For the past few years, I’ve been fortunate to take separate trips with my parents for quality time. This year, my dad and I decided on Colorado, with plans to spend a couple days in the state’s capital (Denver) and a couple more days up in the mountains. This was also my first time visiting CO, so I’m pretty excited to cross another state off my list!
I had a couple points of interest marked on the agenda for our first day in Denver, but mostly, I figured we’d take it easy and walk around and take the city in with a pretty low-key day.
First up was a stop at The Denver Money Museum, a free museum at one of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank locations. It was essentially a big room with several displays, but nonetheless, a really cool place to pop into! If you’re interested in learning more about the economy and the Fed, you can, but what I found most interesting was seeing currency throughout U.S. history, dating back to 1775! Did you know that a $100,000 existed at one point in time?! The museum also showed what $30 MILLION looks like, and surprisingly, it wasn’t what I imagined it would look like at all!
Post-museum, we walked for a bit and did some shopping and exploring in the popular downtown areas like the 16th Street mall (a street filled with all kinds of shops and restaurants- both local and chain) and LoDo (lower downtown), before stopping at Red Rock Brewing for a “lupper ” and some craft beer! I wish I had pictures to share with you here, but we were pretty hungry, so the food didn’t last long enough to snap a photo!
Next up was a visit to the famous Union Station, where everyone MUST visit when in Denver. The historic station still operates with trains, but inside, has been revamped with shops and restaurants, my favorite of which is Terminal Bar. I mean, look how amazing this place is! It didn’t hurt that the Christmas tree was up too – it’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Once we made it back to our fabulous hotel, the ART, we decided to stop at the FIRE terrace to enjoy the awesome atmosphere of the rooftop and fire pits, the perfect setting for a cool fall night (Note: It’s had to capture this fully at night so the photo below is a morning shot)!
While our first day exploring Denver was pretty lax in terms of an itinerary, we had a busy day booked for our second, and last full day in the city. First up? Brunch at Jelly, in the Capitol Hill district. Despite the fact that it was a Thursday, I’d like to point out that this place was PACKED and had a running wait list before, during, and after our meal (Pro tip: You can’t make reservations, but you can add your name to the waitlist ahead of time via the Opentable app).
I also have to point out that this place is totally EPIC and if you even have an ounce of geekiness in you, you have to stop here if/when in Denver. Their drink sizes are available in hobbit, elf, and wizard sizes. I’m 100% obsessed, guys.
Not to mention the biscuit I had with my meal is one of the best I’ve ever had AND their burritos are humungo. My dad was pretty proud of the fact that he ate the whole thing too – major man vs. food status!
Post-meal we walked over a few blocks for a tour of the “Unsinkable” Molly Brown’s house (if you’re wondering where you know the name from – think back to 1997 in Titanic – Kathy Bates’ character). Looking at the exterior, it reminded me a bit of The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, so I couldn’t wait to check out the inside.
Molly Brown actually lived in this house pre-Titantic (she was living in NYC afterwards), but spent many years with her husband and children in this home beginning in the late 1800s, well before Denver was built up into the city it is today. I love seeing (and learning more about) historical things, so this was a really awesome stop!
Although we were still stuffed from brunch, there was one stop we HAD to make. Voodoo Doughnut. I’ve been dying to visit this place (the original location’s in Portland, OR) for years and was so excited to find out they had a shop set up in Denver. Fortunately for us, it was a solid half hour walk away, so we were able to burn some brunch calories to make room for more to come. Do note that if you venture here though, it isn’t in the greatest area of town. But it was well worth the hike!
Voodoo Doughnut has THE coolest names for their doughnuts and they’re absolutely delicious! Plus, the creativity here is top-notch! For example, they had a “Marshall Mathers” donut (the rapper Eminem’s real name if you’re not familiar) which was topped with M&Ms. Other cool ones? “Captain My Captain,” topped with Captain Crunch cereal, and the biggest doughnut I’ve seen that you can have for free – but only if you can finish eating it in about 90 seconds!
The last big thing on our agenda was a distillery tour at Stranahan’s Whiskey. It wasn’t a brand either of us were familiar with, but it had great reviews and we wanted to try something different, since we had already sampled a bit of Denver’s craft beer. The tour was only $11 per person and well worth it! We not only learned more about the whiskey process, but were also able to sample from different aged whiskey barrels and got the cutest taster glasses to take home, as part of admission. Stranahan’s also had the most delicious whiskey + fig (and sugar cube) drink!
To close out the night, we stopped at Torchy’s Tacos, just a couple blocks from our hotel. The line was nearly out the door when we rolled up and then WAS out the door by the time we sat down to eat. Worth the wait? I’d say so. The main item on the menu is, you guessed it, tacos! Their queso is also pretty fabulous!
Have you visited Denver? Stay tuned for the mountain portion of our trip, still to come!