Denver in the summer is all about being outdoors.
Whether that’s biking, hiking in the mountains or exploring neighborhoods like Larimer Square and the River North (RiNo) Art District by foot, in the Mile-High City, your body has to work harder to get oxygen and your metabolism increases. So even indulging in Little Man Ice Cream after dinner feels healthier.
Where to Stay
The majestic Brown Palace Hotel, Denver’s second oldest, is just as charming as when it was built in 1892. Debussy’s dreamy “Clair de Lune” drifts up to your room during afternoon tea, a regal affair with live piano music and towers of pastries and finger sandwiches. The atrium lobby is a popular hangout for locals as well as hotel guests. After a busy day exploring, rejuvenate sore muscles with a blissful massage at the spa, one of the best in town.
What to Do
Foodies will geek out over The Source, the epicenter of Denver’s artisanal food movement. Fresh meat, produce, cheese, coffee, beer and bread are all gathered under one roof to inspire collaboration and give guests a glimpse behind the scenes of culinary processes from brewing beer and coffee to breaking down a whole animal.
After touring the market and snapping up the last of Babettes croissants, head to The Infinite Monkey Theorem for a tour and wine tasting. Their famous canned wines, available in black muscat, white and red blends, are so refreshing on a bright summer day. The up-and-coming RiNo Art District still has a gritty, industrial feel and is home to many artist studios and galleries specializing in wood and metalwork and contemporary art.
History buffs and Titanic fans will enjoy the Molly Brown House Museum, which celebrates the life of Titanic survivor and human rights activist Margaret Brown. Half-hour tours of her impeccably restored Victorian home run throughout the day. Brown ran for Senate before women were allowed to vote, spoke five languages and embodied the self-sufficient ideals of the feminist “New Woman.” Her eclectic home includes décor from her international travels along with fainting couches, a polar bear rug and other relics of a bygone era.
Where to Dine
Are you in the mood for Italian or French? Luckily, two of the top fine-dining restaurants of both persuasions are located within a stone’s throw of each other. If you opt for escargots and foie gras at Mizuna, at least start your evening at Luca for a glass of Prosecco and the best burrata in town, adorned with prosciutto de Parma and onion marmellata. Bonus: You can also find Frank Bonanno’s burrata at Osteria Marco and Bonanno Brothers Pizzeria.
For a more casual meal with equally terrific food, make a reservation at The Squeaky Bean. Vegetarians will find plenty of options; they utilize the freshest produce from their local garden. Whimsical yet elegant dishes like sugar snap peas with togarashi yogurt, charred artichokes and passion fruit will taste even better than they look on Instagram. Carnivores will love the enormous lamb shank, served over lentils and spring alliums with cashew crumble on a recent visit.
Where to Shop
Larimer Square is the perfect place to shop for unique souvenirs. Everything from cowboy boots and Western wear to antique Victorian jewelry to wine paraphernalia is available for sale along Denver’s oldest and most historic block. Visit at night and duck into Green Russell, a Prohibition-era cocktail lounge, for a drink.
Bring the whole family to the new Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Younger kids can frolic in the dinosaur gulch and explorer’s playhouse while preteens learn about the genetics of taste and look at microscopic cells from their own bodies at Expedition Health. The Denver Art Museum also has an array of interactive stations where kids can make their own postcards, try on costumes and go on exhibit scavenger hunts.
Denver is compact enough to navigate mostly by foot, but you can also zip around town with B-cycle, the nation’s first citywide bike share program, with its 82 stations around the city.
Don’t Miss Colorado Springs
After a $100 million renovation and two new restaurants, The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs is the place to stay this summer. Larger guestrooms include new chandeliers and marble baths, and a three-story addition to the West wing adds 31 guest rooms. Ristorante Del Lago replaces Charles Court, offering sophisticated yet inviting Italian cuisine in a Lake Como-inspired villa, while Natural Epicurean serves lighter fare, with produce grown right on the patio and herbs snipped from the living herb wall. For special occasions though, the Penrose Room is still a must. Take a guided tour of the Cheyenne Canyon, play golf or whitewater raft on the Arkansas River before hitting the world-class spa to unwind.