Zenni City Guide: Denver, CO

what to do in denver

If you haven’t heard the exciting news, Zenni is embarking on a college tour across the Western U.S. called the #Zenniroadtrip! That’s right, we’ve decked out a custom RV, filled to the brim with fashionable frames, free vision tests, and amazing giveaways! We’ll be hitting universities in Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington, Texas, and Arizona to bring Zenni frames directly to you!

As Zenni’s college tour takes off, we’re off on a #Zenniroadtrip of our own, going on mini-adventures and exploring each unique city we’re in to bring you travel tips, the best places to eat, and our must-dos. Welcome to Zenni’s City Guides! Our first stop is the beautiful Mile High City of Denver, Colorado!

Where to Stay in Denver:

Wondering where to stay in Denver? Look no farther than the Brown Palace Hotel. Built in 1932, this Denver landmark has an unparalleled history. This elegant gem has hosted every U.S. president since 1905, with the exception of Calvin Coolidge and Barack Obama, and was once the home to the campaign headquarters of Dwight Eisenhower.

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From the minute you step into the lobby with its grand staircase and magnificent stained glass ceilings, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back into another era. If you can book a reservation, make sure to stop in for afternoon tea. You’ll dive into scrumptious, freshly made scones with Devonshire cream while enjoying live music from the house pianist and harpist.

Fun fact: the Brown Palace Hotel is rumored to be haunted. Ghostly tales, sightings, and apparitions are so common with guests that the hotel has a full-time, on-site historian available for tours. Be sure to check out our upcoming blog on our ghost adventures in Denver!

Where to Eat:

With its rich culinary scene, world-famous Colorado beef (vegans, there are options for you, too!), and award-winning chefs, Denver is a city filled with unlimited food options. From high-end restaurants to farm-to-table, locally sourced organic bites, Denver is one of those cities that surprises you with it’s range of awesome restaurants. From high to low and everything in between, there’s one thing that’s certain: we’ll be visiting the Mile High City again, just to come back and try all the places we didn’t fit in!

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Run by siblings, Paul and Aileen Riley, Beast + Bottle, is a constant fixture on the numerous ‘Denver’s best restaurant’ lists. With its charming wood tables, country chairs, and down-home aesthetic, it’s easy to see why this rustic, American eatery stands out from the crowd. Perfect for a lazy weekend brunch with friends (the outdoor patio is ideal for a warm day) or an early dinner, Beast + Bottle features farm-to-table fare and an amazing wine list. And when we say farm-to-table, this is the real deal. Beast + Bottle has their own flock of Rhode Island Red hens laying fresh, organic eggs for them daily! Highlights include the pork shoulder tostada and the traditional English sausage breakfast.

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It’s official, Larimer Square is a must stop on any trip to Denver. This charming, bustling district is filled with boutique stores, Victorian buildings, paved walkways, bistros, bars, and world-class restaurants. And did we mention it’s right next to the University of Colorado Denver campus? While you can’t go wrong with any restaurant in Larimer Square, long-time staples like the James Beard award-winning, Mediterranean-influenced Rioja and newer additions such as Milk & Honey and Osteria Marco are standouts. Zenni insider tip: be sure to check out Larimer Square in the evening when the entire area sparkles under a sea of dangling lights. It’s perfect for date night, a romantic late-night stroll, or an evening out with girlfriends. You’ll feel like you’re in another world.

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What better way to travel than by train when you arrive at Denver’s Union Station terminal? Filled with amazing bars, restaurants, a cool bookstore, and even a boutique hotel, put this one on your must-do list when you visit the Mile High City! Pop in for dinner at Mercantile Dining & Provision where you’ll find fresh charcuterie, spices, and cheese, or grab a specialty cocktail and turn back time at the ultra-refined Cooper Lounge while you people watch from the second story of Union Station.

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Located in Denver’s River North Art District, aka RiNo, this one-time artist’s neighborhood has been transformed with The Source leading the way. A mecca for creative, hipster types, this warehouse space houses artisanal coffee shops, curated wine selections, sour beer, and delectable bites all under one roof. Stop by Acorn for lunch or dinner – the graffitied walls, industrial-sized ceilings, and down-home comfort food make this restaurant a total winner. Zenni insider tip: Order the fried pickles, shrimp and grits, or a reuben sandwich. Your inner foodie won’t regret it!

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Our guide wouldn’t be complete without something sweet! Denver’s famous Little Man Ice Cream is the perfect family-friendly stop on any trip to the Mile High City. Located in the Highland district, you can’t miss this iconic building, with its 28-foot tall milk jug sign. Little Man Ice Cream changes up its daily ice cream to include tasty and unique flavors such as chocolate pound cake, salted oreo, and mocha chip. They also serve up ice cream sandwiches, sorbets, sundaes, and vegan ice cream options (there’s something for everyone). With its old school music, red leather stools, retro countertops, and vintage charm, you can’t pass this one up!

What to Do in Denver:

Denver has something for everyone! If you’re a sports fans, this is your city. With three major arenas in the metropolitan area, you’ve got no shortage of options. Take in a ballgame at Coors Field (where you’re likely to run into colorful locals), watch the Broncos play at Mile High Stadium, or cheer on the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center.

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Touted as the home of craft brewing, Denver is filled with bars, brew pubs, and better yet – brewery tours. Beer fanatics will love the city’s numerous microbreweries, craft beer, and brewery tours. Fan of the Silver Bullet? Check out Coors Brewery, the world’s largest single-site brewery. Looking for a craft ale? Take advantage of Denver’s craft brew tours.

Music fan? Head to Red Rocks Amphitheater and take in an outdoor concert. Lucky for you this world famous venue is just a short 20 minute drive from the city. Its rich musical history (The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, and just about every other band on the planet have performed at Red Rocks) and beautiful scenery will no doubt inspire you.
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Check back soon as our next #Zenniroadtrip City Guide features Phoenix, Arizona.

What are your favorite spots in Denver? Let us know in the comments below!

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