Thursday, June 20, 2013

Denver - Day 1

Denver, Denver, Denver.
This trip came about thanks to Mr. Sister. Earlier in the spring we were discussing doing a short summer trip and my sister suggested that we try to coincide the trip with my parent's trip to Denver for a work conference my dad had in Denver.  We went to Colorado in 2011, but spent most of our time in Summit County.
After talking with my parents, we agreed to spend a long weekend in Denver the weekend before my dad's conference.  My parent's offered to pay for a hotel suite while we were there together, but as Ben and I started to look at flights, we decided to fly out on Thursday night (instead of Friday like my parent's, who flew from my hometown); which meant we were needed a hotel for Thursday night for the two of us.
I booked our hotel using Priceline's Express option. Basically you're told the price of the hotel, how many stars priceline gives it, the review rating, the vicinity the hotel is in and the hotels amenities but not the name of the hotel until after you pay. Based on that I was able to narrow down that the 4-star hotel Express deal we were looking at would be one of 3 hotels on Priceline's website. We decided to take a gamble and purchased the Express deal. It ended up that I was right, the hotel we got was the Sheraton Downtown Denver, one of the 3 on my suspected list. We got it for $104 total (if we'd booked with "regular" Priceline, it would have been $216). Score!
(If you're not familiar, there are also websites like which list hotels you are likely to get it if you name your own price on a Priceline or Hotwire).
We also booked our rental car (we'd offered to pay for this since my parents paid for our hotel the three nights we were all there together), via Priceline's name your own price and paid a whooping $66 for a 4 day rental for a mid-size car. Of course parking overnight at the Sheraton was $24, but Priceline is sitting pretty high in my book right now.
Upon arriving we took the shuttle to Budget for our rental car and checked into the Sheraton around 9pm.  The hotel/facility is massive but nice.  Our king bed room didn't have much of a view, but the bed itself was so comfortable that it didn't matter. 
Since the Blackhawks were on and we were starving, we decided to go to Yard House (which is a chain yes, but it was attached to the hotel and had over 80 beers on tap).  We watched the Hawks win and then got a late dinner consisting of appetizers thanks to Yardhouse's late night happy hour (half off appetizers and $4 draft beer).  I tried local brewery Avery's IPA (they're from Boulder), which knocked my socks off. Such a great start to a mini-vacay.
While sitting at the bar, we asked the bartender about going on in Ballpark area and how crazy it'd be because of the home Rocky's game.  He alerted of us of the free 16th Street Shuttle, which cut our 1.2mile walk down to about 0.2 miles.  Starting off our trip with half off our meal and a free shuttle? I like it!
One of our friends had said he had to check out Falling Rock Taphouse, a craft beer bar. When we arrived, we could tell it was a hot spot as the place was packed (it was probably 11ish?).  One of the main reason's Ben had wanted to visit was to try a beer from Russian River Brewing.  They're a California company that doesn't (currently) distribute in Chicago area but supposed to be awesome and Falling Rock was claimed to always have something of theirs on tap.  However, the kegs were fresh out so we settled for some other local options instead before calling it a night and walking back to the hotel (a wee bit tipsy ;)
Friday morning we woke up and grabbed my parents from the airport. It's about a 30/40 minute drive downtown from the airport; but a cab is flat rate $55 one-way, so we figured we should make use of the rental and pick them up. 
After checking out of the Sheraton and settling into our new hotel (The Warwick); we decided to walk around and search out a nearby spot for lunch.  My dad is big into Trip Advisor reviews and found a place called Stuebens's was close and had rave reviews.  They were right. We had to wait for a table and a while longer for our food, but it was worth it.  (My parent's liked this place so much they went back later in the week for dinner after Ben and I left).
Stueben's patio seating
"The Greek". Yum
You've probably gathered (although maybe not?) that Ben is big into beer and as his trusty partner, I, in turn, have also grown found of "good beer" (not that Miller Lite style crap). I should warn you now that a lot of this trip revolved around beer.  One of our must-visits was Great Divide, named one of the top 10 breweries in the US.
They offer free tours every day of the week, which we obviously took advantage of. Our guide, Kelley, was very knowledgeable and very funny. We were allowed to walk through the entire facility (okay it's not that big, but it's impressive how much beer they crank out of it).
Of course, what would be a visit to a tap room without some beer testing?  They offered 3 - 3oz samples for $3.  Perfect sample sizes!
I'm pretty sure Ben was in Heaven.
After doing some drinking and then some relaxing, we decided to drive around and check out Denver.  One thing that caught us off guard is how spread out everything is. There are little stripes of shops, bars, and restaurants, but they are scattered about town. We were really happy to have had a rental car.

We drove to the popular Cherry Creek North area, which has a plethora of shops and dining options.  We agreed on Piatti, an Italian restaurant (which turned about to be a chain, we're not usually fans of chain restaurants) for dinner.  We sat on an adorable quaint patio porch and enjoyed our delicious dinner.

How can you not try the bruschetta at an Italian spot?
Always the picky eater, Ben ended up ordering pizza...
...and more of the adventurous eater, I ordered the veal.  It wasn't what I'd anticipated, but it was fabulous with the spinach and mashed potatoes.
Believe it or not, we were so full from dinner we opted to skip dessert; unheard of in my family!  Instead we enjoyed the rooftop pool the rest of the night.

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