Denver Skyline Hasselblad Credit Visit Denver

Denver - USA

The Colorado capital blends urban adventures with the great outdoors and is home to a burgeoning eating and drinking scene to boot. James Litston goes mile high

Travel Time 10hrs 10min

Why go?

Denver may go by the moniker ‘Mile High City’, but there’s more than elevation here to take your breath away. With its lively neighbourhoods and dramatic Rocky Mountains backdrop, the city mixes heritage and hip to embody the best of the West. Victorian buildings and bold, modern architecture set a sophisticated scene in which to discover galleries, brewpubs and farm-to-table dining, particularly in the edgy RiNo (River North) and LoDo (Lower Downtown) districts. Summer is filled with festivals and also sees Red Rocks Amphitheatre come into its own with a roster of open-air performances staged under starry skies.

What to do

Start off at Union Station – a historic transport hub reinvented for its 100th anniversary into a leisure complex with hotels, retail and restaurants. The main atrium of the station, nicknamed ‘Denver’s Living Room’, sees the old ticket office transformed into a bar. LoDo’s other big attraction is Larimer Square, replete with chic stores and destination restaurants. Culture vultures can swoop into the Museum of Contemporary Art or head to the Denver Art Museum to admire its Western and Native American art collections. The city’s seven arts districts come alive once a month to host First Friday Art Walks but if art doesn’t get you pavement-pounding, perhaps the Denver Beer Trail will. Follow it around breweries ranging from the world’s largest (Coors) to tiny taprooms. Download maps from – or come back in October for the Great American Beer Festival. Also worth checking out is the gold-domed Colorado State Capitol, if only to stand on its steps at exactly one mile above sea level.

Where to stay

As part of the Union Station development, the Crawford Hotel 00 1 720 460 3700, has a killer location. It’s classy, too, with art deco touches and rooms inspired by railway sleeper cars. Equally chic is Hotel Teatro 00 1 303 228 1100, – Denver’s first boutique pad. Occupying a century-old building and retaining a nod to its Western heritage, it has 110 stylish rooms and farm-to-fork restaurant The Nickel, which champions local ingredients. The Oxford Hotel 001 303 628 5400, is another historic LoDo property. The Cruise Room, its vintage bar, is a highlight, as is its pairing of old-school glamour with contemporary comforts. A newer option is the 50-room Ramble Hotel 00 1 720 996 6300, over in the RiNo arts district, home to an outpost of NYC’s must-visit Death & Co speakeasy-style bar.

Where to eat and drink

Western cuisine may be questionable (Google ‘prairie oysters’ if you’re not squeamish) but Denver’s dining scene is booming, with more than 250 new restaurants opening last year. This foodie awakening originated on Larimer Square, where Rioja 00 1 303 820 2282, remains a favourite for its seasonal, local fare from award- winning chef Jennifer Jasinski (her artichoke tortellini are legendary). There’s more Mediterranean goodness over in RiNo at Il Posto 00 1 303 394 0100, where seasonal risottos and tiramisu made to the owner’s mum’s recipe can be enjoyed with skyline views. Another gem nearby is The Source – an artisanal food market (with hotel attached) in a renovated foundry. Its two halls house a bakery, taqueria, wood-fired restaurant and design store, among others: don’t miss Isabel, a cocktail and juice bar with a focus on ingredients sourced from female producers and farmers. Relocate to the hipster LoHi (Lower Highlands) neighbourhood for brunch at Linger 00 1 303 993 3120, where highlights include devils on horseback (bacon-wrapped dates with cheese) and whose rooftop patio serves drinks from an old VW bus.

Time running out?

Traffic can be awful: travel to the airport stress-free on the RTD rail line in just 37 minutes from Union Station.


Travel Information

Travel Information

Currency is the US dollar (USD). Time is six hours behind GMT. Flight time from London is 10 hours. A taxi from the airport to the city centre takes around 40 minutes and costs around £50.

Getting There

British Airways offers a non-stop service from London Heathrow to Denver International Airport.
Norwegian flies direct from London Gatwick.


Visit Denver is a mine of information on events, attractions and restaurants across the city’s neighbourhoods.

Average daily temperatures and rainfall

Min Temp-8-7-31712151492-4-9
Max Temp781216212731302518116

Get Premium access to all the latest content online

Subscribe and view full print editions online... Subscribe