2019 is proving to be the year of domestic travel for me so I'm back again with a quick city overview. So I'm adding to my "Quick Trip" travel posts, and this time we are heading out for 72-hours in the Denver!
My partner and I celebrated our first anniversary together in the "Mile-High City"! We wanted this weekend to be about food and fun so we didn't have a set agenda. I arrived the day before he did since he had to finish up a few things with work. This gave me time to settle into the hotel, catch up with a few girlfriends, and adjust to the altitude.
When I arrived at the airport, I took the 30-ish minute rail ride straight into Union Station. It's only $10 and it lands you right in the heart of the city so you're pretty centrally located for wherever your trip ends up taking you.
Union Station is a great pausing point before you head in to the city, they have a little bit of everything inside! They have a hotel, a variety of shops, ice cream, along with several bars and restaurants.
We stayed at the Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center Hotel so it was a quick 10 minute walk or a 7 minute Lyft ride from Union Station. The hotel is Denver’s former Colorado National Bank building and is absolutely stunning from top to bottom.
The decor is banking inspired with a modern twist, their lobby even features three original bank vaults that are utilized for private dining and meetings!
We booked ourselves into a room; I later found out my partner let them know it was our anniversary so they sweetly upgraded our room and left us a bottle of wine to celebrate!
It's is located in the financial district of Denver, right next to the 16th Street Mall, 3 blocks from the Colorado Convention Center, and close to Coors Field, the Pepsi Center, as well as all the shops and restaurants on Larimer Square.
I started the evening meeting up with my girl Kailin over at CordiallyK, sidebar she is killing the Denver blogger scene, and she took me to Linger for tapas and drinks. The crazy thing (or creepy thing depending on how you look at it) about Linger is that it used to be a mortuary! When the space was purchased, the new owners loved the spot’s morbid history, so much so that they barely changed the rooftop sign. Formally “Olinger Mortuaries”, the owners removed the "O" and played off the word “mortuaries”. And so, “Linger Eatuaries" was born!
We ordered wayyyy more food than we realized but everything was to die for! These were seriously the best bao buns I've ever had and their chicken satay lettuce wraps were so flavorful. Kailin was dying for their cheese curds and orange-habañero jam! We enjoyed great drinks, bonded with our waiter over Hogwarts houses, and left with full bellies!
The next morning I headed to Snooze AM Eatery to meet up with my friend Stefanie from university. Denver people warned me how popular this restaurant is but I was still shocked at how busy it was on a Friday morning! Head there early and be prepared to wait but it is definitely worth it.
I got the breakfast tacos (I forgot how much I missed good tacos living in the PNW) and the most delicious drink called the "Abri-ca-lav-ra Mimosa". The 1960's diner vibe is perfect for a casual catch up paired with great food and awesome service.
Right next to Linger you'll see a large, 28ft old cream can. Inside it is "Denver's tastiest and freshest homemade ice cream, novelties, and other scrumptious treats", Little Man Ice Cream.
When we arrived at Linger the night before, the line was wrapped around the entire building! Thankfully I came around mid-day, when it was 94º so I think that's why there was no line, it was too dang hot to wait. They have a great selection of flavors that get rotated often, a mix of classic and some with a twist. Not to mention they have a great variety of vegan options!
EL FIVE -
The sister restaurant to Linger, my partner booked our anniversary dinner at this Spanish & Eastern Mediterranean tapas restaurant called El Five. I was a little unimpressed walking up because the entrance is in a parking vestibule, but then they have you take an elevator up to level 5 and it all changes. Slightly noisy but full of eclectic middle eastern decor, this restaurant was clearly the hip place to be on a Friday night. I definitely recommend going in with a reservation or you could be in for a lengthy wait, even just for the bar area. Neither of us are the biggest fans of Mediterranean food, but everything they brought to the table was delicious and filling for tapas sizes. The service was great, offering us recommendations of what else to see and do while in town. There were gorgeous skyline views and the drinks packed a refreshing punch of flavor.
Groggy from our night of fun, we headed over to Syrup for a filling breakfast and a little hair of the dog. They have a delicious hazelnut Irish coffee and huge mimosas to get your brunch started off right. I went with the classic french toast with a side of eggs and turkey bacon. He had bacon and eggs with a side of pancake instead of toast. A simple breakfast but still delicious! I've also heard their beignets are divine so that's on the list for next time.
After a morning of beer tasting and meandering through RiNo, we wandered into Denver Central Market from some small bites to hold us over until dinner. We grabbed a yummy meat & cheese plate from Culture and drinks from Curio. The atmosphere is really laid back and it encourages you to explore the other vendor stalls, chat with strangers, and just mingle. We hung out in here for about an hour just enjoying the vibe.
We spent the day trying beer and cider so when we got back to the hotel all I wanted was some good drunk comfort food. Based on the recommendation of our bartender at Cooper Lounge, we went with Marquis Pizza. It took a little over an hour for it to arrive at the hotel but it was great New York style pizza. Their "Jane Dough" garlic knots are awesome too! I don't have a picture because by the time we got it I was starving & we scarfed it down.
I mentioned a few of the drinks we had at restaurants above, but here I've dedicated this list to places we went specifically to get our booze on! Most of this drinking was done in the RiNo (River North) area. This is Denver's arts district and houses most of their craft breweries so it's like getting drinks with a view all-in-one!
Willams & Graham -
Tucked inside a corner bookshop, this prohibition speakeasy is a must see for tourists and locals alike. Be prepared for a wait, but when it's your turn you'll be escorted through a trick bookcase and feel transported into another era.
I'm not a huge beer drinker, it's just too heavy for me, but my partner loves it! I planned a beer tasting day for us in the RiNo (River North) area. Ratio was our first stop and it did not disappoint. The atmosphere was awesome; the outdoor area has misting machines attached to their twinkly lights, tables with ample seating, and puppies were everywhere! The beer was awesome, we got a pale ale and an IPA for him, a rye scotch ale for me and two standard ales for us to share. I loved the rye scotch ale; infused with coffee for added flavor, it was perfect!
After Ratio we headed over to Stem Cider so my taste buds could have a little treat. I wasn't too fond of the atmosphere, it seemed very clique-ish to where it didn't encourage chatting with strangers or a community vibe. I did love the fact that they had a great selection of board games that anyone can play. We grabbed the fruity flight which came with the rosé, hibiscus, pear, and raspberry flavored dry cider. They were good, not great or super impressed, but I wasn't mad about it either.
Stop #3 on our booze cruise was Our Mutual Friend Brewing Company. Like Ratio, the vibe of this place really was about a fun community, great beer, and good food. The food isn't from OMF specifically but they have a few food trucks around their taproom and a delicious barbecue restaurant right next door. Whatever you're eating you can bring inside or grab a table in their outdoor area if the sun is shining. Another flight for us, we got an IPA and a Porter for him, and an English-style mild and a sour ale for me. We both loved the Porter so much that we got a full sized one after we finished the flight!
Located inside Union Station, this bar is right next to the hotel on the second floor. I was shocked when I realized how quiet it was, as if all the sound of the bustling station below us died off before it reached our ears. My partner asked for the bartender to surprise him with an off-menu drink and I got a delicious peach infused whiskey cocktail. We got caught up in a thunderstorm on our walk over so we hung out in here for a little over an hour until the rain died down. It was a relaxed vibe, gorgeous art-deco decor, and the drinks were delicious.
Our hotel was pretty centrally located but the thing I loved about Denver is how walkable the city is. Most neighborhoods are within a mile to a mile and a half, an easy walk when the weather cooperates. The best part about walking, especially if you're hanging out in the RiNo (River North) or LoDo (Lower Downtown) areas, there are AMAZING murals to see. I was blown away by the artistic expression in this town.
If you're not into walking or are in more of a hurry, Denver is practically littered with rentable e-scooters. I can't remember seeing a street that didn't have at least 3-5 of them just chilling on the sidewalk, waiting for a rider. Of course Lyft and Uber are available everywhere. Use the code "ERYNNE20760" for a discount of your first ride with Lyft!
I know it's called the "Mile-High City" but the altitude in Denver is no joke! It didn't effect my partner as much as it did me but even my friends who live here talk about how it can change things, especially when it comes to drinking.
Drinking alcohol changes the way your body normally uses oxygen. At higher altitudes, pressure is reduced which also reduces the ability for your blood to absorb oxygen. This means the effect of alcohol at high altitudes is much more pronounced than at sea level. The effects of one drink can be magnified 2 to 3 times over the effects the same drink would have at sea level. Remember to pace yourself, hydrate, and enjoy!
I mentioned how the altitude can effect your drinking, but it can cause other changes too. If you have asthma (like I do) or if you smoke/used to smoke (like I did) then be mindful that it can take a few days to acclimatize to the pressure. I almost had a panic attack when I couldn't figure out what was going on with my body. I felt lightheaded and like there was a weight on my chest any time I did the smallest physical effort haha.
Also, the air is very dry here! If you have dry or combination skin then I recommend coming prepared. I'm glad I don't travel without my Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer but I wish I'd brought my mini-vaseline for the edges of my nose and nail cuticles. Things were lookin' a little scaly by the time we headed home!
Since this trip was focused more on food and drink, we didn't get to do a lot of activities or sight-seeing. Here are a few things I want to see or do when we come back to Denver!
- Class Axe
- Estes Park
- Rocky Mountain Tour
- Coors Brewery Tour (don't judge me)
- Rockies Game
- Historical Whiskey & Beer Walking Tour
- Art Museum
- Tattered Cover Books
- Molly Brown Museum
We loved our time in the Mile-High city and can't wait to return! What are some of your favorite bits of Denver? Give a shout in the comments 🙂