- Lifestyle & Sports
- 25 Sep 14
The Mile High City doesn’t have the glamorous reputation of New York or Los Angeles, but with a laid-back population, stunning sights and tonnes of culture, it’s worth a visit in its own right
Where exactly is it?
The sprawling city is located centrally in the state of Colorado. Between Utah, New Mexico, Kansas and Wyoming, Colorado is the home of the Rocky Mountains, and Denver sits just to the east of the foothills of the range. Also, its nickname of the Mile High City is not just a cool moniker; the city is officially recognised as sitting 5,280 feet above sea level.
How do I get there?
Denver’s airport is a major hub, so getting there is pretty easy. There are no direct flights from Ireland, but there are regular services from London, Paris, Frankfurt and other European cities. Alternatively, land anywhere in North America, and a flight to Colorado is easily and relatively cheaply procured.
What language do they speak?
Denver is an English speaking city, and plain-spoken at that. Unlike along the East coast, Colorado English is – short of a handful of words of local slang – relatively standard and accent free. It’s a typical American melting pot: there are plenty of families who may speak another language at home (especially Spanish). However, for the purposes of your visit, English will do the trick!
What’s the local beer like?
When it comes to beer, Colorado has you covered. Coors is brewed down the road at Golden, in the largest brewery in the whole world. Coors is also responsible for Blue Moon. On the craft side, a passion for brewing in the area had seen some outstanding efforts, none better than New Belgium. Inspired by cycling trips in Europe, it produces some of the finest libations in the nation. The Ale House at Amato’s at 2501 16th Street has 42 craft beers on tap, starting with a delicious dozen from the beer-mad scientists at Breckenridge Brewery (alehousedenver.com). If you have a chance, hire a car and tour their facility in nearby Fort Collins; if not, make sure to get a few of their fantastic Fat Tire Amber Ales down you while in the area.
Leopold Bros is something of a well-kept secret, distilling a range of whiskeys, as well as vodka and liqueurs. It’s the gin, though, which is the real gem; combine it with blackberry liqueur and tonic for an outstanding Rocky Mountain G&T.
What’s the transport like?
As with any American city, travel is typically by car; with so much to do in the areas surrounding the city centre, hiring one is probably a wise option. There is a light rail system but it’s quite limited. If you’re travelling a little further afield for a night or two consider taking a train. The stunning geography is the perfect backdrop for a romantic rail journey.
What about food?
Denver has one of the highest Mexican-American populations of any US city. Cuisine is definitely influenced by dishes south of the border. If you’re a fan of burritos, or a good chili, you’re in safe hands! For the more adventurous diner, a Rocky Mountain Oyster is… well, it’s not an oyster, let’s put it that way. It’s a deep fried bull calf testicle. Hot Press summoned the courage, and was actually quite impressed; fortune favours the brave and all that… Give them a go at The Buckhorn Exchange, a classic Denver steakhouse residing at at 1000 Osage Street (buckhorn.com).
What’s the nightlife like?
With a young population (average age 33) and a huge university campus, Denver is great if you want to meet new people, shake a leg, or simply soak in the atmosphere of a lively night out. LoDo, or Lower Downtown, is a heady mix of cool cocktail spots, rocking sports bars and heaving nightclubs. The people are incredibly friendly: there’s always a positive vibe. There’s also plenty of live music with The Paramount Theater at 1621 Glenarm Place a 1930s art deco gem (paramountdenver.com), and The Meadowlark at 2701 Larimer Street great for DJs, stand-up and art rock (meadowlarkbar.com). If an opportunity arises, the Red Rocks Amphitheatre may well be the greatest place on earth to see a gig.
When should I go?
There are good reasons to visit Denver any time of year. For a start, it gets 300 days of sun per annum. You’re guaranteed it’ll always look well for your holiday snaps. The summer is typically pleasant and warm, without being stiflingly hot as is the case with other US cities. In winter, it is truly, bitterly cold: the perfect opportunity to head towards the nearby slopes, slap on a pair of skis and have fun!
What are the touristy things to do?
While Denver Art Museum is impressive, and just one example of the amazing architecture to be found, the city is all about getting physical. Whether hiking, biking, or even driving up the stunning Mount Evans, days in the “303” are about getting in touch with Mother Nature. If you don’t feel up to it yourself - and at these altitudes, no shame in taking a break - you can always watch the pros. One of those “four-sport”cities, Denver is home to basketball, football, ice hockey and baseball teams at the highest level. A trip to Mile High Field for a Broncos game is hard to beat.
Goodness yes. As just about everyone is probably aware, Colorado became one of two states – along with Washington – to legalise marijuana. Since January, recreational sales have been legal. The majority of vendors are in Denver. You can’t, however, smoke in public; there aren’t any Amsterdam-style coffee shops. If you’re planning on indulging, there are official regulations online. Swot up before you go. colorado.gov.
What should I bring home?
Snow boots and thermals all round!