Arriving on a Friday evening permits you the chance to settle into your accommodations and familiarize yourself with your immediate environment. If staying near the popular lower downtown area (LoDo), you might want to dip into the nightlife with a visit to Beat-era pub My Brother’s Bar (“Brothers”), hipster haven Double Daughter’s Salotto or the beer enthusiast oriented Falling Rock Tap House.
Saturday after breakfast, it’s time to take in Denver’s cultural and historic attractions. The primary must-see destinations in Denver include the Denver Art Museum and its world’s greatest collection of Native American art, the new History Colorado Center, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and its impressive dinosaur collection, the innovative Museum of Contemporary Art Denver and the 23-acre urban oasis that is Denver Botanic Garden. For lunch, grab a burger at Cherry Cricket and pile on the oddball toppings. Okies might also enjoy a stroll down memory lane at Denver’s cavernous Casa Bonita. Blue Bonnet is another good choice for casual Tex-Mex. For the ubiquitous tour of the region, head out in the afternoon to Golden and take in the Coors Brewery tour. Back in the city for the evening, consider dinner at the spectacular Mizuna, brainchild of chef-owner Frank Bonanno, or at Fruition, where chef Alex Seidel has made a significant name for himself. Dance the night away at Beta nightclub downtown or the more Country-Western themed Grizzly Rose.
Sunday might be the perfect time to take in one of the region’s vaunted festivals if one is taking place – and in temperate months, there usually is one. Otherwise if weather permits, the occasion might call for enjoying Denver’s wonderful lush out of doors. City Park offers 330 acres of outdoor fun and relaxation and is home to the Denver Zoo. Cheesman Park is half the size, but its Acropolis-inspired pavilion has a commanding view of the Denver skyline. Alternately, you might enjoy one or more of the theme parks in the vicinity – including both the huge Elitch Gardens and the decidedly less posh but more historic Lakeside, with its 1940 Edward Vettel-designed wood roller coaster. Shop LoDo or Larimer Square before you depart, to take home remembrances of your trip to the Mile High City.
Denver has a wide array of accommodation options, including these:
The Ritz-Carlton Denver is in the heart of downtown and just minutes away from Lower Downtown, known for dining, shopping and nightlife. A total of 202 rooms and suites features signature posh features, from 400 thread count Frette linens to oversized tubs and state of the art tech amenities. The Forza Fitness Club, indoor pool and indoor basketball court are just the flagship attractions for a luxurious hotel that meets the needs of business and pleasure travelers alike. www.ritzcarlton.com/Denver
The Four Seasons Hotel Denver’s luxurious environment and state of the art amenities are juxtaposed against a design theme that emulates the natural beauty of Colorado, complete with large windows displaying mountain scenery. A seasonal outdoor pool and cabanas, a comprehensive 24-hour fitness center and a full service spa pamper guests. Twenty-four-hour room service, an excellent restaurant and a chic popular bar contribute to a convenient and well-rounded stay. www.fourseasons.com/Denver
The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa has been attracting well-heeled guests and dignitaries for more than a century. The Italian Renaissance landmark famously features onyx walls, terrazzo floors and gold leaf accents – as well as a nine-floor atrium lobby complete with stained glass canopy and other period touches. Completely modern services and amenities abound, and include a full service spa, fitness center, full-service concierge, dry cleaning, beauty salon, florist and several restaurants to choose from. www.brownpalace.com
Access: Most major national carriers service Denver International Airport. Alternately, Denver is just under 700 miles via automobile from Oklahoma City.
Population: 600,000-plus in city limits
Climate: Mild, generally sunny, with four distinct seasons, cold winters with considerable potential precipitation.
Main Attraction: Denver’s scenic location and Western history are intrinsic attractions, but its wealth of arts, culture, cuisine and nightlife also provide it all the appeal of a major cosmopolitan city.
Ride: Denver is far more cyclist-friendly than many major cities, many streets have bicycle lanes and it’s a great way to see and traverse the city. For recreational biking, main trails run along both Cherry Creek and the Platte River. A citywide bike-sharing program makes it particularly easy.
Hipsters: Denver’s Mercury Café is a well-known and loved social center – a restaurant/café/event center that regularly presents entertainment with a distinct counterculture feel. It’s a must-see for those wanting to familiarize themselves with the offbeat culture of the Mountain West capital.
Buy: Although Cherry Creek, LoDo (lower downtown) and Larimer Square have most exquisite and routine shopping options, check out Colfax Avenue and Capital Hill for more eclectic wares from vendors such as independent books and music shops, movie posters, etc.