The mile high city is known for being at a mile-high altitude (and just general high-ess), and its proximity to nature. My friend described Denver as a granola town because of how everyone feels a little more chill and a lot more hippie than the rest of the country. But hey, there's nothing wrong with enjoying a slower pace of life while in an urban city - it's the best of both worlds!
Where to Eat/Drink:
When I asked everyone to send me recommendations for Denver, there were two spots that everyone agreed that I had to go to. City O' City and Watercourse Foods are the clear winners of top vegan restaurants in the city. These restaurants are popular among local residents, local vegans, and the traveling vegans for serving up cruelty-free comfort food.
206 E 13th Ave, Denver, CO 80203
837 E 17th Ave, Denver, CO 80203
Beet Box Bakery is a vegan bakery outside of downtown Denver that serves up baked vegan doughnuts (apple, vanilla, chocolate, and pumpkin bases), croissants (yes, you read that right), cinnamon rolls, breads, tarts, and basically any baked good you could think of. I couldn't resist trying a variety of doughnuts and croissants. The good thing about pastries is that they're easy to share, so it's an excuse to buy more!
1030 E 22nd Ave, Denver, CO 80205
Root Down is a local favorite Denver restaurant that isn't vegan, but emphasizes the importance of fresh, local, farm-to-table foods. It's more of a high-end restaurant where no one blinks an eye if someone says, "I'm not vegan, but I'm mostly plant based." The crowd is trendy, hip, and the food is tasty. A lot of their menu can be made vegetarian or vegan, so just ask the waiter. I tried to tofu paneer made with Fried Tofu, Harissa Carrots, Roasted Eggplant, Red Chile, Tomato- Fennel & Cilantro Chutneys.
1600 W 33rd Ave, Denver, CO 80211
Nooch Vegan Market is full of a variety of vegan prodcuts from vegan beauty, self-care, frozen, non-dairy cheese, snacks, fake meats, clothing, etc. If a vegan walks into Nooch, they will have all their needs answered. The best thing about this market is that they work with local vegan food trucks and have them parked up front for special events. I got to try WongWayVeg while at Nooch, and they sold out of half their menu in the first hour, so you know it's good.
10 E Ellsworth Ave, Denver, CO 80209
Sweet Action Ice Cream
A few blocks down from Nooch Vegan Market is Sweet Action Ice Cream, which always has a few vegan ice cream options available. The ice cream is super creamy (even the vegan sorbets are creamy), and my non-vegan friends loved the regular flavors, so this is a good place to go with your omnivore friends. They also have prepacked vegan ice cream sandwiches!
I would rather go to American Cultures Tap Room than most bars because I love the booch! What is booch? It's code word for kombucha, which if you've never had it, is a carbonated fermented tea. I used to hate kombucha, but now I'm obsessed, and this Tap Room serves up all the local brands' kombucha on tap (plus free samples). I got a flight, so I was able to try 4 different local booches. I then got a scoop of ice cream to make a kombucha float.
PS: My favorite Colorado brand of kombucha is the Rowdy Mermaid.
3233 Tejon St #107, Denver, CO 80211
Places recommended to me that I didn't get to try:
- Sputnik - late night comfort
- Vegan Van - all vegan food truck
- Vital Root - omni restaurant with lots of vegan options
- Whole Foods at Union Station (they have a Mac and cheese station with mac and cheese!)
- Biju Curry
- Moxie Eatery - omni restaurant with lots of vegan options
- Bang up the Elephant - Caribbean omni restaurant with lots of vegan options
Ice Cream (all includes vegan flavors)
- Vital Root - healthy, omni restaurant with vegan options
- Zeal - healthy, omni restaurant with vegan options
- Gold Leaf - first vegan restaurant in For Collins
What to Do:
The Red Rock Amphitheater is a 10-mile rock structure that contains an open-air amphitheater. Yup, it's a concert venue surrounded by actual canyon rocks. It's an incredibly sight, and I didn't actually get to see a show here, but I heard the acoustics are amazing. You can hike the trails near the Red Rocks (I did the Red Rock Trading Post trail, which was an 1.5 hour easy + paved hike), you can do yoga on the rocks, watch a movie on the rocks, or you can use the actual theater seats as a gym (we saw so many groups doing circuit training on the seats: squat jumping, running laps, doing burpees down the rows, etc...it was so intense). Every angle is Instagrammable, so go and explore!
Colorado is known for its many 14ers (mountains that are at least 14 thousand feet in altitude), but I was feeling slight altitude sickness just in the city (drink water), so I knew that wasn't for me. However, altitude sickness wasn't going to stop me from seeing one of the most famous national parks. We did the Bear Lake hike, and if you continue to follow the signs, you can get all the way to Sky Pond. However, my group stopped at Emerald Lake. From Bear Lake to Emerald Lake there were two other lakes to stop and view, so expect to take a lot of pictures! We took a lot of photo breaks, so we spend about 4 hours out on this trail.
Day Trip to Boulder, CO
Boulder, CO is a college town with a lot of fun spots to explore. I spent my day on the Pearl Street Mall, which had a lot of cute local shops to explore. It was fun to just walk around, see the live street performances, bookstores, souvenirs, and have a lot of gifts to bring home. I suggest stopping by:
- Wonder Press - a local cold-pressed juice shop with vegan bites
- Dushanbe Teahouse - super beautiful teahouse gifted b Dushanbe
- Fior di Latte - unique gelato flavors (including vegan ones)
- Boulder Bookstore - huge bookstore that's easy to get lost in
- Spinster Sisters - local and natural beauty products
Colorado has so many local breweries, so if you like beer, you should definitely check some of these out. I actually don't drink a lot of beer, but Eater has a great list of breweries to check out in Denver. My boyfriend enjoyed his beer at the Great Divide Brewing Co (which is right next to Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs, where they have a unique vegan hot dog + it's near Voodoo Doughnuts).
Colorado is a pretty outdoorsy place, so take all the opportunity you can to run or hike. I liked running near Commons Park near downtown Denver because there were a lot of plants, and I was able to run by the South Platte River. Remember, the altitude is higher than New York, so don't push yourself too hard!
Where to Stay:
I stayed in Downtown Denver, and it felt safe and close to everything urban in Denver. The only problem is that parking is expensive, but there's street parking available. I stayed at the Marriott Courtyard, which is right next to the sixteenth street mall, aka the "tourist street" (although for a tourist street, it wasn't too crowded compared to New York). Sixteenth Street Mall has a lot of shops, and it also has a free bus that takes you up and down the streets that stops every block, which was good for when we were tired and didn't want to walk back to the hotel. Downtown Denver is urban and near a lot of offices, so if you want something more residential, I would check out the Highlands (above Confluence Park).
Blue = Where I Went
Orange = Places reccomended to me