Story by Ellen Carpenter | Rhapsody, October 2016
You're in town for business, but you have the day off. Go.
9 a.m. Start off the morning with a bacon sticky bun and a coffee flight (you'll need all three cups for the day you've got planned) at Mercantile Dining & Provision, a bright and sleek restaurant and market in Union Station. Once caffeinated, explore “Denver's living room," the 102-year-old train station that was meticulously transformed in 2014 to become one of the country's most beautiful public spaces, packed with shops, restaurants, and even shuffleboard tables.
The wood-fired oven at Cart-Driver
10:30 a.m. For a bit of culture, head over to the Clyfford Still Museum, which just might be the best single-artist-dedicated museum in the U.S. Unless you're an expert on the Abstract Expressionist visionary, join a tour to gain major insight into Still's life and process. With thousands of paintings to choose from—Still was beyond prolific and kept nearly all his works—the museum is regularly changing exhibitions; go again in three months, and you'll see entirely new work.
12:30 p.m. Hop on a B-cycle, Denver's bike-share program, and ride over to the up-and-coming RiNo (River North) neighborhood for lunch … in a shipping container. The digs may be bare-bones, but Cart-Driver serves up the city's best pizzas, blistered to perfection in a wood-fired oven (go for the mushroom with tarentaise cheese and ash vinaigrette), along with plump oysters, decadent tuna mousse, and prosecco on tap. The staff recommends you top your slices with one of their housemade hot sauces, like the sweet and kicky red chili and pineapple. Listen to them.
The ART hotel
2 p.m. You're too full to bike. Uber over to Larimer Square, a beautiful historic district right by Coors Field, for some shopping. Former saloons from the 1860s now house boutiques like Blush, which offers a carefully curated collection of women's fashion (Elizabeth and James, Vince), and Gusterman's Silversmiths, where you can get anything from a simple money clip to a custom-made engagement ring
4 p.m. Time to recharge. Head back to your stylish and roomy suite at the ART hotel for a bath in the glorious soaking tub (if only all hotels had them). Don't feel too bad about skipping the Denver Art Museum next door; the hotel boasts pieces by Deborah Butterfield, Tracey Emin, Sol LeWitt, Ed Ruscha, and more. Grab a Warhol Sour (Knob Creek, chili liqueur, cinnamon, lemon) at the Fire Lounge downstairs and explore the hotel like it's a gallery, which it kind of is.
A wall of vintage radios at Ophelia's Electric Soapbox
7 p.m. Ask the ART's house driver to whisk you to Acorn, at the Source, an artisan food market in RiNo, for dinner. Must-orders from the shared-plates menu? Chicken-liver pâté with Colorado apricots and hazelnuts, fried pickles with green-goddess aioli, hamachi crudo, and every dessert on the menu. Deciding between cocktails or beers (both menus are extensive) might be the toughest decision you make all day.
9:30 p.m. Close out your day at Ophelia's Electric Soapbox, a former brothel turned nightclub and restaurant that pulls in a good-looking crowd for live music, DJs, and burlesque. The space is almost as exciting as the shows: The downstairs bar is constructed from hundreds of mini Jägermeister bottles, stacks of vintage radios serve as the backdrop to the stage, and bar tops are made of pinball-machine backboards. Order a Ratio Beerworks Repeater Pale Ale and toast to the Mile High City.
Photographs by Ted Stedman (Clyfford Still Museum); Courtesy of the ART (hotel exterior); Adam Larkey (Ophelia's Electric Soapbox)