Unsurprisingly, all the things that helped Denver consistently rank as a top liveable US city in recent years – including ease of access to the outdoors, nearly 300 days of annual sunshine, and affordability – make it a compelling travel destination as well. On top of that, now is an especially smart time to go. The weather is blissfully mild, and summer crowds aren’t swarming the city just yet as May marks the end of the city’s first shoulder season. Meaning: you can enjoy exploring the Mile High City at your leisure, and in complete comfort.
So ahead, how to make the most of a spring weekend getaway to the Mile High City.
Where to Stay
When Thompson Denver opened in February, it ushered in fresh energy to Denver’s LoDo neighborhood – something the area so deserved after the past few years. Subtly nodding to the city’s Rocky Mountain roots, the 216 guest rooms and suites feature warm finishes, clean lines, and sleek, but comfortable furnishings like plush beds dressed in crisp Sferra linens. Another thoughtful touch is the property’s partnership with Victrola, the Denver-based brand that’s manufactured quality turntables for over a 100 years. To that end, all guest rooms come with the company’s Linden Wood Bluetooth Radio, while suites have record players and curated vinyl collections.
Fittingly, the stylish aesthetic extends to the hotel’s common spaces, restaurant, and bar. The lobby and reception area take on a decidedly bold, luxe look with a reception desk dramatically ensconced in dark marble, two-story hearth fireplace, and original works by Colorado artists.
Led by world-renowned chef Ludo Lefebvre, the hotel’s signature restaurant Chez Maggy sweetly honors his late mother-in-law with traditional bistro fare and classics with surprising twists such as bison tartare and a fork-and-knife burger smothered with pepper gravy, smoked mayonnaise, and beer-braised onions. For a more laid-back meal: pull up a seat at the handsome circular bar, where you’ll hopefully see Harriett, one of the most personable bartenders in town.
And because no evening is complete without a nightcap, head up to Reynard Social. Though the sixth-floor lounge takes inspiration from old-school chalets with its fireplace, low-slung seating, and mountain views, the fun Victrola Listening Lounge and whimsical cocktails like the chocolatey mint-green Yard Sale feel here and now.
Where to Eat
Though the location in Aurora’s Stanley Marketplace might be unassuming, don’t be fooled: Annette is one of Denver’s brightest restaurants, and has heaps of awards proving the point. By marrying familial warmth with seasonally-driven, deeply craveable dishes – even humble snacks like popcorn and deviled eggs shine – owner and chef Caroline Glover has the set the bar high for what today’s neighborhood restaurant should look and feel like.
Uchi’s Japanese cuisine might not be traditional, per se, but it’s executed with utmost care and is downright delicious. (There’s a reason why this is RiNo spot always bustling, no matter the time of day.) Signature creations include the Hama Chili (slabs of buttery fish dressed in spicy ponzu), and be sure to try some lesser-known nigiri cuts like Ishidai (knifejaw) and Kuromutsu (black sea perch) . Ditch the soy sauce, though, since every piece is appropriately seasoned by the chefs.
Another can’t-miss spot is Sunday Vinyl. Tucked away in Kimpton Hotel Born and overlooking Union Station’s train tracks, the chic wine bar merges a positively pretty decor (pale pink walls, horseshoe bar, arched booths) with an extensive wine and vinyl collection from which the restaurant’s soundtrack is plucked. While Cole’s Brasserie Brixton might bill itself as a French restaurant, it also happens to be refreshingly free of fuss and formality. (Note the Stormtroopers gracing the bar’s brick wall.) In the mornings, locals flock to Stowaway Kitchen for globetrotting breakfasts of Japanese salmon rice bowls and eggplant and halloumi sandwiches. And though there’s plenty of respectable pizza in town, Cart-Driver stands out from the rest by turning out pitch-perfect, wood-fired Neapolitan pies from a reclaimed shipping container.
What to Do
One of the buzziest things to do in Denver, Meow Wolf’s “Convergence Station” is an experience like no other – just go. As the third permanent exhibition from the visionary Santa Fe-based arts production group, “Convergence Station” takes guests on an immersive, multi-sensory, and mind-bending journey exploring the concept of quantum travel.
There’s no shortage of big brand retail in town, but doesn’t it feel better to shop locally? With that in mind, head to RiNo’s Conifer. Owned by Caitlyn Schwarz, this beautifully-curated boutique showcases objects and gifts expressly made by small, sustainable makers. And just down Blake Street, you’ll find another terrific woman-owned shop, Judith & Joe, where stylish, sustainable clothing is the specialty.
For a totally unique spa experience, book a session at The Beer Spa owned by Jessica French and Damien Zouaoui. From the taproom where you can sample rotating beers to your private Beer Therapy Room – which is equipped with an infrared sauna, giant cedar soaking tub, and a shower stocked with The Beer Spa’s toiletries – the facilities help you celebrate and soak in all the surprising benefits of Denver’s favorite beverage.