Why you should care
Because if you’re fixin’ to go to the Mile High City, these Instagrammers can tell you exactly where it’s at.
This is the fourth article in a multipart travel series. OZY tasks the rising stars of Instagram to share their favorite, little-known spots to eat, drink, shop and sight-see.
The first thing locals will tell you about Denver is that it’s also known as the Mile High City. What they won’t tell you is that at this altitude, the air is light enough to make you feel giddy, the craft beer bubbles pop louder and the sunshine makes everyone look good (yes, Denver does get sunshine). Most cities have golden hours; Denver has golden days. Naturally, the city’s Insta-crowd couldn’t hold back when we asked them to introduce their favorite city spots.
What started out as a hobby three years ago has turned into an entirely different monster for Denver native Annie Stookesberry, with 20,000-plus food fans following her every forkful. “I do finance by day, food consumption by night,” she says. “What else is there to know (womp womp)?” Yep, we gotcha there, girl.
Where to eat: “Mercantile Dining & Provision is an order-at-the-counter spot by day, with amazing pastries, fresh salads and gourmet sandwiches (pork belly bahn mi, confit chicken salad, braised short rib, to name just a few). At night, the restaurant takes on an upscale feel with creations like rabbit pappardelle, Maple Leaf Farms duck breast and a gorgeous family-style paella Valencia.”
Where to drink: “The Cooper Lounge is an Old Hollywood–glam cocktail bar on the balcony of Union Station — it’s a must if you’re looking for a special place to go before or after dinner in downtown. The cocktails are well-crafted, beautiful works of art that don’t run cheap, but they’re worth the splurge.”
Where to shop: “The 5 Green Boxes is a local spot in Union Station for eclectic jewelry, clothing, furniture and other gifts. One-of-a-kind pieces can be spotted here, so make sure to leave some room in your luggage.”
Where to visit: “Don’t miss the Union Square farmers market on Saturdays during the summer months. Go for a local cold-brew coffee, homemade hot sauce or a freshly picked flower bouquet. Or try the South Pearl Street farmers market.”
Formerly of Atlanta, Channing Morris — aka Blue Mountain Belle — is a Denver travel and style blogger, as well as a self-confessed live-music dancing queen. Morris travels with six cameras in tow, so it’s fair to say she’s also an Instagram obsessive.
Where to eat: “Denver’s crowning jewel is Union Station. The building dates to 1914, but it underwent a complete makeover in 2012. The station has nine restaurants and the Crawford Hotel, so you could eat every meal of the day there. Breakfast at Snooze, follow up with lunch at Mercantile Dining & Provision, drinks at Terminal Bar, then a seafood dinner at Stoic & Genuine.”
Where to drink: “Colorado is known for its breweries, and Denver has some great ones, including Oskar Blues, Great Divide and New Belgium. But, for me, there is nothing better than a tasty margarita. Down south in Englewood, you can enjoy great tacos and margaritas at Cochino Taco.”
Where to shop: “Don’t be fooled by Denver’s laid-back vibe. Cherry Creek North offers some of the same luxury designers you’ll find on Fifth Avenue in New York City or Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles. It’s a walkable, mixed-use area filled with boutiques, restaurants and bars. Denver-style necessities like Lululemon, Frye, Orvis and Arc’teryx all have outposts here.”
Where to visit: “A trip to Denver isn’t complete until you see a show at the world-famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Concerts run from April to September, but the park is open year-round to explore. Catch a movie, do a yoga class or hike one of the many trails.”
For the past few years, Colorado food fan Jen Perez has documented the state’s restaurant scene for nearly 40,000 followers. What Denver offers her is simple: No matter where she goes in the city, she always gets a warm welcome, the kind that you’d package and bottle if you could.
Where to eat: “My top choice is the Market at Larimer Square, a deli-bakery that has great options at any time of day. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say my biggest reason for going was its famous Spring Fling cake. Everyone has to try it when they visit.”
Where to drink: “Try the Blue Moon brewery in the RiNo District. Blue Moon is one of the many proud Colorado beers. The thing is, it’s a gateway beer. When you’re young, you’ll drink anything; then, one day, you meet a beer that changes that mindset. For a lot of people in Colorado, that beer is Blue Moon.”
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It's a beautiful night for some @BlueMoonbrewco and great eats at the @BlueMoonRino!Tell me your mouth isn't watering just by looking at this sumptuous Roast Tenderloin. Thanks Blue Moon for inviting DenverFoodScene to your Beer Dinner. Our minds and bellies grew an inch or two. Check them out! 😉 . . . . . . . . #food #foodporn #yum #adventure #art #yummy #amazing #love #sweet #dinner #eeeeeats #makeup #delicious #eating #hungry #foodgasm #hot #foods #heart #liveauthentic #beautiful #girls #beauty #denver #denverfood #foodie #colorado #beer #eeeeeats #fashion #denvereats
Where to shop: “The best shopping place is the 16th Street Mall. It has it all — whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it there. The crowds are diverse — students, families, tourists, everyone fits fit in — and that ambience is truly representative of Denver.”
Where to visit: “Even if you aren’t an art expert, you’ll love the vibrant colors and styles on display in the Art District on Sante Fe. Aside from inside the galleries, you’ll find art on buildings, sidewalks and banners. It’s a wonderful place to stroll.”