West of 105: 48 Hours in Denver

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With incredible proximity to the Rocky Mountains, Michelin-starred eateries, immersive art installations, and all of the main sports franchises, Denver’s eclectic blend of things to do, see, eat and drink make it worth a special visit 

With the majority of visitors to the Mile High City arriving at Denver International Airport and then making their way downtown courtesy of the light rail, the first impression most first time visitors will have is courtesy of the majestic Union Station. Quite literally sitting on the 105th Meridian—from whence we derive our name—the station is nothing short of breathtaking. The working station (the California Zephyr arrives here on as it travels between Chicago and San Francisco) has several eateries, a few retail outlets (including the Tattered Cover Book store) as well as a bar and the beautiful Crawford Hotel. 

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Exploring Denver's Culinary Landscape

Denver has long had a thriving food scene. There is pizza that most honest New Yorkers would agree is good, sushi that would pass muster for all but the most exacting connoisseurs, and restaurants offering cuisines from around the world, but the addition of a recently anointed cadre of Michelin-starred eateries has elevated the city’s culinary reputation further. 

In addition to those restaurants that were awarded stars in the initial Michelin Guide to Colorado, the guide also has dozens of Bib Gourmands and others that are recommended by the guide’s exacting inspectors. There are also plenty of other places to grab a bite that are fun, funky and super casual. 

Denver Milk Market is part of the larger Dairy Block complex. A few blocks from Union Station in the city's LoDo neighborhood, the Milk Market is a food hall / cafeteria-style complex that is home to 16 outlets including several restaurants, a bar, and several retail outlets. It’s popular throughout the day, but seems to liven up when workers from the area come for a post-work day drink. 

Cornicello in the Denver Milk Market offers fresh gelato and sorbet, shakes, and malts

The Milk Market hosts a weekly Drag Queen Bingo Brunch every Sunday from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. featuring $20 bottomless mimosas, brunch dishes, free bingo and of course a drag show. There is also a Happy Hour from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m., Tuesday – Sunday and all day on Mondays.

The larger Dairy Block complex expands what the complex offers and includes the Maven hotel, Kachina Catina, coffee shops, more restaurants and a tasting room for Colorado winery Blanchard Family Wines.

A mile away, on the corner of Larimer and 27th, Denver Central Market is a similar concept to the Dairy Block. The H.H. Tammen Curio Co. was the building's original occupant and the Curio name lives on in the bar that runs along the south east side of the building. The place was buzzing on the Thursday afternoon we visited. A beer from Curio with a wood-fired Margherita pizza from Vero more than did . Elsewhere in the market, Temper Chocolates have beautiful artisan chocolates and Culture Meat & Cheese has sandwiches and meat and cheese boards. There is also ice cream from High Point Creamery, coffee from Crema, and there is  the Local Butcher, a full service butcher shop. 

For dinner, Citizen Rail, located within the Limelight Hotel, exudes a sophisticated charm but is still laid back. The food is elevated without being pretentious and the ambiance is relaxed. The menu changes regularly, but you can expect indulgent dishes like the 100 day dry-aged 16oz ribeye with grilled broccoli and a Taleggio sauce and coal-fired mussels with coconut and fermented chili and ciabatta.

For a slightly more formal and perhaps slightly more upscale experience, EDGE at Four Seasons Denver has a refined and pared back menu that showcases dry-aged beef and seafood. The pared back menu takes away much of the anxiety around what to choose yet it still offers dishes that take you on a mini culinary tour with dishes such as a chicken roulade served with corn emulsion, chanterelle mushrooms, and an Olathe corn succotash or  a Korean barbecue glazed cauliflower with gochujang, Sriracha aioli, Thai basil, a peanut gremolata, cilantro and mint. But it is meat that really sets EDGE apart. Choose, from amongst other meaty options, a 10oz USDA Prime coulotte, a 14oz USDA Prime New York strip, a 16oz USDA Prime ribeye or the big boy, a 32oz USDA Prime cowboy steak. 

The restaurant also has a raw bar where you can sit and enjoy oysters, shrimp and crab as well as sushi, nigiri and the like. 

Immersive Art and Cultural Exploration

One thing Denver has that literally nowhere else has is Convergence Station, Meow Wolf’s latest permanent exhibition. Courtesy of the now famed Santa Fe art collective Meow Wolf which originated in 2008 as a small collective of Santa Fe-based artists who shared a passion for publicly showcasing their works and enhancing their skills together. This collaborative approach evolved into Meow Wolf's distinctive style of immersive, maximalist environments that encourage audience-driven experiences. Maximalism, the polar opposite of minimalism, emerged as a reaction against the latter, embracing an aesthetic of excess where "more is more" rather than the minimalist motto of "less is more."

Convergence Station, which opened in September 2021, represents Meow Wolf's third and largest permanent exhibition. Serving as the first multiversal transit station connecting to Earth, Convergence Station enables commuters to travel via the Quantum Department of Transportation to the Convergence, a bustling city formed by a rare cosmic phenomenon that merged four alien worlds. Spanning four floors of surreality, it showcases Meow Wolf's most ambitious immersive art to date. For those intrigued by the idea of experiencing a real-life sci-fi utopia at the crossroads of space and time, Convergence Station offers an unparalleled opportunity.

In addition to Meow Wolf, Denver boasts a diverse array of galleries, museums, and cultural institutions, each offering a unique perspective on art and creativity. Whether you're exploring contemporary masterpieces or delving into the city's rich history, Denver's cultural landscape promises endless discovery. The Denver Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Clyfford Still Museum to name but three. The recently opened Museum of Illusions on 16th Street has had good reviews, too.

Sanctuaries of Slumber

As for where to stay, there are naturally lots of great places in a city the size of Denver, from funky boutiques to the highest of high end, but with plenty in between. The Limelight Hotel Denver is a beautiful property with a great restaurant (the aforementioned Citizen Rail). Some rooms overlook Union Station which as we previously mentioned is arguably the jewel in Denver's crown.

The Four Seasons Denver is a stalwart in the hospitality scene of the Mile High City and has been since it opened in 2010. As luxurious as it is consistent, the views from the 16th floor are fantastic with either the neon sign of Union Station looming in the distance or the Daniels and Fisher Tower depending on your room.  

Deals and Offers from our Friends in Denver

The Limelight Hotel Denver has a Ski Train Special. Valid for Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night stays through March 31. The special package includes waived guest amenity fees, a complimentary to-go breakfast, a cocktail from Citizen Rail, and a commemorative Limelight mug. Tickets for the Ski Train to Winter Park are not included, however. Click here for more info.

On March 23rd, Clicquot In The Snow returns to Four Seasons Hotel Denver.Celebrating the beginning of spring in partnership with Veuve Clicquot Champagne, there will be après ski-inspired bites from around the world including from some of the most famous ski towns in the world. Expect Belgian sugar waffles from Stowe, Vermont; fondue raclette from Zermatt, Switzerland; crab ramen from Niseko, Japan; cinnamon sugar zeppole cones with warm espresso ganache from Cortina, Italy; and inspired creations from Vail, Colorado, and Whistler, British Columbia. Tickets are available for purchase here.

EDGE Restaurant & Bar will host an Easter Brunch on Sunday, March 31, 2024 from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. There will be a benedict bar, a carving station, a raw bar, a griddle station, a pastry workshop, and plenty of desserts. Kids will be catered to with a festive Easter egg hunt. Make a reservation here.

The Limelight also offers a Colorado Resident Rate which gives locals up to 20 percent off the best available room rate at Limelight Denver, a $50 credit to Citizen Rail, and a late checkout.