I love to plan, but when it comes to traveling I believe planning too much can kill the spontaneity and the natural curiosity that arises when visiting a new place. However, if you do no planning whatsoever, it can also get your trip started off on the wrong foot. I’ve discovered that for me the perfect combination when exploring a new place is having 4-6 things in your list that you want to do. From there, you can mix and match according to geographical locations, time, interests and new discoveries you might want to add to the list.
So, when I recently planned my first trip to Denver I did some research and decided I wanted to do four things: The Rocky Mountains National Park, Red Rocks, A Free Walking Tour, and Breweries. I had four days in Denver and given my parameters, this is how they went.
Day 1 - Breweries and Local Eats
We arrived in Denver in the early afternoon and decided to start our trip by checking out some breweries. It is amazing how many local breweries you can find in the downtown areas of Denver. Walking around, exploring local brews was a great way to get to know the heart of the city and get a feel of the local vibe. My favorite breweries where Denver Beer Co & Epic Brewing Co.
While at one of the breweries we met some locals who recommended Denver Milk Market, a warehouse building full of enticing food options, we could not resist and had dinner there.
We were also recommended by locals to go to a bar named Avanti Food & Beverage. At Avanti we had cocktails and enjoyed a great view of Denver. We had started off the day with one goal in mind: Breweries. Yet, ended up doing a lot more thanks to the advice of locals. Listen to locals, they know what’s up.
Day 2 - Rocky Mountains National Park
On day two we decided to go to The Rockies National Park.
First, we drove to Estes Park, a small town that sits at the bottom of the entrance to the Rocky Mountains National Park. There we stopped for a short break to stretch our legs, got some small souvenirs and picked up a map of the park.
Once we entered the park, around 11 am, we stood in wonder right at the foot of the Rockies. The Rocky Mountains National Park is one of the highest national parks in the nation and at that elevation you can be assured we were surrounded by snow. We hiked, drove and took in the views.
Around 4pm we decided to head back. As we saw the map to return to Denver, we realized Boulder was only a quick detour away. Since we had already done our bucket list item of the day, we had a lot of wiggle room for spontaneity and decided to head to Boulder!
We had nothing planned for Boulder, so we completely just went with the flow. We stopped at the University of Colorado, Boulder and explored the campus. Then we headed for dinner at Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery and walked down a scenic street called Pearl Street.
Day 3 - Red Rocks
After a long day at the Rockies, we took it easy on the third day and decided to only visit Red Rocks. Red Rocks is only a 20-30min drive from Denver, and as soon as we arrived, we were again amazed by nature. With no timeline or agenda, we explored the Amphitheater and hiked along the rocks to our heart’s content. We spent a total of about 3 hours there.
Day 4 - Free Walking Tour
We had a late afternoon flight out of Denver on our fourth day. So we used to the morning to do a free walking tour. I am a big advocate of free walking tours, if you are visiting a new city I highly recommend you do one on the first day you are there. The reason being you get great historical context of the city, you get to add attractions to your list and you get to meet other tourists.
Shortly after the walking tour, we started our journey back to Denver airport.
The truth is if I would have planned a little better we could have ended up doing more. However, traveling is about having the freedom to explore a new place, not run through a checklist. In the end, we covered everything we wanted to cover in Denver and the surrounding areas; and in return, Denver left us wanting more.
Until next time Denver,
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