traveling up

Things to do in Denver: A holiday travel guide to the mile-high city

Things to do in Denver: A holiday travel guide to the mile-high city

Austin Photo Set: News_Tavaner Sullivan_Denver_Dec 2011_skyline
The Mile-High City of Denver Colorado Courtesy of Denver CVB
Austin Photo Set: News_Tavaner Sullivan_Denver_Dec 2011_wash.park
The 155-acre Washington Park is always bustling with walkers, joggers and cyclists. Wash Park has a little something for everyone.
Austin Photo Set: News_Tavaner Sullivan_Denver_Dec 2011_rei
REI's Flagship store's Rock Wall. Courtesy of REI
Austin Photo Set: News_Tavaner Sullivan_Denver_Dec 2011_Magnolia Hotel
Formerly the American National Bank Building, Hotel Magnolia is close to the state capital building, theatre and performing arts and Invesco Field, Coors Field and the Pepsi Center for the sports enthusiast Courtesy of Magnolia Hotel
Austin Photo Set: News_Tavaner Sullivan_Denver_Dec 2011_Magnolia Hotel suite
Hotel Magnolia Suite Courtesy of Magnolia Hotel
Austin Photo Set: News_Tavaner Sullivan_Denver_Dec 2011_skyline
Austin Photo Set: News_Tavaner Sullivan_Denver_Dec 2011_wash.park
Austin Photo Set: News_Tavaner Sullivan_Denver_Dec 2011_rei
Austin Photo Set: News_Tavaner Sullivan_Denver_Dec 2011_Magnolia Hotel
Austin Photo Set: News_Tavaner Sullivan_Denver_Dec 2011_Magnolia Hotel suite

With Thanksgiving in the not-too-distant past, we’ve officially entered the time of holiday cheer, and, inevitably, holiday travel, too. But the beauty of travel is this: even if you’ve been to a place too many times to count, there is bound to be something new to discover and something old to love.

I travel to Denver often to visit my in-laws. On my most recent trip over Thanksgiving, I found warm comfort in the La Sandia’s tortilla soup, and the trip before that I discovered Stella’s Coffeehaus. I can only wonder where the Mile-High City will lead me next. But in the meantime, here are a few of my favorite finds:

Park Burger: Jean-Philippe Failyau, Park Burger owner and executive chef (also owns Osteria Marco on Larimer Square), seeks to take the burger industry up a few notches with his tasty creations. His burgers are made with certified Angus beef and have never been frozen. Specialty burgers include: the Royal, with caramelized onions, bleu cheese and bacon; the Croque Burger with ham, a fried egg and swiss cheese; and El Chilango, with cheddar, jalapenos and guacamole. Don’t forget a side of sweet potato fries and a cold brew from a beer list with offerings from a mix of local Colorado breweries and the likes of PBR and Stella Artois. (1890 South Pearl Street)

Stella’s Coffeehaus: With its cozy rooms and wrap around porch, Stella’s Coffeehaus on Pearl Street is the perfect place to both escape the snow with a coffee drink and soak up the sun and mountain air on a warm day. Established in 1991, Stella’s has often been voted one of the best coffee houses in Denver. An assortment of pastries, bagels and tacos always provides something to eat—I recommend the chocolate chip pumpkin bread. And in case you’re in need of something to read, Stella’s has a selection of used books available for purchase. (1476 South Pearl Street)

Sushi Den: Brothers Toshi and Yasu Kizaki, are no newbies to the sushi world—the two opened Sushi Den in 1985, long before the sushi craze began. Their expertise and experience shows in the menu and consistency. Sushi Den ranked No. 4 on 5280’s list of Denver’s 25 Best Restaurants published in October, up from No. 6 the year before. Always seeking to improve and expand, the brothers opened Izakaya Den, a Japanese gastro pub, in 2007 and purchased a farm in 2010 so they could grow their own pesticide-free vegetables. (1487 South Pearl Street)

TAG: At his namesake restaurant, owner and chef Troy Guard, whose initials are TAG, serves what he describes at continental social food. His fare is a playful fusion of his time spent living in Hawaii, travels to Asia and Latin America and local ingredients. Perhaps the taco sushi appetizer expresses Guard’s creativity best: Charred ahi, sushi rice, guacamole and li-hing (a red powder made from salty dried plums and popular in Hawaii) mango salsa served mini-taco style. To complement the food is an impressive wine list and unusual cocktails such as a kumquat jalapeno mojito. (1441 Larimer Street)

Steuben’s: Although this modern comfort food diner in Uptown is also open for lunch and dinner, I love the brunch. Cast iron french toast with caramel and granola, tomato and avocado eggs benedict, breakfast burritos, biscuits and gravy and even a yogurt parfait—yes, please. With his menu, executive chef Brandon Biederman pays homage to American regional classics. (523 East 17th Avenue)

Hotel Magnolia: For a reasonable and comfortable place to lay your head at night, Hotel Magnolia in Denver’s downtown is a great choice. Formerly the American National Bank Building, Hotel Magnolia is close to the state capital building, theatre and performing arts and Invesco Field, Coors Field and the Pepsi Center for the sports enthusiast. (818 17th Street)

REI: For the outdoor type, REI’s Flagship store in Denver is a must. Located in between Lo Do (Lower Downtown) and the Highland neighborhood on the Platte River, the store occupies the industrial 1901 Tramway building and offers a complete bike shop, climbing wall, outdoor rental equipment and ski and snowboard services to get you ready for the slopes. (1416 Platte Street)

Washington Park: Known as “Wash Park” for short, the 155-acre Washington Park is the perfect place to get some fresh air and counter all the holiday munching. Always bustling with walkers, joggers and cyclists, Wash Park has a little something for everyone: a recreational center with an indoor pool, formal gardens, picnic and grill areas, a bike and pedestrian trail around the park’s perimeter, a lake, fishing, tennis courts, paddle boat rentals, playgrounds, a basketball court and even horseshoe pits. (South Downing Street)

Cherry Creek Shopping Center: If you are in need of some last-minute Christmas gifts, Cherry Creek Shopping Center is the place to go. Home to retailers from Neiman Marcus, Burberry and Stuart Weitzman to Nordstroms, Anthropologie, William Sonoma, Aveda, JCrew and the like. (3000 East 1st Avenue)