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Vacation Denver

Tourist Guide

Guarded by Giants
A Whirlwind Tour of Mile High Magic

The Colorado State Capitol in Denver
Colorado State Capitol


After breakfast at your hotel, take the free shuttle bus that traverses along the 16th Street Mall, a mile-long pedestrian promenade chock-block with souvenir shops, bars, clubs, restaurants, hotels and modern skyscrapers. It's worth wandering one block off the Mall onto 17th Street to see the The Brown Palace Hotel, a regal slumbering pad that was originally built in 1892 from Colorado red granite and Arizona sandstone by architect Frank Edbrooke, who also designed the Colorado State Capitol. Enjoy a leisurely lunch and imbibe a local microbrew at the Ship Tavern in the Brown Palace or take a short walk to Steuben's, a kitschy comfort food emporium, just over the hill from The Brown Palace, in the vibrant Uptown neighborhood.

The Colorado History Museum in Denver
Colorado History Museum

After you've indulged your hunger cravings, embark on a walking tour, beginning at the Colorado State Capitol, modeled after the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Canopied under a gold-plated dome, the rotunda offers sweeping views of the city skyline and the Rocky Mountains. Just outside the door lies Civic Center Park, an expansive grassy area that plays host to numerous seasonal events, including the Taste of Colorado, held every year over Labor Day weekend. Just a few steps away sits the Colorado History Museum, which offers a splendid collection of permanent and rotating exhibits depicting the state's fascinating history. From there, head to the impressive Denver Art Museum, a visual spectacle that includes the titanium-clad Frederick C. Hamilton wing showcasing 40,000-square-feet of gallery space and exhibitions. The museum also houses Native American art (one of the finest exhibits in the world) and paintings and sculptures of European and American artists from Winslow Homer to Renoir and Picasso. Another unique attraction is the U.S. Mint, where the public is allowed to watch metal blanks being transformed into tens of billions of pennies, dimes and quarters.

If you're nostalgic for the Wild West and have time to escape the city, visit Buffalo Bill Cody's grave at the top of Lookout Mountain, where a memorial museum, honoring the famous frontier scout, is open to the public.

A private dining buffet at The Fort restaurant in Denver
A private dining buffet at The Fort

Enjoy dinner at The Fort, a spectacular adobe structure patterned after an early Colorado fur trade center called Bent's Fort, which was founded in 1833. The restaurant has become a major dining attraction for locals, celebrities and dignitaries, including attendees of the Denver Summit of the Eight, who attended a feast here in 1997. If you aren't familiar with Rocky Mountain oysters, The Fort is an ideal place in which to get acquainted with the state's infamous bull testicles that are battered in seasoned flour and deep-fried.

On your way back to downtown Denver, stop just west of downtown, in Highland, for a post-dinner cocktail or glass of wine at two of Denver's most notable bars/restaurants: the very French Z Cuisine À Côté or the cozy speakeasy Williams and Graham. In downtown proper, you can also indulge in a cocktail at the 9th Door, a sultry lounge with Moroccan accents and curved leather booths, Vesta Dipping Grill, a sexy restaurant and bar that pours an excellent sangria, or at the Cruise Room, a cozy, dim-lit bar in the Oxford Hotel that resembles a lounge on the Queen Mary and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Continue to Day 3


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* Denver images courtesy of Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau

(Updated: 12/02/11 JM)

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