Black Owned Denver

72 Hours Enjoying Black Owned Denver, Colorado (From a Local)

Every time I travel outside of my state I’m asked where am I from. This is a normal line of questioning. But, what happens almost every single time, without fail, is that people are completely confused when I tell people that I’m from Colorado…and I grew up there. They always look so confused and I feel like I end up staring back at them like the Puff Daddy meme that we’ve all seen on Twitter. By the way, this is an incomplete list.

* In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please read my disclosure here.*

Many people are surprised that there is a rich and long-standing history and community of Black people who have lived in Colorado and made a difference to the state.

If you’re thinking about visiting, I strongly encourage you to do so and thought that I would share a few itineraries that intentionally included POC and allied spaces to check out as you explore Denver, Aurora, Colorado Springs and beyond.

Thinking About Starting a Travel Website?

It’s pretty simple to do and cheap! Start with Siteground and WordPress.org. With this winning combination you’ll own your own website by the end of the day. And, Siteground has easy to follow tutorials to help you with setting up your site.

Before You Go

I strongly recommend that travelers visit Fall-Spring and avoid summer trips if at all possible. I’ve included a link to a post that I wrote sharing How Global Warming May Impact Your Colorado Vacation.

Here are some tips to help you plan your trip.

  • Working on your fitness to prepare for those mountain hikes? Fit and Nu is the first gym for created for and operated by women of Color here in the state of Colorado. You can take either in person or online classes.

Related Posts

  • Colorado is a high elevation state. That includes Denver-which is called also the Mile High City. The further west that you go (basically-going into the mountains) the higher the elevation. If you have any medical conditions speak with your doctor about what to anticipate when traveling at a higher elevation. Most people way underestimate how elevation will affect their bodies and the most common complaint that I hear about trips to Colorado is related to altitude sickness and not feeling well during a trip.
    • Take it easy while you’re here
    • Drink water, more than what you typically do
    • Don’t resume your regular exercise routine when you arrive. Wait at least 3 days and still take it easy.
    • If you’re dizzy or have a headache pay attention to that. Those could be signs of the beginnings of elevation sickness.
  • Adrian Miller-The Soul Food Scholar. You would have seen him in High on the Hog.
  • 72 Hours in Denver When You’re Meat-Free

What to Bring

Dress however you would like but definitely bring several pairs of casual/fitness clothes. Especially if you’re visiting friends you will end up moving around quite a bit walking, biking, or maybe a hike. There isn’t pressure to dress up, but if you enjoy dressing up absolutely do!

  • Sunblock-It’s sunny here
  • Chapstick-It’s dry here
  • Lotion-It’s dry here.
  • Travel sized black hair products. The Black Travel Box is a Colorado local business that you can order products from.
  • Sunglasses-It’s really sunny here
  • Water bottle-It’s dry here LOL!

Where to Stay

I have a couple of properties that I love to stay at and like to shout out. Also, this website tries to always start with Colorado local businesses as I like to support local companies and keep the dollars circulating longer in town.

  • The Source HotelI really love this hotel and the staff are wonderful. It’s 2 blocks from the 38th and Blake light rail stop and part of a retail development as well. It’s also within walking distance (about 4 blocks) to Zeppelin Station which is a food hall and has a bar as well. There’s also a saline pool on the roof top patio with an insane view of the mountains. And, if you’re a beer fan-it has a brewery as well. I also hosted my first in-person financial retreat there and would happily host it again at this property.
    • The light rail is safe and has a constant security presence. ALWAYS buy your ticket. The one time you don’t is the time that security walks through the train.
  • The Maven Hotel-This hotel is part of an incredible retail development. It has a ton of beautiful art, is a few blocks away from Union Station and Coors Field and is a great place to as a base for your trip.
  • Hostel Fish-I’m a life long hosteling enthusiast and really like Hostel Fish. This hostel is located 2 blocks from Coors Field and is close to a bar district. COVID has changed a lot of things.
  • Ember HostelFunny story, I’ve actually stayed at the Ember Hostel (1 night) when I was getting some plumbing work done on my place and it took longer than expected. It’s a great hostel located in the Capital Hill district.

Arriving From the Airport

Denver International Airport has a train that travels from the airport to Downtown Denver’s Union Station. I STRONGLY recommend taking the train vs. taking Uber/Lyft from the airport. You will have problems trying to do this.

  • The train is faster. It takes 37 minutes from the airport to downtown. It costs $10.50 and that ticket works on all public transit for the entire day. There is security on the train and they check your ticket typically 3 times before you arrive at Union Station.
  • Most Coloradans take the train and then will schedule a Lyft or Uber from Union Station.
  • Lyft has the larger corporate presence in Denver. They have a massive corporate office here.
  • If you insist on taking Uber or Lyft from the airport please pre-schedule it. Especially if you’re arriving late in the evening. Most drivers do not “hang around” the airport because of the distance to town and because most people take the train.
  • You’ve been warned.
Denver International Airport

Day #1

Your first and second day in Denver I recommend that you take it easy. Check out Mimosas for brunch. You can take a ride share or walk if you’re in downtown Denver. Or, a scooter. But, I hate scooters, you can read why HERE.

For those of you who are cannabis curious. Check out Simply Pure. Wanda James and Scott Durah are the co-owners. Wanda also happens to be the first woman of color in the United States to receive a legal cannabis license (which are incredibly difficult to get).

Need some fun yummies for your munchies? Go to It’s a Bodega a Black owned snack emporium of unique snacks, candies, cookies and chips from around the world. My favorites are the TimTams. If cannabis isn’t your thing (it’s not mine) let’s move on.

Need to get your mind right? Take a yoga class at Urban Sanctuary. This yoga space serves black, brown and allied yogis looking for a welcoming space to get your shavasana on.

If you’re ready to go shopping, head to the 41st and Tennyson (Berkeley Neighborhood) area. This cute little shopping district is one of my favorite parts of town and I continue to be amazed by how it constantly gets missed in travel content. While there, pop into Lariat, a Black owned boutique, with Colorado inspired fashion (I’ve met the owner in case you’re wondering LOL!)

For lunch head back over to Five Points to Welton Street Cafe for some soul food. This restaurant has been a long-time mainstay in Denver’s food scene and Five Points neighborhood.

Want to learn how to use fire arms safely at a Black Owned range? Denver’s 1770 Armory instructs African-Americans in the safe handling of weapons in a welcoming space.

Denver is home to an incredible community of Slam Poetry artists who perform as the Slam Nuba team. If they are performing while you’re in town I strongly recommend checking them out. They cut heads.

Pop into Whittier Cafe for a great cup of coffee. African owned, all of the beans are African and if you’re lucky enough to be in town for the Ethiopian Coffee ceremony let me know. They serve pastries, oatmeal and burritos. Basically, typical coffee shop fare.

Denver is known for its murals.

Day # 2

Check out Meow Wolf Denver (opening Fall 2021), an immersive art experience that is opening this Fall. It’s the third location for the Meow Wolf Art Collective with the original in Santa Fe and the second location in Las Vegas-it’s that massive weird grocery store that you’ve probably heard about.

Craving some BBQ? Head over to Boney’s BBQ on the 16th Street Mall. They are open even if the website isn’t working. But, be warned, they close when the food is gone. They open at 11:00 am.

If you’re craving some ice cream stop by Smith and Cannon Ice Cream, Walia Creamery or MyKings Ice Cream or Sweet Sweetz.

What to Do

  • Check out the Museum of Contemporary Art-Currently has the Black in Denver photo display. This exhibition will end on August 22, 2021. The Museum of Contemporary Art is the first building designed by an Afro European architect in the United States.
  • Denver Art Museum and check out Simphiwe Ndzube’s exhibit in addition to other incredible curated exhibits at the museum.
  • Museum for Black Girls-I visited the second location…right before COVID hit. Literally weeks before. Then, I had a wonderful conversation with the amazing curators of this space. If you’re visiting Denver with your girlfriends or daughter, this is a wonderful place to check out. I was also very fortunate to be shown the second location by the 10 (?) year old daughter of one of the curators. Seeing the exhibit through her eyes really moved me and made the experience even richer. This pop up changes locations and a second exhibit is opening in HOUSTON!
  • Black American West Museum and Heritage Center-Denver and the West has a long history of Black Cowboys and Black settlement. This museum shares that history. Right now it’s closed because it’s being renovated but I will update this as soon as it reopens.
  • National Western Stock Show-MLK Jr.African-American Heritage Rodeo this will take place in January 2022. Again, Black cowboys and cowgirls STILL exist. If you’re in town in January make sure to have it coincide with this event if possible.
    • There is also the Mexican Rodeo Extravaganza too!

Sports

We have A LOT of sports teams in Denver. If you’re into sports, the venues are all downtown with the exception of the Colorado Rapids soccer stadium. Watch your favorite teams playing while you’re in town. I’ve listed our professional sports teams below.

  • Denver Nuggets-Basketball
  • Denver Broncos-Football
  • Colorado Rapids-Soccer
  • Colorado Avalanche-Hockey
  • Colorado Rockies-Baseball

Theater

Denver Center for the Performing Arts

The arts factor heavily in our daily lives here in Denver and beyond. In fact, citizens have voted to fund the SCFD for over 30 years in order to provide free arts events for all Denver metro residents. That’s why we have free days at museums, the Zoo, etc. Visitors aren’t eligible LOL! But, this gives you some context for why there are so many murals, theatrical productions, etc. in Denver. Also, many national theatrical tours will debut in Denver after NYC. I’ve listed some shows that are coming soon.

You could also drop in a Cleo Parker Robinson Dance class if you enjoy dancing as much as I do.

For dinner, head over to Konjo Ethiopian Food in Edgewater Public Market. I absolutely love this development and think that not enough people know about it. There’s a rooftop bar and an incredible view of downtown Denver and a lake. Edgewater Public Market also has a food court with other restaurants in it, shopping and a vegan fast food place with REALLY good vegan food.

Day #3

Looking to explore the mountains? Make sure to check and see if Outdoor Afro is hosting an event while you’re in town. It’s one of my favorite outdoor communities to do: hiking, backpacking, stand up paddle board, etc. with. There are chapters across the United States so also check and see if there is a chapter in your town. Here is the link to the Colorado Outdoor Afro group on Meetup.com.

Here are a couple of other outdoors groups for POC and allied folks.

  • Blackpackers and you can listen to my podcast episode with the founder, Patricia Cameron here.

Before you head out to enjoy your final day in Denver, grab a cup of coffee and a quick bite to eat at Coffee at the Point.

If you’re on your own and you’re not used to hiking pick a heavily trafficked, easy trail. Boulder’s Chautauqua Park has a number of these trails. Do pay attention to the wildlife warnings posted at the trailheads. Hiking is a serious activity at altitude so don’t be cocky. I don’t want to hear about you on the news. And, yes, we hear about out of state visitors getting into trouble hiking all the time.

  • This is a MUST read-How to Hike Safely in Colorado as a POC

If you’re not up for an actual hike but easy exploration of towns outside of Denver here are my quick day trip suggestions.

  • Boulder-I actually grew up in this town and while it may annoy me at times, it’s just 40 minutes away from Denver and great for a couple of hours away from the city. Explore the Pearl Street Mall which is an outdoor walking mall. Check out Rosetta Hall (food hall) for a meal and eat on the roof top.
  • Golden-If you’re looking for an old school “western” downtown Golden is a low-key option to check out. It’s also 35 minutes from Denver and is home to great hiking, dirt biking and beer.
  • Estes Park-Nestled at the base of Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park is 1 hour 45 minutes from Denver. It’s worth the drive and one of my favorite mountain towns. You will need a reservation to drive through Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • Breckenridge-I spend A LOT of time in Breckenridge. It is one of my favorite mountain towns. Here are a couple of reasons why.
    • It’s not Aspen LOL! I’ve finally figured out why so many Black people are going to Aspen-influencers going. But, Aspen is not as welcoming as other mountain towns in Colorado. Period.
    • The people who live in Breck are really chill
    • It’s a very welcoming space for POC travelers. I always see POC travelers of color both single or with families.
    • Good skiing and great hiking
    • One of my favorite hostels in the world is there (The Bivvi) and I stay at it all the time.
    • Isack Heartstone-He is a massive wooden troll that lives in the woods. I love visiting him every time I’m in town. If you have kids, this is a must do activity.

Happy Hour

Check out MPB (Moods Beats and Potions) for happy hour or dinner. MPB is a new business in the Five Points/RINO neighborhood. It looks like so much fun and I’m excited to check it out.

Quick Mention: Red Rocks Amphitheater

I’m obsessed with Red Rocks! It’s the place where I’ve attended numerous concerts, taken yoga classes and watched Black Panther with a sold out crowd of 9,000 people.

If you’re wondering if it’s worth it to visit Denver just to attend a concert at Red Rocks? It is. It’s a magical venue. You will need a car to visit. Or, you can pay for a shuttle service on the night of an event. You will be charged a premium to get to Red Rocks.

Last evening in Denver, it’s time to eat. Here are a couple of places that I recommend enjoying before you leave Denver.

It’s a Wrap

By now you’ve had a whirlwind experience in Denver and the rest of the metro area. I will be adding to this post with additional places to go and things to do as businesses open and close due to COVID. Hopefully, this post gave you some additional ideas of what to do and where to go while you’re here-especially if you would like to support Black owned businesses

Adrian Miller

Adrian Miller

Adrian and I spoke sometime in 2020. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that I felt like reaching out to him while the sky was falling around us. I’m sure that I was still in deep denial about how long COVID would be around. I’d watched his work with a lot of interest. As a foodie, I paid attention to his work and finally after seeing Adrian on the show Somewhere South, I knew it was time for a conversation. In listening to the episode I wish I would have asked questions like: How do you think the pandemic is impacting the experience of food? And what will our food story be coming out of this time? Luckily, Adrian ended up on a new show that captured my imagination and touched on those questions. You can see him as a historical expert on “High on the Hog” a 4 part series on Netflix about the African-American contribution to American food. It’s a must watch.

* In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please read my disclosure here.*

Thinking About Starting a Travel Website?

It’s pretty simple to do and cheap! Start with Siteground and WordPress.org. With this winning combination you’ll own your own website by the end of the day. And, Siteground has easy to follow tutorials to help you with setting up your site.

Show Resource

Are you planning your next Colorado road trip? Or, are you looking to support Colorado local businesses and want to stay within budget? Qube Money is a digital envelope app that is FDIC insured and pairs with a debit card. For the past 4 months I’ve tested out Qube Money and have become a huge fan of it. If you’re trying to keep your money organized, Qube Money is a great resource to use.

Listen to the Episode

Show Notes

  • Colorado native Adrian Miller “The Soul Food Scholar” Dropping Knowledge Like Hot Biscuits!
  • His side-hustle is writing books about food.
  • How on earth did Adrian become a self-taught food scholar especially coming from Colorado that didn’t have an innovative food culture.
  • His parents were a part of the great migration of African-Americans moving out of the South to other parts of the US. That influenced his food experience.
  • John Egerton’s comment about never having seen a preeminent book on the history of Black food
  • I ask about how he’s experienced the changing food scene in Colorado.
  • Difficulty growing and cultivating food may have been a barrier to establishing a Colorado food scene.
  • Denver Food Security Council here in Denver and we’re becoming a lot more conscious about the conversation around advocating for folks and keeping them feed.
  • I ask the quintessential Colorado question for people who grew up here.
  • Adrian shares what it’s like to go out in the world as a Black Coloradan
  • 1860’s a group of Black men fought for the right to vote in Colorado
  • Gentrification in Denver is an issue for Colorado cultural identity
  • Black people are everywhere LOL!
  • Robert Smith, the Billionaire is from Denver.
  • Pueblo Chili vs. Hatch Chili-Why doesn’t the Pueblo Chili get as much love. Pueblo does host the Pueblo Chili and Frijoles Festival and it’s happening September 24-26, 2021
  • I ask Adrian the following question in two different ways.
    • What would you tell someone who is looking to move here?
    • What would you tell a POC who is looking to move here?
  • We talk about the City of Aurora-it has an incredible food scene. You can get almost any type of food that you can think of.
  • What Adrian’s top 3 bbq places in Denver right now (do you agree)
    • Owl Bear
    • Boney’s
    • Roaming Buffalo

Follow Adrian

Blackpackers Founder Patricia Cameron

Blackpackers with Patricia Cameron

It may surprise you but there is a large segment of Coloradans who don’t enjoy the outdoors on a regular basis. In fact, there is a large number of people (including myself) who learned how to ski as adults because they couldn’t afford to learn to ski as kids. For families of color, in particular, not only is access to the outdoors a frustrating mix of safety concerns and transportation challenges. There’s also the often forgotten conversation related to the cost of equipment needed to enjoy a majority of activities outdoors. If you want to camp, thruhike, climb you need good equipment in order to enjoy these activities. The following conversation discusses this issue and my hope is that it broadens your awareness of the ongoing issues related to accessibility and the outdoors.

* In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please read my disclosure here.*

Thinking About Starting a Travel Website?

It’s pretty simple to do and cheap! Start with Siteground and WordPress.org. With this winning combination you’ll own your own website by the end of the day. And, Siteground has easy to follow tutorials to help you with setting up your site.

Listen to the Show

Show Notes

  • Patricia Cameron the founder and Executive Director of Blackpackers introduces herself
  • What is Blackpackers and the mission?
  • The impact of finances on access to outdoor spaces. How Blackpackers is working through barriers to entry
  • Patricia shares a hilarious 1st time backpacking story and every time I think about it I laugh. What wasn’t funny is the fact that she had to work overtime in order to afford the equipment.
  • I wonder why backpacking called to Patricia as an activity to enjoy.
  • I ask about what was scary about backpacking for the first time.
  • What about backpacking continued to attract her after the hilarious first trip?
  • She shares the amazing “buy in” to her non-profit. If you build it they will come.
  • How can we support Blackpackers?
    • Money!
    • Spread the word
  • If I’m looking to use Blackpackers, how does it work?
    • Sign up for the email list or join the Facebook group
  • I wonder if it’s possible to access the gear outside of the regular events?
  • Patricia was preparing to do the Colorado Trail at the time that we recorded this interview. I ask why she’s decided to do it? She shares her love of the state in her comments.
  • Suburus and Chacos (Sweet Jesus)
  • Why is it important for people of color to experience the outdoors?
    • Generational trauma and the connection to the Outdoors. Why it’s so important to have this conversation.
  • POC and the fear of being in outdoor spaces. This is an important conversation.
    • This is why Blackpackers events are done in community.
  • What is the worst and best thing about living in Colorado?
  • I distract us and share that I’m heading to Salida, Colorado for a staycation.
  • Social media and the normalization of POC faces in outdoors spaces. But, bias during outdoor interactions is still a huge issue. Btw, Patricia hates Instagram.
    • She mentions the Christian Cooper and Amy Cooper case in her comments and the Ahmad Arbery murder while jogging.
  • We talk about her Colorado Trail trip and Patricia talks about a previous outdoor experience and making connections while on the trail.
  • Fellowship vs. gatekeeping of outdoor experiences
  • What’s the worst and best thing about living in Colorado as a person of color.

In Case You’re Wondering

Patricia did complete the entire Colorado Trail during the summer of 2020 while COVID raged on around us. It has taken me almost a year to publish this and a number of other episodes that I recorded last year. At the time that we had this conversation we didn’t know how crazy things would get moving forward. I decided that now was a great time to finally release this episode because it’s almost summer. There are a number of incredible communities connecting Black/Brown and other marginalized communities with outdoor spaces often with allied support.

Nature has been the space where I clear my mind, connect with my most creative ideas and meet new people. A couple of weeks after that conversation I went on a backpacking trip with a local hiking group. It was incredible. I was the slowest person in the group. But, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. At first, I felt badly about being so slow. Then I realized that we all move at our own pace. Because I was the slowest in the group myself and two other hikers got to see two bull mooses (meese?) 500 feet from the end of the trail. I loved reading about Patricia’s experiences on the trail and watching the television coverage of her amazing experience.

For the parents out there I highly recommend reaching out to day camps and other programs to see if they have scholarships available for you to apply for. I would not have had the experiences that I did outdoors if my mom didn’t apply for those scholarships for me. Fewer people than you think are applying for available scholarships. Just make applying for scholarship funds a part of your regular routine. Sooner or later your kids will likely be awarded one.

Related Episodes

  • The Digital Green Book

Follow Patricia and Blackpackers

Mentioned in the Episode

Outdoor Resources

Finally, if you’re looking to enjoy the outdoors and are looking for community here are a few groups to check out. They may have chapters in your neck of the woods.

Buy Me a Coffee

If you enjoyed this content, please Buy Me a Coffee. It costs money to run a website and podcast. Also, I love to create my content while at the coffee shop.

Visit Colorado Tool Kit

Digital Green Book

Digital Green Book

I’m a huge fan of the show Lovecraft Country. The show is set in the 1950’s and the family at the center of the show publishes a Travel book. This book is specifically to assist Black motorists driving around the part of the United States that the family lives in. This exploration is key to the events that occur during the show. What does this have to do with today’s conversation? It’s the genesis of everything that my two guests are in the process of creating. I love this episode and I hope you leave with a deeper understanding of the project, why it’s still relevant and hopefully support the project in some sort of way.

* In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please read my disclosure here.*

Thinking About Starting a Travel Website?

It’s pretty simple to do and cheap! Start with Siteground and WordPress.org. With this winning combination you’ll own your own website by the end of the day. And, Siteground has easy to follow tutorials to help you with setting up your site.

Listen to the Show

Show Notes

  • The dynamic duo shares how they met. It’s hilarious.
    • The 6 degrees of separation in CO is really 1 degree
  • What are sundown towns? Unfortunately, they still exist.
  • The Negro Motorist Greenbook published from 1936-1960
  • Crystal came up with an updated idea
  • They discuss the issue of unconscious bias and interactions
  • Parker and Crystal bring up an idea that I found incredibly intriguing. The business case for inclusion.
  • The ladies share how the Digital Green Book differs from the original resource.
  • The Yelp for Inclusivity
  • The Digital Greenbook has one of the stated goals of quantifying the lived experiences of discomfort of visible identities.
  • Crystal shares an intensely personal experience of preparing to avoid problems in new spaces.
  • And Crystal shares her unique experience of hunting as a person of color and how it amplified anxieties related to her personal safety in unknown interactions in primarily white spaces.
    • Is it really your 2nd Amendment Right?
  • We laugh about how people are surprised to find that people of color are in Colorado
  • What type of demographic data are the ladies looking to collect in order to make a substantive business case for diversity and inclusion.
  • I wonder about what the response has been.
  • The economic reality of launching a platform like this. It’s not cheap.
  • Pondering the experience of otherness
  • We end the show with a hilarious TMI moment

Related Episodes

  • Blackpackers with Patricia Cameron-To be released 5/19/2021

Mentioned During the Show

The Epic Guide to Moving to Colorado

Connect with Parker and Crystal

If you would like to support and share the Digital Green Book project or just follow what the ladies are up to check out the links below.

  • Beta Launch City: Denver, CO June 19, 2021 (Juneteenth) Sign up to support and participate in the launch.

Media Mentions on the Topic

Buy Me a Coffee

I love Colorado local coffee shops for so many reasons. Besides brewing great coffee and community they were the only places that I could work from for the past year (for the most part). The various patios around town were a welcome space to work on Square State and my other online projects. Please support this work with a one time or ongoing donation. Buy Me a Coffee today and I’ll share your name and which coffee shop I enjoyed on you! Also, the donations go towards my time and the cost of running the show.