3 Days in Denver: What to see, eat, & do in the Mile High City
Updated: Jan 12, 2019
Any of my Snapchat friends or Instagram followers might have noticed that I ventured out west to Denver, Colorado last June. It's been almost a year since the trip, but I have so many lasting memories from it (I still talk about what we did while we were there!) It was a short three-day trip that was jam-packed with outdoor adventures, delicious food, cold drinks, beautiful scenery, and many unforgettable moments.
This was definitely a last-minute trip. The flight, hotel, and rental car were all booked on a Monday, and my boyfriend and I were westbound the Thursday night of that same week. Most of the long weekend was spent checking out various joints (no pun intended - hehe!) in the bustling city or way up in the majestic Rocky Mountains. And despite having little to no time to plan out a travel itinerary, we found plenty of exciting experiences and events to completely fill up our time there. Here is a list of some of our stops and adventures (and a few things I’d do if I ever go back) - just in case you ever find yourself in the Mile High City!
Things to do:
Red Rock Amphitheater
As I mentioned, we flew into Denver late on a Thursday night and basically just hit the hay as soon as we arrived at our hotel. The next morning, however, we were up bright and early and we were ready to go! First thing we did Friday morning was head to Red Rock Amphitheater. It would have been cool to catch a show at dusk while we were there, but time is pretty limited when you only have three days to explore an entire city! Nonetheless, it was still incredible to see the rock formations and how they’ve built a concert venue in the middle of them! There’s even a few short hiking trails around the amphitheater if you suddenly feel adventurous while you’re there. Definitely a “must-see” that’s just outside of the city!
Coors Brewery Tour
After doing some hiking at the Red Rocks, we decided that we had earned some drinks! So we headed just a little bit north to Golden, Colorado and stopped for a tour of the Coors Brewery. For the tour, you park in the designated lot and then wait outside for a shuttle to take you over to the brewery. The wait was excessive (about an hour and a half long!), and I’ll admit, there were a few times I wondered if it was truly worth it, but the tour is totally free (and so are the three full glasses of beer you get to taste while you hang out in the Coors Lounge!) The tour is also self-guided, so you can spend as much time going through it as you want.
Walk down 16th Street
Before we left for Denver, I attempted to look up some cool things to see while in the city. During my research I came across a suggestion: Do some shopping at Larimer Square. I can rarely say no to shopping, but I have to say that I was pretty disappointed with Larimer Square. To be honest, the shops were a bit out of my price-range, and it wasn’t exactly the shopping-experience I was expecting. Although, the disappointment did lead us into a walk down 16th Street. The street was alive with music, food, diverse people, and the kind of shopping I was looking for as a tourist. We were so intrigued by everything going on that we ended up walking all the way down to the State Capitol! If you want a taste of Denver’s city life, I definitely recommend a walk down this street. And if your feet start hurting halfway through, hop on the city’s Free Mall Ride; the totally free bus service will take you from the Civic Center to Union Station, making multiple stops along the way.
As I said before, this trip was filled with plenty of cold drinks! I read about Wynkoop Brewery before we left for the trip, so we stumbled into it Friday night while exploring the downtown area. We put this on our list of places to go because of one brew that they make in particular: The Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout. I won’t get into what “Rocky Mountain Oysters” are, so for those of you who don’t know - I suggest you do a Google search before you go try it!
Here are the brews we tried while we were there (I’d say they were all pretty good!):
-Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout
-Mile High Pale Ale
-Kitten On Your Neck
-Cowtown Milk Stout
Howl at the Moon Piano Bar
If you’re looking to experience more of the “nightlife scene” while you are visiting Denver and you’re a fan of piano bars, I’d highly suggest this place. It was hopping on the Friday night we were there, and they even host themed nights (i.e. 90’s Night)! I’ve also learned that there is more than one Howl at the Moon in the United States - there are actually 17 spread out all over the country! If drinks and dancing start calling your name while you’re visiting Denver, definitely check this place out!
Coors Field Tour
I will admit that this activity wasn’t my idea (travel buddies and all, you know ;)), but I am so glad we did this! My boyfriend and I were actually hoping to catch a Rockies game, but they were playing out of town all weekend, so we settled for a guided tour of Coors Field. For only $10 the tour takes you through the beer garden at the top of the stadium, several conference rooms, the press box, locker room, and it even ends on the field! You’ll also learn some pretty cool facts about the stadium and the Rockies’s team history. My only complaint was that they weren’t selling beer during the tour!
Rocky Mountain National Park
Hiking while you’re in Colorado is kind of a given, and if you’re looking for some diverse hiking trails, Rocky Mountain National Park seems like the best place to go! The main park entrance is located about an hour drive northwest of Denver. The park is huge and there are a bunch of different types and lengths of trails you can hike through. (Here’s a list of some of the trails.) We wanted to do one of the Summit Trails so we could say we climbed a mountain while we were in Colorado, so we parked by the Bear Lake trailhead and then made our trek up Flattop Mountain Trail. We hiked about halfway (through snow and along a few scary ledges) before having to turn around out of fear of getting stuck in the Rocky Mountains after dark. We got up to an altitude of about 10,200 feet above sea level! The views were absolutely breathtaking! We may not have made it all the way to Flattop Mountain, but I’d say we can still count it as “climbing a mountain.”
Walk through Denver’s Art District
If you’re looking to explore more of Denver, drive and park somewhere around 9th and Santa Fe and take a stroll around Denver’s Art District! Denver is colored with street art, and its Art District is alive with colorful murals and culture. There are also plenty of restaurants and unique shops for you to stop in along the way!
Wings Over the Rockies
If you have an interest in science, space, engineering and war history, or if you’re a bit of a nerd (like I am!), then you’ll definitely have an appreciation for Denver’s Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum. The museum’s mission is to educate people about aviation and space endeavors. They have numerous aircraft exhibits and tons of information on space and rocketry. This was an awesome low-key activity that we ended our weekend in Denver doing.
What to eat:
Not exaggerating here - this may have been the best brunch place I have ever stepped foot into. The food (and mimosas!) and the atmosphere was amazing! There are a few different locations around the city - we went to the one inside of Union Station. If you ever plan on grabbing a bite to eat here (which I highly suggest you do if you’re visiting Denver), just be prepared for the wait. We waited well over an hour, but they text you when your table is almost ready, so you’re welcome to do a little exploring in Union Station or even around the downtown area if you feel so inclined. And like I said, the food is phenomenal, so it’s well-worth the wait!
Little Man Ice Cream
Okay, anyone who knows me knows that ice cream is my greatest weakness. I even struggle to say “no” to getting ice cream from McDonald’s, so after reading a few blogs about this local favorite in Denver, I was all in. Little Man Ice Cream located in a very “hipster” part of Denver (which I loved!) and their fresh, homemade ice cream definitely lived up to all the hype! I learned that it’s a very popular joint - We actually lucked out and didn’t have to wait in line at all when we went, but later on in our trip, we happened to drive past and the line for it was around the corner of the next street! Definitely stop here if you’re visiting the city on a hot, summer day, but maybe do what we did (got a bit British and ate our ice cream dessert before a real meal).
Linger is located right next to Little Man Ice Cream (talk about convenient!) We actually got to the restaurant during Happy Hour (they were having specials on drinks and there’s a different menu to order from), but after trying a few of the orderves that they were serving at that time, I’m pretty positive that you couldn’t go at a “bad time.” However, if you are there during happy hour, I’d suggest trying their Korean BBQ Tacos, Lemongrass Pork Potstickers, or the Devils on Horseback. Just don’t forget the sangria to go with it! ;)
I’ve had quite a few doughnuts throughout my life, and I’d like to think I know a good doughnut when I eat it. This is a chain mostly on the west coast that I had heard about from some of my college friends who have moved out that way since graduating. The pictures I’ve seen of their doughnuts have always looked so delicious so I was so excited to see that Denver had a VooDoo Doughnuts - I had to try it for myself! It’s open 24 hours, so after our shenanigans at the piano bar, we picked up some doughnuts at 2am on our way back to the hotel. Getting the original VooDoo Doll was a given, but I have to say that nothing compared to their Old Dirty Bastard (topped with oreos and peanut butter) or their Chuckles (chocolate, nuts, and caramel - basically a Snickers bar) doughnuts. Mmm mmm! (My mouth started watering as I typed that.)
After our 80 minute tour of Coors Field, we headed across the street to Viewhouse to fuel up before adventuring on to our Rocky Mountain hike. Viewhouse is definitely named for its view of - not only of Coors Field - but of the entire Denver city skyline. If you can snag a table on the rooftop, I highly recommend it! They have great food and a chill “millennial vibe.” Feel free to play a round or two of bags outside on their porch before or after you eat your meal!
As I said before, three days is not a lot of time to experience everything that a city has to offer. While I don’t have any immediate plans to visit Denver again, I have already started to put together a “Denver Bucket-List” of places and things I’d like to do the next time I’m there:
Hike earlier in the day and spend all day in the mountains (bring more appropriate gear!)
See the Rockies play a game at Coors Field
Catch a show at dusk or jump into a yoga session at Red Rock Amphitheater
Stroll through the Denver Botanical Gardens
Visit in the winter and go skiing in the mountains
I definitely loved every moment of this trip! Let me know in the comments if you've ever been to the Mile High City and what you love about it! As always,
thanks for reading!