Last week, I woke up and thought “What Denver weekend activities should I take part in?” I’ve never asked myself that before, so this was fun- should we go hiking, to a microbrewery, or a museum? Or perhaps a tea tour, shopping, dining, or an outdoor theater? The answer to this question can be determined after asking this: do I want to relax? Experience nature? Learn? Spoil my taste buds? In three full October days, all of the above was covered.
Our Boulder & Denver Weekend Activities included:
Places to See
Red Rocks Amphitheater– an open air amphitheater that served as a platform (be it performances or recordings for videos) for various stars over the years including The Beatles, U2, Dave Matthews Band, Stevie Nicks, Mumford & Sons, and many, many more. Come on a clear day to get a gorgeous view of stage in its entirety or better yet, check ahead to see if there’s a show you can catch while you’re out there! The acoustics there must be absolutely terrific during a show.
Lost Gulch Overlook (Flagstaff)- a very winding fun road leading to an incredible overlook where you’re surrounded by mountains from left to right. Bring a warm sweater- it can get cold very quickly. The mountains on your utmost left will likely already be covered in snow, like a movie. On the way to the overlook, if you’re celebrating a fancy occasion or simply want to spoil yourself- make a stop at the fancy Flagstaff restaurant for a meal and some breathtaking panoramic views.
Oh and by the way, where better to take notes of my adventures than with my fancy new travel moleskine? Yup, that book catered to all my creative needs.
Denver Art Museum– as with most museums, you probably want to check ahead of times to see if there’s a particular exhibit you can catch. This museum has two buildings- we only covered the Hamilton building (4 floors)- but we found our experience there to be very hands-on, interactive, with great collections including Daniel Sprick’s fictions, and Sandy Skoglund’s “Fox Games.”
Pearl Street/Mall– a European-feeling street with no cars and a young, lively atmosphere. The street (spanning several blocks) is lined with cafes, stores and shops (including a tea house), renowned restaurants, live performers, dispensaries, a movie theater, and a beautiful courthouse. Definitely worth a few hours of walking, observing, and taking it all in.
Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory Tour – call me crazy for not going to another microbrewery tour which Colorado is known for, but as a tea-lover, this was something new and fun to experience for both adults and family. And it’s free (although the gift shop is full of so many wonderful things it’s doubtful you’ll come out with nothing). 500,000 packets of tea made in one day? But how? And a Mint Room? Yes smells! Also, they have a tea sampler on site who drinks 90-120 cups of tea a day. Don’t you want to know more?
Restaurants Where We Ate
1. Root Down (Highlands area – Denver): great atmosphere, friendly waiters, and great food. We ordered the Devils on Horseback (yes, please get this), Colorado Ranch Meatballs, Veggie Burger Sliders, and Seared Colombian Arepas. The meatballs and arepas were delicious. After the waiter highly recommended the veggie burgers, we were slightly disappointed. Maybe it was the hype.
2. The Kitchen Next Door (Pearl Street- Boulder): this is an acclaimed restaurant and not that it’s so particularly fancy, but the food was definitely delicious. We ordered the Bacon Wrapped Dates, Crispy Garlic Smashers, Wild Sockeye Salmon Salad Sandwich, Bangers n Mash, and Chicken and Quinoa Soup. These were all YUM. Lastly, we ordered the steamed mussels, which tasted a bit odd to me, but overall a delicious experience.
3. Sforno Trattoria Romana (Pearl Street- Boulder): the ambiance of this place makes you actually feel like you’re in Italy with the fake balconies on top and little fountains. Approved choices include Avocado Bruschette, Asparagi Al Forno, Carciofi (artichoke), Calamari, and Portobello. Not so Ilana-approved: Carpaccio Alla Guidecca (beef, capers, arugula, cheese) and Funghi e prosciutto (wild mushrooms, parma prosciutto, crème fraiche). Just something off about these two.
4. Thai Pot Cafe (Denver)- we ordered in from here so I can’t speak to the decor, but if you have another choice in general, I would go with it. We ordered different wonton soups, drunken noodles, and thai basil stir frye and rama chicken peanut sauce. All were ok and a meal, but if you’re a foodie, you can probably do better overall.
We also cooked up a few meals using food from Sprouts grocery store- wish that store was in NY- great selection, awesome prices.
1. Beauty Bar – a salon by morning (martinis and manicures by day) with a club/bar atmosphere at night. We did lots of dancing here and embraced the 80’s theme the deejay had going that night.
2. The Pub on Pearl – a regular dive bar. There’s really nothing more I can add. There’s a beer pong room here if you like.
3. The Meadowlark – a pretty large bar with both outdoor and indoor space. The outdoor space is actually quite nice if it’s not cold outside and be prepared to dance (and maybe push a little) on the dance floor (inside) downstairs.
4. Pirates/Cavemen house party– this is where I realized just how different people in this state are. When we all walked in (not knowing the hosts), a guy literally approached us in his costume and joyfully said “Hey IT’S MY BIRTHDAY! Come on in and please get drinks and listen to the deejay and dance.” I was actually shocked by the openness. Any NY host would automatically say “Hi, I’m so-and-so. Who are you? Who do you know here?” Nothing wrong with the cautious New Yorker; it was just very different to experience this. I met a bunch of different people (Boulder is a conglomerate full of people from all over the country and the world), and enjoyed many intriguing conversations.
Sidenote: Denver’s airport is really nice. Very clean. That’s all.
2 CENTS BELOW PLEASE. Did I miss any Denver weekend activities? I LOVE YOUR OPINIONS/APPRAISALS/THOUGHTS/CRITIQUES. Merci.