Your weekend guide to Denver, Colorado! Where to stay, what to eat, and what to do in Downtown Denver.
Where do you head when you want a weekend away with things to do and lots of good food to eat? Denver!
My husband celebrated the big 4-0 last month, and since he’s not a big birthday party guy, I talked him into a weekend away with just the two of us. It had been way too long since we had been able to get away together, so this was a great excuse to get out of town for a few days.
Our only problem was where to go. We wanted to go somewhere within driving distance. We talked about Vegas. Park City. And then Denver came up. It had been years since either of us had been to Denver, so it was decided.
Even though we aren’t Denver experts, we actually got pretty lucky with where we stayed, what we ate, and what we did. So I thought I’d share all the details of where to eat in Denver, and where to stay in Denver. So if you are looking to head to the Mile-High City, here are some great recommendations!
Where to Eat in Denver
Guard and Grace
After arriving in Denver and checking into our hotel, we decided to venture out to find something to eat. I usually do a lot of research on places to eat, but we were pretty much flying by the seat of our pants for this vacation. We asked the front desk of the hotel for recommendations nearby, and Guard and Grace was one of the suggestions she gave us.
The restaurant was only a short walk from our hotel. We were expecting a long wait, since it was a Friday night, but we got lucky and they were able to sit us at a high top in the bar area. They did say they were booked for the whole night in the main part of the restaurant, but we didn’t mind the high top.
We started with a charcuterie board, which was good. My husband also ordered a wedge salad (above) that he devoured and said was probably the best wedge salad he had ever had. I ordered a New York strip steak and crispy brussels sprouts, and my husband ordered a ribeye and whipped potatoes. We both agreed that the steaks were some of the best we have ever had. And I can’t stop thinking about those Brussels sprouts. The potatoes were also very good, as were the rolls that they served with the meal.
Both of us were so stuffed that we couldn’t even think about dessert, but the desserts on the menu did sound really good. The meal was not cheap, but a good steak is hard to find, and I thought this meal was worth every penny.
Guard and Grace
1801 California Street
When I travel, I usually like to try restaurants that are independant to that area, but when I saw that Denver had a Snooze, I knew I had to go. (They also have locations through California, Colorado, Arizona and Texas).
We were able to walk to Snooze, as well, but I do have to say that the location we went to was in a pretty questionable part of town. I have travelled plenty by myself and am pretty comfortable walking through a big city on my own, but I probably would think twice about walking to this one again if I were by myself. (There are actually 3 locations in Denver, though – this was just the closest to our hotel.)
When we arrived, there were a lot of people both in the restaurant and outside. I knew we’d have a wait, and we decided to wait outside when they told us it would be about 45 minutes. This would have been fine, but there is not anywhere to sit outside. My husband and I found a tree to stand under for some shade, but some benches would have been really nice. After an hour, we went to check where we were in the line, and they let us sit at the bar because 2 seats had opened up. Not my first choice, but I was so hungry and tired of waiting, so we took it.
My husband and I both ordered the Snooze Spuds Deluxe (mine had green chile, bacon and a sunny side up egg and my husband’s had sausage gravy and an egg over easy). We also ordered pancakes. I also ordered a pancake flight that had a sweet potato pancake, sunburst cake (lemon poppyseed with berries and almonds), and the blueberry Danish pancake. Everything we ordered was two thumbs way up. SO good, and dare I say even worth the hour wait. I am going to have to try to replicate those sweet potato pancakes because I will be dreaming about it until I can try it again. But really, all of the pancakes were amazing, and the Snooze Spuds Deluxe was breakfast perfection.
2262 Larimer Street
(more locations as well)
Helton Burger Shack – Coors Field
I had intended to try several things at Coors Field. When we got there, we walked around to see what there was. When we walked past Helton Burger Shack, it smelled so good that both of us ended up just wanting a burger. The line was fairly long, so we went and stood in line for a very long time (which still baffles me since all they sell are burgers, fries, onion rings and drinks/milkshakes). Each of us ordered a burger and some onion rings.
We walked back to our seats before eating, but unfortunately, we were both a bit underwhelmed. This was really the only meal of the trip that I wouldn’t repeat. The onion rings were very soggy. I think I only ate one of mine. The burger would have been good, but I thought the bun was way too big. So all I was tasting was bun instead of actually tasting the burger.
And then I didn’t even end up trying anything else, which is a shame, because I normally really love ballpark food. Next time!
We had one last gluttonous meal left in Denver, so before we left to head home, we stopped by the Denver Milk Market, located at the super cool Dairy Block. Just recently, the Denver Milk Market opened up, and I’m totally in love with this concept. It is kind of like an upscale food court. And every restaurant really looked so good. We arrived just before lunch service was starting, and both decided on Lou’s Hot|Naked. I ordered a chicken sandwich and a biscuit, and my husband got a chicken sandwich and tots. And since we just can’t stop eating, we also got some fried chicken to try as well. I have nothing bad to say about any of it. The sauce wasn’t as hot as I thought it would be so I added more after, and that sandwich was devoured. The biscuit was huge, so I didn’t even get through that. The fried chicken was also really good – nice and crispy and moist. It was the perfect way to end our weekend of eating!
1800 Wazee Street
Where to Stay in Denver
I can’t even tell you how much time I spent looking at hotels in Denver, trying to decide if we stay in downtown or outside of downtown. I really like being in the heart of it all, and being able to walk places, but since downtown Denver is so old, most hotels only have underground valet parking. And that parking is not cheap. Most that I looked at were between $35-$50/night (which includes in and out privileges). In the end, we decided to stay downtown, because we figured we’d end up driving into the city and have to pay for parking anyway, so we might as well stay downtown.
When it comes to hotels, my favorite are always boutique hotels. I love their uniqueness. So I finally decided to book a room at the Magnolia Hotel.
Located only 3 blocks from the 16th street mall and within walking distance to many of Denver’s downtown attractions, this hotel is delightful and unique. It is in a historic building that dates back to 1910.
The hotel itself is modern, but with a wink and a nod back to the building’s beginnings. There was a photo in our room of the building back in its heyday. And the safe deposit box art in the lobby was super cool.
I booked a suite because we wanted some extra space, and we certainly did get it. We had a little living area with a tv and couch, a kitchen area with a table, refrigerator, microwave and sink. The bedroom was in its own separate room, with a big walk in closet. I had no complaints about the room at all, except the design of the sink in the bathroom was a little strange and it made it so there wasn’t very much counter space.
There was some noise from the train below, but really, that is to be expected in a downtown hotel. You can’t expect to be that close to public transportation and not hear it. So that did not bother me at all.
The hotel does have a restaurant that we did not try. And a fitness center, which I didn’t even look for. They also offer free warm cookies in the lobby each night from 8:00-10:00 (we missed out on this both nights!!) Everyone we encountered was very nice, professional and accommodating. I would definitely stay here again!
Magnolia Hotel Denver
818 17th Street
What to Do in Denver
Ok, so I hesitated even putting this section in this post, because we really didn’t do much of anything. We did walk around some and experience the city. A lot of things were closed because it was the weekend (I really wanted to go tour the Mint!) Parts of downtown were really clean, while other parts were not. I did love all of the overflowing planters, though. If I could have, I would have loaded one up in my car and taken it home with me!
We did go to the 16th Street Mall for just a little bit (it was a chilly weekend and I needed a sweater!). If you like shopping, you’d probably enjoy this outdoor mall. Lots of stores, lots of street performers.
And already noted above, we did go to a baseball game at Coors field. We were able to get decent tickets online the night before. There was a rain delay (even though it wasn’t raining?) but we ended up staying for most of the game. I love going to baseball games, and Coors Field was great!
It was a perfect weekend filled with lots of great food. Now I’ve got the Denver bug and want to go back again!