Let me start with a quick disclaimer: the city of Denver and all its goodness deserves more than 24 hours. But, if you only have 24 hours to spend in the Mile High City, like I did last week, here is my list of how to spend your precious minutes.
Stay at the Warwick Denver Hotel on Your Next Girls’ Trip to Denver
Warwick Denver Hotel is located in the popular Uptown Neighborhood, which Sunset Magazine called “one of Denver’s hippest ‘hoods, with lively new restaurants, chic shops and a cheery, progressive vibe.” The hotel is walking distance from so many great things (like Fluid Coffee Bar – more about that in a minute) and boasted perhaps the best customer service I’ve ever experienced. Let me remind you – last year I spent 262 days in various hotels around North America, so trust me when I say that this hotel staff goes above and beyond what is considered the norm.
The hotel is dog friendly, and by dog friendly, I also mean owner friendly because there is no additional charge for pets. As a frequent traveler, that is the definition of dog friendly (the dog bowls throughout the lobby were a nice touch as well as the Orvis dog beds and food and water bowls already setup in your guestroom). Even though the hotel is located next to so many great things (like City Park, which is a tree-covered park with miles of jogging and biking paths, spectacular panoramic views of more than 120 miles of snowcapped peaks and much more), they offer courtesy rides within two miles, which is another bonus, along with courtesy cruiser bikes guests can check out for free to help scoot around town.
Although the hotel was centrally located by City Park and running outside is one of my favorite things, I only had about 20 minutes to get in a quick workout for my Degree Get Moving Challenge, so I hit the 15th floor to check out the recently renovated 24-hour fitness center. The fitness center boasts ample natural light from its floor-to-ceiling windows and is loaded up with Vision Fitness treadmills, bikes and elliptical trainers, as well as Vectra System circuit training machines, free weights, medicine balls and more. My favorite part was the outdoor patio/terrace where I did a series of lunges and high-kicks as part of my circuit training.
Along with A+ customer service, Warwick Denver offers guests an authentic neighborhood-driven experience indigenous to Denver along with the finest in modern services and amenities. Another coveted amenity is their heated rooftop hotel pool (the only one in Denver), which was a great spot to chat with other guests, catch up on work (free WIFI), or just lounge with a cocktail or book while taking in the 360-degree panoramic views of Denver’s cityscape and Rocky Mountains.
The hotel is certainly not lacking character. During my short stay, I couldn’t exactly pinpoint it, but you could tell there had been a lot of life, love and good times throughout. During the 70’s and 80’s the hotel housed Denver’s Playboy Club, something the hotel proudly boasts and reminds guests, making it an even more unique spot.
Warwick Denver Hotel is about a 30-minute drive from Denver International Airport.
Happy Hour, Coffee, and Dining Fun Spots in Denver
Let me preface this by asking you not to judge how much I ate in a short 24-hour period. I’ve never known Denver to be a food scene, but after this visit, I’ve changed my mind.
Coffee: Fluid Coffee Bar: Meet, Work, Relax.
I met a colleague for a quick coffee and brainstorming session and was beyond impressed with how quaint and work-friendly this coffee shop was. Simply calling it a coffee shop and nothing more just doesn’t seem right. If you’re in the neighborhood, check it out.
Lunch (or Happy Hour): Cart-Driver: Three words: Prosecco on Tap.
It’s a small space featuring farmhouse Italian bites, but it’s clear the chef has honed in on their small menu and perfected every single item on there including the chopped salad (a must!) and their great selection of oysters, along with every single pizza. The demo-kitchen and wood fire stove sits right in front of you so you can watch them delicately prepare your delicious food. Happy hour (3-6p and 10p-12a) offers $5 selections of prosecco on tap, market oysters, tuna mousse, daisy pizza and a wide selection of beers (always go for the local beer, always).
Happy Hour: Ace Eat Serve: Drinking Games.
Trying to cram in a bunch of meetings and face-time with local friends, I went to Ace (around the corner from my hotel) to meet a friend for drinks. Happy Hour at Ace is Monday – Friday (3-6p) and offers a wide selection of $5 highballs, $2 PBR, Coors Banquet and Coors Light Cans, $5 house red and white wines, $3 Bad Buns (chicken, pork belly, crispy mushroom, beef short rib, shrimp) and a number of other selections. The food (Asian inspired) and drinks were great, but it was the atmosphere and vibe of the spot that sold me. Great outdoor seating (with a sign that reads “Adult Juice Served Here”) as well as a huge space inside make it a perfect spot to gather with friends or post up at the bar and meet new ones. It was also named one of the Best Bars in America by Food and Wine, not to mention you can play Ping-Pong while playing catch-up.
Happy Hour: Terminal Bar : Be a Tourist for Happy Hour.
Recently renovated, The Terminal Bar is a must-see while in Denver and is located in the historic ticketing office inside The Great Hall next to the Crawford Hotel. Choose from any number of local Colorado craft brews.
Breakfast: Voodoo Doughnuts: Worth the Calories.
Having just celebrated their first year in Denver (originally from Portland), I was not going to miss a breakfast call at Voodoo Doughnuts for the dirt doughnut and a crunch doughnut. Yes, it was well worth the calories. Note: cash only.
Dinner: The Fort: Western-themed Deliciousness.
I’m a big proponent for going local when traveling, especially for food. My recommendation for an award-winning dinner for authentic Colorado cuisine is The Fort, located in Southwest Denver’s Red Rocks Territory. Recognized by The New York Times (as well as Bon Appétit, and the Today Show), The Fort specializes in game meat, most notably buffalo steaks (they sell more buffalo steaks than any other independently owned restaurant in the entire country), elk and quail. The restaurant also serves up delicious salmon, trout and hearty vegetarian fare influenced by American Indian and Mountain Man cuisine. Not only is the cuisine authentic, but also the ambiance with building being listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a full-scale adobe replica of Bent’s Fort, an important fur-trading fort originally in Southeastern Colorado. Food first, ambiance second.
Airport Food/Drinks: Root Down DIA: Drink While you Wait.
I have come to learn that flight delays are inevitable. It’s become a part of travel, and the one place I can semi-embrace a delay is at DIA, mostly thanks to Root Down DIA (Concourse C), where you can grab a “farm-to-terminal” snack or cocktail. My favorite thing is to post up at the bar for a final pint (or two) of a local Colorado beer. Root Down DIA was recently named a top airport restaurant by multiple media outlets, including The New York Times, which would explain why the bar is always packed and it’s hard to sneak your way into a seat!
Denver, thanks for the great stay and the extra inches to my waistline. As always, you were worth every bit of it. See you during football season!