So you’ve made the trip up 285 from Santa Fe to Denver. You ate some hot dogs, fed some alligators, maybe encountered some aliens. Now, to satisfy your need for more multiversal exploration, you’ve come to QDOT’s first transit stop on Earth, Meow Wolf Denver’s Convergence Station.
Visiting a new city is way more fun when there’s a friend to show you around. Although we can’t necessarily meet you at Happy Camper for brunch, we can tell you some top spots you won’t want to miss while you’re in the Mile High City.
The Learned Lemur on Colfax is full of odd finds and macabre antiques like a taxidermied giraffe, a silver-plated Last Rites set, a Siberian musk deer, and wax moulage faces. The owner started working with flesh-eating beetles during an art project in college and has expanded his interests to share sustainable, ethically-sourced skulls and taxidermy with the Denver community and visitors.
If you’re in the mood to make up your own mural adventure, this interactive map in RiNo Art District makes a great starting point. Want more than murals? Here’s a map where you can filter by the category (like sculpture or multimedia) of public art you are seeking.
A few recommended must-see murals:
Italian style pizza, Chicago style pizza...Colorado style pizza?
The key is the Colorado honey, which is in the fresh, locally-made dough, and is an absolute must for dipping the crust at Beau Jo’s. You can create your own thick-crusted mountain pie (aka pizza by the pound), a prairie pie (thin crust version), or pick any of the creations from the menu.
Beau Jo’s Arvada location is tucked amongst historic buildings, just a smidge outside of central Denver, but an easy enough drive or a ride on the new-ish G Line.
What to order: Honey cheese bread to start (only $5 during Happy Hour at all locations!), and the Motherlode is a must – just the name alone implies it’s incredible.
Even if you don’t go inside the Mayan Theatre to see an indie film (they also show foreign films and wide release films), you can stand outside and appreciate the unique architecture. If you do choose to enter, stop by the second floor bar for a drink (check for specials!) and enjoy the art deco aesthetics, then grab some popcorn and find your seat. The small theatre size lends the event more of a community feeling. For a nightcap, Sputnik is open till 2am, has delicious cheap eats, and is only a few blocks away.
Pro tip: Scope out the movie trailers ahead of time on their website.
Best known for its history as Denver's Olinger Mortuary, which held the body of Buffalo Bill Cody briefly in 1917, Linger has embraced — and recycled — its past without being cheesy (you’ll find no buffalo wings or creepy cocktails on the menu).
The “eatuary” converted old A/C units into hanging lamps and glass-topped metal conveyor belts now serve as tables. The garage doors on the ground floor that once opened up for hearses are now used to bring in fresh air, and water is served in apothecary bottles.
What to order: If you’re going for brunch, get the Hangover Ramen. For dinner, the Bao Bun Trio and Horchata Snow Ice for dessert.
Castlewood Canyon State Park is a great place for beginner hikes. It’s only $10 for a day pass, and be sure to get there early to find a parking spot. The best way to find a trail at any Colorado State Park is to download the COTREX app, but a few of note are: Canyon View Nature Trail and the East Canyon Preservation Trail.
If you want a moderate hike (around 5-6 miles) with views, start at the Castlewood Canyon Ruins Loop to see Cherry Creek Falls and the Castlewood Canyon Dam Ruins. Be prepared for some parts where there are lots of rocky steps, but the majority of it is easy going.
The loop! You have a choice to make at the fork... Do you want to start your hike with a steep climb (rock and man-made steps, not literal climbing) up a ridge or do the moderate thing along a river? Take the Rimrock Trail if you want to start out on the canyon ridge; Creek Bottom Trail to stay in the canyon bottom.
If you are nostalgic for Pac-Man and other games from the ‘80s and ‘90s with a side of old school Olympia beer, 1Up is the place for you. Grab a slush puppy drink and play some pinball, Galaga, Cruisin' USA, and Skee-Ball! Then head to Cheba Hut across the street for a delicious, late-night sammy.
Really good biscuits, reasonable prices, but sometimes the wait can be a little lengthy at Denver Biscuit Company (so maybe plan a small snack in advance – you want to be hungry for this).
What to order: Mix a little savory and sweet with the Franklin (vegetarian gravy option available) + a giant biscuit cinnamon roll. They run out of cinnamon rolls daily, so try to get there before noon if that’s what you’ve got your eye on. Another top fave is the shrimp and grits in a biscuit bowl. It’s like someone dropped off your Southern aunt in the middle of Denver to make everyone a buttery, delicious breakfast.
“The Unsinkable Molly Brown” is best known for surviving the infamous sinking of the Titanic in 1912, but she also was an American philanthropist, feminist, activist, and a Denver socialite. Her house nearly deteriorated after she died, then was restored by the historic society into a museum for visitors to witness her legacy, and if they’re lucky, her ghost.
Pro tip: Last entry is at 3:40pm so getting there earlier is better.
Convergence Station is best described as part mystery, part art exhibit, and part playground. There is a storyline that you can explore (get the $3 QPASS near the entrance to learn more about each world), but if you're just into the art of it all...that's okay too! Open doors, look up and under and all around, and just dive right into your curiosity.
With six locations across Denver, including one in Denver International Airport (don’t forget to look out for Blucifer), it’s fairly apparent that Snooze is popular for its food as well as its retro futuristic vibe.
What to order: The number of options for eggs benedict alone is impressive, like the Habanero Pork Belly Benny or the Smash Avocado Benny. Can’t decide? You can ask for a Benny Duo to try half of two different options.
Then there are the pancakes. Sooooo many to choose from that the restaurant offers a pancake flight (!!!) so you don’t have to decide between blueberry danish pancakes, pineapple turnover pancakes, or sweet potato pancakes (to name a few).
You would never know that beneath the grassy picnic spots, frisbee fields, and botanic gardens at Cheesman Park, it was a cemetery for the city’s most influential citizens as well as its criminals and everyone in between. The park is in the heart of downtown Denver, with 150-mile panoramic views from the Greek-style Cheesman Memorial Pavilion. During the summer you can catch a weekly movie in the park and maybe see a few shadowy figures wander through the darkness under the moonlight.
The Tattered Cover Book Store is the largest independent bookstore in Colorado (and is owned by local Denverites!) with locations in and around Denver. You can find used books, book recommendations, book clubs, local art exhibits, in-person and virtual events daily.
Comedy Works Downtown location has a cozy atmosphere (think: underground granite cave room) where you can see local comedians and major headliners. It’s a phone-free and heckler-free zone, so you’ll be forced to live in the moment after locking up your phone and finding your seat.
A note that Comedy Works is known for comedy, not food, so maybe grab a bite before the show. If you do choose to order from the menu, there’s a two item (food or drinks) minimum purchase requirement.
Also not to miss: New Talent Night on Wednesdays.
About a 30-minute drive west of Denver is the Golden/Morrison area, best known for Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre, but also home to plenty of breweries (like Coors) and hikes to burn off the beer calories. Our ideal day outside of the city looks like this:
First stop: Bonfire Burrito (2221 Ford St) for the Javalina: eggs, hash browns, chorizo, grilled pineapple, cotija cheese, jalapeño pineapple crema, and green chile.
Next stop: Red Rocks, of course. If you can manage tickets to a show, it will probably be the greatest of your life. If not, it’s free to check out and very scenic, so why not! There are lots of trails to walk around, take a tour of the amphitheater, and swing by the museum to see the Hall of Fame, or try out one of the fitness events like Yoga on the Rocks.
Another stop: New Terrain Brewing has food trucks, live music, bike trails, fire pits, and very creative craft beers.
Last stop: The Golden Mill is a food hall with the only rooftop bar in downtown Golden where you can pour your own to sample 50 local Colorado craft beers, wines, cocktails and NA beverages.
Once you’ve had your fill of Colorado pizza and homegrown IPAs, take a moment to enjoy your surroundings in this ever-growing city and know there will be more to see during your next visit.