Travel Diary: Denver, CO

It’s taken me a bit of time to get around to writing this blog post but over Memorial Day weekend, CJ and I took a trip to Denver for his cousin’s wedding. I had never been to Colorado but it had always been on my list of places to visit. The weather was unusually cold for it being late May – in fact it was way nicer in Boston than it was in Denver the whole time we were there which was a bit of a bummer but the weather still didn’t take away from all of the beauty Colorado has to offer.

I wanted to share a bit of our trip and some of the spots we visited and tips for anyone visiting Denver for their first time. By no means am I a Denver pro and only being there for four days for a wedding definitely meant we missed out on a lot of cool places on our list but below are some of the things we did and would recommend.

We had a 7am flight out of Boston meaning we were at the airport around 5. One of my general rules of thumb (when I can stick to it) is to fast while traveling. Airports have nothing but unhealthy, greasy food so I try to take it as an opportunity to fast when I can. So, by the time we got to Denver we were starving. The first place we visited was Root Down for brunch, a super cool old mechanic shop turned restaurant. I got the Benedict which was delicious and CJ got a lamb burger which he enjoyed. The food was incredible and the vibes were great. Definitely recommend!

CJ’s a big golfer so we ended up going to the golf course after brunch. This is when it really hit us how wild the weather is in Colorado. It was in the 60s and sunny when we got there but after a couple hours it was switching between rain, hail, and sun. We definitely were not prepared for this or the super long round of golf so we headed to our hotel for the night after this and ordered room service as it was a long day of traveling.

The next morning for the first time I experienced the benefit of not being able to adjust to a new time zone. While Colorado was only 2 hours behind East Coast time, the first day there was rough and I woke up at 4:30am and went to the gym like a psychopath. If only I had that motivation at home! After working out, CJ asked me to hop in the car and we drove to Golden, CO which was about 20 minutes away from where we were staying. There, we drove through some of the most incredible views at Windy Saddle Park and I don’t think any photos can do this place justice. I always grew up going to Vermont but the mountains in Colorado were a different level. It truly was an amazing experience especially to visit so early in the morning. Everything was so quiet and serene.

We drove down the mountain and accidentally found ourselves in downtown Golden which was the most eclectic downtown I’ve ever seen. It was still early at this point so not much was open but we found a super cute cafe, The Windy Saddle Cafe which had really great breakfast sandwiches and coffee as well as a very Colorado vibe inside.

We ended up meeting up with CJ’s family after breakfast and spent the day with them.

The next day we woke up and got breakfast at Snooze which was SO good. I wish I took a photo because the food was unbelievable. Their pancakes were the best I’ve ever had and I got the avocado sweet potato smash which was insanely good. Then we went to Top Golf which if you’d never been you should totally go. It’s pretty much bowling but a golf driving range and even if you’re not good like me, it’s still a lot of fun. CJ had been to the Top Golf in a few different cities but I had never been so I was excited to go. They have a bar and full restaurant and tons of games to choose from. The weather held up this day (although it was still cold for the end of August) so we were happy to be enjoying time semi-outside.

Later that night we got dinner and walked around Larimer Square which was super cute. Larimer Square had a bunch of restaurants and fun shops and was fun to walk around… but then it snowed (yes snowed in May) so we ended up going back to the hotel.

The next day was the day of the wedding so we decided to take it easy. We actually ended up getting a flat tire in the morning which wasn’t fun. If you’ve never had a flat tire on a rental car, pray you never do. We called Enterprise’s emergency roadside assistance who sent Triple A and told me they could put the spare on the car but that I couldn’t go further than 30 miles… the wedding we were going to alone was 45 miles away one way and we still had another full day before we went home. The guy at Triple A was really nice and referred us to a discount tire place down the street that patched the tire for free but we did have to sit there for over an hour which isn’t the most fun thing to do when on vacation.

Once our tire was fixed, we headed to the 16th Street Mall. There weren’t that many great stores in the mall but it was fun to walk around and also see how the Denver public transportation/trolleys work. It was very different than Boston but it’s always fun to walk around and see how life is in other places. We also grabbed lunch then headed back to the hotel to get ready for the wedding.

At the 16th Street Mall, what they call the “Best View of Denver”

The wedding was beautiful up in the mountains at Spruce Mountain Ranch in Larkspur, CO but it was FREEZING and all outside. Like 34 degrees freezing. I had found this beautiful maxi dress from Lulus and sandals so was not prepared. Luckily I brought a little grey sweater I have for work but it really didn’t do the job as the cold was a little more intense than my office AC. Still, it was fun to get dressed up and go to a wedding and CJ’s cousin and her now husband were super cute. The ceremony was beautiful and it was also a nice reception. Thankfully there were a few fireplaces :).

I think the mix of the cold and the travel got the best of me because the next day I woke up SO sick. It was so bad that I actually didn’t think I could get on the plane that night. I made 2 or 3 drug store stops and loaded up on Ibuprofen, DayQuil, Mucinex, and more just trying to get through our last day in Colorado. I booked our flights through American Express so points and VIP treatment get the A+ but the flight time options were probably a D-. The only thing available back to Boston was a red eye so the positive was we got a whole extra day in Denver. The negative was when you’re feeling like complete sh*t it was going to be a long trip before getting home. I tried to make the best of it and CJ and I had a pretty eventful day before heading to the airport.

We started by heading up to Red Rocks which is an amphitheater where a lot of high profile artists go to perform but also just an incredible place to go see. There are many hiking trails which unfortunately I wasn’t up for at this point in the trip and just beautiful scenes to see. We walked around for about an hour just taking in our last day of Colorado’s Beauty and had lunch at the restaurant at Red Rocks called the Ship Rock Grille which was great. Red Rocks was hands down one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.

Our little trip wasn’t over just yet. Our first day, the group of guys CJ got paired with golfing mentioned the giraffes at the Denver Zoo and I couldn’t let that one go. I’m a little kid at heart when it comes to zoos and aquariums especially so we had one last adventure at the Denver Zoo. The Denver Zoo was HUGE. Probably the biggest I’ve ever been and they had a lot of really cool animals so I was super excited to be there.

Overall, our experience in Denver was a lot of fun and I’d love to go back some day to check more stuff out and maybe even do some hiking. I was super stoked for hiking in Denver but the altitude really does make a difference so that coupled with cold weather and being sick didn’t give us much of an opportunity to hike but I look forward to visiting again sometime in the future.

Have you been to Colorado? What are some of your favorite things to do in the greater Denver area?

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