After Landing: Denver - United Hub
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After Landing: Denver

By The Hub team

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.

Your arrival

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.

Employee quote on where to go in Colorado: The Rocky Mountains

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.

Meadow at Rocky Mountain National Park

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.

Getting there

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:

After Landing: San Francisco

After Landing: Austin

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