When my husband and I visited Denver, Colorado for the first time in 2018, the city absolutely stole our hearts. So many layers to uncover and each area you visited showed you something new and exciting. We finally made it back this last month for my husband’s birthday and I swear there was not a section of Denver we left uncovered. We explored every district and even made it to Estes Park (which you can’t visit Denver without doing).
Our first trip was very touristy- Red Rocks, a Nuggets Game, and Union Station. This time we wanted to explore areas and restaurants that not every tourist knows about but every local raves about.
Here is my guide to Denver, Colorado. It is perfect for a romantic weekend getaway or a fun filled girls weekend.
WHERE TO STAY:
We thought we liked our hotel the first time we visited but nothing, I mean NOTHING, can top Gaylord Rockies Resort. Just 10 minutes from the airport and 20 minutes from downtown, Gaylord Rockies is nestled at the edge of the Front Range Mountains. Gaylord Rockies is a resort you don’t want to leave with endless things for families and couples to enjoy. World class spa, Arapahoe Springs Water Park, five delicious restaurants (I’ve never had breakfast that good), sports bar with the largest TV in Colorado, 5-start fitness center, and so much more. Gaylord Rockies is always planning something fun and spectacular for all ages. Book a stay during their winter wonderland festivities or Spring into warmer weather with Summer resort fun.
I called ahead and requested early check in. Our flight landed around 9a and we headed straight to the hotel for a couple’s massage. We both had the relaxing massage with CBD oil to really help us unwind and enjoy our romantic parents weekend in one of our favorite cities.
The resort is a destination in itself. From live animal viewings, snow tubing, indoor swimming, and so much more we could have stayed all weekend without leaving and probably still wouldn’t have been able to do it all.The beds were so comfortable and we loved being able to watch Netflix (which is such an underrated luxury). Every morning we started our day with Starbucks coffee from the lobby and opening our window to the beautiful mountains. There was no need to Yelp breakfast places because the best breakfast I have ever had was right there in our lobby. Don’t believe me?! See for yourself here. When you are staying at Gaylord Rockies, it feels like there is never enough time to do it all and makes going home that much harder.
Gaylord Rockies Resort does offer valet parking which I highly recommend since the parking lot is a little bit of a walk from the entrance. The valet were so fast and always kind. We were able to text the number on our ticket and get notifications when our car was ready for us.
Head over to their website or Instagram to learn more about their seasonal activities and to book your stay.
PLACES TO EAT:
We did not have a bad meal our entire time in Denver. From the Gaylord Rockies Resort restaurants to the unique 4 course meal at Barolo Grill- every restaurant on this list is worth a 5 star Yelp review.
- Barolo Grill $$$$ (Italian & Seafood)
3030 E 6th Ave, Denver, CO 80206
5-star private 4 course dining experience
- Steuben’s Uptown $$ (American)
523 E 17th Ave, Denver, CO 80203
Upscale American diner comfort food
- Cascades Restaurant (Estes Park) $$$
Located in: The Stanley HotelAddress: Estes Park, CO 80517
Upscale seasonal dining
- Mountain Pass Sports Bar $
Located in: Gaylord Rockies Resort
Largest TV in Colorado. Sports bar food.
- Vista Montagne $$ (Italian Food)
Located in: Gaylord Rockies Resort
5-star Italian food right in the hotel lobby.
THINGS TO DO:
Every time I go on vacation I say “let’s go with the flow” but end up doing some research and finding so many incredible things to do. My issue with “go-with-the-flow” is what if there was something incredible we missed?!
- The Beer Spa
3004 N Downing St, Denver, CO 80205 l Instagram
The Beer Spa in Denver was unlike anything we have ever experienced. They take connection, beer, and relaxation to a whole new level. You don’t know self-care until you have spent a day here. Walking in you are greeted by the friendliest staff, a Pinterest worthy lobby, and a whole wall of beer and cider on tap. But what’s down the hall behind one of their 4 doors is the real treat.
To start your experience you visit the beer wall where you can choose between various Colorado Beers, Apple Cider, or Wine. Fill up your tumbler and get ready for an experience of a lifetime. After getting your beer you are brought back to your private room that you and your partner share. Each room has a sauna, shower, bathtub, and self-care bar. You have 90 minutes in your private suite where they recommend splitting between 20 minutes in the Sauna, cooling down for a few minutes in a cold shower, and then slipping into the warm bath with seasonal hops and CBD bath bomb. The sauna and shower help detox your body, get your blood flowing, and the cold shower is amazing for your skin and hair. While the bath is warm enough to relax in but not too hot to dry out your skin.
Make sure to browse their amenity bar in the private suite and ask about their anti-gravity massages!
- Infinite Monkey Theorem
3200 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80205
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Infinite Monkey Theorem is a local winery and a pioneer in canned wine. We signed up for the tour and wine tasting where we got a private look into their unique operation. Sally was our tour guide and made us feel like the best of friends. She showed us the machine where the grapes are crushed and the barrels that turn them into wine. We got to see the canning process up close and meet one of two canners. The amount of love, care, and hard work that goes into it is astonishing!
After our tour we were brought back up front to the tasting room. We got to try various wines they make and our favorite wine was the Blind Watchmaker which we learned no two batches are the same. Infinite Monkey is a great place to start your night with pre-dinner drinks. It sets the tone for a wonderful evening and I promise you will find yourself taking home a few bottles.
- Cooper Lounge
1701 Wynkoop St, Denver, CO 80202
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I know we said we weren’t doing all the overly touristy things- but you would never know that Cooper Lounge was tucked on the 2nd story of Union Station. This is a total local’s secret and a lounge you don’t want to miss.
Walking through Union Station (which is still an operating Amtrack station) and tucked at the bottom of the stairs is a host stand for @thecooperlounge. It gives major speakeasy vibes as you climb up the long staircase that brings you to this amazing bar you can’t see from downstairs. The Cooper Lounge took its inspiration from the post-prohibition era when the sophisticated and stylish flocked to socialize in glamorous clubs and bars. They offer high-end seasonal cocktails and gourmet food prepared in the open next to the bar. Through the large windows of Union Station you can see the sun setting through the peaks of the buildings while enjoying the best Moscow mule you’ve ever had
It is the perfect lounge to end the night after exploring downtown Denver and Union Station. It is the least-touristy date night spot tucked into one of the top tourist destinations.
- Colorado Luxe Picnic
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I surprised my husband with a picnic in a snow filled park hosted by Colorado Luxe Picnics. Stacey made the entire process so easy and set up a once in lifetime experience for us. She sent me over a few locations to chose from but since she is local to Denver I let her decide and she did not disappoint!
With her various packages you can add on painting, corn hole, heaters, and so much. more. Each picnic is truly customizable to you and Stacey works hard to bring your vision to life. Carve out two hours of your day and let Stacey design a picnic of a lifetime for you and your partner.
- Cherry Creek Mall
3000 E 1st Ave, Denver, CO 80206
Before we had dinner at Barolo Grill we drove around Cherry Creek admiring the beautiful historic mansions when we stumbled across the Cherry Creek Mall. You can experience the area’s best collection of luxury brands in one beautiful location. There are various restaurants, shops, and valet parking available.
- The Stanley (Estes Park)
333 E Wonderview Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517
The historic Stanley Hotel which famously inspired Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’ as well as where Dumb and Dumber filmed some scenes, is one of my favorite places in the world. The first time we drove through Estes Park and saw the infamous red roof peak out over the snow covered mountains, I cried. What a lot of people don’t know about the Stanley is that is also incredibly haunted. Jim Carey didn’t last more than an hour checked into his room and refused to step on property if they weren’t actively filming. Stephen King wrote The Shining off of a horrific dream he had while staying in the hotel.The Stanley Hotel is still operating today and thousands of guest stay here per year. I’m not that brave so I opt in for a day trip to eat at Cascades restaurant and catch the ghost tour which takes you to various haunted places on the property and past the infamous haunted room that Stephen King and Jim Carey both stayed in.
The drive to Estes Park alone is worth the trip and The Stanley is the cherry on top.
No matter what you do in Denver, you can’t go wrong. Denver is such a lively city full of unique things to do, delicious restaurants, and endless memories to me made. Follow along our trip from the vlogs below. And if you visit any of these places I recommended please tag me!! I would love to live vicariously through you until I can go back.