48 Hours in Denver

Denver is a city that will be defined far more by its future than its past.
— John Hickenlooper

Once upon a time on a random evening in September, a couple of friends from the Dallas tribe of Nomadness posted that there was a FIFTY DOLLAR ROUND-TRIP FLIGHT TO DENVER. Naturally, my mind thought it was on Spirit (no shade) but to my delight it was on American Airline's basic economy. The group (almost 20 of us) had decided to book the trip for December 1 through December 3 and even though I had not a clue what was going on in my life that far ahead, it was too good of a deal to pass up. So, we booked it! I had only ever been in Denver for a layover after a really bad flight on my way to Texas for the first time, so it was time to redeem itself. 

The months flew by later and as I looked at my calendar, I realized that my December travel schedule was doing the most. As I mentioned in my most recent post, my travels included back to back weekends of my high school 10 year reunion in Jersey, Denver, skip a week and then Bay Area, before going to D.C. and Europe just days later. #DecemberToRemember it was. I was excited about the opportunity although a bit nervous because y'all know I'm the solo travel queen, and this group was even larger than the bachelorette party for my sorority sister. Even still, I was determined to have the best 48 hours in Denver I could.

A few things about American's basic economy

A lot of people like to shade Spirit and other budget airlines and that's simply because they don't read the rules. I have another post about budget airlines coming later, but reading the stipulations is key to ensuring you are not shelling out money at the last minute. You have to know yourself as a traveler. I knew for a fact that we would be flying into the sunset upon our descent and I wanted the window seat (and for my anxiety...). With American's rules, you can pay for a seat of your choosing when the 48 hour countdown to your flight begins. For me, it was worth buying the $19 seat each way because I knew it wouldn't be the Hunger Games for me and I didn't feel like being bothered. If you don't care about what seat you're in, don't spend the money!

In addition, with basic economy you are only allowed to have one free bag that goes under the seat in front of you. You are not allowed overhead bin space and it's even printed on your ticket. Now, maybe if I was traveling to a warmer location like Miami, I could've done it, but I'm not the best of packers when it comes to winter travel so I gladly paid my $25 to check my carry-on sized luggage at check-in. Yes, I was on the fence because I never check bags but a girl had to do what she had to do. Thankfully, on the way back, my homegirl was allotted 3 free checked bags and slid mine in with hers (Thank you, Krystle girl). Even with the fees, I'm confident that it was still less than the cost of a normal round-trip flight so I was satisfied.

My First Impressions of Denver

Our group had learned earlier that week that our hotel was smacked onto a parade route and depending upon the time of arrival, you could get blocked from entry. Thankfully, I landed early enough that I could secure checking in to the hotel! I had planned to take the train but I was so exhausted I shelled out the money for an Uber just so I could take it down a level. We were certainly in the mountains, and even though I'm more of a flat land person, it was quite beautiful. My body definitely felt the adjustment and after a quick shower, I needed to rest for a bit prior to eating with the group. 

It was nice to watch the Parade of Lights from our hotel restaurant inside while enjoying a beverage and light bites. The plan was to eat, check out the champagne bar, and then party a little. All of those things happened! Although I was in a new city, I couldn't help but notice how clear things were and their effort to truly recycle and conserve. The area we were in was well lit and when I ventured off to the champagne bar alone (because, I'm still me), I didn't have any fear which was refreshing. I knew that I could definitely return because after all, I only had 48 hours in Denver.

Where I Stayed

Originally, we were due to get an AirBNB but I was not complaining when we found out that we could do a room block at Hotel Magnolia downtown. The location was great. Convenient to a lot of places. It was by a tram line that we never used because we ended up renting a car. It was pretty walkable. I had a lackluster experience at check-in that made me look at them sideways because of their tone but I let it go because I had things to do that weekend. Another slight nuisance was the flooding of the shower. You could not be in there for too long, otherwise the water would spill. The drainage system definitely needed improvements. If I had to rate them out of 5 stars, I'd give them a 3.5.

Where I Ate

Much to my surprise, I was in foodie heaven in Denver! I was truly in shock. There were so many restaurants that had some sort of bacon specialty and quite a few West Indian restaurants that were good. I certainly was not hungry while visiting Denver and I'm quite embarrassed about the load I ate, but it happens. 

  • Corridor 44: Sexy little champagne bar! For the size of the pours I got for $6-8, I was impressed. Would totally come back.
  • Tamayo: I would probably need to return here just to give it a fair chance. By the time I had food at the hotel, drinks at Corridor and other things, I was lucky to be awake here. Ironically enough, I was just ready to party. My jalapeno margarita was pretty tasty though.
  • Ricco's Burritos: Heaven sent miracle! On our way to Colorado Springs we found this place in a strip mall, but don't let that fool you! It was good.
  • Spice Island Grill: Even though I prefer dark meat when it comes to jerk chicken, it was still delicious. The rum punch was slammin' and everyone's food looked great. If you go to Colorado Springs, check this out.
  • Tavern Downtown: This is your typical sports bar that has a great rooftop. They got the job done while I watched my beloved Hurricanes crumble.
  • Ignite Kitchen & Cocktails: Okay. It was amazing. I was feeling low after my team got whooped but the burger I had here perked me up. Normally, I never finish my plate... and I ate the entire thing.
  • Root Down: We had a group brunch here but I only had some bacon and mimosas because I had plans to visit another restaurant. From what I saw, everyone was pleased and I appreciate the server hooking us up when it came to the drinks. 
  • Bacon Social House: Look, I told you all, I'm already ashamed about how much I ate. Let me tell you my omelette, the bacon tots, the hot sauce they used, everything! It was a great last meal before heading to the airport. 

Where I Played

I am already laughing at the memories. Unfortunately, because I'm a woman, I didn't get to hang out on my second evening because I really wasn't feeling well. I tried to do it but my body said no. That's the one not so glamorous part about traveling. Whether you like it or not, your body thinks it's just another day and will proceed as usual. *Insert sad face here*

  • Corridor 44: I know, I already mentioned them but the place was so sexy to me! I came in the evening when it was packed and the music was playing. The bartender took care of me and it was a great scene. 
  • Tryst Lounge: We were told that "there are 3 clubs in Tryst. Each successively ratcheter." and that my friends, sounded like my kind of party. I'm not usually out until 2 am, but this place got an exception.
  • SunWater Spa: I got my life together. I wanted thermal water and needed it badly. We paid for a private tub before enjoying the rest of the facilities. I brought my robe from the hotel just to add in the luxury factor (and to stay warm). It was amazing. I would've loved to be higher up taking in more of a view with a glass of champagne, but with it costing less than $30, I really had no complaints. I also learned I'm not about that sauna life. 
  • Museum of Contemporary Art Denver: I really wanted to check out this museum before leaving, so I broke off from the group and did my own thing for about an hour. If you've been following along, you know that I enjoy contemporary art museums quite a bit and like to see them in the various cities I go. It was only $5 with my discount! 

As cliche as it sounds, 48 hours in Denver really wasn't enough. Because I was with the group, I wanted to mix in my own activities while enjoying the company of others. I would have loved to see the botanical gardens or City Lake Park. I was also thrilled that even though it was the first weekend of December, the temperature was in the 60's so I wasn't too cold! I would have no problem returning in the Spring / Summer to see flowers and wildlife in full bloom. I had survived another group trip and I am continuously getting my feet wet.

The ultimate question is always, "would I return?", and for Denver, or even Colorado, I say yes! Have you ever been? What was your favorite part? Let's chat!