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:
Canada's largest city spreads out along the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario, and it's a dynamic, multicultural and inclusive experience like almost no other place on earth. Not only is Toronto a thriving living city,it's also become one of the world's truly must-visit destinations. Regularly ranked as one of the greatest places to live, Toronto is the cultural center of the country and home to the biggest events, the most pro sports and the greatest concentration of theaters and restaurants.
Recent decades have seen regular multi-million-dollar upgrades to the city's public spaces, with a slew of great museums, iconic architecture and the redevelopment of the now glittering lakefront adding to the city's appeal.
Add in an ever-growing number of world-class hotels, upbeat nightlife that runs from dusk until dawn and a vibrant and diverse culinary scene influenced by the eclectic makeup of the city's people. Bright and bustling, cosmopolitan and cultured, unpredictable and energetic, Toronto has become one of the greatest cities on earth.
What you see and where you go will depend on the length of your stay. A week is good, longer is better. But even a long weekend will give you a taste of 'The Six' — one of the city's many nicknames, reworked recently as 'The 6ix' by one of its most famous sons, Drake.
However long you stay, you can't hope to see it all. So, consider what follows a starting point for your first visit…
City Hall, Toronto
The checklist sites
No visit to The Six can be considered complete without ticking off several of Toronto's true heavyweight sights. All of the following are in or within easy reach of the city's compact, walk-able and very vibrant center.
The CN Tower is unmissable in every sense, a vast freestanding spire that looks down upon the city and takes its place as one of the 'Seven Wonders of the Modern World'. Head up for the city's best 360-degree views, or get your heart racing on the EdgeWalk — a journey around the circumference of the tower's main pod, 116 stories high and tethered by a harness.
Back on solid ground, Ripley's Aquarium is almost right next door to the CN Tower and is home to 16,000 aquatic animals and the Dangerous Lagoon. A moving sidewalk that whisks you through a long tunnel surrounded by sharks and stingrays is guaranteed to make your heart race all over again.
Also close to the CN Tower is the Rogers Center, home to Canada's only baseball team, the Toronto Blue Jays. Visit on game day for the full experience, or take the stadium tour to go behind the scenes and through closed doors.
In a city of so many museums and galleries, the Royal Ontario Museum stands out. Not just because it's home to a world-class collection of 13 million artworks, cultural objects and natural history specimens, but as much because it hosts exciting Friday night events that include dance, drink and top DJs.
Two other must ticks include the Art Gallery of Ontario, which houses 95,000 works of art and is free for visitors under 25, and the Hockey Hall of Fame, which taps into Canada's national obsession in stunning depth.
Art Gallery of Ontario
Casa Loma is a must-visit Gothic castle in the heart of the city. North America's only castle is filled with artworks and treasures from Canada and beyond, but its big pull is the network of hidden tunnels to explore as they stretch out beneath the city.
Toronto's multi-cultural makeup is visible all across the city but reflected best in its remarkable culinary scene (see Where to eat and drink). The city's 'fresh and local' mantra is perfectly showcased at St. Lawrence Market, one of the world's greatest food experiences. Pay it a visit and grab a peameal bacon sandwich — a Canadian staple invented in Toronto and now considered the city's signature dish.
St. Lawrence Market
Afterwards, walk off the calories by wandering the historic cobblestone and car-free Distillery District. Once a vast whiskey distillery and an important spot during prohibition, historians mention that even Al Capone would visit the Distillery to load alcohol destined for the States . This iconic landmark now distils creativity within the 19th century buildings now home to hip restaurants, bars, independent boutique stores, galleries and theaters. Visit in December for the Toronto Christmas Market.
Finally, don't even think about returning home without having had a picture taken with your head poking through an 'O' of the multicolored, 3D Toronto sign at City Hall — the most Insta-worthy location in a city of so many. You'll need to head there early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
If you stay long enough, take a ferry and hop across to Toronto Islands, a chain of 15 small islands in Lake Ontario just south of the mainland. They're home to beaches, a theme park and a breathtaking view of the city's skyline and will very happily fill a full day of your stay.
The bucket list
You absolutely cannot leave Toronto without having witnessed the power of the Niagara Falls and its hypnotic mist up close. Trying to visit the Falls from the States is a trip on its own, but it's almost non-optional when you're less than two hours away in Toronto. Take the trip, buy the T-shirt and tick off one of the world's must-see sights.
Explore like a local
Away from the sleek, gleaming towers of downtown lie many of Toronto's less obvious but no less essential attractions. West Queen West is Toronto's hippest neighborhood and artistic heart, a one-mile strip of very chic galleries, stores, restaurants and boutique hotels. Kensington Market is a fantastically chaotic neighborhood and perhaps the best example of the city's famous multiculturalism. It's not a market as the name implies, but a collection of independent shops, vintage boutiques, art spaces, cafés, bars and restaurants from every corner of the globe.
The Bata Shoe Museum is one of the city's quirkiest collections, an unexpectedly fascinating exhibit that retraces the 4,500-year history of footwear. And as you wander the city, you can't fail to notice that Toronto's walls are alive with graffiti. Take a free 90-minute walking tour through the back alleys of Queen Street West and down Graffiti Alley to gain a better understanding of the city's street art scene. If you visit during the sunnier months, escape the hustle by heading just east of the center to High Park, the green heart of the city where forests, walking trails, picnic spots and even a zoo await you. Ideal to unwind after a long day of urban adventures.
When to go With the sun shining, May through October is a great time to visit, but the city is alive through all four seasons. The Spring and Autumn months are ideal as the humidity and visitor numbers are lighter, while Toronto comes alive through the colder months through a wide array of winter celebrations. One of the most spectacular is the Aurora Winter Festival, a six-week celebration that sees the Ontario Place, West Island transformed into four mystical worlds. Whichever season you choose, plan to stay for at least five nights to get a true flavor of the city.
Toronto skyline view
Where to stay To be at the heart of most of the attractions you'll want to see, aim for downtown. One of the best options is the Marriott City Center, not only because it's located right next to the CN Tower but also because it's attached to the iconic Rogers Center where the Toronto Blue Jays play and countless concerts and popular events are held.
Toronto Blue Jay stadium
Opt for a Stadium room and you'll look out onto the field. If you want to experience Toronto's non-stop nightlife, the Entertainment District is the place to be. If you're looking for a luxury experience, discover Canada's first St. Regis hotel in the heart of downtown.
Where to eat and drink Nowhere is Toronto's incredible diversity more evident than in its food scene — taste Toronto and you're tasting the world. The city is brimming with restaurants and cafés serving everything from high-end fine dining to comfort food from an informal neighborhood joint — plus every option imaginable in between.
For fine dining, consider Alo, Canis and Edulis. Book a table at Canoe, Lavelle, The One Eighty or 360 at the CN Tower and you're guaranteeing a view as spectacular as the food. Or experience the city's remarkable fusion food at DaiLo (French-Cantonese), El Catrin (Mexican-French) and the unexpected mashup of Rasta Pasta (Jamaican-Italian).
The above suggestions don't even scratch the surface of a food scene to rival any city on earth, with options to suit every taste and any budget.
How to get around Toronto is perfect to explore on foot or via a growing network of cycle routes. For a quicker journey, buy a Presto card to use the TTC, Toronto's subway, streetcar and bus system.
How to get there Fly into Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) with United and you're around 15 miles west of the city center. The most comfortable route in is via the Union Pearson Express, which runs every 15 minutes and gets you downtown in 25 minutes ($13).The TTC is a cheaper option at under $5, but it can take an hour and a half and involves a number of transfers, while a taxi will take around 30 minutes and cost $45.
United flies to Toronto from numerous U.S. cities including our Hub city locations. Book your trip via united.com or by downloading the United app.
Around the web
Following the devastating wildfires in Australia and powerful earthquakes that shook Puerto Rico last week, we're taking action to make a global impact through our international partnerships as well as nonprofit organizations Afya Foundation and ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency).
Helping Puerto Rico recover from earthquakes
Last week, Puerto Rico was hit with a 5.2 magnitude earthquake, following a 6.4 magnitude earthquake it experienced just days before. The island has been experiencing hundreds of smaller quakes during the past few weeks.
These earthquakes destroyed crucial infrastructure and left 4,000 people sleeping outside or in shelters after losing their homes. We've donated $50,000 to our partner charity organization Airlink and through them, we've helped transport disaster relief experts and medical supplies for residents, as well as tents and blankets for those who have lost their homes. Funding will go towards organizations within Airlink's partner network, which includes Habitat for Humanity, Mercy Corps and Americares, to help with relief efforts and long-term recovery.
Australian wildfire relief efforts
Our efforts to help Australia have inspired others to make their own positive impact. In addition to teaming up with Ellen DeGeneres to donate $250,000 and launching a fundraising campaign with GlobalGiving to benefit those impacted by the devastating wildfires in the country known for its open spaces and wildlife, our cargo team is helping to send more than 600 pounds of medical supplies to treat injured animals in the region.
Helping us send these supplies is the Afya Foundation, a New York-based nonprofit that seeks to improve global health by collecting surplus medical supplies and delivering them to parts of the world where they are most needed. Through Airlink, the Afya Foundation will send more than $18,000 worth of materials that will be used to treat animals injured in the Australian fires.
These medical supplies will fly to Melbourne (MEL) and delivered to The Rescue Collective. This Australian organization is currently focused on treating the massive population of wildlife, such as koalas, kangaroos, and birds, that have had their habitats destroyed by the recent wildfires. The supplies being sent include wound dressings, gloves, catheters, syringes and other items that are unused but would otherwise be disposed of.
By working together, we can continue to make a global impact and help those affected by natural disasters to rebuild and restore their lives
Australia needs our help as wildfires continue to devastate the continent that's beloved by locals and travelers alike. In times like these, the world gets a little smaller and we all have a responsibility to do what we can.
On Monday, The Ellen DeGeneres Show announced a campaign to raise $5 million to aid in relief efforts. When we heard about Ellen's effort, we immediately reached out to see how we could help.
Today, we're committing $250,000 toward Ellen's campaign so we can offer support now and help with rebuilding. For more on The Ellen DeGeneres Show efforts and to donate yourself, you can visit www.gofundme.com/f/ellenaustraliafund
We're also matching donations made to the Australian Wildfire Relief Fund, created by GlobalGiving's Disaster Recovery Network. This fund will support immediate relief efforts for people impacted by the fires in the form of emergency supplies like food, water and medicine. Funds will also go toward long-term recovery assistance, helping residents recover and rebuild. United will match up to $50,000 USD in donations, and MileagePlus® members who donate $50 or more will receive up to 1,000 award miles from United. Donate to GlobalGiving.
Please note: Donations made toward GlobalGiving's fund are only eligible for the MileagePlus miles match.
In addition to helping with fundraising, we're staying in touch with our employees and customers in Australia. Together, we'll help keep Australia a beautiful place to live and visit in the years to come.