Here we go, to Denver, Colorado! I thought about pretending I was still happy in order to write this, but I can’t. I just can’t, people! I thought we had a great time on this trip, but I keep going back over moments and memories and looking for the piece that I am missing. I know, I know, every time you remember a memory that you have already remembered, you are really just remembering your memory of that memory. Try saying THAT five times fast. But it makes me wonder if my newfound bias has somehow warped my recollection of the events. I guess we will never know. And I also learned my first lesson in blogging: write, write, write, before it disappears.
But anyway, back to Denver. I chose this location purely based on the price of the plane tickets. I wanted to surprise him with a short birthday trip, and I was looking for something where I could afford to foot the entire bill. I also had previously done some reading on Rocky Mountain National Park, and I knew it was a place he and I would both love. Thus, our Denver adventure was born. We had a super late, super grumpy flight out of Atlanta after completing full shifts at work, went straight to bed upon arriving at our modest Airbnb, and were up early the next day to start exploring.
And by “exploring,” I really mean drinking breakfast cocktails over gluten free pancakes at Syrup. A little Irish coffee never hurt anyone, am I right?? It put us in the perfect mood to stroll across the street and walk around City Park on our way to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (per his request). City Park is a great, clean park and had me thinking of Grant Park back in Atlanta, mainly because it houses the Denver Zoo, just as Grant Park is home to our zoo. The best part of City Park, though, lay to our west, just beyond the gigantic Snowmastadon statue outside the museum. The view. Those mountains. I’m not kidding you when I say that mountains are my favorite thing ever and this was the first time in my life that I laid eyes on the Rockies. So, um, when can I go back?
The museum itself was fun. They had a really cool exhibit on space exploration with a live astronaut doing a demo of life as an astronaut on the moon. Complete with explosions you could feel. There was also a neat exhibit called Expedition: Health, where you could learn about the science behind hiking and adventuring, and even test your own limits. I’m all about hands on when it comes to science museums. And so much taxonomy. Nearly half (if not more than that) of the museum featured different animals and habitats from all over the world. It was great, because apart from some ducks, that was pretty much it for wildlife spottings for the weekend.
If museums are not your thing, skip it. I am a museum geek and sometimes consider it a loss if I visit a new place and don’t stop at one. I strongly believe that there are museums out there that EVERYONE should visit and enjoy. This was not one of them. So if you zoned out for the last paragraph because it bored you to tears, save your money and just see City Park for the view.
We had heard so much about the craft brewery scene in Denver that of course we had to check out at least one! The only issue is how do you choose from them all? Quick Google searches brought up breweries such as Wynkoop, Denver Beer Co., and Breckenridge Brewery. We chose Great Divide Brewery because of the Sasquatch in their logo. Yep. I said this was a place for honesty, so there you have it. We got a few flights to test out their selection, and I ended up with the Yeti Nitro, he with the Denver Pale Ale. Pretty quality beer, in my uncultured opinion. We stuck around for the tour, which lasted about half an hour and was pretty interesting (and free). Great Divide also always has a food truck parked out front, another fantastic reason to visit. Drinks and street food, all in one convenient place.
After that, we let the jet lag win and said good night pretty early, in preparation for another early morning. I had read the legend of Snooze online (let’s be real—probably on Buzzfeed) and so we had to go. On that particular cold and dreary morning, there was an hour wait for an inside seat, or no wait at all to brave the weather. So we brave and impatient souls sat out in the gloom. We had places to be! Honestly, it wasn’t that bad, especially for the food! I understand all the online hype surrounding Snooze now. I took our waiter’s suggestion and ordered a quinoa bowl (I like veggies in the mornings), which was WAY better than I was anticipating! Quinoa is not my thing, but I have been considering trying to recreate it at home because it was that good. And O. M. G. We shared the pineapple upside down pancakes and they were to die for. It was a superb breakfast right by the train station, where we caught a train after boxing up our leftovers.
We rode the rails back down to the airport to pick up our rental car. This process probably took around an hour total, to hop the train to the airport, hoof it through the airport to the shuttle, and then finally pick up our car from the rental location. We chose to pick up the car the second day of the trip rather than when we landed to save the cash, but after adding up the total spent on Uber rides and train tickets, I’m not sure it was worth it to do it that way. I think being without a car forces people to maybe see things they wouldn’t notice from the road, but it depends on what kind of experience you want. Anyway, we were headed for the mountains, and a little bit of precipitation and commuting was not about to dampen my mood! I am so excited to share Rocky Mountain National Park with you guys. So excited, in fact, that I will be dedicating an entire separate post to the park, in order to adequately regale the tale.
On our way back into the city that evening, we stopped at Highland Tap and Burger for dinner. The poutine was more than satisfactory for me as well as my partially Canadian counterpart, and the malt vinegar on the tables brought me back to my time in London. (I am aware that plenty of American restaurants do this—doesn’t change the fact that it makes me nostalgic!)
After a long day of sinking into snow and not getting enough oxygen, we retired back to our apartment for the night.
Our final morning in Denver, we checked out of our apartment before a little bit later brunch at Olive and Finch. Yet another great breakfast/lunch spot hosting gluten free options, and gluten free muffins! If you are coming to Denver for a while, I truly think that you will not run out of good breakfast eateries. If you are coming for one day, though, Snooze would be my recommendation. Hands down.
We still had our rental car, so we had the freedom to drive ourselves around town…and when I say around town, I really mean out of town to Red Rocks Amphitheater! Red Rocks will also be receiving its own post in the next few weeks, but if anyone is unfamiliar with this concert venue, it is built into a preexisting natural rock formation and is pretty much the coolest thing ever. Unfortunately there were no concerts playing the weekend we visited, but we made plans to come back and hear the magic one day! I guess all bets are off now. I don’t really know.
From there, we drove to Little Man Ice Cream, a cute little open-air ice cream shop with quirky flavors. I am always on the hunt for a good ice cream haunt, and Little Man was a sweet last stop before heading back to the airport. We also stopped at Walgreens for some water and headache medication—not sure if we were dealing with leftover altitude sickness from our ascent into the mountains the day before, or if we just weren’t drinking enough water!
After dropping off our car and trekking through security, we got one last snack at Root Down in the airport. We shared one single entrée and a cocktail or two before boarding our flight back to Atlanta. If it sounds like all we did was eat that day…that’s because we didn’t stop eating that day! So much food, not enough time.
Overall, I got a really relaxed vibe from the city. Even though Denver itself is not quite on par with the tourism of cities like Chicago (and I imagine New York), it was great for a relaxed weekend away, and nothing beats those mountains! I have some pretty conflicting feelings regarding my personal stay in the city, but I don’t think that should take away from the fact that, at the time, it was a fun and chill way to spend a long weekend exploring a new place. The Mile High City was definitely one for the books.