You may associate Denver with snow-covered mountain peaks, but the city actually gets an average 300 days of sunshine each year. Combine that with a thriving cultural scene and spectacular “mile-high” views, and you get an extremely popular destination for pleasure or business. Founded as a mining town during the gold rush years of the mid-1800s, Denver has blossomed into a diverse metropolis.
Denver’s economy is based largely on its geographic position. It is the nexus of federal, high-tech, educational, financial and distribution services to the Rocky Mountain states. Tourism is important to the economy, as are corporate events, including the 2016 Global Business Travel Association Convention.
Getting to and from the airport
Denver International Airport is 25 miles (about 40 kilometers) from downtown. Take the airport rail line from Denver International to Union Station. Commuter trains leave every 10 minutes between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. and every 30 minutes outside of those hours. The fare is US$9. Taxis are readily available at the airport. A one-way trip downtown costs a flat rate of US$55.57.
Getting around Denver
A light rail train travels on 34.8 miles of tracks from the suburbs to the city and makes stops at 36 stations along the way. The train is safe, affordable and comfortable. Check the Regional Transportation District website for more information about fare packages and payment options.
Denver offers a free 16th Street shuttle called the MallRide, which takes travelers up and down downtown’s 16-block core of hotels, shops, office buildings, residences, public spaces and restaurants. Hop on at any intersection on 16th Street between Civic Center Station and Union Station.
Denver B-Cycle, the city’s bike-sharing program, offers 24-hour membership at any B-cycle station for US$9. Once you’re finished, return the bike to any B-Cycle station.
Where to stay
If you’re looking for luxury and upscale hotel options, try JW Marriott Denver at Cherry Creek (150 Clayton Lane, Denver, 80206; Ph: +1-303-316-2700), The Westin Denver Downtown (1672 Lawrence St., Denver, 80202; Ph: +1-303-572-9100), Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center (650 15th St., 80202; Ph: +1-303-436-1234), The Art A Hotel LVX (1201 Broadway, Denver, 80210; Ph: +1-303-572-8000), Aloft Denver Downtown (800 15th St., Denver, 80202; Ph: +1-303-623-3063) or Hilton Garden Inn Denver Tech Center (7675 East Union Ave., Denver, 80237; Ph: +1-303-770-4200).
Midscale and economy options include Country Inn & Suites by Carlson Denver Airport (4343 North Airport Way, Denver, 80239; Ph: +1-303-375-1105), La Quinta Inn & Suites Denver Gateway Park (4460 Peoria St., Denver, 80239; Ph: +1-303-373-2525), Best Western Plus Denver Airport Inn & Suites (7020 Tower Road, Denver, 80249; Ph: +1-303-373-1600) and Ramada Midtown (2601 Zuni St., Denver, 80211; Ph: +1-303-433-6677).
Things to see and do
Colorado’s golden-domed State Capitol is prominent on Denver’s skyline. Visitors can enter the dome for breathtaking views of the city and mountains. Free historical tours of the building are offered from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday.
Every first Friday of the month, the seven art districts of Denver host the First Friday Art Walk—a night of art, food, drink and fun. Revelers can choose among 60 participating galleries, art studios and restaurants, all open from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Free guided shuttle coaches pick you up at the light rail station at 10th Avenue and Osage Street and transport you around the art district between 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
The 16th Street Mall is home to over 300 stores, 50 restaurants and a profusion of street performers. The 1.25-mile strip runs from Union Station to the intersection of 16th Street and Broadway at the Civic Center Station.
Denver Botanic Gardens is ranked as one of the top five botanic gardens in the U.S. This oasis in the city contains over 15,000 plant species from around the globe. Events take place year round. The summer season is particularly busy with tea ceremonies in the Japanese garden and a popular concert series. Admission is US$12.50; special events may cost more. Opening hours vary by time of year.
Where to eat
Known for pancakes and the homemade topping that inspired its name, Syrup offers an extensive breakfast and lunch menu, including healthy options. Try baked apple pie pancakes or Nutella-stuffed French toast for a sweet start to your day. The small restaurant chain has three locations: downtown at 999 18th St. Suite 105, Ph: 720-708-5957; City Park, 1875 York St., Ph: 303-284-6117; and Cherry Creek, 300 Josephine St., Suite 20, Ph: 720-945-1111.
Panzano will satisfy your craving for Italian cuisine. The award-winning eatery offers traditional favorites made with organic ingredients, as well as gluten-free menus for brunch, lunch and dinner. Find it at 909 17th St. at the intersection with Champa Street; Ph:303-296-3525.
Root Down serves globally influenced seasonal cuisine with a focus on fresh, locally sourced dishes. Most vegetables come from its two on-site gardens. It’s at 1600 W.33rd Ave.; Ph: 303-993-4200.
There’s a reason Lola is packed every night. The restaurant serves delicious food in a great atmosphere—with live music and outdoor dining. Find it at 1575 Boulder St.; Ph: 720-570-8686.