I visited the University of Denver for a little over a week to do some research for my PhD, so I figured I’d put together my guide to Denver! I’m not a big skier (I’ve only gone once and was terrified the whole time), so if you end up in Denver and don’t plan to ski, here’s what the rest of the city has to offer.
To be honest, I didn’t do a lot of sightseeing while I was in Denver.. I spent most of my time on the University of Denver campus, which is absolutely beautiful.
I do recommend checking out Denver Union Station – it’s a gorgeous and beautifully lit train station with a super cute florist, bars, bookstores, and coffee shops. Unlike some train stations on the east coast (side eyeing you Newark Penn), Denver’s Union Station is actually very clean and peaceful.
Obviously a lot of people come to Denver to ski, so if the mountains float your boat, then by all means, go hit the slopes. I prefer to just look at the mountains from afar though. Someone in my church recommended that I check out the Denver Zoo, Botanical Gardens, and Museum of Nature and Science, but I wasn’t in the mood to do very touristy things during my trip. If you’re visiting over the summer, those might be great places to check out.
I tried not to eat out that much during my trip, because your girl is trying to get her summer body together! But I did sample some of Denver’s supposedly “hottest” spots, and some off the beaten path. My first meal in Denver was roughhhh. Seriously, the food and service at Welton Street Cafe is abysmal and I’m not sure how they’re still in business. It’s so tragic because they’re a black owned restaurant in the historically black Five Points neighborhood, but it was just really bad. Like food took 45 minutes to come out and mac and cheese wasn’t even baked bad. Where they do that at??! A cool black-owned establishment to patronize is Bar Helix, which is a cute bar/lounge started by a black woman.
Better food options do exist thank God. Tupelo Honey had delicious honey infused fried chicken, properly baked mac and cheese, and ridiculous delicious ginormous biscuits. Four Friends Kitchen is an amazing breakfast/brunch spot close to the University of Denver. Hop Alley is really good – and really spicy! – asian fusion food that plays hip hop! Their Elliot Carver cocktail sounds super weird (soy milk? matcha?) but was tasty without being too sweet. Unfortunately, the one African restaurant – Ghanaian owned African Bar & Grill – left MUCH to be desired. Their akara was pretty good, and the lamb stew was tasty, but the plantain wasn’t soft!
I stayed in an AirBnB by the University of Denver, and my host Barbara and her home was AMAZING for single female travelers. She only rents to women so it felt incredibly safe and homely. Whenever I’m staying somewhere more than 3 days, I prefer to use AirBnB, but there are also some cute hotels in Denver as well.
Although I didn’t spend that much time in the center of the city, it didn’t seem that accessible via public transportation. There is a light rail train that runs through the city, and to be honest I don’t know the difference between a subway and a light rail, but it just didn’t seem that extensive.
I got around the city in the 2018 Toyota C-HR XLE Premium. It’s a crossover vehicle – you know – those kinds of cars that can’t quite decide if they’re a sedan or an SUV. It’s a zippy little car that didn’t take a lot of space, but didn’t feel like it would get run off the road by larger vehicles. Parking was usually easy to find, both in the daytime and at night, but metered parking downtown had serious time limits.
Denver is a very health conscious city! I saw tons of people exercising outdoors, especially as soon as the weather tipped above 45 degrees. You won’t catch me running outdoors in the cold, but I did visit a few workout studios during my time through a ClassPass trial. I did both Kinesis and Barre at two different Endorphin locations, and while barre was not my favorite workout, I appreciated that Endorphin had a variety of class types and multiple locations. For a more intimate training session, check out Go30, a small gym that specializes in 30 minute workouts. My favorite class was the Meta Body Circuit at Fitness in the City downtown. There were a ton of exercises in the circuit so it didn’t get boring, and the class members were all super encouraging.
I was surprised to hear radio commercials for cannibis discounts, so if that’s your thing, there seems to be a wide variety of dispensaries. There are also a lot of breweries, if you’re into beer.
And that’s really all there was to do in my opinion! Kinda sad right? I mean, I had very low expectations of the city; I was there for business and not for pleasure, so I didn’t expect it to be a rager, nor as interesting as New York or Boston where I’ve spent considerable time. Nonetheless, Denver is a charming city with calming scenery and pretty nice people. I don’t know if I’ll ever visit again, but if you’ve been I’d love to know what your favorite spots are!