There is always an opportunity for travel, including in your own hometown or a neighboring city. Even if you’ve lived in the same place your entire life, there are always new restaurants, tours, and changes in the city that create the opportunity for new experiences in your hometown. Although I grew up in Chicago, I never did some of the touristy activities like going to the top of the Sears tower until my friend from Sweden came to visit.
Now that I live in Boulder, I was due for a staycation in my new neighbor city of Denver. Even if you only have a day in Denver, there is so much to see in the mile high city! Here are a few highlights to check out even if your stay is a short one.
Visit an Urban Winery
I had never even heard of an urban winery before my visit to Denver and couldn’t imagine what a winery in the middle of a big city might look (or taste) like. Tucked away in RiNo, the River North Art District just north of downtown, is one such urban winery called The Infinite Monkey Theorem. Since 2008, they have been cranking out wine in a can in the back alleys of Denver – no vineyard needed.
Yes, canned wine is a thing and it is phenomenal.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to visit Denver to get your hands on some of their wine right away. You can buy some right now straight from The Infinite Monkey Theorem website, or stop by their newly opened Austin location!
If you do have the chance to visit, go behind the scenes with one of their tour and tasting options for a history of the winery, a peak into the unique winemaking process, and a private tasting of the delicious wines.
Check Out the Beer Scene
Home to the annual Great American Beer Festival and dozens of local breweries, Denver is the place to be if you are a beer fan. If you’re only in town for a short time, the best option to make the most of your stay is doing a beer tour. I got a sneak peek at the Denver Microbrew Tour, the perfect option to visit Denver’s best microbreweries and also taste plenty of local beers!
This two-hour guided tour will take you through either the LoDo (lower downtown) area or the RiNo (river north) part of Denver, depending on which tour you select. Learn all about the process of making beer, its history, the different kinds of beer, and even a little history of the city of Denver – all while sampling delicious beers from the various stops along the tour.
For only $29, you’ll get over ten beer samples, a coupon for a free pint of beer at select locations around town, a history lesson on both beer and Denver, visits to four local breweries, and even a little bit of exercise walking a mile and a half around town to work off that beer! You can also add on your own Denver Microbrew Tour Pint Glass for an extra $4 to take home with you.
Can’t commit to doing a full tour? Stop by Wynkoop Brewing Company, Denver’s first craft brewery, where you can still get history lesson and a few tastings during one of their complimentary tours offered Tuesday – Saturday at 3pm and 4pm.
If you still can’t get enough, give Falling Rock Tap House a visit to try some Colorado favorites like Avery White Rascal or Bull & Bush Big Ben Brown Ale, or any of their other 75+ beers on tap. Epic Brewing is also worth checking out, as their large windows looking out over Denver, their cozy fireplace, and a view of the brewing process makes it an ideal place to spend an afternoon.
Explore Larimer Square
Be warned – you may fall head over heels for this adorable part of town! Especially when it’s all lit up and covered in holiday decorations. This historic district is where Denver was founded, and it is now filled with shops, restaurants, and bars. I chose Tom’s Urban for lunch (and even ate some frog legs!!) the day I visited Larimer Square, but I have a feeling it will be hard to go wrong with any of the restaurants in this area.
Discover Denver’s Haunted History
I always love a place with an interesting historical past, and when that history involves ghost activity it’s even better! Dating back to 1863, the Blake Street Vault served as one of Denver’s first saloons and is now the city’s second oldest building.
Over the years, the building housed a liquor distribution business, cigar factory, boarding house, and even a brothel. This was fitting, as the building had a hidden basement vault accessible though a trap door that was added when the building was raised above street level after the great flood of 1864. Just like many of the buildings in Denver, this one was also connected to the underground tunnel system that was originally used for the delivery of coal, but later served as a way to get from brothel to brothel during Prohibition.
There is also said to be a ghost residing at the establishment, who was known as the ‘brown ghost’ or the ‘lady in red’. More recently, investigative ghost researchers came to explore the paranormal activity at the Blake Street Vault, confirming the presence of the ghost who they named Lydia. Legends have developed over time, so pull up a seat at the bar to get the full scoop and if you’re lucky you may even get to venture down into the basement!
Stay at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Downtown Denver
In the perfect location in the heart of downtown Denver, you will be pleasantly surprised by the little extras at SpringHill Suites. Not only is the hotel itself a cozy and welcoming place to spend the night, but they also have a great relationship with the local community. They want you to get out and explore the area, so they partner with budding local businesses so travelers can get more out of every trip. The hotel’s vibe made me feel right at home, but also got me excited to explore all that Denver has to offer!
While my staycation in Denver was a quick one, it made me excited to return again to learn more about the history of the city and explore new parts of town I haven’t visited yet. Traveling always seems to make me want to return for more and see everything that I missed, and the best part of taking a staycation is actually being able to go back any time you want!
Have you taken a staycation in your home city or a neighboring town? Share how it went in the comments below!