Four days in Denver, Colorado, everything you need to know!
After spending my last birthday at Disney World, I knew this year’s birthday trip would have to be epic in order to top that. I’m a Sagittarius and a December baby, and that helped me narrow down my options of places to spend my 33rd birthday.
I knew for sure I wanted to see snow because I’m from San Antonio, Texas and we rarely get that here. My husband and I have also talked about moving to Colorado many times, so heading to Denver quickly shot to the top of my list, especially after checking the flight prices and finding them to be super reasonable!
Fights and Travel Accommodations
United Airlines offered a great price for direct flight tickets at $171 per ticket. However, these tickets were basic economy tickets and there are some things worth knowing before you purchase this type of ticket through United.
I was shocked to find that this ticket type did not allow us to have a carry-on. Instead, we were only allowed one personal item such as a purse or backpack. We adjusted to this and we both carried a travel backpack, which we needed anyway for all the hiking we did in Colorado. Check baggage is allowed at $30 a bag coming and going, so be prepared for that extra expense.
Our seats were automatically assigned by the airline but because the flights were not at full capacity we were still able to sit together on both flights. Flight changes and refunds are also not allowed with basic economy tickets so travel insurance might be worth buying if you are not sure about your travel arrangements.
We purchased travel insurance for $19 per ticket thru Expedia.com, a third-party site that we also purchased our flight tickets thru.
Upon arriving at the Denver airport we had some time to kill before we could pick up our rental car, so we headed to grab some breakfast and a beer while we waited. Denver airport offers several restaurant options to choose from. All of the good ones are located in Terminal B so save yourself some time and go straight there if you’re looking.
We opted for Boulder Beer Taphouse, a restaurant located right outside baggage claim which means you can access this cute little spot without a boarding pass. Our breakfast burritos totally hit the spot and the Boulder Beer Buffalo Gold Golden Ale tasted so good we kept asking around for it during our trip!
Since Boulder Beer was the first craft brewery in Colorado, I highly recommend you check this place out and try a taster flight of beers while you’re at it!
ACE Car Rental
We had a slight hiccup at this place! First off, a few things you should know about renting a car:
- You must be at least 25 years old to rent a car from any car rental service.
- You must also have a credit card with a sufficient balance that will cover the cost of your rental plus a small deposit for incidentals. If you don’t have a credit card you can charge it on your bank card but your small deposit will turn into a big deposit if you go this route. I’m talking $200 plus which can really eat up your spending budget so be prepared for that! **Your deposit gets returned to you within 3 business days after turning in your rental.
- There is also an extra charge for any additional drivers and this is not just a one time fee, this is a per-day fee. We opted to not have an extra driver and my husband drove the whole time. Just know that if something should happen and your additional driver was driving, the accident won’t be covered if you didn’t pay for the additional driver.
There were also all these other charges that took my price from $64 at booking to $140 at pick up!! I was taken aback by this and almost canceled the whole thing altogether but instead, I asked for a printout of all these charges and denied all the extra charges that were not absolutely necessary like the additional driver charge, toll road charge, and the fuel charge.
Be wary of all these charges, we never saw one toll road while we were there but were being charged for it. The fuel charge was also inflated, so along with the additional driver charge, we removed all of these and settled on a price I was much more comfortable with.
Aside from these need to know things, I do highly recommend a rental car. There is just so much to do in the Mile High City and you’ll save more money with a rental versus an Uber, Lyft, or taxi ride (do taxis still exist?? LOL)
Buddy Boy Brands
Our first stop after our car rental debacle was a legal marijuana dispensary. Being from Texas, a not legal state, I just had to experience this! Buddy Boy Brands was the first dispensary we came upon so we parked and went right in. The staff was friendly, knowledgeable, and the prices were great! I left there with a few goodies and a high school diploma in marijuana!
We rented a Victorian-style Airbnb that was built in 1885 and restored in 2004. We had the entire second floor to ourselves which was actually a suite equipped with a kitchenette and a living room. The location was perfect for everything we had on our itinerary with breweries, pubs, restaurants, and shopping all within walking distance or a short five-minute drive.
Check out this video for a tour of our Airbnb!
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16th Street Mall
Once we were settled into our Airbnb, we headed out to explore and grab some lunch. Our first stop, which ended up being our last stop of the day, was the 16th Street Mall. Let me just say there is so much to do here, so much so that there’s actually a bus that runs free of charge to take you up and down the open-air mall. It’s really that big. Here you’ll find plenty of places to shop, eat, and take photos. Parking is available for a fee at nearby locations. We paid $16 for the day.
Since it was Tuesday, Taco Tuesday to be exact, we chose to eat a Mexican restaurant called, Lime Fresh Mexican Grill which was highly recommended to us by a local. All Tacos are just $1 every Tuesday and they do have a wide selection of tacos to choose from. They also have a great happy hour menu that is available every day BUT Tuesday because the taco specials are already so great! For drinks, we had margaritas because what goes better with tacos than margaritas??!!
I recommend this place for the great specials, good food, and perfect location inside the 16th Street Mall!
The second day of our trip, which was also my birthday, took us outside of Denver to the small town of Evergreen.
The plan was to have breakfast here and shop a little then head to hike the St. Mary’s Glacier. Evergreen is a very small cozy town, cute and quaint, and the people are so friendly!
Once we got there we stumbled upon Evergreen Lake which flows off into river-like streams that became a beautiful photo opp for us!
The Wildflower Cafe was recommended to me by a friend and I can see why! It’s cozy and sweet and the food was delicious! It reminded me of my grandma’s cooking and the food back home in Texas.
I was also able to have my first birthday drink which was a pomegranate mimosa! YUM!
The inside is small but has so much character! There’s even a community coat rack to hang your coat which makes so much sense for this mountain town!
And I have to give a special shout out to my waitress for giving me a free magnet when she didn’t have any stickers I could purchase. Such a great birthday gift from an unknowing stranger!
The Crystal Garden
Let me just say that The Crystal Garden was the whole reason I put Evergreen on my Denver itinerary! I love love love crystals and all things spirit! If you keep up with my blog you already know that! And just like I thought, this place did not disappoint!
Crystals were literally everywhere from wall to wall and floor to ceiling. The energetic vibes in that space were through the roof! There were also other items like essential oils, sage, incense, jewelry, books, and so much more! I even got a Tibetan sound bath before leaving which was totally the highlight of my day!
I highly recommend The Crystal Garden if you are into metaphysical things like I am!
Our plans to hike the St. Mary’s Glacier were canceled after a landslide of rocks shut down the highway to the glacier. So after being in traffic for about an hour we turned around and headed back to Denver. I think by chance we came upon Lookout Mountain which had the most breathtaking views I’ve ever seen!
And there is more to do there then see the view, Lookout Mountain is also the home to Buffalo Bill’s actual grave and a museum dedicated to him. There is also a cafe and shopping center where we grabbed a hot chocolate and a bite to eat.
Dio Mio Pasta
If you’re looking for an Italian restaurant with the vibes and atmosphere of a lounge, Dio Mio Pasta is the place for you! We came upon this place by accident but it was the perfect choice for my birthday dinner.
We shared the Chicken Parmesan plate which was big enough for both of us. Liquor is not sold here but they have plenty of beer options. Seating is limited and is first come first serve so you may have a little bit of a wait. We waited about 5 minutes before we found an open table. Pro tips: Tip the cashier and she’ll get you a seat ASAP! Also, many of the restaurants in Denver close early, around 9 pm. So if you’re planning for dinner make it an early one.
Greenhouse Grow Tour
If you partake in cannabis, this Greenhouse Grow Tour with My420tours is a must! I’m currently living in Texas, a state that has not made marijuana legal just yet, so this experience was at the top of my list.
The greenhouse tour really gives you an insider’s perspective on the cannabis industry and the process of taking a seed of marijuana from plant to flower to packaging for sale. The tour guides are super knowledgable and friendly and you really learn so much about this miracle plant.
The tour starts at the My420tours office’s for meet up, then you are taken on a 420 friendly private party bus to the actual greenhouse where the magic happens! After the greenhouse, you are taken to the actual dispensary where you can purchase edibles, drinks, CBD, cannabis and so much more. Tours of the Euflora Dispensary are given every Tuesday thru Friday from 11 am to 1:30 pm. Fun fact: The very first legal recreational marijuana transaction was made here! Put that in the history books!
Famous J’s Original Pizza
After our tour we were tired and hungry, so we grabbed a pizza and headed back to our Airbnb to get some relaxation in. Famous J’s Original Pizza is Denver’s spot for New York style pizza and boy was it delicious. The pie, as they call it, was big enough for the two of us to have some for lunch, dinner that night, and breakfast the next morning!
If you’re looking to have a low key pizza night Famous J’s is where you should go. Just look for the window located on the patio of The 715 Nightclub!
St. Mary’s Glacier
We spent our last day in Denver climbing to the tippy top of the St. Mary’s Glacier and it was like a dream, let me tell ya!
The glacier is located in Idaho Springs which is about an hour’s drive from Denver. The hike itself is a beginner to intermediate hike, taking anywhere from 1-2 hours roundtrip.
Be prepared to dress warm and definitely wear some snow boots if you go.
Some would say that waterproof snow boots are not required for the St. Mary’s Glacier hike, but if you want to really venture around, they will come in handy as the snow was about knee-high in some parts.
About 3/4 of the way up you’ll come upon the St. Mary’s Lake which was completely frozen over when we visited! We walked on water yall! Well, half walked half crawled haha! It was very slippery so we fell a lot, although my husband was able to walk across the whole lake! It was a very cool experience, to say the least!
In the summer’s the lake is a great place for picnics and relaxing but swimming is not encouraged because of the frigid temperatures. **One more thing to note here is that the wind picks up to about 20 miles per hour so be prepared to get windy!
From the lake, you can continue hiking up the trail which will lead you to a tundra on the north side of the glacier which is where the trail ends. From here you should stop and take in all the views before heading back down. I actually did a quick 5-minute meditation while I was up there, it was the coolest meditation I’ve done by far!
When you’re ready you can hike back down from the tundra or if you’re the adventurous kind, you can snowboard or ski back down to the bottom. It’s actually the perfect spot for that so bring your skis or snowboard if you want too!
Things to know about Denver
⁕ Denver is referred to as the Mile High City is because it is 5,280 feet, or one mile, above sea level. The high altitude was very hard to adjust to for this Texas girl and I definitely experienced a bit of altitude sickness while I was there. Altitude sickness is common in an elevation of 5000 feet or higher because of the lower oxygen levels that come with higher elevations. This is especially true if you are used to much lower altitudes like I am.
Altitude sickness symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Lack of appetite
It usually takes one full day to acclimate to the altitude but check out this article for more tips and information about coping with altitude sickness.
⁕ The air is very dry in Denver due to the low humidity and let me tell you the thirst was real! I felt thirsty the whole time I was there so be prepared for plenty of water consumption. You may even double up on your regular water intake just to feel normal again. Another issue this causes is dry skin and lips! Make sure you pack plenty of chapsticks, lip balm, and body lotion! Trust me on this and you’ll thank me later!
⁕ Denver boasts about having 300 days a year of sunshine and it’s true! At such high altitudes, you’re much closer to the sun, which means less sun protection so don’t forget some sunscreen even in the wintertime! I used Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Liquid Sunscreen, which is lightweight, nongreasy, and layers invisibly under makeup.
⁕ Dress in layers. I was watching Denver’s weather for about a week before I headed there. During the days it was in the 50s but it got down close to and even below freezing in the evenings. This helped me pack the essentials which were lots of layers plus my snow gear for our hike day which put us in 14-degree weather at the top of the glacier!
⁕ Don’t’ quote me on this but Denver is not really a family-friendly city and as a mom of two I think this is important to note this. I’m not even kidding you but on our four days there my husband and I did not see one kid!! How weird is that?!? Denver really is a city and what I mean when I say that, is literally the city of Denver is centered around their downtown area. Outside of the downtown area is mostly high rise apartments and outside of that is mostly rural farmlands until you hit Aurora, Colorado, which looks to be mostly suburbs and probably where all the kids are.
Final Thoughts On My Denver, Colorado Trip
Overall I had the best time exploring the mile-high city of Denver, Colorado! Apart from my altitude sickness and missing my kids, I had a great time exploring the city, experiencing my first marijuana grow tour, climbing the glacier, taking in all the majestic views, and eating all the good foods! I recommend Denver for a couples trip, girls trip, or even a solo travel trip. There’s just so much to do, so plan accordingly!