What To Do in Denver

You’ve probably noticed how much I love living in Seattle. I’m protective of Seattle. And at this point in my life, I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

But sure, I could do without the grey, dark and dreary days in the deep of winter. I could definitely stand for a few less homeless bums at my bus stop downtown. And the Seattle freeze is a real thing, let me tell you.

You know those nights when you wear embarrassing sweatpants and eat way too much ice cream and probably binge-watch an entire season of some trashy show you won’t admit to watching? It can be really nice to take a break from your normally put-together life on hold and just… relax. That’s kind of how I feel about traveling. Sometimes, it’s nice to leave.

I’ve read in books and seen in movies that new couples like taking little trips early on in the relationship. They go to tropical resorts and stay in hotels with fancy sheets. I imagined fluffy robes and eating cheesecake in bed. White curtains floating in the breeze. Ok… maybe I was imagining a honeymoon in Paris. To each their own.

What John and I ultimately agreed on was a bit of an earthy adventure. We wanted to get on a plane. We wanted to go someplace we’ve never been before (Which is actually a lot harder than it sounds! We’ve been a LOT of places, but none of the same places. He’s Southern, I’m West Coast with family on the East Coast.) Finally, we wanted to get out of town and EXPLORE. (And I was secretly crossing my fingers for some sunlight!)

Denver seemed like the perfect mix. Far enough that we needed a plane, we’d both never been and after doing my research (books, blogs and magazines galore!) I realized that Denver had a few really cool places. IMG_0956After a 2 hour plane ride (yes, we were those embarrassing people taking couple selfies on the plane) we had arrived in the world’s weirdest airport. Not only does it look like a giant white circus tent from far away, but inside are the creepiest murals we have ever seen. Welcome to Denver, we are giving you some mixed messages…

IMG_0935IMG_0936First stop was Casa Bonita. A friend recommended the restaurant to John, telling him that there was a 30 ft waterfall and pirate shows. John was so excited that we basically left the airport, threw our bags into the hotel room and rushed off straight to Casa Bonita. The restaurant is an unmistakable pink steeple that looks like it belongs to a Mexican church and not a shady strip mall with bars on the windows. IMG_0941IMG_0949You’d never begin to imagine what was inside. Our waitress gave us fair warning, “The food isn’t great, but the atmosphere is what makes it worth it.” Not only was there a 30ft waterfall in the middle for us to sit next to (for perfect views of the pirate shows performed by high school theater kids of course) but there were multiple levels of rooms, with enough chairs to seat 1,000’s of people. Each room was decorated differently and my very favorite looked liked a French tea room. A close second looked like a cave, complete with stalactites and stalagmites. After wandering for a full hour, peeking our heads into each room, we left this weird dusty fun house with huge smiles on our faces. Who in their right mind would build this monster of a restaurant? And who’s decision was it to serve canned green beans and nacho cheese?

Our first full day was filled to the brim with embarrassing touristy poses… it’s alright if you want to scroll down and pretend like this never happened. IMG_0970

IMG_0968IMG_1029IMG_1028IMG_0965IMG_0969 (Extra curriculars: continental breakfasts, the most interesting hotel people watching, a king size bed, a total library boner, a less-cooler than Portland downtown shopping, Larimer Square: shortest historical block ever, Tattered Cover: an eh-bookstore, a “there’s too much oxygen in my nose!” moment, failed attempts at a romantic date night dinner in the Cherry Creek and Wash Park neighborhoods and driving past a LOT of fast food chains and 7-11’s.)IMG_0962Let’s talk about food. Denver is a stark contrast to Seattle in that it has a lot of chain restaurants and a LOT of fast food. It’s not that we don’t love fast food… we do. But when you’re on vacation, you want to eat amazinggggg food. And that was tough to find in Denver. Our favorite spot was hands-down Park Burger... and quite possibly the best burger that I’ve ever had. We stumbled on the Highland neighborhood on accident, we got lost. In a manic, starved state we combed the streets for something, anything… and Park Burger was cute. It was cute inside too.. kind of a retro Denver diner. He ate the Croque and I had the Double. It was so good, that I didn’t even take a picture of it. If you go to Denver, eat there. Please. Thank you.IMG_1037In all my research, I had a hunch that John and I would really like Denver Biscuit Company. And we did. The space was a retro-space age and filled with casual 30-something brunchers and young, hip families. The music was classic 50’s-60’s. There was an all-you-can-pour hot coffee station. And of course there were biscuits. John got a fried chicken biscuit sandwich (did I mention he was Southern?) and I got the classic biscuits and gravy. And while I’m partial to my boyfriend’s biscuits and gravy, the experience was pretty great. Finally, my research came in handy!

John and I have tried to hit up most of the Seattle museums, but much to his dismay, Denver takes the museum cake… in a BIG way. IMG_1049We stood in line for a whopping 3 minutes to get into Denver’s free Art Museum day and he got his fill of historical art while I looked at old movie posters and conceptual art. There’s even a very tall, windowless Burton-esque building that hides all more historical stuff while the contemporary art was housed in an airy, modern, spaceship-looking building!

He was very excited to go the Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys and honestly, I wasn’t too keen on going. How wrong I was! The museum was really an old home used (bathrooms and all) to display toys and dolls. The miniature house replicas were what really took my breath away. The care that went into every detail was astounding. It was a weird hour, but it was a surprisingly really fun trip. I would definitely recommend stopping by, spending a few dollars and taking a look around!IMG_0982IMG_0976And my favorite part of the trip was seeing dinos! The Museum of Nature and Science was HUGE and we had to tag team the exhibits: he took Gems, Minerals and Maya, while I took Wildlife… we shared Space, Mummies and Dinosaurs… we have our priorities after all! The dinosaur bones were incredible. I couldn’t believe that I was so close to so many ancient bones found in Colorado! They even had a glass wall were you could see the team brushing and cleaning off fossils. Incredible.IMG_1008IMG_1027IMG_1017^This is what some black bears look like!IMG_0993IMG_0994

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