Denver is one place that has made me love the outdoors way more than I did before I moved there. It’s kind of hard not to become a nature lover when there is a park on every street and the Rocky Mountains are right there. I called Denver home for about 2 years, and it’s now been 3 months since I moved away, and I can’t help but think back to some of my favorite places I visited in the mile-high city. Denver has a variety of restaurants, local businesses, and hidden gems to explore, so if you are looking to visit or just want something to do, here is a list of places to visit for you.
Rupert’s on the Edge
Rupert’s on the Edge is one of my all-time favorite breakfast spots. What really solidified Rupert’s as the best in my eyes was the location and the pancakes. In other restaurants I tried, the pancakes were doughy, gooey, and unfinished. Rupert’s pancakes were always fluffy and big, plus it’s right across the street from Sloan’s Lake. When the weather in Denver is nice, eating outside is a common occurrence. You can’t beat the combo of a nice view and a delicious breakfast.
Location: 2045 Sheridan Boulevard, Edgewater, CO 80214
Stone Bear Studios
I found out about Stone Bear Studios through Groupon. I’ve always wanted to take a pottery class, so I immediately hopped on this deal. Stone Bear Studios is a pretty new studio owned by Matt Cawley. The class itself was an enjoyable experience where you get to make 4 different pieces and keep 2 of them. It was a small class, so beginners like myself had plenty of space to ask questions when needed.
Location: 1331 W Evans Ave, Denver, CO 80223
Urban Putt is mini golf taken to the next level. Right in the middle of downtown Denver, you can find not one but 2 golf courses and a bar. It was a nice upgrade to the places with the mini golf and bumper boats that you visited as a kid. It’s still a family-friendly place though so kids can play before 8 pm then it’s 21+ only. You can even check out their dining options and happy hour. I was there mainly for the drinks and to win both courses and it didn’t disappoint even though I only won one game.
Location: 1201 18th St, Denver, CO 80202
Edgewater Public Market
Edgewater Public Market is a great place to check out and support local businesses all in one spot. You can grab food, drinks and even do some shopping. I loved going to this market for Happy Cones Co which is an ice cream shop. Their salted caramel Oreo ice cream is everything you could want on a waffle cone. I also bought a graphic tee from a brand called Abstract. There’s also a zero waste store, a plant shop, a knitting store and other clothing stores. Denver actually has a lot of these marketplaces in different areas of the city. If you are ever in Aurora, be sure to stop by Stanley Marketplace where you can also eat and shop and attend any events the different businesses host.
Location: 5505 W 20th Ave, Edgewater, CO 80214
Inventing Room Dessert Shop
Let’s keep the sweet treats going! Visiting the Inventing Room is like stepping into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Through their Sugar science program, you can experience different demonstrations of the complexities of cooking sugar and the wonders of liquid nitrogen. This is where I found out about the joy of freeze-dried skittles and now that’s all I see on Instagram. It’s a fun, one-of-a-kind experience that I personally really enjoyed.
Location: 4433 W 29th Ave #101, Denver, CO 80212
TeaLee’s is located in the historic Five Points District and is owned by Risë Jones. I visited TeaLee’s many times while living in Denver, especially during my first year there since it wasn’t too far from my first apartment. It’s the perfect place to get a cup of tea, pastries, or a bite to eat. They also sell their teas as loose-leaf bags and if you really want to get fancy, you can indulge in the afternoon and high tea trays featuring sandwiches, pastries, and a bottomless pot of tea. The shop’s vibe is really calm and chill and just a great place to unwind and enjoy as you surround yourself with Afrocentric books, music, and art.
Location: 611 22nd St, Denver, CO 80205
Museum for Black Girls
Although it doesn’t seem to be there currently, before opening in Houston and D.C., the Museum for Black Girls was in Denver and it was fabulous. The Museum for Black Girls is an immersive pop-up sensory museum with over 15 art installations. Walking into the space and seeing the setup of a salon chair in the kitchen reminded me of when my mom would straighten my hair after heating up the hot comb on the stove. Each art installation was beautifully done by different local artists and highlighted what black girl magic truly is.
Tell me, who doesn’t love candy? Hammond’s Candies may sound familiar and if it doesn’t, you have the opportunity to get familiar through one of their candy factory tours. The factory tours are pretty short, but you get an inside look into the history of Hammond’s and how it all started in Denver. Their on-site candy store features some old-school treats and many of Hammond’s very own classics.
Location: 5735 Washington St, Denver, CO 80216
Spectra Art Space
I found out about the Spectre Art Space because I wanted to check out their “Back to the Source” immersive art experience. If I had to describe it, which I already did in a lovely Instagram post, I would describe it as an art showcase combined with a mini escape room. The Spectre Art Space hosts different art exhibitions, immersive experiences, music showcases, events, and classes. It’s all about providing a creative and welcoming space for people to pursue their creative passions. They also have a cute little shop up front where you can purchase different pieces, keychains, sculptures, and other items.
Location: 1836 S Broadway, Denver, CO 80210
GMV Studios was a dance studio and event space on Colfax. Unfortunately, I learned that they recently had to close their doors due to not being able to bounce back from the pandemic, but I still wanted to include them because I really liked the class I took. You can also see where the dance instructors moved their classes. I took the beginner hip-hop class with Melissa and it was a very enjoyable experience because the choreography was cute and fun. I normally don’t take choreography classes because I’m not a dancer, I just like dancing for fun and exercise, but the class and Melissa herself were both very encouraging so it made those break-out groups way less intimidating.
Welton Street Cafe
Welton Street Cafe is a soul food cafe in the Five Points District. This was one of the first restaurants I tried when I first moved to Denver, and I would bring everyone there who came to visit. I ordered the same thing each time: 6pc honey hot wings, mac and cheese, and fried okra. I truly enjoyed being so close to the Five Points District during my first year in Denver since I lived downtown. Welton Street Cafe is moving locations so they are temporarily closed at the moment.
Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods is located in Colorado Springs so it’s just an hour’s drive from Denver. There’s a lot to do on a visit to this geological park. They offer different tours, horseback riding, hiking, rock climbing and if you don’t want to get out of the car, you can cruise around. If you want to turn your day trip into a little vacation, there is also the Garden of the Gods Resort and with a view like that, you can bet it will cost you a pretty penny.
Location: 1805 N. 30th Street, Colorado Springs, CO 80904
African Grill and Bar
African Grill and Bar is a restaurant owned by Sylvester and Theodora, a couple from Ghana. I’ve always wanted to try African dishes from different countries like Nigeria, Ghana and Ethiopia, so you can bet that we ordered a little bit of everything. I was most excited about trying fufu and jollof rice because those were the two dishes I was most familiar with by name. We also had plantains, chakalaka stew, and oxtails. To say that I was sooooo happy is beyond an understatement. Everything was absolutely delicious and the atmosphere of the restaurant was very welcoming and patient since my mom and I didn’t know where to start.
Location: 955 South Kipling Parkway, Denver, Colorado 80226
Anasa Naturals is an online bath and body company that specializes in creating natural and safe body care products that are all centered around a bakery theme. Chef Diedra Rae, the owner, has taken her expertise as a pastry chef and transformed it into beautifully crafted bath products. Anasa Naturals makes an assortment of products like body butter and souffles, cupcake bath bombs, and soapsicles. The products are also affordable considering that they are handmade and made with natural ingredients. Most products are in the $5-$15 price range. I tried a few of her products, and I have to say the Butter Ball Soap is my favorite.
Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves
Looking to break a sweat in a relaxing kind of way? Yampah Spa is located in Glenwood Springs along the Colorado River. There you can find natural underground hot mineral water steam baths. The vapor caves are incredibly hot at 110 degrees Fahrenheit and 100% humidity. Even as someone who is from Las Vegas and 110 degrees is the norm during the summer, I could only do about 10 minutes at a time in the caves. This was also my first experience at a spa and I really enjoyed it even though it was a little too quiet for me, but I guess that’s the point.
Location: 709 E 6th St, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
Seven Falls is another adventure located in Colorado Springs, not too far from Garden of the Gods. Getting to Seven Falls all starts with a shuttle to buy tickets and from there, a .8 mile hike to the base of the waterfall. That’s where you come face to face with 3 options. Take a few stairs to the opposite side of the waterfall, take an elevator or take the 224 steps to get to the top of Seven Falls. My dad and I chose the 224 steps because why not. If you don’t like heights, this may not be for you since the stairs are steep and narrow and there is nothing below them. Despite all that, it is an amazing climb to experience and the views are worth it whether you climb to the top or stay on the ground.
I’ve made frequent drives throughout my time in Denver to visit back home in Las Vegas, and the drive through the mountains never gets old. Without a doubt, this was my favorite part about living in Denver, being so close to these beautiful and magnificent mountains.
Looking for More to Explore?
Here are a few other places to add to your itinerary:
Denver Botanic Gardens
Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Red Rock Amphitheater
Great Divide Brewery Co. Tour
Denver Museum of Contemporary Art