Ultimate Guide to Visiting Denver, Colorado for the 2021 All Star Game
If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll see that I guessed that Baseball’s All Star Game would be moved to Denver. If you planned on going to Atlanta, your plans are most likely in disarray. While many Coloradans are excited to host this event, Denver has changed after COVID and any of the travel content published for 2021 is likely seriously out of date. This guide will share the following:
- What to Expect
- Where to Stay
- Where to Eat
I’m going to be candid with you, COVID has really hit Denver hard. Just like many cities across the US and the World we’ve lost businesses, our confidence has been shaken by what has been out of our control and things have changed in both good and bad ways.
What has been incredible to watch though has been all of the changes. We have a number of large new developments that have just been completed-perfect timing for those of you who are coming for the 2021 All Star Game. Below are a couple of them.
- MacGregor Square-This is a mixed use space across from Coors Field and it has the Rally Hotel which I highly recommend staying at for the event. Restaurants, Starbucks, a book store and several restaurants make this place home. The Rally Hotel also has a roof top swimming pool with a mountain view.
- Market Station-A new mixed use space that includes retail, restaurants and other amenities for the people who live in the apartments above the ground level.
- Meow Wolf Denver-If you’re not familiar with Meow Wolf-it’s incredible! The original location is in Santa Fe, New Mexico and the second location just opened in Las Vegas. The third location to open will be in Denver and I’ve included a video below. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will be open in time for All Star Weekend.
Denver now has a ton of new business that have begun to open as we make our way out of COVID. Those won’t be in any of your travel information. I’ll share some businesses, etc. below.
Don’t just remain and recreate in downtown Denver. I would consider that an incomplete experience of how we live and will share ideas of places to go and where to visit below.
That said, I think that you can have an incredible time in Denver and thought I would share some in-time tips and tricks below.
At the time that this post was published almost 30% of the state’s population has been vaccinated. By the time of the All Star Game that number will be significantly higher. That said, here’s what to expect in relation to the COVID protocols and local attitudes about masking.
- It’s still likely that you will have to wear a mask at the game or to enter venues. Just plan for that.
- Like any community, we care about what’s happening in OUR community. If you tell us that you don’t mask in your town…we won’t care. You’re visiting our state. Just like you wouldn’t appreciate us making similar comments in your home town. I’ve heard these comments which is why I’m bringing this up.
- People are pretty live and let live. So, if you opt to not wear a mask outside of those venues I don’t think you’ll encounter comments overt comments about this….especially by mid-July. People might side eye you, but they probably won’t say anything. This is also a reflection of the number of us who are vaccinated.
Prepare for the Altitude
Denver is known as the Mile High City because it’s literally 1 mile above sea level. You’ll often see the following number: 5280 that’s referencing 1 mile. When you’re above sea level there are some things that you need to be aware of.
- Altitude Sickness can occur in Denver-If you’re not sure what that is please read up on it. Speak with your doctor if you have any health issues that may be impacted by a change in altitude.
- It’s really dry here. Dry. You’ll need to bring the following products with you:
- Lip balm
- Sun block
- Water bottle
- It’s very common to see residents walking around with water. You can become dehydrated really fast and get altitude sickness. Always hydrate while you’re here.
- Good walking shoes-If you have Colorado based friends they will be excited to engage in a lot of fun activities. Almost all of them will include some kind of physical activity component (not making this up)
What are Coloradans Like?
They’re pretty friendly. In fact, my East Coast friends are often a bit alarmed by how friendly we are. That said, we tend to be live and let live. So something that you may find unusual, Coloradans might shrug off.
The fitness thing is real. We love working out even if we don’t call it working out. You may find yourself biking to a brewery, going on a hike first…then going to a brewery, or walking/biking and exploring with your Colorado friend and then going to hang out on a patio somewhere.
If you ask us about voting, be prepared, we DO understand the differences between the Georgia law and Colorado’s and we will defend it to the bitter end.
How to Get Around
If you’re opting to stay in downtown Denver and not go to the mountains then you won’t need a car. If you’re looking to go the mountains and are staying for at least a week and don’t want to use a car, you can use Bustang to go to the mountains.
But, in all honesty, it may be easier to rent a car so that you can get around quickly.
Denver has a light rail and bus system. You can reach the main hub for both about 5 blocks from Coors Field. If you fly in and then take the light rail from the airport to the final stop which is Union Station. Then, you could walk to any of the hotels that I mention on my recommended hotel list. The exception being The Source Hotel. You would get off at the second to last stop and walk 4 blocks to the hotel.
Uber and Lyft are all over town, it’s very easy to get either one. Lyft is the company with a bigger presence because they have a large regional office here.
We need to talk about the scooters. I love and hate them. I hate them because tourists come to Denver and get excited about using them. Then, they ride them around like assholes and park them in ways that block access to sidewalks for people in wheelchairs, parents with strollers, or for people who may have some difficulty walking.
Don’t be the asshole.
Please be aware of your surroundings, don’t ride drunk, don’t come to Denver and get hit by a car because you decided to try out our scooters for the first time.
Union Station is 5 blocks from Coors Field.
Where to Stay
If you stay at any of the following hotels, you will be within walking distance to the stadium.
- The Rally
- Hotel Born
- The Maven
- Hostel Fish
- The Crawford
- Hotel Indigo
- The Oxford
- The Ramble
Special Shout Out
The Source Hotel which is one light rail stop from downtown. It takes 3 minutes to get to downtown from that stop. I love this hotel for many reasons. I’ve hosted a small 3 day conference there and love the staff. They have an in-house brewery, a food hall and there is a park across the street.
There are a ton of other hotels throughout the downtown Denver city center. But, the ones that I mentioned are the one’s that I like with the closest proximity to Coors Field.
Other downtown hotels may require you take the free 16th Street Mall shuttle or a quick 5-10 minute walk to get Coors Field.
Yes, we legalized pot years ago. It’s not that big of a deal here. Please don’t make it a big deal. Avoid doing the following:
- Assume that all Coloradans smoke or like that we’ve legalized it.
- Walk around awkwardly with your bag of weed-we know what you’re doing, we don’t care.
- Smoke publicly-this is illegal and frowned upon.
- Ask us about this law. We’ll find you annoying even if we don’t say it.
- Do NOT take what you’ve purchased home-That’s a sure way to get arrested at the airport. Buy LESS than you think you should while you’re here. I’ve heard tons of stories about people who throw their pot out of their car windows before arriving at the airport. That’s silly. Just purchase less.
Simply Pure in the LOHI district. The first black-owned cannabis dispensary in Colorado.
While downtown Denver has the Denver Pavilions a small shopping center I believe that there are other parts of the city that have much better shopping districts than downtown’s.
- Cherry Creek Mall and Cherry Creek North-Both offer fantastic shopping experiences including great places to eat and drink. I’m not into malls that much anymore so I prefer Cherry Creek North where you can walk around outside and pop into the different boutiques, etc. Traditional shopping experience.
- Pearl Street Mall (Boulder) If you have time, then I highly recommend going to Boulder for a few hours to wander up and down Pearl Street Mall. You can take the bus there (it’s super clean and frequent). Many people commute between Denver and Boulder daily for work. Pearl Street is an open air walking district with stunning views of the foothills. If you’re staying downtown, you can take the bus from Union Station to the 14th Street Bus Station in Boulder (the last stop). The bus is around $10 round trip.
- Olde Town Arvada-I really like Olde Town Arvada, it’s a small shopping district that you can take the light rail to from Union Station. Vegans, they have a couple of vegan restaurants as well.
- Tennyson Shopping District-This is a small district with really cute boutiques, good coffee and great restaurants.
- Recommended boutique: Lariat
All of these shopping experiences may have live music or other activities depending on the day.
Where to Eat
If you are looking to eat Southern Food, I would strongly ask that you don’t while you’re here. While there are a few places with good Southern Food, it’s my view that it makes no sense to come to Colorado for Southern Food. Our palates are different. Here are some Colorado local restaurants that you may want to try out.
- Kachina Cantina-Mexican food
- Mimosas (B)-Brunch
- Super Mega Bien (POC)-Mexican food
- Bacon Social House-Brunch and Dinner
- Welton Street Cafe (B) Brunch and Dinner
- Curtis Park Creamery (POC) Mexican food-to go only.
- Stowaway-Globally inspired food (think New Zealand and Asia)
- Denver Biscuit CO-All day Brunch
- Sam’s No 3-Downtown Denver location. Burritos and other diner food. Delicious.
- Sassafrass-Brunch-Southern Food.
- Perdida-Located in Washington Park. Coastal Mexican food.
- Northside Eatery-Upleveled American
- Senor Bear
- Somebody People (V) Not downtown, it’s vegan, it’s incredible. Meat lovers will enjoy it.
- Hoja-A small restaurant in the Plate Park neighborhood. If you want chilaquiles, posole or a giant burrito-this is a great place to visit.
- African Grill and Bar (B) (Lakewood)
- Avanti Food and Beverage-Food hall in the LOHI neighborhood
- Meta Asian Kitchen (POC)
- Edgewater Marketplace
- Konjo Ethiopian (B)
- Meta Kitchen (POC)
- Milk Market
- Happy Camper Pizza
- Viewhouse-Great view
- Low Country Kitchen
- Lola Coastal Mexican
- Buckhorn Exchange
Coloradans love good quality coffee. You will find a ridiculous amount of small batch, fresh roasted beans in most local shops. Here are a few of my favorites.
- Blue Sparrow Coffee-Both locations are wonderful but the original location is better for tourists. There’s a rooftop. Backyard on Blake location.
- The Wild-This coffee shop is located directly across from Union Station. It’s in a cute little nook and has a lovely patio in front. Love this space.
- Third Culture Bakery-I can’t rave enough about their matcha lattes. There are two locations and the RINO/Five Points location is within walking distance of Coors Field.
- Heaven Creamery-This coffee shop/ice cream story is dreamy!!! It’s worth the visit. Located in Cherry Creek North
- Downpours Coffee-This fantastic local coffee shop has three locations. What is wonderful about this coffee shop is the attention to small details and the staff. Everything is made in house. Recommended location: West Washington Park
- Whittier Cafe (B) All African sourced beans. Wonderful patio and weekly Ethiopian food on Sundays. Alcoholic drinks served.
- Coffee at the Point (B)-This coffee shop is located in the heart of historic Five Points. Besides having great staff and good coffee it’s a great place to work if you have some projects that you need to work on before exploring. Cocktails served.
- Stowaway Kitchen-Besides having fantastic coffee, this New Zealand owned business has incredible food. It’s also a beautiful space and within walking distance of Coors Field. Alcoholic drinks served.
- Huckleberry Roasters-The Dairy Block location is 2 blocks from Coors Field. Their coffee and food offerings are fantastic. Highly recommend.
- Steam Coffee-If the weather is nice and you would like to sit on a beautiful local patio, Steam Coffee is the place you must go. It’s BUSY, but the crew and the coffee is amazing. It’s a quick drive from downtown. Platte Park
- Hudson Hill Coffee-This surprisingly beautiful space is located in the Capital Hill area of Denver. Great coffee, knowledgable staff and cocktails! They also have a patio in the back.
- Larimer Square Starbucks-It may surprise you that I’ve added a Starbucks to this list. I worked at this location a billion years ago and it’s located on Larimer Square which is a wonderful place to sit outside and enjoy a great cup of coffee.
- Black Eye Coffee-Located in the LOHI (Lower Highlands) neighborhood, Black Eye Coffee knows its coffee.
It may surprise you that Denver (and Colorado) has a strong patio culture. This was the case even before COVID. Here are some great patios to enjoy a drink, brunch, or a view of the mountains.
- Steam Coffee-Great patio for coffee
- Backyard on Blake-Fantastic roof top patio with view of the mountains. It has internet.
- The Viewhouse
- Halcyon Hotel-Elevated Rooftop Bar
- The Source Hotel-If you have lunch upstairs at The Woods you can sit on the patio. Mountain view.
- 54Thirty Bar located in the Le Meridian Hotel
- Avanti Food and Beverage-Incredible view of downtown Denver.
- Edgewater Public Market-The rooftop has an amazing view of downtown Denver….and a bar.
Day Trips from Denver
- Estes Park/Rocky Mountain National Park
- Fort Collins
Day Trips to Cool Places
- Red Rocks
- Indian Paint Mines
- Chautauqua Park
- Garden of the Gods
- Epic Sky Trek
- Denver Beer Spa
- Standup Paddle Board-Chatfield Reservoir
- Yoga on the Rocks
- Earth Illuminated
- Union Station Farmer’s Market
- Meow Wolf Denver
- Izba Spa
- Horror Room
- Downtown Gallery and Ax Room (Ax Throwing)
- B & GC Cherry Creek
- Millers and Rossi
- Death and CO
- Williams and Graham
- The Cruise Room
Going Hiking? What You Need to Know
If you decide to go hiking during your visit there are some things you need to know. Especially if you’ve NEVER hiked at ALTITUDE.
- Hiking at altitude for the uninitiated can be an experience.
- Give yourself a few days to acclaimate to the altitude before going
- Do some quick research on what to expect
- Wear the correct shoes or at least solid tennis shoes.
- Check the weather
- Let people know where you’re going.
- Don’t push it.
Where to Get Good Beer and Cider
- Novel Strand Brewery (B)
- Raices (POC)
- Lady Justice (Woman Owned)
- Woods Boss
- Cervesceria Colorado (POC)
- Ratio Beerwerks
- Joyride Brewing Company
Coworking Spaces for Digital Workers
I’m a huge fan of Deskpass which functions similarly to Classpass. Basically, you pay a monthly subscription that gives you access to various spaces in participating cities. Denver is a participating city and I thought it would be helpful to share which ones I would recommend. Classpass is available across the United States. Check to see if your city is on the list.
Sadly, like many cities across the US, Denver now has a population of unhoused citizens. Real talk, you may see tents from time to time when driving around Denver. The closer to downtown Denver, the more likely it is you may see this.
One reason is that there are two homeless shelters on Park Avenue. I’m going to be a little cynical and say that it is highly likely that these folks will be moved prior to the game if for some reason they are close to the stadium. That typically is what happens prior to other major events.