Nine must-do highlights of Denver, Colorado

The hotel

Relaxed reception  at the Ramble Hotel.

Relaxed reception at the Ramble Hotel.Credit: Visit Denver

Located in the heart of Denver’s hippest neighbourhood, River North (RiNo), the boutique, 50-room Ramble Hotel could be the western US’s hippest hotel. Check-in is done beneath huge chandeliers, among velvet-lined couches set beside a bar called Death & Co – one of the world’s top 50 bars in its first location outside its NYC base. Local artwork is scattered throughout and the exterior is covered in street art. While the Ramble oozes industrial-chic, it’s also very cosy and comfortable, with friendly staff and a complete lack of pretence. See theramblehotel.com

The breakfast

Breakfast with the lot at the Bindery.

Breakfast with the lot at the Bindery.Credit: Visit Denver

The Bindery is open all day, but you have to come for the breakfast tacos – scrambled eggs, chorizo, cotija, red onion, avocado, spicy matcha with peanut chilli sauce. This has to be Denver’s best breakfast, in a city famous for its breakfasts. Located in the subtly chic LoHi (Lower Highlands) district, you’ll eat beneath exposed industrial ceilings, beside hundreds of wine bottles stacked up around a huge open-plan bar. The soundtrack is jazz fusion and while the diners look cool, the dress code seems to be “casual outdoors”, so you’ll feel as comfortable as they look. Try a fresh pastry baked on-site each morning. Sample their Mimosas (champagne with orange juice) and consider staying for lunch. See thebinderydenver.com

The art gallery

Meow Wolf – art with a difference.

Meow Wolf – art with a difference.Credit: Visit Denver

Meow Wolf changes the way you think about art galleries with five storeys of immersive, psychedelic art set in secret caves and mazes with guides in hooded cloaks who can show you a path. This is experiential art at its very best and is ideal for those who find “normal” art galleries a little boring. There are four worlds merged into one on the site – take at least two hours to find your way through it, stopping to check out the art installations along the way or the psychics offering live readings. See meowwolf.com

The brewery

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Denver is one of the best places in the US if you’re a craft beer fan. There are more than 150 breweries but the one that started the craft beer revolution hereabouts is Wynkoop Brewing Company. Located on 18th Avenue in the downtown district, this brewery actually sparked the revitalisation of Denver’s downtown. You’ll find relics of the city’s history throughout the brewery (it’s also said to be haunted) as well as a billiard parlour upstairs and live comedy in the basement. A Denver institution, this is where US presidents come to drink. See wynkoop.com

The restaurant

Il Posto sums up Denver in 2023 – it looks cool as hell, but the food is simple and no matter what you choose, you’re going to have a good time. Located in a two-storey space in Denver’s uber-trendy River North, there are chandeliers above and floor-to-ceiling windows offering amazing views while the cosy high-backed booths are the place for comfort food with a northern Italian simplicity, like the lasagna, made with three-meat bolognese, pancetta and two-year-old parmigiana. See Ilpostodenver.com

The bar

So, what if it’s right by the check-in at your hotel? Death & Co is one of the hippest places to drink in the US. Located in the foyer of the Ramble Hotel, Death & Co transformed the Denver social scene when it opened in 2019. An offshoot of one of New York City’s most celebrated and awarded cocktail bars, it has the same opulence (chandeliers and vaulted ceilings, five pages of cocktails and huge arched mirrors behind the bar so patrons can see how good they look) but with a homely Colorado take on style. Keep your comfy trainers and T-shirt on, anything goes here. See deathandcompany.com

The museum

Denver is famous these days as one of America’s true art cities – home to eight neighbourhood art districts. If you want to see some of the best art in one space – you can’t go past Denver’s Art Museum, the largest art museum between Chicago and the West Coast. It has more than 70,000 works of art – including one of the finest collections of American First Nations and Spanish Colonial art. There are 14 unique collections of art and artefacts from all over the world – so give yourself at least half a day to see it all. See denverartmuseum.org

The neighbourhood

Hundreds of murals bring buildings RiNo (River North) - famous for its love of street art.

Hundreds of murals bring buildings RiNo (River North) – famous for its love of street art.Credit: Visit Denver

In 2022, Lonely Planet named RiNo (River North) one of the 10 neighbourhoods you must visit in the US. It’s an industrial district of revamped warehouses and factories, decorated with some of the best street art (graffiti and murals) on the planet. Hundreds of murals bring buildings to life in a district famous internationally for endorsing street art as a legitimate form. RiNo is where you’ll find most of the city’s best bars, breweries, food halls, urban wineries, fashion boutiques and food halls. See rinoartdistrict.org

The food hall

Avanti, the best of Denver’s food halls.

Avanti, the best of Denver’s food halls.Credit: Visit Denver

This is one of the things Denver does very well – a hot culinary trend since the first opened in 2013. Now there are about a dozen food halls, but the best is Avanti in Denver’s beautiful LoHi (Lower Highland) district, among Victorian-era homes and lush gardens and parks. It has a roof-top bar with the best views of Denver’s downtown and two more bars in shipping containers serving international fare and bustling with locals till midnight. See avantifandb.com

One more thing

Denver’s a lot smaller than you think. With a downtown area roughly the size of Adelaide’s, it’s easy to walk between attractions or take an Uber – you’ll find most fares cost less than $US10 ($14.50).

The writer was a guest of Visit Denver and the Colorado Tourism Office.

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