Denver, Colorado Vacation Ideas – Denver Restaurants and Hotels

Raise your hand if the BFF vacation you planned in 2020 got canceled because of COVID-19. Because, hey, hi, hello, my hand is raised.

Before a global pandemic happened, my friends and I thought it’d be fun to meet in Denver, Colorado. We wanted to check out the hiking scene, partake in some boozy brunches, and catch up on the latest drama with each other. But when COVID-19 came in and basically said nope, not happening, we put those plans on pause.

More than a year later though, when it was safe to travel again and all of us got vaccinated, we decided to resurrect those plans to have the most epic girls’ trip. And even though it happened much later than we originally planned, it was totally worth the wait—and negative COVID-19 tests.

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So if your hand is still raised from my initial question, let me put you on to Denver, Colorado as the perfect let’s-party-but-also-chill vacation.

Trust me, you don’t need to be on a beach to ~get away from it all~ with your besties. Some fresh Denver air will do just the trick.


First, we booked the essentials

We decided to stay at HALCYON, which is located right in the middle of a neighborhood called Cherry Creek, aka Denver’s best-kept secret. It’s pretty much right outside of the city (I’m talking like a 15-minute car ride) with the best shopping and dining experiences you could ask for.

halcyon hotel

HALCYON, a hotel in Cherry Creek

JSYK: HALCYON hooked my friends and I up for a free stay in exchange for reviewing it. But honestly, paid for or not, it would be my go-to choice whenever I return to Denver. It should be yours too.

We also received a complimentary 2022 Civic Sedan rental to review, courtesy of Honda, because a) we didn’t want to be at the mercy of Uber all weekend and b) we wanted to venture a little outside of Denver to find some hiking trails . It was a winner: Not only does it look fancy and drive well, but it’s not going to break the bank, either. The hotel valet asked about it multiple times because he was in the market for a new car. Take a look for yourself:

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Once we had the hotel and car taken care of, we booked the majority of our restaurant reservations so we didn’t have to worry about eating at the wrong places or waiting a long time. As a foodie who also has a type A personality, this was a must.

The Eating

HALCYON offers two dining options: Local Jones and Quality Italian. Local Jones is more casual, Quality Italian is lil more upscale.

When we weren’t in the mood to head into the city, we took the elevator down to eat at the convenient and cozy Local Jones. We all split some wine, dug into some steak, chicken, and salad (all of which we received for free in order to review), and the vibes overall were immaculate.

local jones steak

Taylor Andrews

It was crowded, but not too packed to where you couldn’t get a table, and the overall ambiance really was what made it shine. Like, picture the biggest, most amazing bar surrounded by newly renovated tables all around. Yes, please.

halcyon hotel local jones

HALCYON, a hotel in Cherry Creek

Now like I said earlier, there’s also Quality Italian as an option, but you’ll definitely want to make a reservation here beforehand. It was crowded literally every night, and while we didn’t get a chance to eat there, it’s on my list for next time.

We also ate at Happy Camper for brunch (yum), Avanti for dinner (double yum), and Viewhouse for dinner another night (triple yum). All three of these places are located in downtown Denver and have more of a “going out” scene, so it was super fun. Moral of the story: We didn’t eat bad food in Denver once. Not once!

avanti denver

Taylor Andrews

The Drinking

If Denver is known for anything besides weed and mountains, it’s day-drinking some beers. The city is like an ale lover’s heaven. We personally only really checked out Blue Moon’s brewery and Denver Beer Company—mainly because one of my friends is gluten-free, so we had to go to places we knew would have those options.

blue moon brewing company

Taylor Andrews

But honestly, it all worked out well, and I could see myself spending a whole day just bouncing around Denver’s RiNo district next time. It’s filled with cute hole-in-the-wall breweries all within walking distance from each other.

denver beer company

Taylor Andrews

Now the breweries were fun and all, but going to HALCYON’s secret and ~exclusive~ speakeasy B&GC was my favorite drinking experience of the weekend. I won’t reveal too much because part of the fun was actually finding the speakeasy in the first place. But when we did, I drank way too many lavish cocktails, which we received for free in order to review. (My review: zero regrets.) Just know the cocktails are a bit more on the pricey side, so it might be better as a one-drink stop. Oh, and you’ll want to book a reservation too.

halcyon hotel speakeasy

HALCYON, a hotel in Cherry Creek

Last thing: Though we weren’t staying at HALCYON when their rooftop bar area was open, they currently have an elevated rooftop experience with live music, heated cabanas, plenty of booze, and lots of games. Definitely reason #1483373 why I’m ready to return ASAP.

The Experiences

Two words: Red Rocks. Yes, it’s an amphitheatre, and no, unfortunately, we didn’t buy tickets to actually see a concert here, but we explored the park for an entire day, and it was maybe the best part of the trip.

We decided to do this the first full day we were there (mainly because we didn’t want to be hauling our booties up some rocks and trails hungover AF), and it worked out perfectly. There are multiple trail options you can go on depending on your level and how long you want to hike for. We ended up opting for a two-hour hike, which was perfect.

red rocks


Another day, we spent some time at the Denver Botanic Gardens, which is a free perk for anyone staying at HALCYON. All we did was ask the front desk to help us book and voila, free tickets. Overall, it was av casual and relaxing couple of hours when we just honestly needed some fresh air and a break from alcohol.

Now if working out is something you like to do on vacay, in addition to having an amazing onsite gym facility, HALCYON also offers a “wellness passport” that lets you book one class a day for free—think: cycling, pilates, yoga, etc. My friends and I didn’t opt ​​in to any of these classes, but it’s kind of something I regret not doing. Learn from my mistakes and take advantage of all the free thangs.

the verdict

I’m so happy that even though our vacay happened a lot later than what we originally planned, I still got to see my girls eventually—especially in a city like Denver.

So whether you love the mountains, want an excuse to drink beer, or just need to get away from your studio apartment, meet your girlfriends in the Mile-High City. Trust me, it’ll be the best thing you do all year.

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