DID YOU HAVE the forethought to snag tickets to Denver during Frontier Airlines’ “Intro Fare” offer, when they were basically giving away flights from Clinton National Airport to the Mile High City? (OK, the tickets were $49 one way, and only on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but STILL. Practically free. Almost.) If you did*, good news! You’ve got dollars to burn while you’re in town. Here’s how we suggest you spend ’em.
*If you didn’t get one of the intro fares, chin up: Prices are still pretty darn low—we’ve seen plenty of round trips for less than $300.
1. GET YOUR MOUNTAIN FIX AT Rocky Mountain National Park, just 65 miles northwest of town. This time of year, you’re still likely to encounter snow on the trails, and the weather will be more than unpredictable. But just think of it this way: Spring’s the offseason, so there’ll be fewer folks with whom you’ll have to share the park’s 415 square miles of alpine bliss. Translation: Less judgment whilst you test the hills by shouting “echo, echo, echo.”(nps.gov/romo)
2. MAKE A RESERVATION AT Annette, in nearby Aurora. Helmed by chef Caroline Glover, formerly of Acorn (another worthy reservation!), this “scratch-to-table” restaurant has received accolades from every food pub worth its salt, and for good reason. Her food is easy to love—think simple, honest food like a perfect wood-fired half chicken—and so is her mission: “to make a place where people can share food—and tell stories—they’ll remember.” (annettescratchtotable.com)
3. PULL UP A BARSTOOL AT the elegant Cooper Lounge in the recently revamped (and stunningly beautiful) historic Union Station. It’s the kind of place where happy hour is called “aperitif hour,” and vespers are served alongside truffled bone marrow, all in view of the city skyline. (cooperlounge.com)
4. GET SOME CULTURE AT The Clyfford Still Museum, a stunning feat of architecture that holds 95 percent of the celebrated abstract expressionist’s work—around 830 paintings, and 2,300-ish works on paper and sculpture. Also: Smithsonian mag said the Clyfford Still is “among the best art museum experiences anywhere.” (And we’d like to think they know what they’re talking about.) (clyffordstillmuseum.org)
5. STAY AT Halcyon, a self-proclaimed “nonhotel” just north of downtown in Denver’s Cherry Creek neighborhood. Some reasons why: One, it’s super-well-designed, made to look like you’re staying with friends—if your friends happen to be uber-stylish architect/designer types. Two, there’s a “gear garage” from which you can borrow any manner of mountain-fun necessities: longboards, bikes, GoPros, what have you. Three: Free booze in the evenings. Four: A rooftop pool and hot tub. Convinced yet? (halcyonhotelcherrycreek.com)