Denver is hands down a 10/10 weekend trip and a great city to visit from Chicago! A big thank you to Staybridge Suites, an IHG Hotel, and their #HugelyDifferent campaign for giving Bari and I the opportunity to check out Denver! This post includes a 48-hour guide to Denver, some fashion tips, and a lot of photos from our weekend.
We landed in Denver around 4pm on Friday and left around 6pm on Sunday, so we planned to fill our time wisely! With Red Rocks, Boulder, and several National Parks in such close proximity, we had to make some decisions. We had to carefully choose what we wanted to see and also what we were going to have to save for our next visit. Prior to leaving for Denver we researched a ton of restaurants and ended up selecting The Way Back for Friday night and The Woods at The Source Hotel for Saturday night. We decided that during the day on Saturday we would check out Red Rocks and, besides that, we just planned to walk around and explore everything that Denver had to offer!
Our trip really worked out perfectly and it was all anchored in our hotel – Staybridge Suites Denver (click here to check it out). I’m no stranger to hotels since I was on the road for three years as a consultant, so my expectations are always high. The Staybridge Suites Denver has the winning combination for any weekend or extended stay. The location for us was such a critical factor when selecting a hotel and this hotel is right downtown with plenty of restaurants and bars in walking distance. It was also a very central point for taking the train and Uber/Lyft to and from where we wanted to go.
The suite-style hotel room with a kitchen and lounge area separate from the bedroom was great for getting some early morning work done and for relaxing in the evenings before heading out to dinner. The king bed and office setup in the room was a nice luxury as well. The gym was nicer than most hotel gyms I typically see, and the continental breakfast was how anyone should start their day when they’re traveling. We ate the hotel breakfast in the morning and then did a bit of exploring before eating a later brunch.
We experienced the full weather spectrum of Denver. It was 70 degrees, sunny and perfect on Saturday, and on Sunday it was 30 degrees and snowing! I would highly recommend LAYERING, LAYERING, LAYERING. We wore jeans, boots, light sweaters, and light jackets that we could take off when we were in the sun. Depending on the time of year that you go, I’ve heard from several people that the temperature changes is fairly normal and to be expected during certain times of the year.
Layering was key to making sure we were well prepared for anything mother nature decided to throw our way!
Where to eat:
The Way Back – This upscale casual dinner spot is in a fantastic neighborhood on Tennyson Street. We really enjoyed our meal here. It felt like a fine dining experience in a new age, non-stuffy environment. The plates were changed each course and new silverware was always offered. Our drinks were perfectly balanced and the food was delicious! Click here for The Way Back website.
It’s a bit out of the way from the major areas in Denver, so that certainly contributes to the neighborhood vibe. The portions are slightly on the smaller side though, so I wouldn’t come here starving and expect to leave full without paying up for it. We would definitely come back here.
The Woods – Located in The Source Hotel, The Woods is the restaurant at the top of the hotel. It’s a bit hard to navigate, so if you just put in The Source Hotel Denver into your Uber or Lyft app you’ll have an easy time finding it (although we had to ask the front desk how to get up to it, we eventually figured it out). We came here for dinner on Saturday night, but I would actually recommend eating here for brunch or grabbing a beer here during the day. It was great for dinner since we could see the skyline of Denver, but unfortunately at night you can’t see the mountains as well. The Woods at The Source Hotel is definitely known for its views, so make sure you come at a time when you can see them. Click here for The Woods website.
The menu has a lot of variety to choose from and was all very tasty! I had the short rib sandwich which was 100% worth the work out I had to endure that week to make up for eating it! We shared a vegetarian option as well which was way better than I was expecting. Originally, we were going to eat at Acorn, which is on the first floor of The Source Hotel, but when we went to check it out it didn’t seem as lively. The Woods is a better option for a larger group of people or a more casual environment.
Rye Society – This quick service place was great for a late lunch with both breakfast and lunch options. I was actually expecting more of a diner environment, but it more closely resembled a sandwich shop. It’s a good spot for a grab-and-go or if you’re just with one other person. There isn’t much seating in here for a large group. It won’t be your greasy hangover meal either. This is a spot to go-to before a long and active day. We actually ate here before heading out to Red Rocks for the afternoon. The bagels were the real deal and they come from Rosenberg’s, which we checked out on Sunday and completely surpassed our expectations! Click here for Rye Society's website.
Rosenberg’s - If you are visiting Denver and you don't go to Rosenberg's or if you live in Denver and don't go to Rosenberg's you should be ashamed. This was the best bagel I've had outside of NYC and they had THE BEST matzah ball soup I've ever had. The manager was super friendly and we learned that they actually recreated New York water to make these bagels...and I actually believe it! The soup is out of this world, flavorful and worth every penny. I wish I could have brought all of this on the plane back to Chicago. We ate brunch here before heading to the airport on Sunday. Click here for Rosenberg's website.
Sites to see:
We spent most of our time in the River North area of Denver, which is also an area where there is a lot of art shops and breweries. It reminded me of a mix between the West Loop and Bucktown if you’re from Chicago and get that reference. Otherwise it is kind of a Brooklyn feel without the chaos. The bars and breweries are fairly close together in this area, so it makes walking around easy.
On Saturday, we checked out the following places while walking in between: Great Divide Brewing Company, Finn’s Manor and Epic Brewing Company. There are a lot of places in this general area these as well, so if you’re looking for a neighborhood to be for a while, then this is it.
There are supposedly a lot of great places in the LODO area as well, but we didn’t have a lot of time to explore that part of town. We did get to go to Denver Brewing Company on Friday night which was a really fun brewery. It felt like the neighborhood brewing company and had A LOT of dogs out on the patio, which always makes any place more fun!
Beyond spending a lot of time just walking around Denver we made it out to Red Rocks during the day on Saturday. Taking an Uber or Lyft out there was fairly painless and about $20-$30 each way. I would HIGHLY recommend checking to make sure it’s open before you head out there. We were there for two hours prior to them shutting down in preparation for a concert.
While we were at Red Rocks, we spent some time walking around and just enjoying the great weather. A lot of people go there to exercise, so if you bring your workout gear to Denver don’t hesitate to head there for a work out!
Denver had everything we typically seek out in a weekend getaway. The plane ride there was fairly short, the city was lively, the restaurant scene was fantastic, and the breweries are a nice touch! Where Denver really differs from Chicago is the amount the city has to offer immediately outside of downtown. Denver is surrounded by endless opportunities for outdoor activities. We’ll definitely be back soon!