It is nearly impossible to see a city in a long weekend, but with flight prices cheap and the itch to travel, short trips are becoming the norm. Dan (fiance) and I decided to take my sister out to Denver to celebrate her graduating from her Master’s program in Occupational Therapy. Some of the adventures we went on are outside of Denver, but none more than 2-hours. We went in knowing what we wanted to do so we made it happen. Some of these places were planned, and others we stumbled upon as we went.
Why We Chose Denver:
- Money: It was CHEAP. From where we live flights were under $100 each way/person. It was awesome. We ended up being able to use credit card points to pay for all three of our tickets. Talk about a WIN. We did have to stay about 15 minutes outside of the city proper to save on hotel, but we were really only there to sleep, so it was worth it to save the money.
- Options: Denver has something for everyone. Sports Stadiums. Hiking. Historical Tours. Brewery Tours. Live Music. Great Food. There was no way for us to be bored.
- Size: Denver is big enough that there is plenty to do, but not so overwhelming that you can’t get anywhere. We weren’t stuck in traffic jams like Chicago and it seemed that everywhere we wanted to go was a 15 minute drive.
In order to get cheap flights we flew in late on a Saturday night. So I am just going to include dinner Saturday night as a part of the first day as we literally ate, checked into our hotel, and went to bed!
Dinner: Wynkoop Brewing Company
This place was AWESOME. There food literally made me melt in my seat a little. It was that good. Maybe it is because we had been travelling all day and we were hungry, but I kid you not, this is the first thing we did in Denver and it was the best meal we had. The service and beer were great. There was plenty of seating with ample space so we did not feel cramped or rushed.
This was our first tourist stop of the trip. We got up early, ate some breakfast at the hotel, and headed right to Red Rocks. Unfortunately, we were unable to see a concert there, though I have heard they are a once in a lifetime experience. The park itself does not disappoint. We hiked the trails, went through the history center, and saw the ampitheatre. I can’t even describe the enormity of these rocks. It was like full on Pride Rock from The Lion King. Super cool. Super fun. And a great way to start our trip.
Lunch: Woody’s Woodfired Pizza
Woody’s is located in Golden, CO, about 30 minutes outside of Red Rocks State Park and where Coors Brewery is located. The pizza was on point with plenty of options to choose from!
If you are not a die-hard brewery fan, then this would be the stop to skip. We waited outside, in line, for two hours before even entering the building. The tour was self guided with the aid of a audio device to explain the stops. The brewery itself is great, and a sight to see in itself as it is the largest single location brewery in the country. For us, it was worth the stop. If you are interested in going on a tour, check out the instructions HERE as there is a specific pick up point and restrictions on what you can bring on the tour.
Breakfast: Voodoo Doughnuts
If you are in Denver, DO NOT pass up an opportunity to stop into Voodoo Doughnuts. They have the craziest flavors and they were mouthwateringly good. We got there right as they opened so there was almost no line. You walk in and there are just rotating displays of doughnuts. NOM. They also cater to a variety of eating limitations including making vegan doughnuts. Check out this cookies and cream doughnut WITH PEANUT BUTTER I had…
The big thing with their Denver location is that it is a CASH only establishment.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park was about a two hour drive from where we were staying. So it ended up being an entire day adventure. We left super early and got there around 9:00 AM. Now, literally everyone will warn you about altitude. And only having been in Colorado for about 36-hours did not do us well. Especiallybecause we live in Wisconsin which is at about 600 feet above MSL. Rocky Mountain National Park started at about 7,000 feet above MSL.
We chose a fairly easy trail that led to Alberta Falls. It took us about twice as long as we thought it would to get there, which happens with trail walking as opposed to walking down the street. We were feeling pretty good so we decided to keep going.
Then we ran into even steeper slopes and the ground was covered in snow making the trail slippery. We ended up turning back because the elevation + my anxiety + slippery conditions were just not the most fun. Of course to people that hike more than hills, which is all we have here in WI, or who live at higher elevations, you may have had a different experience.
The day was AMAZING though. We saw elk, a waterfall, the mountains… so much beauty.
Dinner and a Beer: Fiction Brewing Company
Ok, I am a MAJOR book nerd so when I found out there was a brewery whose beers were inspired by books we HAD to go. The brewery did not serve food, though you could bring or order food in. We got sandwiches from a deli across the street.
The beer was alright. Decent, but nothing to go crazy over. But the tap room itself… well it was magical; here is why:
1. The bar was made of repurposed books
2. Their cans were library themed
3. The tables had quotes from famous authors
4. There was an entire wall of ‘take a book, leave a book’
This was a failed attempt. We got up early, but slept past our alarms and arrived at the Mint 20 MINUTES after they started selling tickets for a tour of the Mint and every single ticket for the entire day was already sold out. You also cannot buy tickets in advance. So I am sure it was awesome, but we missed it.
Breakfast: Snooze an A.M. Eatery
Since we now had so much time on our hands, we swung by Snooze. They had good food and mimosas and was a fun environment.
At this point we just walked around LoDo (Lower Downtown). We saw Coors Field and walked through Union Station. They had a small version of the Denver famous bookstore the Tattered Cover, and great architecture. It was a fun area to walk around and definitely had plenty of food, shopping, and art.
The Art District and Renegade
Still had some time to kill so we hit up the art district which was the home to our next stop Renegade Brewery. We stopped at an open air cafe that was literally called MMM… Coffee. It was technically a paleo cafe but we got some tea and hung out.
Renegade brewery had amazing beer. No tour, but a great patio, board games, and wonderful service. We stayed much longer than we originally planned because we were having such a great time.
Wynkoop Brewery Part 2
We then headed to Wynkoop Brewery again to take their tour. Great tour, great samples, and a lot of fun! We were actually the only ones on the tour so we got to ask a lot of questions and learn a lot about the brewery!
This was an awesome last stop of our trip. The beer was pretty good and it was a great atmosphere. You could take a brewery tour upon request, so, naturally, we did it. The tour was very informal but it is always cool to see the brewing equipment.
Well, that’s a wrap! I am not sure we could have done ANY MORE in our three days in Colorado. It was an amazing experience and I definitely suggest you make the trip!