Somehow, despite living in the Southwest for two years, Neal and I had never made it to Denver. Neal’s sister moved there in 2016, so we finally had some ultimate motivation to go. We went in April, for our 7th anniversary. If you like weekend trips, also check out my post on A Weekend in Shenandoah National Park.
Everyone loves Denver. I liked it, but it was nothing like I thought it would be. For some reason, I pictured more of a Northeast-style town, and it turned out to be more like a Southwest town. Think Boston v. Phoenix. Think corporate and new.
If Denver does anything, it does beer. It is home to dozens of breweries, so we had to visit whatever was in walking distance. We went to Jagged Mountain Brewery, which was awesome. They had a lot of different types of beer–something for everyone (or at least 4 for everyone!). They also had a food truck and great staff.
We also had to go to Great Divide and it was within walking distance. The area it is in is a little sketch, and it’s smaller than I expected, but I thought they had great beers on tap. I was into sours at the time, and Great Divide didn’t disappoint.
The Oxford Hotel
We stayed at the Oxford Hotel in downtown Denver. It was such a cool hotel. They had a 5pm whiskey hour. They had clawfoot bathtubs. I have a picture of Neal in the clawfoot bathtub with his 5pm whiskey. I won’t post it for his sake. I recommend this hotel because it is beautiful and convenient.
Garden of the Gods
We got up the next morning and headed to the famed Voodoo Donuts.
Voodoo Donuts is a 24hr donut shop with traditional and not so traditional donuts. This place is mostly gimmick. The donuts were fine. The best part is we found a cute park nearby when we searching for somewhere to eat our donuts.
Anyway, onto Garden of the Gods, which is in Colorado Springs. It was maybe a 45 minute drive, very characteristic of the Southwest. Easy, wide roads with traffic you barely notice. Garden of the Gods is seemingly right in the middle of Colorado Springs. One of the nice things about it is that it is 100% free.
It is also beautiful. It’s a small park and you can walk around a loop or just pop in and out. We went around the loop. There were a fair number of people here, some exercising, some taking it in like us. I think it’s worth the quick trip to Colorado Springs if you’re spending time in Denver. It was hothothot this day, too. The sun feels far too close in this part of the country. You also get a great glimpse of a whitecap from Garden of the Gods. This is what you come here for!
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
On our way back, we ate lunch at Torchy’s for their “DAMN GOOD” tacos. They were fudging fantastic.
Then we went to Red Rocks Amphitheatre. I have wanted to go here to see a concert for a very long time, but I can never get around to seeing what’s playing when. Not only is this an awesome concert spot, it’s gorgeous!
The pictures don’t really do this place justice. You are just surrounded by beautiful rolling hills. On stage there was a huge drum circle. We sat and enjoyed the music for awhile.
Echo Lake Park
At this point, we were in desperate need of a hike. Why else come to Denver?? It turned out that if you come at the end of April, a lot of trails are still closed and snowy. We decided to check out Echo Lake Park to get some hiking in.
Echo Lake was pretty. The trail is kind of boring.
We made it interesting by, of course, going off trail! We went to the lake’s shore, but the snow there was 3 feet deep, so we couldn’t stay long. We were in t-shirts in the snow because a whole 20 miles in the other direction we were burning hot at Red Rocks. It wasn’t cold here either, though, just snowy.
The Silver Lake Lodge
That night, we stayed at The Silver Lake Lodge in Idaho Springs. We had no idea where we were going and there was no cell service, so we relied 100% on their directions. Their directions were something like “when you see a broken down truck, turn left.” In any event, we got there. It’s a cute upscale lodge.
They had strawberries and champagne for us to toast our anniversary!
St. Mary’s Glacier
The next morning, we needed to get a hike in. St. Mary’s Glacier was nearby. The internet warned us that the snow would be deep in places–up to 4ft! It recommended snow shoes. We didn’t have any, and we weren’t afraid of no snow. So off we went. They were right; in lots of places, we were knee-deep. It was also super icy, which was not great for my half-sprained ankle. But it was fun anyway! A picture of the glacier area is the featured picture in this post. The rest of the area was nice too.
Georgetown Loop Train
We asked our host what we should do/see in the area. He recommended the Georgetown Loop Train. We aren’t a huge fan of seeing things from a train car, but if he recommended it, we were going to do it.
Suffice it to say, we wouldn’t do it again. We drove to Breckenridge after our train ride. It’s a very cute little town that you hit on the way to Veil. We didn’t go to Veil because we were told everything was closed. We were very in-between seasons. We checked out a dispensary as well. Couldn’t leave Denver without doing it.
And that’s the end of our quick trip in Denver. Overall, the food & beer were great. The sights were good, too. I would recommend not going at the end of April, as too many trails are closed. We got flights for under $200RT, so it was worth it for us for our first time.
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