This edition of Weekends was produced with support from Danner.
Welcome to Denver, Coloradical. The Centennial State’s capital city is where the Old West meets burgeoning urban cool, where mountain lifestyle mixes with city-life culture and convenience. Think of Denver as your HQ for the Rocky Mountains. Being positioned at the foothills of one of America’s most iconic mountain ranges gives Denver the unique ability to offer world-class daytime outdoor pursuits with big-city nightlife.
Our friends at Danner gave us the Women’s Raptor 650 and Men’s Mountain 600 Weatherized boots to put to the test in the Mile High City. With a stylish look that is nice enough to wear around the city, along with warm and weatherproof construction to keep you comfortable in the snow, these are two boots that can take you seamlessly from urban to mountain adventures.
Here’s a winter-minded, 48-hour itinerary for getting the very best of both mountains and metropolis in the Mile High City.
What is one of the best things about a major American city? An international airport, bus terminals, Amtrak station, car rental…you get the picture. Planes, trains, automobiles, or anything with a saddle—including but not limited to a horse or a bike—will get you to Denver.
Where to Stay:
The Ramble Hotel exudes urban cool: exposed brick, high ceilings, chic décor, laidback-but-hip vibe. Plus, it’s smack dab in the River North Art District —nicknamed RiNo — which has a peppering of contemporary art galleries, flashy graffiti, shops, pubs and lounges, food trucks, concert venues … it’s just coooool.
Uber or Lyft are easy ways to get around the city (duh), and so are the city-wide bikes and e-scooters you can rent at major intersections.
For this itinerary, it’s best to have a car to get into the neighboring mountains on your own schedule, but the mountain shuttle bus is also a great option.
6:30-7 a.m. – Wakey wakey, eggs and bac-y. Get some coffee and something light for breakfast at Crema Coffee House, less than a 10-minute walkabout in RiNo from The Ramble Hotel. It’s pretty hipster-y, but the coffee is super delicious. Then, get on the road ASAP. Ski traffic can be a mess during the winter.
7-9 a.m. – Take in the scenery during your drive to Eldora Mountain, just a smidge under 50 miles northwest of the city. (Loveland Ski Area and Arapahoe Basin are also great close-to-downtown ski options, 60-or-so miles west.)
Take your snow boots off and put your ski boots on. Then enjoy yourself some light, fluffy, blower Colorado powder snow.
2 p.m. – You’ve skied all morning and well into the afternoon – it’s time for lunch. Waddle back to the car and head up Coal Creek Canyon Road for a picturesque tailgate picnic. There are some pretty stellar Coloradical views from any number of the turnoffs. (If you skied at Loveland or A-Basin, drive to the top of Loveland Pass for purdiness at 12,000 feet on the Continental Divide.)
4 p.m. – Drive back to the hotel, shower (well, first maybe a quick drink at the Ramble’s Death & Co. bar, but then hurry to the room) and get gussied up for the evening.
6:30 p.m. – Ding, ding: dinnertime. A 15-minute walk from your hotel, RiNo’s Denver Central Market is the hip mixture of a marketplace and food/beer hall. Take your pick from a smorgasbord of local vendors. DCM has coffee, pastries, a fish market, a butcher, a wood-fired pizza oven, salads and sammiches, ice cream, cocktails, a rotisserie … it’s foody heaven. Be prepared to get seconds. And thirds.
8:30 p.m. – Stroll about RiNo for some bar hopping and music. Larimer Lounge and the Meadowlark are great drink-n-tunes options. Be sure to check out Nocturne, a super romantical, moody jazz bar. Great for dessert and drinks, and cozying up with your special someone. If you go to Nocturne you will smooch, and smooch often.
7:30 a.m. – Sleep in a bit. You’ve earned it. Ski days are hard. Ok, ok, get up. You’ve got things to do!
8 a.m. – Get on the road and head to Golden, a gold rush town turned into an adorable, quaint city just 15 miles outside of Denver. Spend the day there exploring the shops, restaurants, cafes, museums, parks and every other endearing nook and cranny.
Drive up Lookout Mountain and hang out with Buffalo Bill Cody…his grave and museum, that is. Or hike the Lariat Trail, check out the Nature Center or the Old West History Park. How about a tasting tour at the Coors Brewery or pedal about town on a bike from the Bike Library? Or sit on a bench on Main Street with a cup of coffee and take in the views of a classic Colorado mountain town.
3 p.m. – Drive to Denver Union Station in trendy Lower Downtown, or LoDo. DUS is a 100-year-old working train station with a recent facelift.
Inside the Great Hall is a bar, a champagne room, a café, an ice cream shop, a bookstore, shuffleboard, and tons of couches and chairs. Walk in, pick your poison, and enjoy. During the holiday season, DUS has a gigantic Christmas tree and on NYE it hosts a silent disco.
5 p.m. – Head back to The Ramble to get cleaned up for dinner.
6:30 p.m. – Chowtime at Linger, an uber-tasty, hip restaurant that used to be a real-deal mortuary. Seriously. Rumor has it that it used to house the remains of Buffalo Bill, so like, full circle from Golden. The delicious eatery fully embraces its past with mortuary-esque décor, like metal conveyor belts turned into dining tables. Somehow it’s all charming and not creepy. But even if you get a little scared, the food will calm your nerves and see your taste buds dancing: Mongolian BBQ duck, seared yellowfish tostadas, lamb kabobs, and tons of other all-over-the-world options. Linger is typically packed so be sure to make reservations a week in advance.
9 p.m. – Time to explore LoHi, Denver’s Lower Highlands neighborhood, which boasts a hip cosmopolitan vibe, the best views of downtown Denver, and Little Man Ice Cream.
Get a scoop or 57 and stroll about, take in the evening and the last two days. You’ve just crushed Denver. Good job, pals.
All photos by Rebecca Stumpf.
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