48 HOURS IN DENVER
Hike to a glacier and dine at the newest healthy hotspots.
With the mountains just steps away, sun 300 days out of the year, and a vibrant and growing restaurant scene, Denver is a city that shouldn’t be missed by athletes. Its miles of bike paths, chic stores, and endless outdoor activities make it an ideal spot to visit on its own or when heading to a bigger ski resort such as Vail. Here, how to spend two days in the Mile High city.
Where to Stay
The Crawford Hotel is located in the city’s working train depot, Union Station. The historic building’s terrazzo floors and towering archways were immaculately preserved during the 2014 renovation, when the 112-room hotel opened. In addition to the luxurious, beautifully appointed rooms (the Pullman Rooms are modeled after Pullman sleeping cars), the station also includes an array of shops and vendors for your morning coffee or a quick bite.
Or check into The Four Seasons Denver located a few blocks away in the heart of downtown. Guests can take advantage of the heated rooftop pool that is surrounded by lush greenery.
Start your day at Mercantile Dining & Provisions, chef Alex Seidel’s restaurant and all-day market in Union Station. Order the homemade cherry pistachio granola with fresh fruit and sheep’s milk yogurt from Seidel’s own dairy, Fruition Farms Creamery. Before heading out, pick up a seasonal roast vegetable or chicken sandwich (that you'll enjoy later on your hike) at Honor Society.
Rent a car and head towards the mountains for a short hike to Saint Mary's Glacier in Arapaho National Forest (located about 45 minutes away). The easy to moderate hike is about 1.5 miles round-trip. If there is snow, rent a pair of snow shoes or crampons from Wilderness Mountain Exchange. When you get to the top of the glacier, soak in the views of the snowcaps and the crystalline lake while you have a picnic lunch. If you're looking for a more advanced option, check out the nine-mile round-trip climb along the Ribbon Falls path.
In the afternoon, head to the Denver Art Museum, known for its contemporary, Native American and Western art. From February 11 to May 20, the museum will host an exhibition on the iconic French artist Edgar Degas, showcasing his bronze statues, etchings, pastels, and more.
Afterwards, rejuvenate tired muscles at The Four Seasons spa with a massage that combines reflexology and deep tissue work to help adjust to high-altitude.
For a relaxing evening, walk the short distance over to Union Station (or downstairs, if you’re staying at The Crawford) and have dinner at James Beard Award Winner Jennifer Jasinski’s new tapas bar, Ultreia. Enjoy small plates like tuna-stuffed piquillo peppers and warm butternut squash salad while you sip on a glass of Tempranillo from the restaurant’s all-Spanish and Portuguese wine list.
Begin the morning with a cup of coffee and a bowl of quinoa oatmeal with glazed pears at Citizen Rail. Head out for a run or ride (complimentary bicycles are available at each hotel) on the Cherry Creek Trail. The 42-mile paved path, which is only two blocks from Union Station, runs from the Highlands down to the southern suburbs. Run a portion of the trail before turning back, or after 1.5 miles you’ll hit West 14th Avenue, where you can cut east towards the art museum. Loop back up on 15th Street past the civic center and the capitol until you get to Wewatta Street. Take a right and you’ll find yourself back by your hotel.
After a shower, cozy up fireside in the lounge at Tavernetta for an elegant lunch. Try the fennel, apple, and pomegranate salad, the heirloom bean and tomato soup, and the grilled branzino. Stretch your legs after lunch and walk towards the Five Points and River North (RINO) neighborhoods, by way of Coors Field. Stop in at Topo Designs on Larimer Street for an array of colorful fleeces, flannels, and day packs. From there, enjoy the half-mile walk through to the dual-storefront La Lovely Vintage and Judith & Joe for vintage clothing, jewelry, and vinyl. Don’t miss their neighbor, River North Workshop Co., where you can find locally made ceramics, textiles, and beauty products, like face masks from Denver-based company Fig + Yarrow.
For a memorable end to the trip, be sure to make a reservation at Señor Bear in the Lower Highlands, or try to walk in and find a spot at their wrap-around bar. Chefs Max MacKissock and Blake Edmunds are turning out bright, super-fresh Latin American-inspired food. The menu changes frequently, but their rotating aguachile (citrus-marinated seafood) and the smoky El Pollo Bronco are standbys.
Photo: Andrew R Slaton