding the bus and heading to the brewery facility for an inside look at the malting, Thank you for sharing your great post!
4/28/2022 01:29:44 pm
This was a beer drinker's paradise. In addition to beer, food trucks and live music, you could spend all evening here playing corn hole, ping pong, Thank you for making this such an awesome post!
1/2/2023 11:14:16 pm
Great blog you havee here
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I love creating detailed travel guides to ensure you get the most out of your time. On this blog I'll be sharing some of my past trips in hopes that it helps you plan your next adventure. Pack your suitcase you never know where I'll be heading next!
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