In November last year, I took a 3-week trip to the states. My planned route was Boston-Portland-San Francisco-Los Angeles, but with the terrible fires surrounding San Fran and other parts of California, I decided to take a slight detour. I wanted somewhere that wasn’t a million miles from LA (you can check out what I got up to in LA here). I narrowed it down to Salt Lake City, Utah, and Denver, Colorado. While I still definitely want to check out Salt Lake City at some point as I’ve heard that’s also really cool, this time, I decided to spend 4 days in Denver, and (having done absolutely no prior planning) I was really surprised at how easy it was to be vegan here.
Naturally, as I had basically no clue what to do when I got to Denver, my first stop was to check out the downtown area. I stayed at Hostel Fish to begin with, then later found an AirBnb a little further out. Having just arrived from Portland, I searched for a late-night food place that had literally anything vegan. To my surprise, there was a pizza place just around the corner from the hostel called Marquis Pizza which do vegan pizzas with Daiya cheese. This is a favourite post-drunken night out kinda food place in-between all the bars and clubs, so it’s perfect if you have the late night vegan munchies and are staying downtown.
The next day I was eager to start (and unsure what to expect from) my first day in Denver. I found it pretty easy to walk around and found some cool stuff not too far from the hostel. The first was the Coors Field baseball park, home to the Colorado Rockies. I love checking out baseball parks, and my main weakness when it comes to buying things I don’t need is definitely baseball merch, just because we don’t have it in England. You can take a tour of the park too when there isn’t a game on, too.
Other fun things to do downtown include, checking out some of the museums (I went to the Museum of Contemporary Art), Union Station, and I particularly loved the Tattered Cover Book Store just across the street from Union Station (which looked real pretty all lit up in Christmas lights). Confluence Park with The Speer Boulevard Bridge was fun to walk around in, too.
City o’ City
City o’ City was one of my favourite restaurants during my time in Denver. It’s in a really great location too – just a couple of minutes from the State Capital. I went here twice, and on the first time had a healthy bowl, and on the second went all out with breakfast burrito covered in gravy, so it’s great you get the choice. City o’City has a really laid-back vibe, with good music, and is 100% vegan. Plus I would also recommend checking out the State Capitol. They do free tours and it’s a great place for views of the whole city.
Rocky Mountain High!
Checking out the Rockies is definitely something you have to do while in Colorado. If you look online you can find pretty reasonable day trips that pick up from and drop off at Union Station. Being there right at the end of November, it was freezing! But really great to see some snow, and beautiful wildlife (I got to see a lot of elk!). This really was an amazing day and so worth taking the trip. I feel super lucky that I’ve now seen the Rockies and the Smokies in Tennessee!
NB – With some trips you can also request a vegan packed lunch which is just a standard sandwich, but still not bad! I got a lot of snacks from Whole Foods in Downtown Denver. And also, drink a lot of water on this trip because of the high altitude. Which I totally didn’t even feel at all…until they told me I might feel weird from high altitude. Still, it’s never bad to drink a lot of water.
Red Rock Amphitheatre know how to put on a show
I ventured out a little from Downtown Denver and ended up getting an AirBnb in Wheat Ridge which was still only about a 15 minute Uber from Union Station. Personally, I way preferred it here. It was so much less crazy than the city centre, and my Air Bnb host, Andrea, was awesome (and vegetarian herself too). Her place was perfect and such great value (and she had the greatest dog called Peaches!).
What was really convenient about staying here was it’s really easy to get to the Red Rock Amphitheatre (again, just a 15 minute Uber). This was something I desperately wanted to check out (it’s one of the greatest concert venues in the world!) and it did not disappoint. There’s also a museum and a few shops to look around, and Andrea said she often runs up and down the steps (and there are A LOT of steps).
You can find Andrea’s AirBnb here. I would totally recommend staying here to explore some of the great things to do around Denver.
Not far from here is also Dinosaur Ridge where you can take a tour of where all the dinosaur bones were found in the area. But definitely get there early as I just missed the last tour in the afternoon. Still the guy working at the information centre was nice enough to show me the centre and told me some really cool stories about collecting dinosaur bones. It all worked out.
‘Howdy, Folks!’ from Golden!
Golden was a town I definitely had not planned on visiting. But Andrea suggested it as it’s not far from where I was staying or the Red Rock Amphitheatre. This is definitely where you need to go for a traditional Colorado experience. It feels a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of Downtown Denver, Golden is a friendly town with a lot of unique shops and businesses. Granted, there isn’t a tonne of vegan options here, but you can still find a few dotted around. I liked the Windy Saddle Cafe (yee-haw!) which had a few vegan options for a quick bite.
As it was Christmas time, I loved how this town was all lit up for the season. Finding little gems like this that you’ve never even heard about are one of my favourite things about travelling. Plus, in many parts of America, it’s no secret that meat is a big part of tradition when it comes to food – but that doesn’t mean you can’t visit these places and find something to eat being vegan. It makes me extra happy when I manage to find fulfilling vegan options in towns like this.
Dinosaur bones & Watercourse Foods
On my final day before heading to LA, I still wanted to see dinosaur bones! So my natural next stop was the Denver Museum of Nature & Science – a great place to wander round.
I’d also heard a lot of great things about Watercourse Foods in Uptown Denver (100% vegan), so I also fitted this in, and it was another of my favourite restaurants in Denver (probably joint top with City o’ City). The food here was really great, plus excellent music too (they played The Postal Service and Death Cab for Cutie while I was there).
Goodbye, Rocky Mountain High…
This was a completely unexpected and unplanned 4 days in and around Denver, Colorado, but I’m really glad I took the detour to spend part of my trip here. With a surprisingly good vegan scene too, I would thoroughly recommend visiting and experiencing the city, the Rocky Mountains and some of the other great stuff Colorado has to offer.
Suggested background music: John Denver.