After Landing: Denver
After Landing is a travel guide series dedicated to bringing you insider tips and local recommendations on what to see and do in some of our favorite destinations.
Ranked third on the list of the best places to live in the U.S. behind Austin, Texas and the neighboring town of Colorado Springs, Denver is just as appealing to those who visit for a weekend. If you haven't visited The Mile High City before, our guide is chock full of insider tips and local recommendations compiled by a few of our employees who happen to be travel experts.
Get to know the Mile High City
The capital city and also the most populous city in Colorado, Denver dates back to the Old West era when it was founded as a mining town during the gold rush in the mid-1800s. As a jumping off point for many ski resorts located in the Rocky Mountains, Denver is a cultural hotspot that basks in more than 300 days of sunshine each year.
Denver International Airport is 27 miles northeast of the city. The A Line rail service will get you to downtown Denver in 37 minutes, costing $9 each way, whereas a taxi is likely to cost upwards of $50.
Where to stay
Excellent hotels are dotted across the city, but many of the best options can be found clustered around Cherry Creek, Glendale and LoDo — Denver's lower downtown area. Cherry Creek is an excellent choice if you're looking for upscale shopping options, while Glendale offers a more suburban feel with plenty of parks and walking trails. Most visitors will gravitate towards LoDo and for good reason. The vibrant neighborhood is filled with many of the city's best restaurants and bars. Wherever you opt for, Denver is a walkable city, so nothing is out of reach.
What to see and do
First-time visitors won't want to miss any of these amazing activities.
Early on, climb to the golden dome atop the Colorado State Capitol building to get your bearings and to take in some Insta-worthy views of the city.
Next, explore the magnificent Union Station in the heart of LoDo. Built in 1881, the station was recently transformed from a tired, old train terminal into the hub of the city. In what the city loving calls "Denver's Living Room," you'll find an eclectic array of the city's best restaurants, bars and boutiques.
If you're a history buff, head to the Denver Art Museum, home to the world's most extensive collection of Native American art, as well as many works from European masters. The impressive Clyfford Still Museum is home to thousands of Clyfford Still's abstract expressionist works while the lower-profile History Colorado Center offers more interactive exhibits to keep younger visitors entertained.
Explore historic Larimer Square and the pedestrian promenade at the 16th Street Mall for great shopping that will keep you entertained for hours. A free shuttle bus also runs the length of the mall if your legs get tired.
In a city of more than 200 parks, City Park is the standout. Its 330 acres are home to Denver Zoo and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, plus numerous lakes, playgrounds, picnic sites and historical monuments.
With 85 miles of tracks that crisscross the city, the easiest way to explore Denver is by bicycle. Bcycle offers 700 bikes at more than 80 stations throughout the city, and if you only have time to explore one trail, make it Cherry Creek Trail, a 42-mile route from downtown to Franktown.
One of the city's most iconic structures stands 16 miles east of the city. Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre is frequently named the best outdoor venue in America and has hosted everyone from The Beatles to U2. Even if there's no show when you visit, you can still take a tour for a stunning experience.
Finally, take time to embrace the great outdoors. "Head for the Rocky Mountain National Park, about 90 minutes northwest of the city," says Denver based flight attendant Jackie H. "Concerts, fresh air, kayaking, river rafting, camping…the Rockies give you freedom from life's chaos, whatever time of year you visit."
Where to eat and drink
Once renowned for its Rocky Mountain oysters andomelets, Denver's cuisine now reflects the cultural melting pot the city has become. You can eat well on any budget in all quarters of the city, but these spots are within easy reach of LoDo.
For breakfast, Snooze, Prosperoats and Lucile's Creole Cafe are just three of many excellent options, but Jelly in Capitol Hill is a must. "It has, no kidding, the best jelly in the world," says San Francisco base supervisor Miriam S. "It helps that the bread you spread it on is so fresh and delicious, but hands down, this is the best breakfast spot in Denver."
For lunch, Linger, Rosenberg's Bagels & Delicatessen and il porcellino salumi all deserve to be mentioned, but you should definitely make time to visit Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs, particularly if you've never tasted rattlesnake and pheasant in a hot dog before. The pairing is not for the faint of heart.
Denver has too many excellent restaurant options for dinner to include in one paragraph. Acorn offers eclectic American, Osteria Marco dishes out high-end Italian and Guard & Grace offers a modern take on a steakhouse, but that only scratches the surface. As a general rule, aim to eat around the areas of Union Station, Highland and Five Points and you should leave happy.
Additionally, Denver brews more beer than any other U.S. city and boasts more than 40 brewpubs and microbreweries in the downtown area alone. Wynkoop Brewing Company offers some of the city's most inventive brews, although the Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout made with roasted bull testicles may not be for everyone. A visit to My Brother's Bar, the oldest bar in Denver, is an absolute must, and if you want to extend the night, Skylark Lounge and Hi-Dive are two live music venues off the beaten path.
The great outdoors
Make time to explore beyond the city limits and you'll soon find that Denver has some of the greatest scenery on earth. Rocky Mountain National Park is 71 miles northwest of the city and covers 415 square miles, packing in more hiking trails, lakes, waterfalls and majesty than you'll have time for in a single visit. Mount Evans is equally awe-inspiring, and is 60 miles from downtown Denver. The Mount Evans Scenic Byway is the highest paved road in North America, winding its way 14,264 feet up to the magnificent summit.
Best time to visit
With more than 300 days of sunshine each year, there's no bad time to visit Denver. However, be aware that the peak tourist season runs between June and August when temperatures and hotel rates are higher. The two shouldering seasons of April-May and September-October are a better option — the weather is still warm and the tourist numbers and hotel rates are generally much lower.
United Airlines offers flights to Denver from many cities throughout the U.S. For more information and to book your journey to The Mile High City, go to united.com or download our convenient United app. And while you're there, share your adventures on social media with the hashtag #UnitedJourney.
Discover more in the After Landing series:
Right now, around the world, brave members of America's armed forces are on duty, defending our freedom and upholding our values.
When not laser-focused on the mission at hand, they're looking forward to the day when their service to our nation is fulfilled and they can reunite with their families.
They are also imagining how they can use their hard-earned skills to build an exciting, rewarding and important career when they return home.
I want them to look no further than United Airlines.
That's why we are focused on recruiting, developing and championing veterans across our company, demonstrating to our returning women and men in uniform that United is the best possible place for them to put their training, knowledge, discipline and character to the noblest use.
They've developed their knowledge and skills in some of the worst of times. We hope they will use those skills to keep United performing at our best, all of the time.
That's why we are accelerating our efforts to onboard the best and the brightest, and substantially increasing our overall recruitment numbers each year.
We recently launched a new sponsorship program to support onboarding veterans into United and a new care package program to support deployed employees. It's one more reason why United continues to rank high - and rise higher - as a top workplace for veterans. In fact, we jumped 21 spots this year on Indeed.com's list of the top U.S workplaces for veterans. This is a testament to our increased recruiting efforts, as well as our efforts to create a culture where veterans feel valued and supported.
We use the special reach and resources of our global operations to partner with outstanding organizations. This is our way of stepping up and going the extra mile for all those who've stepped forward to answer our nation's call.
We do this year-round, and the month of November is no exception; however, it is exceptional, especially as we mark Veterans Day.
As we pay tribute to all Americans who have served in uniform and carried our flag into battle throughout our history, let's also keep our thoughts with the women and men who are serving around the world, now. They belong to a generation of post-9/11 veterans who've taken part in the longest sustained period of conflict in our history.
Never has so much been asked by so many of so few.... for so long. These heroes represent every color and creed. They are drawn from across the country and many immigrated to our shores.
They then freely choose to serve in the most distant and dangerous regions of the world, to protect democracy in its moments of maximum danger.
Wherever they serve - however they serve - whether they put on a uniform each day, or serve in ways which may never be fully known, these Americans wake up each morning willing to offer the "last full measure of devotion" on our behalf.
Every time they do so, they provide a stunning rebuke to the kinds of voices around the world who doubt freedom and democracy's ability to defend itself.
Unfortunately, we know there are those who seem to not understand – or say they do not - what it is that inspires a free people to step forward, willing to lay down their lives so that their country and fellow citizens might live.
But, we – who are both the wards and stewards of the democracy which has been preserved and handed down to us by veterans throughout our history – do understand.
We know that inciting fear and hatred of others is a source of weakness, not strength. And such divisive rhetoric can never inspire solidarity or sacrifice like love for others and love of country can.
It is this quality of devotion that we most honor in our veterans - those who have served, do serve and will serve.
On behalf of a grateful family of 96,000, thank you for your service.
Each year around Veterans Day, Indeed, one of the world's largest job search engines, rates companies based on actual employee reviews to identify which ones offer the best opportunities and benefits for current and former U.S. military members. Our dramatic improvement in the rankings this year reflects a stronger commitment than ever before to actively recruiting, developing and nurturing veteran talent.
"We've spent a lot of time over the past 12 months looking for ways to better connect with our employees who served and attract new employees from the military ranks," said Global Catering Operations and Logistics Managing Director Ryan Melby, a U.S. Army veteran and the president of our United for Veterans business resource group.
"Our group is launching a mentorship program, for instance, where we'll assign existing employee-veterans to work with new hires who come to us from the armed forces. Having a friend and an ally like that, someone who can help you translate the skills you picked up in the military to what we do as a civilian company, is invaluable. That initiative is still in its infancy, but I'm really optimistic about what it can do for United and for our veteran population here."
Impressively, we were the only one of our industry peers to move up on the list, further evidence that we're on a good track as a company.
The question of where David Ferrari was had haunted retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major Vincent Salceto for the better part of 66 years.
Rarely did a week go by that Salceto didn't think about his old friend. Often, he relived their last moments together in a recurring nightmare. In it, it's once again 1953 and Salceto and Ferrari are patrolling a valley in what is now North Korea. Suddenly, explosions shatter the silence and flares light up the night sky.
Crouching under a barrage of bullets, Salceto, the squad's leader, drags two of his men to safety, then he sees Ferrari lying face down on the ground. He runs out to help him, but he's too late. And that's when he always wakes up.
Italian Americans from opposite coasts – Salceto from Philadelphia, Ferrari from San Francisco – the two became close, almost like brothers, after being assigned to the same unit during the Korean War. When Ferrari died, it hit Salceto hard.
"After that, I never let anyone get close to me like I did with Dave," he says. "I couldn't; I didn't want to go through that again."
When the war ended, Salceto wanted to tell Ferrari's family how brave their son and brother had been in battle. Most of all, he wanted to salute his friend at his gravesite and give him a proper farewell.
For decades, though, Salceto had no luck finding his final resting place or locating any of his relatives. Then, in June of this year, he uncovered a clue that led him to the Italian Cemetary in Colma, California, where Ferrari is buried.
Within days, Salceto, who lives in Franklinville, New Jersey, was packed and sitting aboard United Flight 731 from Philadelphia to San Francisco with his wife, Amy, and daughter, Donna Decker, on his way to Colma. For such a meaningful trip, he even wore his Army dress uniform.
That's how San Francisco-based flight attendant Noreen Baldwin spotted him as he walked down the jet bridge to get on the plane.
"I saw him and said to the other crew members, 'Oh my goodness, look at this guy,'" she says. "I knew there had to be a story."
The two struck up a conversation and Salceto told Baldwin why he was traveling. She got emotional listening to him talk and made a point of fussing over him, making sure he and his family had everything they needed.
About halfway through the flight, Baldwin had an idea. She and her fellow crew members would write messages of encouragement to Salceto and invite his fellow passengers to do the same.
"We did it discreetly," says Baldwin. "I asked the customers if they saw the man in uniform, which most had, and asked them if they wanted to write a few words for him on a cocktail napkin. A lot of people did; families did it together, parents got their kids to write something. After the first few rows, I was so choked up that I could barely talk."
When Baldwin surprised Salceto with dozens of hand-written notes, he, too, was speechless. He laid the stack on his lap and read each one. At the same time, the pilots made an announcement about the veteran over the loud speaker, after which the customers on board burst into applause.
"It seems contrived, and I hate using the word organic, but that's what it was; it just happened," Baldwin says. "Mr. Salceto was so loveable and humble, and what he was doing was so incredible, it felt like the right thing to do. And you could tell he was touched."
On June 27, Salceto finally stood before Ferrari's grave and said that long-awaited goodbye. As a trumpeter played "Taps," he unpinned a medal from his jacket and laid it reverently on the headstone.
"I had gotten a Bronze Star for my actions [the night Ferrari died] with a 'V' for valor, and that was the medal I put on Dave's grave," says Salceto, pausing to fight back tears. "I thought he was more deserving of it than I was."
For the first time in years, Salceto felt at peace. His mission was accomplished.