In between the majestic snow-capped Rocky Mountains and a booming metropolis is the perfect balance of the two dynamics, and it’s called Denver, Colorado. On one hand, you have a cool, hip, and trendy urban style that lines the streets; on the other hand, you have the looming slopes and abundance of nature at your doorsteps. This one-day highlight of Denver is a perfect mix of the outdoors and the vibrant core.
The best place to situate yourself when you’re looking for a place to stay in Denver is an area called Lower Downtown or LoDo for short. Denver hotels in Lower Downtown like the Crowne Plaza Denver, Holiday Inn Express Denver Downtown, or Kimpton Hotel Monaco Denver are fine choices for any trip.
From Denver’s Snooze to State Capitol
Start your morning by walking to the historic Larimer Square. One spot I highly recommend is Snooze; not only do they serve fantastic breakfast, but they also donate 1 percent of sales to the community.
Once you’re energized and good to go, you’ll find the city’s oldest area is a great place to people-watch and window shop the many specialty stores. Eventually make your way down 15th Street and you’ll find Civic Center Park. Take a stroll here en route to the gold-domed Colorado State Capitol Building, at 200 E. Colfax Ave. A 45-minute tour will enable you to learn about the building’s artwork and architecture. At the end of the tour, make sure you climb to the top of the dome for the spectacular vistas that await you.
Art of the Indoors and Outdoors
You won’t be able to steer your eyes away from the Denver Art Museum, 100 W. 14th Ave. Parkway. The dominating architecture is downright impressive and worthy of photos. Even if you don’t see the expansive collection of Asian, pre-Columbian, Spanish Colonial, and Native American works, the outdoor area features interesting sculpture and an open air museum of sorts.
Before you leave, make sure you fill up again at the highly rated Palettes inside the museum. The food here is distinctive and always delicious. With the fishbowl glass perched on the second level, you’ll also get great views of the street below.
A short cab or drive away is a beautiful and peaceful oasis in the city. The Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York St., is home to over 15,000 different plant species and more than a half-day of sights worth seeing. You’ll find a lot to view here, especially during special events. Families with kids are definitely going to love the experience, and if you’re a photographer, you’ll have plenty of good angles to shoot.
Relish Denver’s Music History and Dining
For your last stop, make a short drive to Morrison and the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, 18300 W. Alameda Parkway. Rich in music history, U2 filmed a music video here, and many other famous artists, such as Dave Matthews, have performed at this concert venue. Take some time to hang out and take in the views at the top of the amphitheater. If you have time, take advantage of one of the many hiking trails.
Round out the night at Root Down, 1600 W. 33rd Ave., where retro meets fine dining. If you’re looking to stay closer to your hotel, you can also consider Rioja, 1431 Larimer St., for a modern culinary delight or Panzano, 909 17th St., for a distinctive taste of Italy.
Whether you’re in town for a stopover or you’re using Denver as a gateway into the Rockies, you’ll find more than enough things to do. Adjust the itinerary according to your preferences; regardless of your interests, you’ll have a hip cosmopolitan experience even within the outdoors.
Featured image via Flickr by WarzauWynn