The best things to do in Denver
Denver, Colorado has a lot of claims to fame: Home of the Denver Broncos; the fact that it's located 5,280ft above sea level (that's exactly one mile); and a calendar with 300 days of sunshine each year. And did you know that the city that has 10th largest downtown area in the nation? Needless to say, there's plenty of things to do in Denver. The capital of Colorado perfectly combines epic sports, tasty eats, high-class art and the great outdoors (with a couple dozen dispensaries and breweries thrown in) into one amazing city. To make the most of your time in the Mile High City, check out the unique museums, craft-booze crawls, top-notch restaurants and outdoor adventures, that make our list of the best things to do in Denver. And don't just think Colorado ski resorts are the only reason to fly into Denver: This erstwhile mining settlement is also one of the country's best bachelor party destinations and a bona fide cultural hub. So make a reservation at one of the best hotels in Denver and start planning your trip! RECOMMENDED: The best museums in Denver
The 14 best hotels in Denver
From cowboys to climbers and skiers to stoners, Denverites are nothing if not naturally casual. But that doesn’t mean the city doesn’t rise to the occasion when it comes to world-class accommodation. Visitors hitting town for a dose of mountain culture, to linger over an espresso in our trendy coffee shops or dive into the booming food scene (which includes some of the best ramen in America), have plenty of places to lay their heads. These 13 hotels—all in proximity to the best things to do in Denver—go to show that, when it comes to hospitality, the Mile High City is ready for its close-up. This article includes affiliate links. These links have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, click here.
The 21 best French restaurants in America
You've been through the best burgers in America. And the best pizza in America, too. (And, yes, we think you’ve probably downed a few tacos at the best Mexican restaurants in America as well.) Now it’s time to get fancy with French. But French stateside is a little different than it used to be. What’s the difference between your average upscale French restaurant and its New American counterpart today? Judging by their repertoires these days, the answer is not much other than “whatever the chef says it is”—which is fair enough. First, fine dining was and is built on the foundations of haute cuisine, perfected at fine French restaurants. Second, several decades ago, haute cuisine itself underwent a shift, bringing local ingredients and global influences to bear on classical technique. Whether preaching tradition or moving the conversation forward, these 21 restaurants speak with passion and authority to the idea that French cooking is our universal heritage. They are the best French restaurants in America, and you want to be eating in them.
The 17 best Chinese restaurants in America
Beyond our biggest cities, seeking out the best Chinese restaurants in America can be like looking for needles (or better yet, noodles) in a haystack, only to find yourself grasping at straws. No doubt the entire history of the Chinese immigrant experience in America can be glimpsed in the fact that the best restaurants for Chinese food are likely to be mom-and-pop affairs that don’t cater to Westerners—they’re a little like our best Mexican restaurants in that way. Whether this dim sum parlor makes unreal char siu bao or that hole-in-the-wall serves dandan noodles to make you cry, their discovery by English speakers typically happens through word of mouth, actual or virtual. That said, these 17 restaurants—some new sensations, others decades-old icons—stand out for helping to define (or redefine, as the case may be) Chinese cuisine in their communities. From dim sum restaurants in New York to high-end restaurants in downtown L.A. to a local legend in Falls Church, these are the best Chinese restaurants in America—start planning your pilgrimages now.
The 16 best Spanish restaurants in America
If, as we observed in our roundup of the best French restaurants in America, contemporary American cuisine has its roots in France, its future may belong to Spain. It was the Spanish, after all, who introduced us to the now-commonplace notion of small plates; it was they who mainly led the way in popularizing the techniques of molecular gastronomy so widespread today. (A single glance at the nation’s toughest restaurant reservations or the best restaurants in New York, L.A., Chicago and beyond goes to show the depth and breadth of the Spanish influence.) And our 16 picks for the best Spanish restaurants in America—be they the most rustic of tapas bars or pioneering of avant-garde temples—make that future look exceptionally bright.
The 20 best Italian restaurants in America
“Cucina povera” and “alta cucina” may be apples and oranges (or rather mele e arance), but we Americans adore them just the same. While we’ll happily scarf down the best Thai food in America as well as the international fare plated up at the best Japanese restaurants in America and the best Chinese restaurants in America, recent reports show that Americans love Italian food more than any other foreign cuisine. So when the inevitable cravings for exemplary pizza and pasta hit, head to the best Italian restaurants for some memorable, belt-loosening meals.
The 22 best sushi restaurants in America
Long-vanished are the days when mainstream America recoiled at the thought of ingesting raw fish: today, even heartland supermarket delis stock spicy tuna rolls. Discerning diners, though, pass over such mass-market items for top-tier, pristine sushi and sashimi at the best sushi restaurants in L.A., the best sushi restaurants in New York and all across the country—putting themselves in their chefs’ hands to experience an interactive, often open-ended feast. Where once date night might have meant getting cozy over a pepperoni pie (“It’s the best pizza in America,” he said as he wiped some cheese from his chin), today it might mean settling in for a night of non-stop, Edomae-style nigiri (emphasizing local species and warm vinegared rice) fueled by junmai daiginjo sake. If you’re especially lucky, it will be at one of these extraordinary shrines to the art of Japanese seafood: The best sushi restaurants in America.
The best cheap hotels in Denver
As this former cowtown becomes a hot commodity, prices are soaring in the Mile High City. But there are still a few bargains to be found for travelers keen on exploring the best things to do in Denver and the city’s booming dining scene: charming inns with curious histories, business hotels that aim to break the generic mold and even a groundbreaking hostel or two. Can’t quite fork out for the luxury of the very best hotels in Denver? These budget-friendly options in and around the city ensure you’re sleep well when in town.
The 21 best seafood restaurants in America
Clambakes and crab boils, fish fries and oyster roasts—for a nation of supposed beef fanatics, we sure do make a special occasion of seafood. These 21 best seafood restaurants in America uphold and build on such cherished traditions while making spectacular waves all their own. Some of them skew fancy—you’ll also find them among our list of the best French restaurants in America—while others aim for something more relaxed (think lobster rolls and great craft beer). Some hail from the likely North East, mixing it up with the best restaurants in Boston, while others serve southern specialties in warmer climes. But these seafood restaurants all have at least one thing in common: they deserve your attention. Follow Time Out USA on Facebook; sign up for the Time Out USA newsletter
The 21 best ice cream shops in America
Some are staunchly old-fashioned parlors, serving cones, sundaes and other classic frozen desserts to generation-spanning crowds of loyal locals. Others are hip upstarts, building widespread buzz for their epicurean experiments. But they’re all destination-class ice cream shops, so consider this your itinerary for the coolest summer road trip ever. Follow Time Out USA on Facebook; sign up for the Time Out USA newsletter
The best vegetarian restaurants in America
Vegetarian fare has come a long, long way since the days of Woody Allen’s “wheat germ, organic honey and tiger’s milk” in Sleeper. Be it the mastery of fake meats displayed by many Chinese kitchens or the literally nutty innovations of raw-food chefs, herbivores these days have nearly as many dining options as carnivores. Whether you’re looking for vegan vittles in L.A. or meatless meals in NYC, take your pick of the best vegetarian restaurants across the country, from lunch counters to white-cloth plant palaces. Follow Time Out USA on Facebook; sign up for the Time Out USA newsletter
The best vegetarian restaurants in America
Vegetarian fare has come a long, long way since the days of Woody Allen’s “wheat germ, organic honey and tiger’s milk” in Sleeper. Be it the mastery of fake meats displayed by many Chinese kitchens or the literally nutty innovations of raw-food chefs, herbivores these days have nearly as many dining options as carnivores. Whether you’re looking for vegan vittles in L.A. or meatless meals in NYC, take your pick of the best vegetarian restaurants across the country, from lunch counters to white-cloth plant palaces.
Listings and reviews (31)
Lumber Baron Inn & Gardens
If you like a little Gothic mystery with your lodging, this mansion-turned-B&B is the place to be. Built by—yes—a lumber baron in 1890, it was the scene of an unsolved double homicide back in the 1970s, and rumors that it’s haunted swirl to this day. But rest assured the inn offers plenty of non-gruesome entertainment as well, hosting elaborate paired dinners and classes like CBD-enhanced yoga in addition to full breakfasts and weekend brunch buffets. And you can rest even better in the elegant accommodations, graced by painted ceilings, period furnishings and Jacuzzis.
The Westin Westminster
Standing out from the pack that lines the commuters’ corridor between Denver and Boulder, this business-oriented Westin property welcomes with a surprisingly handsome setting adjacent to Westminster City Park and the Westminster Promenade, with lovely views of the nearby fountain pond, lake and golf courses as well as the mountains. Tastefully modern Southwestern decor throughout the hotel sets the stage for its signature restaurant, the well-respected Kachina Southwestern Grill; for entertainment, you’re within walking distance of two delightful attractions—the Ice Centre at the Promenade and the Butterfly Pavilion. It all makes for an especially playful work trip.
If "luxury hostel" sounds like an oxymoron, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Occupying the top floor of a building that once housed a brothel (really), Fish is basically a contemporary art gallery you can sleep in. Each of its eleven individually decorated rooms—nine dorm-style, two private—is more vibrant than the last: Think cool murals and sculptures, chandeliers, and wildly patterned bedding. Of course there’s a guest kitchen, a concierge and housekeeping service; the management also hosts regular socials, from acoustic open mikes to themed soirées like the '80s Après Ski Party. Provided you play well with others, you've got a groovy pad here—which just so happens to share its address with Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox, a hot spot for eclectic cuisine and live music.
Think of Aloft (a Starwood brand) as the hipper sibling to Element. A colorful, Pop Art-y aesthetic lends cosmopolitan energy to this suburban hotel convenient to the business parks linking Denver to Boulder, complete with a lobby bar that boasts a pool table and a live-music lineup as well as a patio with lounge furnishings and an outdoor fireplace. (The Camp Aloft program should keep the kiddos occupied while you’re imbibing.) What’s more, the hotel is located within the Arista complex, home to a concert venue, the 1STBank Center, as well as a still-developing array of shops and restaurants like the Colorado Keg House and the much-awaited upscale-contemporary restaurant Hickory & Ash.
Element Denver Park Meadows
In the maze of business travelers’ lodgings that is the Denver Tech Center, this extended-stay Starwood property offers the most bang for the buck. The look is unusually stylish for the suburban genre: modern, clean and serene in earth tones from the lobby flanked by a patio with an open-access BBQ grill to the rooms and suites designed with both ergonomics and ecology in mind—not to mention hunger, as all contain kitchenettes. Of course, there’s also free breakfast and happy-hour service and a 24-hour bodega (but if you’re up for a quick outing, you’ll find excellent Peruvian food at Pisco Sour and fine pizza at popular parlor Racca’s nearby). Add a 24/7 gym and business center as well as an indoor pool, and you’ve got a reliably complete package.
Eldora Lodge at Wondervu
This cabin in the woods comes as close to ski country as you can get less than an hour from Denver. In fine weather, you can kick back on one of three decks surrounded by aspen trees, maybe soaking in a hot tub or firing up a grill; if you’re snowbound, you can hang out in the rec room, playing pool by the stone fireplace. Then retire to your wood-planked room, where a quilt-covered log-post bed awaits (along with modern amenities). It’s quite the rustic experience.
The Dove Inn Bed & Breakfast
Out in Golden—a suburb in the foothills of the Rockies—this trim little gingerbread-style inn has all the coziness of grandma’s house, starting in the antique-filled parlor near the brick fireplace and moving up on up to the simple but genteel rooms, all vintage wallpaper, quilting and lace. Breakfast usually consists of homemade pastries, quiches, granola and the like; fresh-baked cookies may be on offer when you check in, as well.
Capitol Hill Mansion Bed and Breakfast Inn
A Richardsonian Romanesque manor distinguished by intricately carved stone and woodwork sets a grand stage for this B&B in all its textbook charm. Run by a father-daughter team, it includes eight quaint-as-could-be, antique- and flower-filled rooms like the Snowlover, with a wraparound mural of an aspen forest and a private balcony. Others have fireplaces, four-poster beds, hot tubs, sun rooms and such. And the daily changing breakfast menu is—dare we say—restaurant-worthy, whether you’re served inside or out on the patio.
The Queen Anne Urban Bed & Breakfast
From sustainable mattresses and low-flow bathroom fixtures to individual recycling bins and a composting program in the garden that supplies organic produce and flowers, this boutique inn has plenty to offer the eco-conscious. Design mavens, meanwhile, will be stunned. Local artists created its four gallery-chic suites, each of which also boasts amenities ranging from hot tubs to fireplaces. But the standard rooms are no less impressive, with beautiful murals and furnishings both antique and locally built. Even the food is stylish: Consider potato pancakes with curried beets and fresh raita for breakfast, housemade cakes and cookies, and a happy hour (gratis, of course) featuring Colorado wines.
La Taberna del Alabardero
The lone stateside outpost for a Madrid-based restaurant group is, name notwithstanding, no humble taberna. Sumptuously decorated in high European style—ruby-red walls, white linens, chandeliers, oil paintings—La Taberna del Alabardero has been preparing edible works of art to match the atmosphere for 27 years and counting; in an era of rampant informality, the old-school show is a rare pleasure. That’s not to say the experience is entirely traditional: on the contrary, from prawn hamburgers on squid ink-tinted buns to suckling pig in peach gravy and desserts involving dry ice or chocolate sculpture, it has a distinct edge. But the kind of textbook feast that starts with an order of exquisite jamón iberico de bellota and patatas bravas, followed by the paella Valenciana with rabbit, chicken and seafood and, finally, crema catalana—all paired with fine Spanish wine, of course—is one on which the most romantic year-in-year-out rituals are founded.
BCN Taste & Tradition
The setting says it all. BCN occupies a nearly century-old Montrose home in which an eggshell-and-beige color scheme, soft lighting and crisp linens form an intimate gallery for works by Picasso, Miró and Dalí—as well as a stage on which Barcelona-born chef Luis Roger must therefore compete with the masters. The onetime Ferran Adrià intern and five-star resort chef is doing just that. Precision is his hallmark: pure, clear flavors and meticulous compositions distinguish everything from the signature “stew” of lobster and rice in coral roe-infused cream to rare-grilled duck breast bathed in a sauce of Idiazábal cheese, with balsamic reduction and quince paste for contrast. (Roger is also an accomplished pastry chef, so dessert is non-negotiable.) And the bar follows suit with its beautifully presented gin-and-tonics, turning your average porch pounder into something truly special. Under the rarified circumstances, the all-Spanish wine list is shockingly reasonable (though the trophies it does boast would be well worth the splurge).
Any old celebrity chef can build a restaurant empire. Very few can run one as smoothly as Jose Garces. Wood-filled and burnished by lantern light, his handsome Old City flagship remains the unshakeable foundation on which his fame was founded. No doubt its endurance reflects, first and foremost, the kitchen’s fealty to and mastery of the classics: though the menu takes seasonal twists and creative turns here and there, it’s grounded in the ultra-robust likes of lamb meatballs, crab-stuffed piquillos and roast pork with white beans. Even luxuries like lobster and truffles get the rustic treatment in hearty paellas or on flatbreads. As for booze, far be it from us to suggest you cast aside the gorgeous list of wines by the bottle, but in sangría veritas. And here’s some truth we hope you swine lovers can even handle: twice a year, Amada (which has a New York sibling, by the by) hosts a suckling-pig banquet for the memory books.