Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The 48-hour Tourist: Denver Edition


Welcome back to our guest blogger series! Melissa Rosenberg of The Melrose Chronicles is back with her 48-hour Tourist series (one of our absolute faves!) to tell us all about the great city of Denver! Be sure to check out Melissa's Instagram @themelrosechronicles and her post about Austin here

Now that the fall weather has officially taken over and the scarves and boots have found their way back into our hearts (though truly: did they ever leave?), it’s time to take another 48-hour trip filled with crisp air and peaks of adventurous fun: I’m talking about fabulous Colorado of course!

The beauty of Colorado, besides it’s stunning mountainous scenery from any viewpoint, is its accessibility to see several top-notch cities, each with their own eclectic vibe and unique personality, all in one trip.  I opted to fly into Denver (note: they pass the ultimate tourist test and now offer a train to transport you from airport to city limits should you not want to bother renting a car). From 16th Street Mall to Red Rocks Amphitheatre, this city boasts a perfect mix of urban meets earthy. There’s great food, sporty opportunity, and holy beer options batman! Check out my getaway below (with a few extra sprinkles of surrounding city suggestions).

DAY ONE

By the time I got into the city proper, it was totally time to eat and what better to come across than a place where everybody knows your name! …No not the Cheers Bar (but just wait till you read my 48-hour Tourist: Boston Edition) but a small authentic deli called Rosenberg’s. This place was packed and literally buzzed with bagel excitement. I snagged a corner booth after ordering and was oh-so-pleased with my luscious lox on an everything egg bagel—it even came with a pickle made in-house! The ‘Mile High Kosher’ café has everything from fresh cured deli meats to tofu cream cheese, a collection of cleverly crafted sandwich options or create your own, and an impressive collection of traditional sweet treats that will surely tempt you. The best part: it won’t break the bank. 

After fueling up, it was time to hit 16th Street Mall, the infamous pedestrian outdoor shopping area with fun boutiques and great eats. If you’re not feeling like a walk, there’s a free bus that will escort you street by street to ensure those feetsies don’t wear out at the beginning of the weekend (trust me—you’ll be doing some jaunts!). Exciting LoDo landmarks include Union Station, Coors Field, and the Contemporary Art Museum. A few favorite finds (and some for all you fashion forward types): 

-Goorin Bros Hat Shop: This 120-year-old boutique is just off the mall area (technically Larimer Square) and is a sought-after shop where you can design your very own tip-top topper. Complete with DIY feather station, ribbon round-up, and every hat shape from floppy to fedora, you’re sure to have a happy head if you heed this rec. 

-Scarpaletto Shoes: Find the perfect pair of leather kicks at this staple store featuring luscious leather goods, jewelry, and more. They are top quality brands and business alike.

-Tattered Cover Book Store: Get lost in the bookstacks and pick up a new read from this quintessential Denver spot. With helpful staff picks listed in every section as well as discounted used books lining shelves, you can peruse your new paperback over a cuppa joe from their in-house café.

-Cry Baby Ranch: For the boho chic cowboy spirits, this store is western ready to wear to boot! Check out their custom jewelry like bolo tie necklaces or their collection of sweeping silk skirts that will have you screaming yippee-ki-yay! 




Another great place to check out is the surroundings of the Denver Central Market. I sadly didn’t have as much time as I would have liked here (the bagel really filled me up) but it is a vast foodhall filled to the brim with vendors of all kinds as well as an arts-driven area with murals lining the alleyways beckoning you for an Insta-worthy photoshoot at every turn. If you’re hungry and have time to “say cheese” you’ll be in the right place. I know on my next visit, it’s at the top of my list!

After a little downtime at the fabulous Curtis Hotel—an incredible retro-chic home away from home with themed floors, delectable room décor, and a perfectly situated location in the heart of downtown—it was now time to grab a bite to eat. While the mountainous mecca is known for its craft beer scene (don’t worry—I’ll get there), the food joints will not disappoint and there is truly something for everyone. Here are a few of my favorite foodie finds:

-Hapa Sushi: Holy yum! With happy hour specials to boot, Hapa is hopping with delicious rolls, great beverages, and a hip scene for all. If sushi is your jam, I highly recommend you check it out. They also have a gluten free menu.

-City O’ City: This acclaimed vegan restaurant will astound you with its creative concepts and confections (and I promise you won’t even know it’s meat and dairy free). I had the BBQ Mac Wrap which I think is my new love language. The carrot cake cupcake is to die for so leave room for dessert. Note: this place gets PACKED and you can’t make a reservation so go early or be prepared to wait. #itsworthit 

-Snooze: While this is more of a brunch situation, it’s 100% worth notating that you haven’t been to Colorado until you’ve Snoozed. Choose from a pancake flight, the infamous spuds, or treat yourself with a classic benedict or omelet in this energetically engaging establishment. You can’t go wrong with anything you order. 

-Little Man Ice Cream: Need a sweet treat? Head to the totally awesome Little Man to try homemade flavors served from a giant old school milk jug. The lines can often wrap around the larger than life tin but the ambiance is delightful, the ice cream is delectable, and you’ll be glad you took this Denver pitstop. (And yes: they have vegan options!)


To cap off the evening, I highly encourage you check out a concert at one of the many music venues around town. Surround yourself in tree-lined tunes with a truly immersive experience at Red Rocks; head to Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox for an R&B or jazz night; or a Cervantes’ venue for a jam session. 

DAY TWO

It wouldn’t be a trip to Colorado without an outdoor excursion. While the state itself boasts every outside sport imaginable be it snowboarding down a mountainside or hiking up a rocky cliff, Denver itself has some excellent parks and trails that are well worth enjoying. (It should be noted that great hikes with more altitude can be found just outside Denver city limits, but I’m trying to stick to the general area of the city. If you are looking for some stellar climbing time, I recommend looking at the Boulder or Ft. Collins scenery or several hikes about an hour outside Denver like St. Mary’s Glacier.) For this trip, I drove just south of Denver proper to Roxborough State Park. Even the drive into the grounds was gorgeous. This vast stretch of open air is really something special. There’s easy trails if you want just a simple walk to enjoy the fresh atmosphere or a few more challenging paths depending on the time you have. It seems to stretch for miles and you forget that just moments ago you were in the middle of thick urban energy. This could be great for families as there’s fun markers throughout the trails resembling “I spy” items to seek out or just a good walk with a friend to catch up on life happenings. Bring some snacks, treat yourself to a picnic, and get lost in some nature: your soul will thank you. 

Since playing outside was a big part of my day, I got back into the city with just a few hours to kill before I needed to head back to the airport (which, by the way, does take a bit of time to travel to as it lies around 30-40 minutes driving or an hour by train). Lucky for me, since I had logged some morning miles, it was time to head out in style with Colorado’s favorite sendoff: a beer! The city is brimming with brews and I don’t think you could go wrong with a craft of your choosing. Here are a few of my favorite local pints to try before parting:

-New Belgium: Now I know you can get this pretty much anywhere now but there is something great about having it in the state it comes from. Brewed just a few hours away in Ft. Collins, you know it will taste fresh, be found on tap, and you’re more often to find their specialty and/or seasonal brews locally.  

-Great Divide Brewing Co.: Denver born and bred, this taproom is in the LoDo area and always glass half-full (and seriously: FULL—it’s a pretty small space). Their Yeti Imperial Stout is world class and one of their most famous pours. If you arrive and this original taproom is bubbling over, don’t worry. They have another bigger, more bar like space about a mile away!

-Denver Beer Co.: If you prefer creative flavors and seasonal specials, I would definitely head to Denver Beer Co. Their style is original, and they always have something different to try. Tap into an adventurous taste here. 

This whisk away reset trip doesn’t even scratch the surface of the excellence of this city. I will be back for many more miles of adventure in The Mile High City. 

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