As a traveler, I'm usually the kind of person who scoffs at a trip to-do list that's filled with super cliche, touristy items. Do I really want to go to the same restaurants and attractions that every other visitor is going to? Usually not. I prefer the local scene and going out of my way to explore the streets that aren't laced with bumbling tourists. But my philosophy flopped when I visited Denver for the first time last month. I found myself in the midst of some of the city's most popular tourist areas and, surprisingly, I wasn't mad about it at all.
Here are 5 "touristy" things worth doing in Denver — even if you're usually not that type:
Treat Yourself at the AC Hotel:
As much as you're tempted to find an airbnb for your stay in Denver, do yourself a favor and book a room at the newly opened AC Hotel Denver Downtown instead. The location is amazing (one street away from the Sixth Street Mall), the rooms are spacious and the beds are incredibly comfortable, plus the open-air rooftop bar 54thirty is the highest in Denver and offers picturesque views of the city. It's truly spectacular up there.
The rooftop bar is fantastic, even if you don't get an amazing image like this one up there on your iPhone.
Plus, after an evening on the roof, you'll be happy to find the hotel's breakfast offerings at the AC Kitchen include cured meats and European cheeses and, perhaps most importantly, croissants.
Dine at Linger:
Linger is definitely a Denver hot spot, for a few good reasons: the super cool Lite Brite bar, the incredible food, and the fact that the restaurant was once a mortuary. Yep, for real. The restaurant/bar even uses some of the original architecture from the Olinger Mortuary. My meal there was fantastic — do yourself a favor and order the beet falafel. Actually, just order one of everything.
Explore Red Rocks Park:
Red Rocks Park is a sight to behold and it's only about 10 miles outside of Denver. The stunning rocks were formed about 290-296 million years ago (wrap your mind around that) and there are tons of incredible places and trails to explore in the park — if weather permits and you're not completely out of breath the second you leave your car. Also, if your timing is right, definitely get tickets for a concert at world famous Red Rocks Amphitheater — seeing anyone perform there would be amazing.
Tour The Unsinkable Molly Brown's House:
If you've seen Titanic, you definitely remember Molly Brown (she was played by Kathy Bates). But did you realize that she was an actual historical figure who rallied for the lifeboat to go back and look for survivors when the ship sank — hence "The Unsinkable Molly Brown"? Anyway, Molly (who actually was named Margaret) lived in Denver and you can go visit her home and even take a very informative tour at the Molly Brown House Museum.
Check out Union Station:
Denver's Union Station is 100 years old and it's fab in form and function. There are plenty of great places to eat and drink (or grab some ice cream) at the ultra chic hub. Plus, you can actually catch a light rail, bus, or train from the station. Or you can have AC Hotels’ Global Ambassador Nigel Barker take your picture in front of the tracks, like I did (as part of a very special one-off Marriott Rewards Moments event).
Pack your bags!