JOIN US IN AN INTERVIEW WITH STEPHANIE MILLER FROM DENVER, COLORADO!
Stephanie is a passport stamp collector, gold medalist in running late, and founder of the travel site The Scenic Suitcase, where she helps her readers travel like experts while experiencing the world like a local. When she’s not jet-setting to exciting new destinations (or writing about them in her PJs) she enjoying everything her home state of Colorado has to offer. Her work has appeared in National Geographic, Reader’s Digest, The Washington Post, and her parent’s refrigerator (among other places).
Denver is the capital of Colorado and known affectionately as the Mile High City (because its elevation is exactly one mile above sea level). Located along the front range corridor, the city offers easy access to the mountains, contains over 200 parks, boasts 63 museums, and features hundreds of restaurants and bars. With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder why Denver is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.
When is the best time to visit Denver?
There really isn’t a bad time to visit Colorado, so the best time to come depends on what you’d like to do. Winter is wonderful for anyone who enjoys skiing, snowboarding, snow shoeing, or any other number of winter activities. Check this guide for unique and fun activities to enjoy in Colorado winter.
Spring is stunning for the green mountain landscapes filled with wildflowers. It’s also the time of year when Colorado’s unpredictable weather can be especially chaotic. You may start the day in a snow shower, and be sipping cocktails on an outdoor patio by afternoon.
Warm summer days are perfect for enjoying a plethora of pastimes like a ballgame, brewery tour, water park visit, or time in the Rocky Mountains. Find a complete guide to summer activities in Denver here.
And colorful Colorado lives up to its reputation in the Fall with stunning mountain terrain highlighted by yellow aspen trees. This time of year is fantastic for anyone wanting to enjoy a picturesque hike through jaw- dropping landscapes.
Which is the most convenient and favoured transport of Denver?
If you’re spending time downtown, a fun way to get around the city is by electric bicycle or electric scooter (my fave!) Simply download the Bird, Lime, or Lyft app and you’ll be on your way!
To get from the airport to the city I recommend using the light rail. It’s quick, cheap, and drops you off at the centrally located Union Station (which has a number of delicious eateries and a captivating ambiance).
What are the must visit places in Denver?
There are countless things to see in the Denver metro area, but a few of my favorites include:
The International Church of Cannabis, which is a technicolor fantasy. For a small suggested donation of $5 you can marvel at the kaleidoscope of colors inside the chapel. Painted by Okuda San Miguel, and the facade, painted by Kenny Scharf, the church is a modern masterpieces the likes of which you’ve never seen! Be sure to go when it’s open to the public, which is on Fridays from 1-3pm and weekends from 12-6pm. And for a truly wow-worthy scene, visit right before sunset to see the light from the windows bounce off the pews.
Larimer Square is by far one of the most picturesque streets in the city. As the oldest block, dating back to the Old West era, it features 19th-century buildings with historic flair. The lights strung across the roadway coupled with its storefronts and restaurants make it a charming oasis in the middle of the city. It’s also where the Denver Chalk Art Festival is held in June, which is a great event for both locals and tourists alike!
Fifty-Two 80’s located off Broadway in Denver is a nostalgic dream come true. This eclectic retailer has every kind of toy, poster, apparel, and candy you can imagine from the hypercolored decade when shoulder pads were big and hair was even bigger. From My Little Ponies to Boglins to Thunder Cats and more! Owners Tony and Dede have amassed a collection that rivals even the most die-hard of 80’s fanatic’s.
The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse is a compelling destination in nearby Boulder. Its delectable dishes are rivaled only by its intriguing interior. Gifted as part of the Sister City Project, the teahouse and its intricate wood carvings and paintings were constructed in Tajikistan between 1987 and 1990. It was then taken apart piece by piece, shipped to Colorado, and re-built by local volunteers. The design features a traditional Persian motif dating back over 2,000 years. And in keeping with tradition, the teahouse was constructed completely without the use of power tools!
What are the best day trips for nature, culture and history from Denver?
Denver is centrally located within Colorado, so there are tons of places to go on a day trip. A few of my favorites are:
Estes Park in Rocky Mountain National Park. The small mountain town offers endless things to do like hiking, shopping, fishing, horseback riding, miniature golf, or testing your nerves on a spook-tacular haunted tour of the Stanley Hotel. The scenery is picture perfect and its adorable main street looks like something from a postcard!
The Great Sand Dunes National Park is a few hours away in Alamosa and offers visitors the chance to feel like they’re walking through an expansive desert. Boasting the tallest sand dunes in North America (the highest reaching 750 feet!), the Great Sand Dunes cover 30 square miles and contain an estimated 5.5 billion cubic yards of sand! While there you can enjoy tons of outdoor activities like sand boarding, sand sledding, camping, horseback riding, and photography.
Blackhawk is a great destination if you want to test your luck at the gambling tables. Located about an hour into the mountains, it offers scenic vistas, full-scale casinos, and all-you-can-eat buffets. Established in 1859 as a gold mining settlement, this tiny mountain town (the least populated city in the state) also features a deep and colorful history.
A must when visiting Colorado is a day in one of the many ski resort towns. Some of my favorites include Winter Park, Keystone, Aspen, and Breckenridge. If you come at the end of January, make sure you don’t miss the International Snow Sculpture Championships held in Breckenridge every year. The massive, intricate snow designs are absolutely astounding (and lit up in a rainbow of colors at night!) During the festival, they also have fire art, dancers, and live music to entertain the whole family. For ten best Colorado ski resort towns click here.
What is the most celebrated holiday of the year in Denver?
Coloradoans love the holidays, so we go big for just about all of them (including Frozen Dead Guy Days held every March in Nederland to celebrate, you guessed it, a frozen dead guy).
A couple we get extra enthusiastic about though are St Patrick’s Day and Christmas. The weekend before St Patrick’s Day floods the streets of Denver with green party-goers and parade enthusiasts. The celebration lasts all day and grows each year. And for Christmas, the streets transform into dazzling holiday displays with lights strung across the streets, buildings lit up in festive colors, and Christmas trees with decorations on every corner.
What is the most loved local food, savory and sweet of Denver? Is Denver a vegetarian friendly city?
Colorado is home to some delicious (and interesting) culinary delights. My personal favorite is Palisade peaches, which you can find at farm stands in the spring. Their juicy sweetness is absolutely mouthwatering! If you’re interested in something a little more… err, unique… then you can try a plate of Rocky Mountain oysters. You may be wondering how a land- locked state would specialize in an oyster dish? Well, that’s because they are, in fact, fried bull testicles. It’s certainly not a dish for the faint of heart.
But where Colorado really shines is with its plentiful micro-brews. Our state is filled with breweries and distilleries offering choices from sours to lagers and everything in-between. There are 350 plus craft breweries in Colorado, find a guide to the best 38 breweries here.
As a pescatarian (meaning I the only meat I eat is fish), Colorado is very vegan/vegetarian friendly. The local culture is extremely health- conscious, making it easy to find food for a variety of dietary restrictions.
Where to head for shopping in Denver?
There’s no shortage of places to shop when you visit the Mile High City. There are, of course, a number of malls around Denver and the surrounding suburbs. However, if you’re looking for places with more of a local feel there are several options.
The Mile High Flea Market is a popular spot to find great deals and vintage treasures. Or you can head to Pearl Street in Boulder for a stroll along the picturesque outdoor walking mall that spans a few blocks towards the mountains. Or visit Old Town Louisville for storefronts that are reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting (and an incredible farmer’s market in the summer!)
Which is the local craft or souvenir of Denver?
Coloradoans are very fond of our state flag, so there are a number of souvenirs that feature it (from clothing to cups to hats and more!) We were also one of the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. So while you can’t take it home with you, many tourists do enjoy bringing home some paraphernalia as a keepsake.
Which are the best streets of Denver worthy of taking a stroll on?
Like I mentioned earlier, Larimer Street with its Victorian buildings and plethora of eateries is a great place for a stroll.
The other one would be 16th Street in the center of downtown Denver which is a pedestrian and transit mall . The walking mall spans 1.25 miles and features over 300 shops, 50 restaurants, and the Denver Pavillions (where you can catch a movie or go bowling!)
Can you suggest a place from where one can get the best view of the city?
The Highlands area just north of the city offers sweeping views of downtown Denver, especially from the rooftop patio of Linger (a local eatery housed inside an old mortuary).
The Hyatt Regency near the Convention Center also has phenomenal views of the city and nearby mountains from the Peaks Lounge on the 27th floor. It was even voted one of Denver’s Best Scenic Sixteen (for good reason!)
Would you suggest any shows in your city to drama, music or art lovers? Where can one spot street art in Denver?
Music lovers should consider seeing a show at Red Rocks during the warm, summer months. Arguably the best outdoor amphitheater in the world, Red Rocks is an acoustic dream come true! There are also a number of music venues around the city such as the Ogden, Paramount, and Bluebird Theaters where visitors can catch a show from touring artists.
If theater is more up your alley, then the Denver Center for Performing Arts hosts musicals, plays, comedy shows, and more in the heart of downtown. And if you enjoy stand-up comedy, then check out Comedy Works on 15th and Larimer for a laugh.
If you want to marvel at astounding artwork, head to the Denver Art Museum and the galleries that surround it. Or for a signature local event, participate in the First Friday Art Walks on Santa Fe. The event happens on the first Friday of every month, rain or shine, between 13th on the North to Alameda on the South, Kalamath to the West, and Inca to the East. The local galleries welcome visitors between 5:30-9:30pm.
In the mood for some street art? Then Denver’s RiNo Art District is a must! Particularly in the alley between Larimer and Walnut behind the Denver Central Market. Grab a bite at one of the incredible eateries and then stroll the nearby streets to take in masterpieces from artists around the world.
Would you recommend any local apps for food, transport or hidden gems in Denver?
If you want a one-stop-shop for all things Denver, then the Official Denver Visitor App is a must! With it, you can explore different neighborhoods, search for events, research the best places to eat and drink, find the best places to stay, and more!
Then to easily get around, download the RTD Tickets App for bus routes and mobile tickets (which is especially handy when getting to and from the airport!)
Do you want to give any suggestion to tourists coming to Denver?
Drink plenty of water! Because of the high altitude, visitors can get headaches and even altitude sickness if they’re not careful. So pop a Tylenol and stay hydrated.
And finally, Colorado locals are extremely welcoming and friendly, so if you get lost or are looking for suggestions just ask! We’re always happy to help make visitors feel more at home!