If you plan to visit Denver, there’s probably one thing you should know. You can “do” Denver in 24 hours, but those of us straight outta Denver definitely recommend more time if you can make it happen! Knowing that many visitors to Colorado choose to stop in Denver for only a short period of time on the way to or back from the mountains, we put together an ambitious (err… awesome, amazing, not-to-be-missed) itinerary to efficiently squeeze the most out of your limited time.
8:00am To kick-off your whirlwind 24 hours in Denver, you’ll need to be fueled up and ready to roll, so first stop needs to be breakfast at Snooze at Union Station for their pancake flight or the Chile Verde Benny, two of our faves.
9:00am Next, walk off some of your grub and drinks by strolling down the thirteen blocks of 16th Street Mall, taking in the street performers, shops, restaurants, bars, and usually some really good people watching. To get to 16th Street Mall from Snooze just head out the front door of Union Station, turn right and walk one block!
9:30am Take a quick peek inside the Brown Palace at the far end of 16th Street Mall. It’s celebrating its 125th birthday this year and you will get an amazing dose of ornate, detailed architecture and murals that will blow your mind by spending just 5 minutes inside to take it all in. They serve afternoon tea here as one of their services to give you an idea of what to expect.
10:00am Make the walk to the Veteran’s Memorial in Civic Center Park (or hop on the free 16th St. MallRide to take you most of the way from Snooze to Civic Center if you don’t want to walk 16th St Mall after breakfast) to catch the Best of Downtown Denver Free Walking Tour.
The tour runs daily from May-October and weekends November-April and shows you all of the awesome history, sights, and landmarks that make Denver so unique. If your tour takes you up to the front steps of the Capitol, don’t forget to snap a selfie on the step that marks a mile high (that’s 5280 feet or 1609 m)!
12:15pm To continue your 24 hours in Denver, indulge in your first beer flight at Wynkoop Brewery, which is located just two blocks from the end of the walking tour. It’s Denver’s first craft brewery and was started by our Governor, John Hickenlooper, and three other local guys in 1988. Their current brews change all the time, but if the Oyster Stout and Patty’s Ale are available when you’re there, make sure they’re part of your flight. Both brews help the brewery live up to its motto of “Don’t drink boring beers.” Patty’s is made with three types of peppers and definitely has a kick; and the stout is made with Rocky Mountain Oysters (that’s roasted bull testicles in our neck of the woods) and actually tastes amazing. Grab some of these after your trip as a great souvenir reminding you of that time you drank beer made with bulls’ balls.
1:15pm Grab some lunch at Avanti Food & Beverage. You’ll get great views from the large outside patio looking down into Denver, you’ll get to visit our Highlands neighborhood, and everyone will be able to find something to eat! It’s a one mile (20 minute) walk from Wynkoop and you can always hop in a taxi/Lyft/Uber if you don’t want to make the walk or your stomach is really rumbling by this time. There are always at least 20 draft beers to choose from and seven different restaurant concepts within Avanti (think super hip adult food court), from arepas to sushi, to Italian and more. This might make for a tough lunch decision as everything always sounds and smells so good.
2:30pm Hop on a Denver Bcycle and pedal your way down the Cherry Creek Trail for a totally different view of the city and a good way to get active after all of those delicious lunchtime calories. There’s a Bcycle station right outside of Avanti! The Cherry Creek trail is paved, super flat, and you can dock and leave your bike in a bunch of different spots throughout the city if you don’t want to bike back to where you started. The $35/day plan is probably your best bet if you’re planning on a bike ride for more than 30 minutes; or the $9/day plan if you’re planning on doing short little trips of less than 30 minutes, docking your bike, and then getting back on.
5:30pm Rockies Game time as you head into the evening of your 24 hours in Denver! Dock your Bcycle at one of the three stations within one block of Coors Field and plan on getting to the Rockies game early. Most evening games are at 6:10 or 6:40pm. Even if you’re not a baseball fan, it’s a great experience. You get great views of the sun setting over the mountains and you can grab a craft beer from the upper deck where they knocked out a bunch of seats awhile back and put in a few bars… after all, we’re in craft beer country! Rockpile seats are sometimes as low as $6 and you can frequently get seats $15 or less at games that are not sold out ahead of time. Take it up a notch on the fun meter by having each person in your group pick 2-3 players. If your player gets on base, the other member(s) of your group owe you $1 and you’ll make another dollar if your player makes it home. To fit in with the locals, be sure to grab one of these baseball caps or cheap T-shirts ahead of time to wear at the game.
10:00pm If your game gets out in time and you still have energy to hit the town and take in some Denver nightlife, make the 15-minute walk (0.70 miles) to Comedy Works to catch one of the late-night shows. Comedy Works brings in comedians from all over the nation, so big names here, people! Looking for some local talent a little bit closer to the stadium? Voodoo Comedy Playhouse will bring you our best local talent and it’s only 2 blocks and less than a 5 minute walk from Coors Field.
11:45pm Fancy a nightcap? When in Denver, you can’t end your 24-hour whirlwind adventure in Denver without swinging by one of our speakeasy bars. The Cruise Room is modeled after a bar on the Queen Mary, is located across from Union Station in the Oxford Hotel, and was famously opened the day after Prohibition was repealed in 1933. It’s shaped like a wine bottle and features 10 unique panels, all depicting “cheers” from different countries around the world. It’s an 8-minute walk from Comedy Works.
Other great speakeasy-type options are:
1. Retrograde (a bar hidden in the back of an ice cream shop in Uptown. You must enter by ringing a doorbell on the freezer and waiting for someone to open the freezer door for you – so cool!)
Alternative options to consider squeezing into your 24 hours that we’d be remiss not to share:
1. Buckhorn Exchange for Lunch (a national historic Landmark, Denver’s original steakhouse, and more mounted animal heads than you can count)
2. Cabaret show at D&F Tower (they actually offer a variety of shows here and like their website says, it’s like falling down a rabbit hole into another world)
3. Larimer Square (Denver’s oldest and most historic block. Us locals call it the Rodeo Drive of Denver with some really great restaurants and shops)
Exhausted yet? Us too, but it will be worth it and you’ll have great memories for years to come!
Did we miss a must-see or must-do on our list? What ideas and recommendations do you have if you only had 24 hours in Denver?