Denver is known as one of the craft beer capitals of the country, and its stance on cannabis makes it a popular spot for those who wish to indulge. But this former gold-mining town is made up of more than its vices, with notable museums, world-class music venues and more restaurants than you could explore in a lifetime. A few days here isn't enough to see all that this city offers, but it's a start.


Situated one mile (5,280 feet, or 1,609.3 meters) above sea level, Denver has been one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States for the past several years. Known for its outdoor recreation and laid-back vibe, Colorado's capital has moved into the 21st century while retaining some of its Wild West charm. 


Day 1: The Lowdown on LoDo

Union Lodge No. 1 via Facebook


Snooze

Fuel up before you head out

Denver’s lower downtown (LoDo) neighborhood is hopping, with plenty of shopping, restaurants and cafes to keep you busy. Head to Snooze at the gorgeous Union Station for a hearty breakfast that’ll keep you moving. This popular spot is always busy, with people sipping Bloody Marys on the patio before digging into dishes like sweet potato pancakes and breakfast tacos. Put your name on the list and stroll around the recently renovated Union Station to work up an appetite while you wait for your table.

Where: 1701 Wynkoop St., ste. 150, Denver, CO

When: Daily, 6:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
More info: +1 303-
825-3536; snoozeeatery.com

 

The Brown Palace Hotel

Historic downtown digs


The second-oldest hotel in Denver, The Brown Palace reigns like a dowager duchess over downtown. Built in 1892, it remains a bastion of elegance and old-world charm with plenty of modern amenities tastefully integrated. Many famous people have passed through these halls, including enough U.S. presidents to count on two hands and Denver’s favorite heroine, the “Unsinkable” Molly Brown. Enjoy a traditional afternoon tea experience, or head to the The Ship’s Tavern, which was opened to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition. Yes, there are newer and more modern hotels all over the city, but you can’t beat the Brown for a taste of Denver history.

Where: 321 17th St., Denver, CO
More info: +1 303-297-3111; brownpalace.com

 

Tattered Cover

Wander the stacks at this indie bookstore 


You can tell a lot about a city by visiting its institutions. The Tattered Cover, an independently owned bookstore that sells new and used books, has been a staple in Denver life since 1971. You’ll discover plenty of cozy nooks and entire shelves devoted to Colorado authors or niche guidebooks that will inspire adventures like bagging one of Colorado’s 14ers (peaks more than 14,000 feet above sea level — there are more than 50 in the state). Though there are now several Tattered Covered stores in the city, including one inside Denver International Airport, the LoDo location is one of the best.

Where: 1628 16th St., Denver,
CO 
When: Mon.-Fri., 6:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
More info: +1 
303-436-1070; tatteredcover.com

 

Union Lodge No. 1

Drink like Denver’s forefathers 


Tucked away from the busy 16th Street Mall, Union Lodge No. 1 is a speakeasy without the password. The cozy space serves 19th-century-inspired cocktails such as the Knickerbocker. Curl up on one of the couches, belly up to the bar or perch at a high top and pick your poison. Overwhelmed? The bartenders are pros at pairing patrons with their new favorite drinks.

Where: 1543 Champa St., Denver, CO

When: Daily, 5 p.m.-close
More info: +1 
720-389-0447; unionlodge1.com

 

Day 2: Culture Vulture

Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre via Facebook


Museum of Contemporary Art

Get yourself some art

 

There are lots of museums in Denver — but if you have time for just one, make it the Museum of Contemporary Art. Exhibits rotate, but you’ll find a wide range of artistic experimentation, like the giant Sunshine and Its Shadow installation from street artist Pose, which greets you when you enter.

Where: 1485 Delgany St., Denver, CO

When: Tues.-Thurs., noon-7 p.m.; Fri., noon-9 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
More info: +1 
303-298-7554; mcadenver.org


 

Coors Field

America’s favorite game in one of its most beautiful stadiums


There’s no dearth of professional sports teams in Denver. Coors Field is home to the Colorado Rockies MLB team — and while they’re not always at the top of the rankings, there’s no better place to while away a summer afternoon than at the stadium. Grab a cheap seat on the Rockpile (tickets are $6 at the gate) or pay a bit more (tickets start at $14) and head to the Rooftop. This new space in the upper right field deck with three bars and restaurants provides panoramic views of downtown Denver and the Rocky Mountains. 

Where: 2001 Blake St., Denver, CO

When: See schedule online
More info: +1 
303-292-0200; colorado.rockies.mlb.com


 

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Nature’s most amazing concert venue


For many musicians, playing Red Rocks is a career high — and not just because it sits 6,400 feet above sea level. This open-air venue in Morrison (about 20 minutes from downtown) is like no other. The eponymous red rocks jut skyward, creating natural acoustics that have been delighting performers for more than 100 years. Any show here is good, so check the schedule and make plans. Can’t swing a concert? Visit when the schedule is clear and you can scale the steps for a fantastic view or stride the stage, walking where musical legends have played. 

Where: 18300 W. Alameda Pkwy., Morrison, CO
When: See calendar online
More info: +1 720-865-2494; redrocksonline.com

 

Day 3: Alphabet Soup 

LoDo, RiNo, LoHi, SoBro, NoDo, SoCo…

Avanti via Website


Beers on Broadway

You can’t visit Denver without sampling some of its craft beers. Walk down South Broadway (SoBro) between 5th and Alameda Avenues and check out vintage boutiques, bookstores, cafes, stellar restaurants and intimate music venues before visiting breweries like TRVE, Baere and the new Banded Oak. Each has its own personality — TRVE favors heavy metal music, while Baere attracts a lot of folks with facial hair  and each is worth a trip as you soak up the scene. 

 

RiNo Arts District

Denver’s creative hub


It’s amazing the difference a few years can make. Located a mile from downtown, RiNo (short for River North) is where Denver’s creative minds gather. Colorful street art pops from walls, rentable studio spaces occupy glass-fronted buildings, and galleries hold court among breweries and restaurants. Visit on the first Friday of every month from 6 to 9 p.m. for special exhibitions and live music. 

 

Avanti

Seven restaurants in one building


Located in LoHi, aka Lower Highlands, Avanti is a modern-day food hall with seven restaurants operating out of its shipping-container-based building. Happy hour is an opportune time to visit so you can take advantage of food and drink specials. The rooftop bar offers stellar views of Denver’s skyline while you sip a cocktail, wine or beer (Dogfish Head features prominently on the menu). Do a lap before you commit to a cuisine: You have a lot of options, from burgers and pasta to shawarma and sushi. 

Where: 3200 N. Pecos St., Denver, CO 

When: Mon.-Thurs. & Sun., 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Thurs.-Sat., 11 a.m.-1 a.m.
More info: +1 
720-269-4778; avantifandb.com


By Katie Coakley

Denver-based writer Katie Coakley is a craft beer drinker, inveterate traveler and outdoor adventurer. She's just as happy sleeping on a portaledge as in a five-star hotel. You can follow her travels on Instagram.