Have you started planning your vacation? If you you’ve ever wanted to explore and visit Denver like a tourist (as long as you follow the health protocols imposed by the local authorities) we have you covered. Stay in a hotel (or Airbnb), try new restaurants, and venture outside the city to those must-visit attractions you always talk about but still haven’t visited. Here are a few of our favorite accommodations, restaurants, and excursions in Denver, Colorado.
It is possible to plan a safe, social distance-friendly hotel stay in Colorado hotels right now. The closer you stay to your home, the better — it also minimizes your overall travel. Consider Airbnbs and smaller, boutique hotels, which limit your interaction with other guests. Here are a few of the best staycation-friendly options for your Denver travel.
Best Classic: Historic Carriage House
Denver has no shortage of incredible Airbnbs, but Historic Carriage House is our hands-down favorite and what people traveling to Denver should go for. It’s been featured in Architectural Digest and tops just about every list of “Denver’s Best Airbnbs” — with good reason. As the name implies, the property is a beautifully repurposed and redesigned late 19th-century carriage house that once sheltered horses. It will surely elevate your Denver trip. The interior is awash in exposed brick, concrete flooring, and a quirky, eclectic mix of furnishings and décor. The amenities are thoroughly modern, however, including a Netflix-enabled smart TV, heated floors, and a private garden with a hot tub. The best part is that prices hover around $120 per night.
- Time: 36 minutes by car without traffic
- Distance: 23.3 miles
Best Modern: Moxy Denver Cherry Creek
Most wouldn’t consider staying at a Marriott “destination-worthy.” But the mega-chain’s newish daughter brand, Moxy Hotels, wants you to reconsider. The Moxy Denver Cherry Creek is bright, bold, and modern, with a playful edge. Every room boasts must-have amenities like lightning-fast Wi-Fi, functional furniture, eclectic artwork, and large, flat-screen smart TVs, with upgraded suites adding mountain views. With a great location, an on-site beer garden, and nightly rates of $146, this one is high on our list for a reason.
- Time: 37 minutes by car
- Distance: 24.9 miles
Best Luxury: The Ramble Hotel
With “a great reverence for the magic and escapism a hotel can provide,” The Ramble Hotel is a damn-near perfect boutique hotel for your trip to Denver. The industrial-chic design is modern, moody, and stylish without pretense. Each of the 50 rooms features a bespoke design awash in deep, rich colors, vintage-inspired lighting and furnishings, and a theme that feels as though it were plucked from a sleeper car on a luxury train. Think hickory flooring, wood-paneled walls, and plush imported rugs. The hotel boasts four onsite restaurants and bars. Most notably, however, is Death & Co. — the second outpost of the world-famous New York cocktail bar by the same name — where hotel guests receive priority service for to-go orders and room service.
- Time: 32 minutes by car
- Distance: 25.8 miles
Best for Couples: Hyatt Place Denver Downtown
If you’re looking for a place that’s proven and tested to be an amazing couples getaway, then Hyatt Place Denver Downtown is the perfect one for you. Located 1,000 feet away from the Colorado Convention Center, this hotel highlights an indoor pool, a bar, and free Wi-Fi. The rooms at the hotel also come with a seating area, a flat-screen TV with cable channels, and a private bathroom with free toiletries and a bath or shower. Best of all, you’re only two blocks away from the Free MallRide shuttle on 16th Street.
- Time: 31 minutes by car
- Distance: 19 miles
Best Budget: Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center
The Hyatt Regency Denver is a two-minute walk from the Colorado Convention Center. It is also just a few minutes’ walk away from establishments like the 16th Street Mall, the Denver Art Museum, Union Station, and Coors Field. The hotel highlights 1,100 smoke-free guest rooms, daily housekeeping, a restaurant, two bars/lounges, and a fitness center. It’s the perfect hotel for leisure and going around the city without having to spend too much, with rates starting at $100.
- Time: 32 minutes by car
- Distance: 19 miles
There are a number of places to go in Denver. If you’ve slowly grown tired of weekly Pizzeria Locale and Tap & Burger deliveries during the pandemic, consider thinking outside the (bento) box. Uchi Denver, from Austin’s James Beard Award-winning chef Tyson Cole is the fourth restaurant under the Uchi banner, and, thankfully for sushi lovers, it boasts a bold, Texas-sized menu to boot. The offerings are creative, innovative, and uncommon. So, even if you have a favorite sushi joint in the city, Uchi likely has something you’ve never tried. The restaurant is currently open for dine-in service (according to strict guidelines) or, even better, pick it up or get delivery through Uber Eats.
- Best for lunch and dinner
My Brother’s Bar
Sure, you’ve already been. But, My Brother’s Bar is still the perfect place to eat (again) for three reasons: It has historic cachet as the oldest bar in Denver (honestly, Kerouac drank here); it serves some of the city’s best burgers; and it has two winter-ready outdoor patios available right now. Delivery is also available through Uber Eats and DoorDash.
- Best for brunch and lunch
If you’ve spent more than five minutes in Denver, you know that green chile is tied with overstuffed breakfast burritos as the city’s comfort food. You probably already have a favorite. But why not spend a little lockdown time considering a new one? Check out chef Blaine Baggao’s New Mexico-style green chile at Adobe Denver; savor the SoCal-influenced, masa-thickened variety at North County; or opt for pure, unadulterated chile verde (just like abuelita used to make) at El Taco or La Fiesta. The best part is that all of these outlets are currently offering pickup or delivery.
- Best for dinner
Snooze AM Eatery
Located in Denver’s historic Union Station, this breakfast and brunch spot stands out with its delicious pancakes and French toast. If you’re a fan, you can create a pancake flight and try them all. Be sure to book ahead of time so you don’t miss out on a boozy brunch.
- Best for breakfast and brunch
There are a bunch of things to do in Denver. And right now, the safest things to do near and within the city are all outdoors. Use this time as an excuse to check out all those al fresco Denver bucket-list experiences that all the tourists talk about but you’ve yet to see for yourself. If heading into the mountains for a week isn’t in the cards right now, check out these great things to do a little closer to home.
Go Play in the Snow (and Ice)
Playing in the snow doesn’t have to involve skiing or snowboarding. You can still find that “zipping down the mountain” experience without strapping things to your feet. Head to Ruby Hill for a free sledding experience (perfect for family and date nights) or go tubing at Fraser Tubing Hill near Winter Park. For something altogether different, Ice Castles has returned to Dillon. This one-of-a-kind installation uses hundreds of thousands of hand-gathered icicles to create frozen sculptures, tunnels, slides, fountains, and, of course, castles. They’re all lit by LED, so it’s best to visit at night. For something a little closer to home, head to Evergreen Lake, where you’ll find Colorado’s most picture-perfect ice skating rink.
Complete Your Denver Brewery Hop
The number of breweries in metro Denver is dizzying. The actual total is north of 75 and closer to 100 if you take into account neighboring cities. There’s hardly been a better time to grab a flight at the few (or dozen) you’ve yet to visit. Start building your wish list here if you haven’t already. The best part is that many breweries like Seedstock are set up with cold-weather-friendly outdoor patios, and some like Cerebral Brewing and Ratio Beerworks are delivering, too. If you’re partial to (or also enjoy) liquor, wine, and cider, you can always make checklists for those as well. Many of the city’s distilleries, wineries, and cideries are set up for al fresco tasting and to-go orders.
Explore Denver (and Beyond) Like a Tourist
Locals in every city are quick to pooh-pooh the tourist attractions in their hometown, but those attractions are popular and “touristy” for a reason. If you’ve never explored Denver’s most famous spots, now’s the perfect time to put on your tourist hat and try to see the city for the “first” time.
Garden of the Gods is an easy first pick, and that’s exactly why we’re including it. It is the answer to the question “What is Denver known for?” Even among the long list of Colorado’s natural wonders, this Colorado Springs attraction ranks near the top. Explore its more than 1,300 acres of sandstone formations with a hike, by bike, or on horseback. The park is situated at the base of Pikes Peak — arguably the state’s most famous 14er (that would be a mountain that rises higher than 14,000 feet in elevation) — and the one that inspired the poem America the Beautiful. Round out your visit with a drive to the snowy summit, where you’ll find some of the state’s best views.
While you’re at it, take in the views at Red Rocks, too. Although the amphitheater is famous for its legendary concerts, most have been canceled for the foreseeable future. But it’s still an incredible destination even when nothing is going on. Plan a midweek visit if possible, where you can enjoy a leisurely hike around its beautiful sandstone formations, and take in the stunning views without the crowds.
Lastly, check out Union Station (again) for plenty of social-distance-friendly indoor things to see and do. The stunning, century-old Beaux-Arts architecture makes this a worthy destination in its own right. But, it’s also become something of a foodie destination with everything from authentic Italian eats at Tavernetta to farm-to-table cuisine at Mercantile to cocktails at Terminal Bar located inside the station’s historic ticketing office. Plus, the collection of local retailers like Tattered Cover Book Store makes this a spot worth lingering at well past dinnertime.
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