We asked Jason Vargas, Concierge at Four Seasons Hotel Denver, to gather the savviest sight-seeing suggestions he could find—not just his own, but also those of other local connoisseurs, including some he works with every day at the Hotel. From a thriving arts and entertainment scene to great restaurants and fun outdoor recreation, the Mile-High City is a veritable Rocky Mountain playground.
The Falling Rock Tap House is one of the best places in Denver to enjoy a frosty mug of beer. Located in historic Lower Downtown (known as LODO to locals), Falling Rock features a rotating selection of more than 75 draughts and 130 bottles. Wander into the venerable Wynkoop Brewing Company, the first microbrewery in the city and first brewpub in Colorado, among whose founders is former Denver mayor and current Denver governor John Hickenlooper. It’s almost an executive order to enjoy quality craft beers in a city that hosts the annual Great American Beer Festival and prides itself on its brewing acumen.
Downtown Dining Destinations
The historic block of Larimer Square is the place to see and be seen in downtown Denver. This scenic city block that originally housed Denver’s first bank, bookstore, photographer and dry goods store is now home to some of the best dining and shopping Denver has to offer. Stop by Rioja, a Mediterranean restaurant, for pasta stuffed with goat cheese and artichoke mousse with truffle essence. Or check out TAG’s Asian-fusion menu and cocktail list, featuring such drinks as the Kumquat Jalapeño Mojito. Osteria Marco pairs great Italian food with a casual ambience; the restaurant’s wild mushroom and Robiola pizza is a favourite among regulars.
Charging Cherry Creek
Featuring unique specialty boutiques as well as nationally recognised stores, the Cherry Creek North neighbourhood shopping district has something for everyone. Boutiques like Alicia and Garbarini feature designer fashions and accessories for women, while Andrisen Morton carries international menswear designers such as Brioni and Ermenegildo Zegna. For the young and young at heart, The Wizard’s Chest is an 8,000-square-foot, two-storey castle full of toys, games and costumes. For a hearty lunch to refuel and recharge for more retail adventures, stop into the warm and inviting Cherry Creek Grill. Later on, stroll three blocks north to the rustic elegance of the Barolo Grill on Sixth Avenue.
The newest and best hot spot in Denver is the 1920s-style speakeasy called Green Russell. Chef Frank Bonanno and partner Adam Hodak describe the bar as a “Prohibition-esque watering hole,” with bartenders crafting inspired cocktails using block ice, fresh herbs and pressed-to-order juices. No fancy cocktail list, no cocktail waitresses, no shots and a strict no-standing-room policy: This is the place to go to have a nice drink, and maybe a slice of pie (their specialty.)
The Arts Have It
Denver has a thriving arts community, and on First Friday, arts patrons and enthusiasts have the opportunity to stroll from gallery to gallery during extended hours. While the Santa Fe Arts District is the most well known, it is actually only one of seven distinct art districts in the downtown area. The stunning architecture of the Frederic C. Hamilton Building extension of the Denver Art Museum (DAM), designed by Daniel Libeskind, is worth marvelling from the outside, and the lively and interactive exhibits inside are equally enticing. The newly opened Clyfford Still Museum near the DAM complex downtown explores the work of one of America’s most significant yet least understood artists, whom the museum is named for.
El Chapultepec, locally known as “The Pec,” has long been a part of music history in Denver, having hosted the likes of Sinatra, Bennett and Fitzgerald on its small stage. Rock legends McCartney, Jagger and Richards have also played here. “The Pec” features jazz music every night, and serves strong drinks and Mexican fare. Tuck yourself away in a booth and soak up the history of this local hangout.
The Denver Performing Arts Complex is the second-largest performing arts complex in the nation. Venues include the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Newton Auditorium, Boettcher Concert Hall and Temple Hoyne Buell Theatre. The Denver Center for Performing Arts presents Broadway shows and professional theatrical performances.