An Insider’s Guide to Denver

Here’s everything to know when planning a trip to Colorado’s capital.

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While many travelers descend on Colorado to take advantage of world-class ski resorts like Aspen and Vail, the city of Denver has a lot to offer. The Colorado capital dates back to the origin of the Old West, but has seen a modern revival over the past few decades, including the revitalization of its historic Union Station and the growth of hip neighborhoods like the River North Arts District and Highland. It houses several major sports teams, including the Denver Broncos, but it’s also home to numerous art museums, a top-notch performing arts complex and a thriving culinary scene. Last year, Colorado got its first inclusions in the Michelin Guide, with three restaurants earning a star and eight scoring a Bib Gourmand. 

The city welcomes travelers all year long, with benefits to each season. Most Rocky Mountain ski resorts stay open through April, making Denver an easy stop before or after a ski trip. For those who prefer to avoid the winter traffic, the Winter Park Express runs from Union Station to Winter Park through March, while Aspen is a four-hour drive or a one-hour flight. May brings the Denver Arts Festival, while Denver Pride arrives in June, and 2024 also marks the first-ever Outside Festival. Whenever you’re visiting, there is a ton to experience around Denver. Here’s our guide to the best places to stay, dine and drink, and what to do on your next visit to Denver. 

Where to Stay

The Ramble

The Ramble Hotel

1280 25th St, Denver, CO 80205

The Ramble is Denver’s favorite luxury boutique hotel, with 50 modern rooms and suites that emphasize sleep quality, with soundproof walls and sumptuous beds. The in-room bars are curated by Death & Co, which is located in the lobby, and the décor, inspired by 17th century French salons, is notably elegant, with sophisticated flourishes like clawfoot tubs and plush robes. Downstairs, guests will find Super Mega Bien, a Latin restaurant led by chef Dana Rodriguez, and DC/AM, a coffee shop and breakfast spot. There’s also a small fitness center. The hotel feels connected to the surrounding River North Art District, a vibrant area filled with restaurants, food halls, yoga studios and more. Check the Ramble Hotel’s calendar for upcoming special events and bar pop-ups.

Thompson Thompson Denver.

Thompson Denver

1616 Market St, Denver, CO 80202

The Thompson Denver is one of the city’s most recent hotel openings; an exciting, high-end addition to the central LoDo neighborhood. The contemporary rooms, inspired by the American West, offer sweeping views of the city and the nearby Rocky Mountains, while the expansive Thompson Suite has its own private rooftop terrace. The other suites, Mile High Studio and Skyline Studio, are worth the splurge, with floor-to-ceiling windows and spacious floor plans. The sleek hotel is home to several eateries and bars: Chez Maggy, a French restaurant helmed by chef Ludo Lefebvre, swanky cocktail spot Bar M, sixth-floor lounge Reynard Social and Duel Coffee, which serves coffee and pastries daily until 3 p.m. The dog-friendly hotel features a high-tech gym with Pelotons and easy access to local attractions, including Coors Field.

Four Seasons Four Seasons Hotel Denver.

Four Seasons Hotel Denver

1111 14th St, Denver, CO 80202

For attentive, top-notch service, look no further than the Four Seasons Hotel Denver, the city’s best five-star property. The rooms and suites are tasteful and well-appointed, and many feature views of the mountains (ask for a higher floor when possible). Amenities include a spa, a fitness center and outdoor pool with terrace seating, which is especially welcome during the sunny Colorado summers. Edge Restaurant, from chef Alec Bruno, is a popular steakhouse with locals and guests alike, featuring a broad selection of steaks from Colorado and around the world.

What to Do

Denver Art Museum Denver Art Museum.

Denver Art Museum

100 W 14th Ave Pkwy, Denver, CO 80204

The Denver Art Museum houses the most expansive art collection in the city; it features more than 70,000 pieces across 12 permanent collections. It also hosts regular special exhibitions, both historical and contemporary, across two buildings. It’s  family-friendly, with free admission for anyone under 18 and plenty of activities for kids. The central location just south of Union Station is perfect for those staying downtown, and a visit to the museum is easily combined with the nearby Molly Brown House Museum or the Clyfford Still Museum.

Meow Wolf Meow Wolf Denver.

Meow Wolf Denver

1338 1st St, Denver, CO 80204

Those looking for something more off-center should pay a visit to Convergence Station, art collective Meow Wolf’s Denver location. It’s an eclectic permanent exhibition themed around the idea of a transportation hub for Earth dwellers and alien worlds, with 70 installations across four floors. The space holds special events, including musical performances, holiday celebrations and makers workshops, and there is a collection of street food vendors at the ready for hungry guests. Book your ticket in advance.

Denver Botanic Gardens Denver Botanic Gardens.

Denver Botanic Gardens

1007 York St, Denver, CO 80206

Spread across 24 acres, the Denver Botanic Gardens make for a nice day out in any season. While spring and summer tend to be the most popular, its annual Blossoms of Light draws locals and visitors alike during the holidays. The gardens are open daily, with numerous areas to explore, from a cactus and succulent house to a Japanese garden, and there is a children’s garden for younger guests. The gardens hosts a Summer Concert Series from June through August—this year’s performers include Emmylou Harris, Angelique Kidjo and Gregory Porter.

Laiton Barbo/Unsplash Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

Denver Center for the Performing Arts

1101 13th St, Denver, CO 80204

Most of the touring Broadway shows make an extended stop in Colorado at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, a high-end complex with seven theaters and an opera house. It’s a great spot to see national or local theater, concerts and one-off performances, especially if you want to see one of those buzzed-about productions from Broadway (or the Frozen musical, which is coming in July). Its location, near the Four Seasons Hotel Denver, puts you close to popular restaurants and the 16th Street Mall, perfect for an evening out.

Red Rocks Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre.

Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre

18300 W Alameda Pkwy, Morrison, CO 80465

Each year, Red Rocks Amphitheatre becomes the must-visit outdoor concert destination in the country. Built into a natural rock formation, the venue is known for its incredible acoustics, which attracts a diverse array of musical acts. The annual calendar kicks off in late March, with shows announced through November. It also hosts Film on the Rocks and Yoga on the Rocks for those looking for a more low-key experience. The visitors center, open year-round, showcases the amphitheater’s history and the Red Rocks Hall of Fame, and casual visitors can stop by for a self-guided tour of the venue during the day. The surrounding park is known for its 1.4-mile Trading Post Trail and its hikers-only Red Rocks Trail, both of which offer panoramic views of the Denver skyline.

Where to Eat

The Wolf’s Tailor

4058 Tejon St, Denver, CO 80211

The Wolf’s Tailor, helmed by chef Taylor Stark, is one of Colorado’s flagship Michelin-starred restaurants. The innovative spot serves a multi-course tasting menu that focuses on the season, with wine, mixed drink and zero-proof pairings available. It’s a tricky reservation to score these days—guests can sit indoors or in the heated outdoor tent—and requires a pre-paid booking. The fall seasonal menu is available through April, when the chef will switch things up to celebrate spring. 

Beckon Beckon


2843 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80205

Beckon, an 18-seat chef’s counter, changes its eight-course menu quarterly with the seasons. The dishes are discerning and artful, drawing inspiration from chef Duncan Holmes’ world travels. Guests can augment the experience with a selection from the wine list, a cocktail or zero-proof drink or a craft beer. The creative, globally-inclined restaurant earned another of the initial Colorado Michelin stars last year. Book as early as possible since seating is limited. Nearby, Beckon’s sister restaurant Major Tom serves up more casual dishes alongside a lengthy wine selection.

Sắp Sửa. Sắp Sửa.

Sắp Sửa

2550 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80206

Modern Vietnamese eatery Sắp Sửa is one of Denver’s newest additions, having opened in the summer of 2023 after existing as several pop-up spots. The sleek restaurant, led by Ni and Anna Nguyen, serves contemporary and cleverly unusual takes on traditional classics, including phở and bún. Don’t miss the vegetable dishes, especially the charred cabbage, or the indulgent, creative dessert. The restaurant is often fully booked, so plan for early dinner (they open at 4:30 p.m.) or try your luck with the bar seats. It’s one of those places you’ll want to say you knew about from the very beginning. Bonus: It’s next to the Tattered Cover bookstore.


Chez Maggy

1616 Market St, Denver, CO 80202

Located in the Thompson Denver, Chez Maggy is chef Ludo Lefebvre’s homage to Denver. It’s a French brasserie that serves classic dishes with Colorado ingredients, including lamb and trout, as well as a French-heavy wine list. While Lefebvre’s cuisine is typically associated with Los Angeles and his home region of Burgundy, his mother-in-law’s life and work in Colorado inspired his efforts here. It’s open for brunch and dinner, as well as aperitif hour in Bar M. Reservations are a good idea when coming for dinner.


1889 16th St Mall, Denver, CO 80202

Tavernetta, a sister restaurant to Boulder standout Frasca Food and Wine, draws its inspiration from Italy, which is best enjoyed in the form of its handmade pastas. The dishes pair tradition with a contemporary flair and are available for dinner and a more casual lunch. The wine list is extensive, paying homage to Italian producers, and the cocktail menu features popular beverages like spritzes and negronis. Reservations aren’t necessary, but it’s helpful to book ahead, especially since the restaurant’s buzz has been extra high since it earned a Bib Gourmand last year. If you’re short on time, the restaurant’s happy hour is held daily from 4 to 6 p.m. 

shawnxcampbell Alma Fonda Fina.

Alma Fonda Fina

2556 15th St, Denver, CO 80211

Alma Fonda Fina, found in the hip Lower Highlands neighborhood, opened in December 2023 and has since wowed locals with its contemporary fine dining take on Mexican cuisine. It’s helmed by chef Johnny Curiel, who pays homage to his upbringing in Guadalajara in many of the dishes. Standouts include the crudo, served three different ways, and the birria de borrego, a braised lamb shank dish that melts in your mouth. Alma Fonda Fina showcases what’s new and exciting about the Denver restaurant scene, which has completely transformed in recent years. Pop in for happy hour in the afternoons, or enjoy dinner every day until 11 p.m. Reservations are a good idea, particularly if you’d like to sit at the chef’s counter.

Where to Drink

Williams & Graham

3160 Tejon St, Denver, CO 80211

Denver has a strong—and rapidly growing—cocktail scene, but Williams & Graham is the established favorite. The menu features more than 60 classic cocktails, although you can ask for anything and the bartenders will know what to do. The bar also serves food for hungry guests (order the Royale With Cheese) and has beloved Denver brand Little Man Ice Cream on offer for dessert. Reserve a table in advance.

Death & Co Death & Co.

Death & Co

1280 25th St, Denver, CO 80205

Located in The Ramble Hotel, Death & Co is a New York City import known for its craft cocktails and high-end service. The Denver outpost serves food and drinks, with breakfast on offer every morning and bar food like burgers and fried chicken available later in the day. Try one of the original cocktails, which include zero-proof options, or go for a local beer. It’s open to both hotel guests and visitors, making it a good stop while in the neighborhood.

Room for Milly Room for Milly.

Room for Milly

1615 Platte St Suite 145, Denver, CO 80202

Room for Milly is one of the newer additions to the Denver bar scene. It’s a chic, contemporary spot that shakes and stirs original cocktails inspired by global flavors. The menu features an array of drinks, including zero-proof options, beer, wine and sake, with a daily happy hour. It’s a great place for a pre-dinner cocktail or a nightcap, with easy access to the restaurants in the Lower Highlands or Union Station. In a city focused on beer and rowdy breweries, bars like this feel like a peaceful, high-end haven.

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