Several months ago, my brother Tyler reached out to me with a proposition: would I head to Denver, stay at his house for a week, and watch their dogs? I’d be helping them out big time, and there were two tickets to a Vampire Weekend concert at Red Rocks to sweeten the pot.
I said yes.
It was months away, and seemed like mid-October would never come. But last week I packed my bags, loaded up my car, and said goodbye to my husband for a whole seven days.
I did Denver, on my own, for a week.
One of my favorite things about Denver is the food scene. To me, as someone who isn’t much of a foodie, it comes down to variety and hours. I love being able to get any kind of cuisine, at any time. None of the “closes at 8 p.m.” garbage that I deal with now.
During my week in Denver, I went to some fabulous favorites.
- Trattoria Stella. This Italian food is delicious! I opted for their “Skipza” pasta-less pasta, made from spaghetti squash. Yum!
- Izu-Sushi. Oh, yes to sushi. This was a very obvious upgrade from my usual grocery store order; loved the inventive rolls here.
- Snooze. Breakfast at Snooze is always fantastic, especially during the week (no hour wait times!). This was a decadent start to my day.
- Nuggs Ice Cream. Ohemgee, this ice cream was delightful. I got something called “honey bee,” and they packed that waffle cone to the brim with sweet, sweet flavor.
- Station 26 Brewing. As far as breweries go, Station 26 is pretty typical Denver. Outdoor seating, dog-friendly, great vibes, and inventive brews. I got a tangerine cream beer that did not disappoint.
- Atomic Cowboy. The Atomic Cowboy is a great spot either for pizza or an after-dinner drink. It’s a popular LGBTQ-friendly hang, and has several great beers on tap.
- Great Divide Brewery. Located in Denver’s RiNo districit, Great Divide Brewery is an ideal pit stop for a mid-afternoon beer. My sour beer was delicious, and left me wanting more.
- Barrels and Bottles. I’ve talked about my favorite brewery before: Barrels and Bottles is a one-of-a-kind spot for wine slushies and orange cream beer.
One of the best things about Denver is all the fun, ripe for the taking. There’s so much to see and do, and I saw and did plenty.
- Rugby game. I met up with Alexis and Jessica to watch a local women’s rugby game at a large park. Even though I had no idea what was going on, or whether it was half-time or an early close to the game, I still had fun. Oh, and the scrum is my favorite part.
- Billiards. I’m either hit or miss when it comes to playing pool. I did pretty okay when I played Alexis and Jessica at Tarantula Billiard & Bar. I loved the free pool as I sipped on a Bud Light and admired the eclectic art on the walls.
- RiNo. Denver’s River North Art District is an area filled with factories, breweries, and street art murals. Alexis, Jessica, and I rented those electric scooters and rode around, admiring the bold pieces of art. It was such a fun afternoon, though I was definitely a novice at scooting.
- Red Rocks Concert. Vampire Weekend at Red Rocks was amazing! They know how to jam. My friend Emily and I were able to dance the night away, despite freezing 30 degree temperatures and lots of precipitation. We had a blast at the country’s best music venue.
Hands down, the very best part of coming to Denver is connecting with my friends. Both Chad and I went to school in the area, so we’ve racked up a lot of for-life relationships with people that we don’t get to see very often. I decided to make the most of my time in Denver and spend as much of it as possible with people who make my heart happy.
Alexis and Jessica. Shout out to these two. My besties for the resties. I had a fabulous week seeing them as much as possible. We watched rugby, played pool, went to great restaurants, explored downtown, and Jess made us a fantastic dinner. I love them, and they are the biggest reason that Denver can still feel like home.
Bobby. Bobby Joe Jones is one of my best friends who is quite literally the life of the party. Though I only saw him once, our night was full of intense catch up, bar hopping, and even dive-bar karaoke, where he brought everyone to the dance floor with his renditions of “Folsom Prison” and “Friends in Low Places.”
Emily. I’m also thankful to Emily, who braved a cold-ass Red Rocks adventure with me. I am so blessed to have a friend that I can pick right up with, regardless of how long it’s been since we’ve seen each other (and it was quite a while). And the concert? Unbelievably good.
Denver, in many ways, will always feel like a transitional home. It’s filled with nostalgia and memories, from my first time living away from Gunnison, learning how to drive in the city, and splitting my time between two colleges (my own and Chad’s). I go back to the city every once in a while, usually for a day or two when I have to go to the airport (DIA rocks), or to attend a birthday party for a friend.
I miss my friends, the food, the fun, and public transportation. Hell, I miss Uber. (That’s a luxury not found in my small town mountain utopia.) However, the best thing is that Denver is just a two and a half hour drive away.
Thanks, Tyler (and Autumn and Brinkley), for giving me a reason to come back, for more than just a weekend stay.