What to Do in Denver on a Guys’ Trip

What to Do in Denver on a Guys’ Trip

Every once in a while, it’s good to get a weekend away with the guys. Denver offers the right mix of food and fun — all while serving as the perfect home base for a mountain adventure.

After landing at Denver International Airport, soak up a panoramic view of the mountains as you drive about 20 miles southwest to downtown. If you’re looking for somewhere unique to stay, check out Denver’s historic Oxford Hotel — and don’t miss dining at the Cruise Room, modeled after a lounge on the 1930s trans-Atlantic ocean liner Queen Mary. For more modern digs, grab a few rooms at The Crawford Hotel or Magnolia, both in the heart of downtown.

Where to Eat

Good food fuels every adventure, and Denver doesn’t disappoint. From the chef’s tasting menu at The Populist and the wood-fired pizzas at Bar Dough to the street tacos from Tacos Tequila Whiskey — all less than a 10-minute drive from downtown — it’s hard to go wrong.

If you’re brave enough to try an infamous local dish, order Rocky Mountain oysters at Buckhorn Exchange, where meat lovers will also be pleased with menu items including beef, buffalo, ribs, quail and even yak and ostrich, depending on availability. For those who love small plates with big flavor, make a reservation at chef Jeff Osaka’s 12 at Madison. The menu rotates seasonally and offers culinary delights like smoked Colorado trout and rabbit rillettes.

Buckhorn Exchange After opening its doors in 1893, Buckhorn Exchange has continued to serve both Denver locals and visitors — including President Theodore Roosevelt — for more than a century. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Beall, Flickr.

What to Do in Denver

Plan Mountain Day Trips

Every season offers its own opportunities in the Rocky Mountains, and no trip to Colorado is complete without an adventure that you can brag about when you get home.

Hike, Bike and Raft in the Sun

One of the state’s hidden treasures worth seeing is Hanging Lake, about 150 miles west of Denver. The travertine-lined lake sits at the top of a short, but aggressive hike. Though swimming and boating are not permitted, the unique ecosystem with prehistoric vibes is worth the stop. There are no entrance fees, but you’ll want to arrive before 8 a.m. because parking is limited.

From Hanging Lake, you can choose your own adventure. There are multiple whitewater rafting companies on the highway back to Denver. Liquid Descent and Clear Creek both offer as much adrenaline as they do Instagram-worthy views.

Maroon Bells Catch the famed Maroon Bells ablaze in their seasonal shades of yellow and gold during an autumn visit to Aspen.

For a different experience, press on about 50 miles south from Hanging Lake to Aspen — Colorado’s most exclusive mountain town. An order of truffle fries on the mountainside patio at Ajax Tavern, or a hearty northern Italian dish like fettuccine at Casa Tua, will replenish your energy before you head to Snowmass Bike Park for your next rush. For a mellower afternoon, take the 10-mile drive up to the state’s most photographed landmark, Maroon Bells, twin 14,000-foot peaks in the Elk Mountains.

Ski and Board in the Snow

The Colorado high country offers some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the U.S. Whether you bring your own gear or opt to travel light and rent from local ski resorts, the slopes offer entertaining runs for experts and novices alike.

Strap on your board Head to the top of Echo Mountain, strap on your board and cut through Colorado’s fresh powdery snow as you make your way back down. Photo courtesy of Echo Mountain Resort.

All the ski resorts are easy to access as you take Interstate 70 west from Denver. You’ll come across one of the local favorites, Echo Mountain, first — just 36 miles from downtown. You can also stay on I-70 and take the exit for Highway 40; it’s another 27 miles to Winter Park, and you’ll spend the drive soaking up the breathtaking mountain views from Berthoud Pass. Snowplows regularly clear the roads, but consider renting an SUV for ease of travel.

Get Sporty: Athletic Adventures and Attractions

Denver is cycling heaven. Most local shops offer half- or full-day rentals, and you can plan a route on Bicycle Colorado. If you’d rather hit the pavement on your own two feet, check out Running Denver to find a good jogging route, like Bear Creek Lake Park trail. Just 20 miles southwest of downtown, this easy jog serves up views of the lake, a nearby reservoir and rolling hills.

Mountain biking Enjoy the panoramic views of the Rockies as you pedal along adventurous mountain trails.

For golf, don’t miss the city of Lakewood’s Fox Hollow Golf Course. This beautiful course is nestled just 13 miles southwest of downtown Denver in a protected natural environment. Fox Hollow combines 27 championship holes with a solid possibility of spotting a few deer or other local wildlife. For a short course, you can head 8 miles east of downtown Denver to the nine-hole, par-3 Emerald Greens.

It’s also tempting just to sit back and relax at a Rockies, Broncos, Avalanche or Nuggets game. All the venues are downtown and offer a taste of Colorado’s professional sports.

Explore Downtown and Denver’s Brewery Tours

You don’t need to be an adrenaline seeker to have a good time in Denver. The city is home to some of the country’s best microbreweries and offers plenty to do within walking distance.

Leave your car behind to walk on the guided Denver Microbrew Tour — or just drop into one of the locals’ favorites. Crooked Stave, Trve Brewing Company (pronounced “true”) and the surprisingly delightful Baere Brewing Company (it’s located in a strip mall, but the beer is top tier) all offer unique brews.

There also is plenty to explore in Denver’s River North (RiNo), South Broadway and Uptown neighborhoods. Consider visiting the Denver Art Museum’s extensive rotating and permanent collections, including American Indian art and textile art and fashion. If that’s not your speed, stop by Fifty-Two 80’s. Sure, it’s an antique shop, but it’s funky — and dedicated to Saturday morning cartoon culture.

Denver Museum of Art The Denver Art Museum’s angular architecture is a work of art in itself, but travelers will also discover cultural treasures and collections abound inside.

It’s difficult to fit everything into one trip, so if you don’t have the time to drive out to Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre for a concert, check out the Paramount Theatre in downtown Denver.

The only thing better than a guys’ weekend in Denver is realizing there’s enough to do for another guys’ weekend next year. Because traffic is often heavy, make sure you head to the airport at least 2 ½ hours before your flight time. And remember the words of conservationist John Muir as you think about your next trip: “The mountains are calling, and I must go.”

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