Friday, March 8, 2013

What to do in Denver (Vacation Guide)

It's Friday! Woot!

I hope your weekend is renewing and full of wonderful thrift finds (isn't that what everyone does on the weekend--or is that just me?)!

If you've been visiting my blog for awhile now, you know that I am a displaced Coloradoan. I moved to Kansas for college, met and married a Kansas boy, and am now working and settling down a bit here in the sunflower state--but I visit home as often as possible (which is usually about once a month)!

Recently, I've been chatting with several bloggers who are either planning to visit or move to Colorado--sooo, I decided to to a series of posts about what to do/eat/avoid while visiting CO.. beginning with Denver.. let's go!

Disclaimer: These are my favorite places in Denver--I'm sure if you were to ask somebody else, they'll tell you different.. but they'd be wrong.
Where to Visit 
Colorado State Capitol (Denver)
Yes, the capitol building.. I know it's totally kitschy, but it's actually a really neat experience. What other time in your life will you be exactly one mile above sea level?! The building itself is beautiful, the view of the Rocky Mountains from the top is stunning, and admission is free.
200 E Colfax Ave  
Denver, CO 80203
                                                                    (303) 866-2604

Red Rocks Amphitheater (Golden)
Red Rocks is seriously a stop you won't want to miss on your trip to Denver. The Rocks sit 6,450 feet above sea level and are surrounded by "868 acres of deer, dinosaurs, pines and prairie, geological wonders and spectacular vistas" (source). If you're a big music fan, be sure to check out the upcoming concerts. I went to my first concert at Red Rocks back in '09 (Death Cab for Cutie) and it was an amazing experience that I will never forget. Red Rocks is a great place to exercise, take pictures (my brother had his senior pictures taken there!), and admission is free.
18300 W Alameda Pkwy
Golden, CO 80401
     (720) 865-2494    

Coors Brewery Tour (Golden)
After hiking around Red Rocks, you'll be ready to unwind a bit with a cold beer. Lucky for you, the Coors Brewing Company is just down the road from the Rocks and offers a free tour of the worlds largest single-site brewery. And the best part? At the end, you get to sample some of their beer while sitting in a refrigerated room. Ahhh..
1221 Ford Street and 13th
Golden, CO 80401
(303) 277-2337 

Basically Anything in Boulder (Boulder)
Boulder is just an awesome town that is fun to venture around in. My personal favorite spot is the Pearl Street Mall in Downtown Boulder. The Pearl Street Mall has a few of your chain stores (Urban Outfitters, Billabong) but is mostly made up of small, locally owned boutiques and shops. The whole area has a fun vibe and will entice all 5 of your senses. Also in Boulder are the University of Colorado campus, Flatirons, and  Coors Events Center.
 Runners Up
Old South Gaylord (my favorite street in the world!)
Denver Mint 

Where to Eat
Brown Palace (Denver)
If you know me, you know that this is a given--the Brown Palace offers a high tea every afternoon in their gorgeous lobby area. You can never go wrong with soft, crumble on your tongue scones with authentic English Devonshire cream, right? If you're looking for a little mother/daughter time on your vacation, make sure to visit the Brown Palace. It's an experience neither of you will forget!
321 17th St.
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 297-3111
Andre's (Denver)
This is seriously one of the most intimate and adorable restaurants I have ever been to. Andre's offers authentic Swiss meals (and different meal choices everyday) and the most mouthwatering Swiss, French and Danish desserts you will ever try (unless you visit Europe, of course). While you're waiting for your Croute au fromage, do a little people watching--you'll see several regulars dressed to the nines in suits, dresses and hats.
 370 S Garfield St.
 Denver, CO 80209
(303) 322-8871

Lodo's Bar and Grill (Denver)
I'm completely basing this pick off of their nachos (something you may not know about me--I am a connoisseur of nachos.. I get them at every restaurant I go to.. except Andre's) but the food was amazing. My friends and I actually had dinner here for my bachelorette party and the girls all raved about their meals. If you can, get a table out on the roof; the views of downtown, Coors Field and the Rocky Mountains are breathtaking.
1946 Market St.
 Denver, CO 80202
(303) 293-8555

Where to Avoid
Casa Bonita (Lakewood)
Casa Bonita is one of the biggest novelties in Denver. If you're looking for delicious and authentic Mexican cuisine, DO NOT COME HERE. The food has no taste and it has been debated whether or not the meat is legitimate beef or cat food. The only reason you come to Casa Bonita is for the atmosphere.. there are cliff divers, puppet shows, arcades, musicians, etc. Just make sure they don't make you sit behind the waterfall (we always get left back there.. and it is humid and loud).
Downtown Aquarium (Denver)
Let me start this out by saying that I have nothing against aquariums.. gazing at beautiful and tropical fish is my jam. However, $18 a pop for admission ($12 for kids) is just too much. In my opinion, the Downtown Aquarium isn't anything special. Save yourself some money and visit the Botanic Gardens instead. The cost is less and there is more to see/do.
I hope this guide helps you plan your next Denver vacation! Next week, I'll be back with the Rocky Mountain edition of the Annie One Can Cook Colorado Vacation Guide! 

Where is your favorite place to visit in the Mile High City?

Party, Party, I like to Party 


  1. I seriously can't agree with you more on Casa Bonita! Every one I know always wants to go there and I advise them not too...ugh. Atmosphere is pretty awesome though! Boulder is one of my favorite places ever so I'm glad it's on your must see list! :)

  2. I was in Denver 3 years ago. I liked it but I'd just broken my ankle so getting around was hard!

  3. I lived in Denver in 2007/2008.

    I'll have to disagree about Casa Bonita--if you've never been to Denver, it's just one of those places that's a fun place to visit. But if you want great authentic Mexican food, try Las Margaritas on 17th Avenue! YUM.

  4. One of my bestie's lives in Denver now - she is a misplaced CA girl - I'm going to send her over here to read your recs!!

    Very informative post, awesome!

    1. I'm here!! Love and miss you @Maegan in CA.. we (my hubs and 1child) have been living in CO like tourists for the last year and a half and have tried all these places out! We did Casa Bonita thanks to Cartman of Southpark cartoon. I will def be a new fan of your blog though. And I LOVE hiking in Boulder!!

  5. Ha! When my son and his girlfriend come out in Dec. I was told by said son that we HAVE to take her to Casa Bonita LOL! We've been taking out of towners there since we moved to CO back in the early 70's :-) If you want good...nay...GREAT Mexican food, head to Guadalajara's at 225 north of Mississippi. thanks for sharing this at the party Annie! I'm featuring it on my Facebook page too :-)

  6. For families I would add the Denver Zoo (it's not the Bronx Zoo or San Diego Zoo) but it's got a good diversity of animals and it's totally manageable with a family. I am surprised you have Aquarium on your Avoid list. We live in Fort Collins and go to the Aquarium once a year. People coming from the coasts might be disappointed because it is small, but they have to know it's not going to compare to a Mystic Aquarium or Monterrey's Aquarium.

  7. Annie, I'm trying to plan my trip to CO and your advice was very helpful! Thank you :)


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