72 Hours in Denver When You’re Vegan

It may surprise you to hear that for 5 years I was a vegetarian. I also spent one ill-fated month as a vegan because no one told me about taking vitamin B-12. While I’m not a vegan or vegetarian right now I do follow a primarily meat free diet most of the week. One of the most challenging aspects to travel is figuring out where to eat-regardless of your diet. So, I decided to put together an itinerary with my meat-free people in mind for their next trip to Denver. Don’t worry, I won’t be sending you anywhere that smells like patchouli, body odor, dust and sadness.

* 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.

Before You Arrive

Colorado is a high-altitude destination. When designing your trip, it’s imperative that you keep that in mind. For folks not used to high-altitudes that means taking it easy upon arrival. You may even want to touch base with your doctor about what to consider when visiting a high altitude destination. Yes, Denver, is a high-altitude destination. It’s called the Mile High City for a reason. It’s one mile above sea level.

If you’re from a humid location, basically anything over 20% humidity, Colorado will feel dry AF. Seriously, it will. Don’t forget to bring.

  • Sunblock
  • Chapstick
  • Sunglasses
  • A water bottle
  • Lotion

Some Helpful Tips

  • Tip #1-Take the train from Denver International Airport to Denver’s Union Station-the final stop. Do not try to take a Lyft or Uber from the airport unless you’ve pre-scheduled this. Coloradans take the train at such a high rate that ride share drivers are difficult to connect with at the airport. Once you arrive at Union Station then schedule your Lyft or Uber. This will also save you money.
  • Tip #2-Do not use the Scooters like you’re at Disney World. I see this on a daily basis during the summer travel season. It’s incredibly dangerous and people have been badly injured or died while in town.
  • Tip #3 If at all possible try to get access to a car. It will be challenging to go to mountain destinations without it. But, if you’re here for at least a minimum of 5days, then you can take the Bustang service into the mountains and visit a mountain town. I love Bustang and have taken it numerous times. Bustang does NOT run on weekends or holidays post COVID.

Where to Stay

I actually take staycations on different sides of town from the one that I live in. I live in a great area, but sometimes it’s fun to spend a few nights on the opposite side of town. Here are some suggestions of places to stay while you’re here.

  • The Source Hotel
  • Hostel Fish
  • The Art Hotel
  • Ember Hostel
  • The Rally Hotel
  • Moxy Hotel
Denver is known for its murals

Day #1

One of my favorite places in Denver is the 41st and Tennyson shopping district. It’s way underreported in travel related content about Denver. I think this is happening because most people writing about Denver aren’t from Denver or even Colorado, but are travel bloggers who are basically sharing their trips.

This area is super cute. It has an incredible coffee shop, Allegro Coffee Roasters, which is a great place to get a nice cup of coffee or to work from. This area is also home to 3 boutiques that I love.

  • Lariat-A black owned boutique with a distinct nod to Colorado fashion.
  • Second Love-One of the most beautiful resale…thrift stores…that I’ve ever shopped in. It’s not necessarily cheap but the clothes are second hand and I love that.
  • The Yogi Exchange-This is also a resale store that also happens to have crystals as well. If you’re looking for new to you athletic wear, this is a great place to start.

Once you’re hungry, check out Vital Root, a restaurant that is 99% vegan. It has incredible food and you’ll be ready for your next stop.

Or, you can head back to downtown Denver and hangout in the Lohi Neighborhood.

Now that you’re fueled up, it’s time to explore some more.

Head back downtown and go to the RINO district. I love exploring this district because of the incredible number of murals. So many murals. In fact, in 2017 Lonely Planet called this district one of the top 10 neighborhoods to visit in the United States. Start at Central Market Denver and you could literally throw a stone and hit a mural in this area. In fact, there are murals throughout the Denver metro area and beyond-it’s a thing LOL!

If you get a little thirsty while exploring there are five places that I strongly recommend.

  • Third Culture Bakery-Their iced matcha is the best in Denver. Period. No contest. And, their mochi muffins. This bakery is also LGBTQ friendly. 2600 Lawrence Street Suite #200
  • WELLth-The juices here are so damn good. And the crew is super friendly too. 2636 Walnut St. #103, Denver, CO 80205
  • Stowaway-I spent a couple of months in Australia and quickly came to understand why they are so picky about the quality of their coffee. But, the owners of Stowaway are from New Zealand and are just as particular. Great food, phenomenal coffee and a beautiful space.
  • Whole Sol Blend Bar-Enjoy juices, toasts and other vegan friendly options at this Colorado local business.

Nooch Vegan Market?

If you’re needing to pick up snacks or other foods, stop by Nooch Vegan Market located on Broadway.

Find a Food Truck

  • Best One Yet
  • Wong Way Veg
  • CholoAss Vegan
  • Mu Denver

Check Out

While you’re on this side of town there are a couple of places that I recommend you checking out.

  • Millers and Rossi, a speakeasy in the neighborhood. Make a reservation due to capacity constraints.
  • The SourceThis is also a food hall with bars as well. It is within walking distance of Zeppelin Station. Check out Safta for Middle Eastern food (high end) All are with walking distance of each other.
Downtown Denver

Day #2

Coloradans are serious about our coffee. If you’re downtown you’ll be able to find several shops serving local roasters favorite roasts.

  • Coffee at the Point-This Black owned coffee shop is in the heart of Five Points and right by the light rail. It’s also a great place to meet if you have several friends with you.
  • Amethyst Coffee-This coffee shop also has a focus on sustainable wages for its employees. Something that is a constant conversation here in Denver and beyond.

Don’t want coffee and a quick bite? Go to one of the following vegan and vegetarian restaurants to get your day started.

  • Somebody People-I can’t rave enough about this restaurant. Meat eaters will love this place. The food is so damn good. Somebody People is a whole vibe.
  • Wonder Press Denver-If you’re looking for great fresh juice blends and toasts, Wonder is the place and the staff is really nice.

If you don’t have a car, you can take the train from Union Station to Olde Town Arvada. I really love this area and it still feels like how Colorado used to feel when I was a kid. When you’re ready for lunch you can eat at the following places:

Westwood Neighborhood

Prefer Mexican food? Head over to Kahlo’s. I’m honestly baffled by the fact that this place doesn’t get as much publicity as other well known restaurants closer to Denver’s city center.

If you prefer to stay in Denver here is a short list of activities to enjoy.

  • Ride a bike along Cherry Creek Bike Trail
  • Live music at The Mission Ballroom (right off the light rail). Here are some shows I’m looking forward to this year.
    • Black Pumas
    • Marc Rebillet
    • WuTang Clan and Colorado Symphony
    • St. Vincent
    • Erykah Badu-But will she show up on time?

Red Rocks Amphitheater

This is one of the best venues in Colorado and the World. If you can, try to time your trip so that you can enjoy your favorite musical artist performing there. Or, enjoy the following:

  • Movies on the Rocks
  • Yoga on the Rocks
  • Snowshape Winter Fitness
  • Or, just enjoy hiking around the area. Use the All Trails app to find a trail.

Day #3

Edgewater Public Market and Sloan’s Lake

Meta Burger

Head over to the Cherry Creek North Shopping District. You can take a Lyft/Uber or ride your bike along the bike trail. Cyclists are serious on this trail as are the walkers so FYI.

Once you arrive, grab a cup of coffee from one of Aviano Coffee’s two locations.

Grab a meal at

True Food Kitchen*

  • Flower Child*
  • Sweetgreen*

*Typically, I avoid sharing national chains in my content and focus on locally owned businesses. However, these two chains are standouts and absolutely worth a mention within the context of this post*

Heaven Creamery

Want some ice cream before riding back? Heaven Creamery is DREAMY!!! And, it offers so many non-dairy options.

Feel like doing some yoga? Here are a couple of spots to check out.

  • Four Mile Historic Park-Goat Yoga
  • Black Swan Yoga
  • Corepower Yoga-Many people not know that it’s a Colorado local company.

Special Shout Out-Veggie Viernes

If you’re not familiar with Rise Westwood Collective I strongly encourage you to check it out. If you’re visiting town on the third friday of the month until October check out Veggie Viernes. All LatinX and BIPOC vegan venders.

Rise Westwood Collective: Outdoor Patio
Cultura Chocolate is one of the many awesome vendors there!

F$ck Yoga?

Here are some other options.

Too much action? Head over to Number 38 in RINO relax and grab a beer.

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

Square State's Top of the Town List

The Problem with the 5280 Top of the Town List And What 5280 Could do Better

It’s clear that people aren’t really aware of all of the cool new restaurants, spaces and happenings going on in town. That’s clearly because of COVID and maybe some apathy on the part of respondents

I feel like it’s deja vu all over again. 5280 does a fantastic job of sharing new places, etc. so it baffles me to see a list where people are clearly not going to the unique spaces and places that automatically stand out to me. I find myself asking how we can encourage reader action to support the businesses and organizations shared throughout the year

* 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 Episode

Previous Episodes

Show Notes

Lack of diversity specific to companies of color and other marginalized communities. This is unfortunate because the publicity from that list=new clientele and publicity

Easiest way to address this issue? Create a couple of new categories that address this issue. “Top New POC Owned Business” “Top LGBTQ Business or Space” “Most Inclusive Spot in Denver” “Most unique new art space” (obvious winner next year-Meow Wolf”)

How this list and bracket is announced. Perhaps do cross posting with different businesses PRIOR to the announcement of this list to drum up enthusiasm and awareness.

I challenge the staff to become tourists in the towns and cities we live in.

Reexperience Colorado-it has changed during the past 2 years dramatically. I love 5280 but I think in a post COVID world where the impact on the economy and small businesses has been so significant I would love the 5280 team to take a step back and reevaluate the process for this list. Just like everything that’s happening now, there’s a deeper meaning than just “our favorite” This is an opportunity to rethink this list and do something fresh.The challenges of this moment are also an opportunity.

This list also highlights how we experience a place differently. If you’re listening to the show I encourage you to support the businesses shared on both lists. I took some liberties with the list that I created and shared in below. A few of these spaces opened after the Top of the Town List was curated so I do want to be candid about that.

Would You Like to Become a Show Sponsor?

Do you live in Colorado but can’t keep up with all of the changes? Or, are you visiting Colorado sometime soon? If you’re looking for fun activities, local businesses to support and would like to hear about what’s happening in Colorado Sign up for the “Addicted to Square State” newsletter today. Michelle shares Colorado local tips and more. 

Are you a Colorado local business or organization looking to tell your brand story? Become a sponsor of the Square State Podcast. Why would a Square State podcast sponsorship be a great way to advertise your business?Listeners are from Colorado or looking to visit. The shows are “live” for years giving you incredible bang for your buck over time. Podcast listeners pod binge. Basically, if they are new listeners to the show they will binge on previously released episodes. 

Podcast listeners are a captive audience who are  much more likely to take a suggested action than random flyering or one off advertisements in digital magazines.

Email me today at squarestateco@gmail.com for more information 

The Digital Green Book is an incredible resource developed here in Denver. If you’re looking to insure that you’re in safe spaces whether you’re a person of color, have a physical imparement or are a part of the LGBTQ community. My guests Charnelle and Parker tell me all about it in Square State episode 41. I’ve included a link in the show notes.

Square State Colorado’s Top of the Town 2021 List

Culture and Night Life

Dining

Shopping

Sports/Outdoors and Fitness

Services

How Climate Change May Impact Your Colorado Vacation

How Global Warming May Impact Your Next Colorado Vacation

For the past 5 years I was beginning to notice more and more that the summer vacation season in Colorado kind of sucked. Specifically during the months of July and August. The heat had become relentless for Colorado. We were receiving frequent ozone danger warnings and the fire season never seemed to end. A deepening drought situation impacted Blue Mesa Reservoir and limited our ability to have fires when we went camping. And, real talk, if I heard another transplant talk about how great it was that it didn’t snow that much during the winter I was going to scream.

There was a clear disconnect in understanding how these weather conditions were not only impacting our day to day lives there is also a direct impact on the experience that visitors are having when they visit our beautiful state. In this episode I’m going to share how global warming may impact your next Colorado vacation and what to consider when planning your trip.

* 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

Related Posts

Show Notes

I’m going to put it out there that I no longer advise visiting Colorado during the months of July and August. There are several reasons why:

  • Fire season-Even if Colorado isn’t experiencing a large fire, fires from other western states will likely impact your experience.
    • In the form of smoke, haze and high ozone. Enough where it’s difficult to see the mountains from the City of Denver. Or, where people are advised to stay indoors.
  • Even if you’re in the mountains, this smoke may impact your hike. There’s nothing like looking across the mountain range and seeing lingering smoke while trying to breathe during high altitude activities.
    • Or, your outdoor events such as Rockies’ games, concerts at outdoor venues such as Levitt Pavilion or Red Rocks
  • Flooding on burn scars-Burn scars are the areas left behind after a fire. They are vulnerable to flooding activity during rain events. I-70 one of, if not, the busiest road in the state was shut down several times during the summer of 2021 due to flash flood events and massive amounts of debris that trapped people on the road. Visitors and citizens of the state then had their routes diverted around the state. Those diverted routes added a crazy amount of hours to people’s trips, they spent extra on gas and it pretty much sucked. Other mountain towns were also overwhelmed by the huge uptick in business.
  • If the smoke is bad enough, it may impact visibility flying into DIA (Denver International Airport) and your flight might get cancelled, delayed or diverted. In fact, I flew in from a trip to Nashville on August 7, 2021 when Denver had the unwelcome distinction of having the worst air in the entire world and visibility was so poor flying into the airport that day that flights were impacted coming into Denver.
  • Drought and lack of water-Earlier this year I drove down to the fabulous town of Telluride. What shocked me during the drive was how low the Blue Mesa Reservoir reserve was. For residents that low water line impacts the water we’re able to use for drinking, watering the lawns, etc. But, for tourists, that lack of water impacts water related activities that they may engage in such as boating, water skiing and stand up paddle boarding.
  • During the winter if there’s not enough snow, that lack of snow impacts ski season. Who wants to fly to Colorado to ski on icy runs? In fact, buying a ski pass became a crap shoot for a couple of years because I couldn’t figure out which ski resorts would have constant fresh powder and a deep enough base for the season.

What to Do

Fortunately, global warming is a topic that is frequently in the news and it’s not a situation that is unique to Colorado. In fact, the week that Denver and the state of Colorado had the worst air in the world, so did Utah. In fact, a lot of the problems that Colorado is being challenged by-so are other Western states.

  • If possible I would strongly advise avoiding visiting Colorado during the months of July and August. That is when the impact of fire season is felt the most.
  • Visit between the months of September-June those are the best times to visit in terms of weather and the crowds ease up as well.
  • Use car shares or the light rail when in Denver to minimize car related pollution
  • Obsessively follow the weather. Depending on the time of year you’re looking at the following reports:
    • Fire activity
    • Snow reports
  • Check CDOT for road closures and other activities that may impact a road trip
  • Be patient with businesses and staff as they navigate through supply chain impacts from disruptions caused by these unforeseen situations.
  • It’s likely that many of your favorite travel locations will (hopefully) begin issuing similar guidance in order to help travelers plan vacations that avoid as much as possible being directly impacted by global warming.

All Star Game in Denver

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
  • Transportation
  • Pot
  • Where to Eat

* 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.*

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Denver 2021

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.

Tip:

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.

Related Posts:

COVID Protocols

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
    • Sunglasses
    • Lotion
    • 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.

Scooters

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.

Cannabis Culture

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.

Recommended Retailer

Simply Pure in the LOHI district. The first black-owned cannabis dispensary in Colorado.

Shopping

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.

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
  • Snooze-Brunch
  • 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

Coffee Shops

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.

Patios

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.
  • TapFourteen
  • The Viewhouse
  • Linger
  • 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

  • Boulder
  • Golden
  • Estes Park/Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Fort Collins
  • Breckenridge

Day Trips to Cool Places

  • Red Rocks
  • Indian Paint Mines
  • Chautauqua Park
  • Garden of the Gods
  • Epic Sky Trek

Local Experiences

  • 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)
  • Speakeasies
    • B & GC Cherry Creek
    • Millers and Rossi
    • Retrograde
    • 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.

Unhoused Denverites

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.