Denver for a day

I’ll be in Denver for a few days, never been before and am looking for some advice.

I’ll be going to a trade show and won’t have a ton of time, but should get at least a full afternoon/evening to explore the area, and will have a rental suv - I’m an outdoors guy, but probably won’t have time for any serious climbs, hikes, skiing, etc. but would love to experience the mountains even if just a drive to a great spot - any recommendations? I’ll have my DSLR also…

The next couple of days I’ll be in the downtown, Colorado Convention Center area, so would take any recommendations for a good burger and beer type bar where a guy can go alone without feeling super weird!

I know what *I’d *be doing, but if it hasn’t occurred to you already, I guess you’re not into that.


Yeah, the first 420 or so things that occur to me to do in Denver prolly wouldn’t appeal to our OP.

A nice easy loop tour close to Denver is to go west on I-70 to Central City Parkway, north through Central City, and east on 46 to Golden Gate Canyon State Park. Drive through the park, stop at the scenic overlook, then continue east to Golden. Find a nice place to eat, take the free Coors Brewery tour and head back to Denver. Just be sure to check the weather before you go!

Haha, I can’t believe I didn’t even think of that - probably just a strange concept to me that its legal somewhere.

I used to partake more often, but not so much in recent years so this time round I’ll stick to mountain highs and alcohol most likely!

Nice! This sounds like a good plan - thanks!

Where in Denver is your trade show? North? South?

I like Bumbershoots idea. The drive up I70 then the Central City Parkway and then coming down 119 and then 6 back into Golden is pretty cool. Central City and Blackhawk are both gambling towns if you are into that.

For a longer drive (4-5 hours) take 285 south to Fairplay, 9 north to Breckenridge. Continue on 9 north to Frisco, then I70 East to Denver again. Note DO not do this on a Sunday or Saturday because I70 East to Denver is a mess in the afternoon due to skier traffic.

(Note: The drive to Fairplay takes you through South Park, about 20 miles of flat nothing. But - from Wiki - “The Town of Fairplay, Colorado, is the visual basis for the Town of South Park, Colorado, in the television series South Park.” And yes Fairplay looks pretty much like that.

Have lunch in Alma, about 10 miles North of Fairplay. You have two choices. The AOB (Almas Only Bar) or the South Park Saloon (also a bar). I prefer the South Park. Say hey to Joel the owner.

Colorado loves it’s intoxicants and beer and brewing is a big part of Colorado’s history. One of the first brewpubs in the country is the Wynkoop Brewing Company, opened in 1988 by a guy who became the Mayor of Denver and is now Colorado’s Governor. It’s a casual place with decent food and a pool hall upstairs. You’ll feel perfectly comfortable by yourself there. It’s in lower downtown, but not exactly right near (10-15 blocks) by the Convention Center.

If you’re looking for a lunch spot near the CC, about two blocks away is a LarkBurger, a small Colorado chain that serves amazing burgers and fries. I don’t eat much fast food at all (and it isn’t fair to call it that) but this place is fantastic. It’s at 16th and California.

Another suggestion for lunch that’s close to the Convention Center, especially since you’re looking for a burger and beer: Appaloosa Grill at 16th and Welton. About eight beers on tap, most of which are from Denver/Colorado, and a fantastic burger. My wife and I make a point to have lunch there whenever we go downtown.

It’s a little further from the Convention Center, but I’d also recommend Pint’s Pub at 13th and Cherokee (very close to the Denver Art Museum). They make all of their beer there, and all of them are pretty fantastic (their Gael Force Scottish ale is just out of this world). Their burgers are great (they call them “wimpies”). And, if you’re into single malt Scotch, you’ll be blown away.

I’d have no problem sitting alone at either of their bars – done it myself, plenty of times.

If you’re short on time or the weather isn’t being friendly you might check out Red Rocks Amphitheatre. It gives you a short hike and it’s kind of cool to be on the abrupt border of geology and the city.

If you’re flying in and out, you could spend an hour looking for the weird Illuminati stuff at the airport.

That’s a great loop, but if you have time you can skip I-70 and take 103/Squaw Pass road from Evergreen to Idaho Springs, and then back a mile or two on I-70 to Central City parkway and Golden Gate back to Golden. If you like the outdoors then 103 is probably more worth your time than a Coors tour. 103 travels up the side of mountain, so you get great views as you go, instead of being stuck in a canyon.

On that route you’re going to get some large elevation changes, so the weather and conditions can change in just a few miles. It can be sunny and warm (even in the winter) in Denver, and cold with blowing snow at elevation. Just the opposite can be true, too. It can be overcast and depressing in Denver, and over 9000 feet you break through the clouds and it’s brilliant sunny (still cold, because it’s winter and you’re at 10,000 feet…)

One of my favorite motorcycle rides is to start with breakfast at the Country Road Cafe in Kittridge, and then the route described above. Be sure and check road conditions at CoTrip before leaving. And also, I-70 west can have brutal traffic on weekend mornings.

There are many brewpubs in Colorado. Downtown you have the mentioned Wynkoop and Breckenridge. There might be others, but those are the ones I can remember. My favorite is a bit outside of downtown, but not very far, Vine Street, which is the Denver location of Boulder’s Mountain Sun.