A Denver Local’s Perfect Day in the Mile High City

Here are my top places to see, do and eat.

Photo: Depositphotos

As more and more people discover how great Colorado is, my childhood friends and I joke that we’re unicorns, having been born and raised in the Denver area. As a travel writer, I have lots of opinions on the best things to see, do and eat around the world, but there’s nowhere I can make recommendations on with quite as much authority as Denver.

My perfect day in Denver starts with a sunrise yoga session or workout at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre (www.redrocksonline.com). Technically, this world renowned music venue is in the town of Morrison but it’s owned by Denver Arts and Venues and has some of the best views of the city, especially at sunrise. There are ticketed classes on various days throughout the year, casual group workouts you can find on Eventbrite or the amphitheater is open most days to yoga, stair-climb or hike the area trails on your own.

Then, I’ll head to Blue Sparrow, one of my favorite coffee shops for a latte and a croissant from Black Box Bakery. You’ll be covered in crumbs as soon as you shatter the flaky exterior with the first bite, but the strawberry or green chile cheddar filling is so worth it. The location on Blake Street has a perfect patio for a warm summer morning.

Coffee and croissants at Blue Sparrow in Denver
Coffee and croissants at Blue Sparrow in Denver (Photo: Mikaela Ruland)

After enjoying my coffee, I’ll stroll around the neighborhood, ducking into the alleys. The River North Arts District, known as RiNo, gets taken over by street artists every September, covering every square inch of wall in gorgeous murals. The art is new every year, which makes it a fun place to visit again and again. You’ll also find funky local boutiques to explore.

Blue and pink portrait mural, River North Arts District, Denver
Blue and pink portrait mural, River North Arts District, Denver (Photo: Flickr/Jules Antonio)

When it’s time for lunch, I’ll grab a Louie sandwich from Lou’s Italian Specialties and take it to Confluence Park for a picnic. This classic Italian-style combo of salami, capicola, ham, provolone and the works is executed perfectly here and only tastes better under Colorado’s 300-plus days of sun. I hope you packed the SPF.

After lunch I’ll stroll across the Highland Bridge to get to the Highlands neighborhood, where waiting in line is half the fun at the giant, silver milk can that serves Denver’s best ice cream. If it’s on the Little Man menu, I can’t not order Salted Oreo, a perfect combo of sweet and salty.

Denver alone has more than 150 craft breweries so an afternoon beer is a must. Denver Beer Co., is a classic with a nice patio and is a short walk from Little Man.

If there’s still time left before dinner, I’ll go over to Meow Wolf, Convergence Station (meowwolf.com/visit/denver). This immersive art experience is wild and will take you several hours to really absorb. It’s the kind of place I wish I could see for the first time again.

Calories don’t count in a perfect day scenario, so I’m obviously already thinking about dinner. If I’m celebrating, I’ll book a spot at Temaki Den’s bar. The hand-roll sushi joint is tucked inside an old wooden warehouse-turned-collective-marketplace called The Source. Owned by Denver’s most-lauded sushi restaurateurs, every single bite served is perfection. For a more casual evening, I’ll head back to RiNo and order the house sourdough and a bowl of handmade pasta at Dio Mio. The regularly changing menu at this counter-service spot is always incredible.

If I ordered an affogato at Dio Mio and still have energy after my sunrise start, I’ll meet friends at Ace Eat & Serve, a ping-pong bar that has an inventive cocktail menu.