Contrary to popular belief, not everyone who grows up in Denver is an expert skier. I was born here and have skied a total of two times in my life. The good news is there are a lot of great things about Denver that don't involve flinging yourself down an icy mountain wearing plastic blades on your feet, and I've put together some of my favorites. This list will change on occasion, when I find something new and awesome to share about the Mile High City.
- Snooze: This place serves delicious everything, including the best pancakes ever. Be prepared to wait for at least an hour no matter what time you get there, at either Denver location.
- Lucile’s: I first ate at Lucile's in Boulder on my 21st birthday. They serve creole favorites for breakfast and lunch; my favorites are the chicory coffee and beignets.
- Santiago’s: After nearly a year of research trips all over the city, Dann and I officially named this the best breakfast burrito in Denver. Many locations, $2 burritos, what more could you want?
- Larkburger: This place is quintessential Colorado - you will never eat a greener burger. Their containers are biodegradable and basically all of their waste gets composted. Try the truffle & parmesan fries. You won't be disappointed.
- Bones: One of Denver's only ramen places, this spot was also named one of America's Best Ramen places by Travel and Leisure in January, 2014. The steamed pork buns are incredible, but if you eat them plus a noodle bowl, you may be "Thanksgiving full" for up to 8 hours. Fair warning.
- Pinche Tacos: This place serves up delicious street tacos and tasty margaritas. I like the Rajas, Dann likes the Lengua, and we both like the churros. They have 2 locations and all day happy hour on Mondays.
- La Loma: A long established West Denver favorite, this Mexican restaurant is the real deal. I've never had food there that I didn't love. Visit if you're in the mood for green chile, tortillas, tequila, or all three!
- Osteria Marco: This is the downtown spot for delicious fancy pizza and a great wine list. And if you're not cheese-averse, try the burrata.
- Potager: One of the first restaurants at which I experienced an authentic farm-to-table meal. The atmosphere is cozy and comfortable, and they take their craft very seriously. The menu changes monthly and the whole place closes down for a month in the winter to give the staff a break. There are a few parking spots behind the building and they do not take reservations.
- Root Down: Located in The Highlands, this restaurant is also largely farm-to-table and organic, with tons of gluten free options. Their aim is to be connected to the neighborhood the same way ingredients are connected to food. I just read that description on their website and now their name makes sense in a whole new way. These guys take reservations and also have a great happy hour.
- The Populist: I first heard of this restaurant from a friend who knows the chef/owner, and I've since been there for dinner a few times. The food is fantastic, the atmosphere is funky and fun, and the staff is super knowledgable and friendly. The bacon and egg is my favorite thing I've eaten there. And possibly anywhere.
- Old Major: The only place I've ever seen the remnants of a whole suckling pig with my own eyes, this restaurant specializes in meat. They butcher and cure their meat in-house, and the service is top notch. My favorite part of a meal there is the pretzel roll with mustard butter. Yum.
- Beast and Bottle: This charming little uptown spot is run by a brother and sister team, and everything I've had to eat and drink there has been fantastic. The house-made sausage on the brunch menu and the fig & pig pizza are a couple of the standouts.
- The Kitchen: My kind of place in the sense that it's totally unpretentious and educational, while equally excellent on all fronts. There are currently five locations in Denver and Boulder with two more on the way, and each one donates a percentage of sales to help plant Learning Gardens in the local community.
- Bonnie Brae: My absolute favorite place to get ice cream in Denver, they make it from scratch daily. If you're there on a day they have mocha Oreo, call me.
- Aviano: One of the first fancy coffee shops I ever visited in Denver, I found out about this place originally because they brewed Intelligentsia coffee, which Dann loves. They recently moved to a bigger location, and it's a great place to spend a sunny Denver afternoon.
- Buchi: I discovered this little cafe after Dann told me about a Cuban coffee he'd had while touring and how much he wanted to drink it forever and ever. We had breakfast there the day he proposed, and I think it might be the only Cuban coffee in Denver.
- Boxcar Coffee Roasters: These guys first opened in Boulder and have since added two locations in Denver. They are very serious about their coffee, and it shows. If you can, try the Ethiopia Yergacheffe Kongo. Yum.
- Denver Bicycle Cafe: First of all, this place is a full-service bike shop. It's also a coffee shop (with FREE wifi), and a bar. They don't mind if you bring food from somewhere else. It's big and sunny and the perfect place to sip on a latte with housemade vanilla syrup while your bike gets all fixed up.
- Vine St. Pub: The most important thing to know about this place if you've never been there is that they don't take credit cards, so head's up. They do have an ATM inside, though. This is by far my favorite place to get a beer in Denver, plus they have great chicken nachos. Also, Dann took me there on our first date AND on the day he proposed, so it's kind of a special spot for the Stocktons.
- The Hornet: Located right across the street from The Mayan Theatre, this is a hip little bar/restaurant. They also have a great happy hour and good food, but the wait can get long if you go later in the evening, so be prepared.
- Falling Rock Tap House: Located across the street from Coors Field, this is a fun spot to hang out on the patio if there's a game going on and you're looking to be somewhere downtown that's buzzing with excitement. They have 75+ beers on tap, so there's a little something for everyone.
- Caveau Wine Bar: This place was named the 2012 15th best wine bar in America by Travel and Leisure. If you enjoy drinking wine in a laid-back loungey spot while munching on a fancy meat and cheese plate, this is the place to be. They also offer a great happy hour.
- Mayan Theatre: One of the nation's three remaining theaters designed in the Art Deco Mayan Revival style, this movie theater offers first-run indie films and beer on tap. It's also centrally located and just across the street from The Hornet (see above).
- Esquire Theatre: Built in 1927, this theater screens cinema classics at midnight on Fridays and Saturdays; at the time of this writing, the upcoming weekend will feature The Muppet Movie. What?!
- Denver Center for the Performing Arts: Also known as the DCPA, this complex is the city's main hub for the ballet, opera, symphony orchestra, and theater. My favorite is the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, where the Colorado Ballet performs. If you're in town during the holidays, The Nutcracker does not disappoint.
- Hi-Dive: One of the first places I heard my husband play the drums, this is a great little music venue where you can catch some of Denver's best local acts, plus bigger name artists on occasion.
- Fillmore: Located in Capitol Hill and built in 1905, this auditorium is definitely one of the top spots to catch a show in Denver. I've seen the likes of Outkast, John Mayer, and Robert Randolph play there, and at the time of this writing LAURYN HILL will be there in just a few weeks.
- Paramount: Built in 1930, this theatre was once "the foremost movie house in Denver". It was built by Temple Buell, who supposedly considered it the best example of his work. It's beautiful inside and out. If you have the chance to see anything there, do it.
- B-cycle: If you really want to look like you know your way around Denver, rent yourself a red bicycle, tuck your things into the basket, and see the sights while you do your cardio. You'll fit right in.
- Wash Park: This is one of my favorite places in all of Denver. It covers 165 acres right smack in the middle of the city and every inch of it is lovely. There are a lot of trails for running/walking, a nicely paved road loop for biking, TWO lakes, tennis courts, basketball hoops, and I could go on. If you're looking for a nice place to enjoy Denver's sunshine, this is the best one.
- Museum of Nature and Science: This is the museum I grew up visiting on school field trips. Their 'Expedition Health' (formerly known as THE HALL OF LIFE) and 'Prehistoric Journey' exhibitions are fantastic. They had a 'Titanic' exhibit a few years back and it. was. phenomenal.
- Art Museum: The Denver Art Museum opened a brand new building in 2006 and it is certainly worth visiting. They're closed on Mondays, but they let you in free on the first Saturday of every month, so be sure to plan accordingly.
- MCA: Also closed on Mondays, this museum will make you think. Be sure to visit the Idea Box on the top floor to create some visual art of your own!
- Botanic Gardens: If you're looking to enjoy the outdoors in the city, this a great place to do it. They offer free wi-fi which, in my opinion, can't be beat. They also offer free admission days to Colorado residents a few times throughout the year, but in my experience they're not worth the stampeding crowds you have to deal with.