I’ve been wanting to visit Denver for pretty much forever, considering I love a good hippie vibe that will remind me of back when I lived in Flagstaff. I finally got out to the city of the north this past weekend, and I had a blast exploring the city, as well as Boulder. It wasn’t just a great escape from the desert heat–the people were fun, and there were a lot of cool activities to try while I was there.
My first night, my pal and I went to dinner at 1515 restaurant in the lower downtown part of Denver. I immediately loved the place, housed in a historic building with a hip bar downstairs and fine dining upstairs. The upstairs dining room had expert, knowledgable servers, and it was decorated with black and white photography.
I had the best meal of my life there, and I really loved their seasonal, molecular menu. I started with the Loaded Baked Potato Soup ($7), which was made with Creme Fraiche, powder cheddar cheese and a chive oil (I left off the bacon). It was rich and creamy and tasted super-fresh.
My entree was absolutely amazing, the Raspberry Goat Cheese Ravioli ($19). I’ve never had anything like it and never thought I’d be eating pasta with a bright pink stuffing. It was delectable and covered with walnuts, watercress and a grapefruit butter sauce.
Even the bread and butter before the meal was so good, with an orange-infused butter to spread on the freshly baked bread. From start to finish, everything was wonderful, and I’d recommend it as a fancy date place if you choose to eat upstairs.
Later that night, we went to one of the hippest bars I’ve ever been to, the Green Russell, also in lower downtown. All the male bartenders wore dapper duds that would fit in well at a speakeasy, and a hostess seats you to take in your cocktails–it’s not just drinking, it’s an event, and you can even make reservations since the place gets so packed.
Each cocktail, starting at $12, is handcrafted with a variety of fresh ingredients, and the bartenders make them with a showy flourish. The bar also serves up some local brews ($6) and a variety of pies nightly.
The next day, we explored a little more of the city of Denver, starting with a trip to the Denver Art Museum.
The sprawling art museum spans seven stories and houses Native American, European, Central American and Asian art. It had a great mix of classic and modern works, and it’s the largest art museum between Chicago and California. I definitely could have spent all day there, and there were lots of cool exhibits to check out.
Next, it was off to the Downtown Aquarium.
Compared to another aquarium I’ve been to, the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, this one was much smaller, but it was still cool to see all the fish and marine life–and the sea otters were so freaking cute.
The stadium was super-cool, and I loved their dinosaur mascot. I was happy to see so many people at the game, and even though they ended up losing 9-1, it was still a really fun experience–especially because I was super-close to Brian Wilson!
We headed to Denver’s Oktoberfest afterward, which goes for two weekends and features a slew of German music, food and beer to sample. It was a huge hit with the downtown Denver crowd, and it was a lot of fun to check out.
The next day, we drove about 45 minutes to nearby town Boulder, a college town that reminded me so much of Flagstaff. There were tons of people riding bikes, the weather was cool and beautiful, and there were a ton of fun street performers along the Pearl Street Mall part of town.
There wasn’t too much to do in the town part besides eat, drink, shop and watch street performers, but Boulder is also known for its hiking and biking trails.
We saw some really cool break dancers on the street battling it out, and it was pretty fun to walk around and people watch.
Later that night, we went to the Denver Improv to see comedian Sebastian Maniscalco from Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show. Tickets were a steal for $16, and we saw three high-quality comedians that kept us laughing. The Improv was way smaller than the Tempe Improv, and the show felt really intimate. It was a really relaxing way to cap off the weekend.
I really loved Denver because the downtown area was a much prettier, more cultured version of downtown Phoenix, and the people there were way less superficial than the vibe in Old Town Scottsdale. The weather was gorgeous (I didn’t even need long sleeves during the day), and the scenery was greener. The city just had a great vibe to it, and I’d highly recommend it for a fun little getaway close to Phoenix.