Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Repost: Tuesdays Travels: Denver

Tuesdays Travels today will focus on a place I used to live as a teenager: Denver, Colorado. My dad attended Law School at DU for 3 years, so I lived in Denver (ok actually Aurora) Colorado from 6-8 grades. So, much of my Denver knowledge is from a young teendaged point of view. I do not want to tell you to just go hang out at Cherry Hills Mall, so I did some research on this one!!

As always, I will use the following categories for this Denver post as part of my Tuesdays Travels series:

  • General Information
  • Getting there
  • Accommodations
  • Transportation
  • Food
  • Attractions and activities
  • Shopping
General Information

Denver is the capitol city of Colorado and is located right by the beautiful Rocky Mountains! Nicknamed the Mile High City due to it's elevation, it is a beautiful city with a variety of food and fun options! It is where I lived when I fell in love with the theatre, so it has a special place in my heart!

Getting There

Denver is fairly centrally located in the west, so driving to Denver is certainly an option to consider. If you live in Omaha, it is a pretty quick drive for a vacation-only about 7-8 hours.

You may also look into flying. You should be able to get good deals into Denver as it has the largest airport in the country and has 6 airlines that go to/through Denver. It is a hub for United Airlines and Frontier Airlines. I recommend reading my Tuesdays Travels: Overview post for info on how I search for best flight prices and options.


When I have visited Denver in the past, I have always had friends or family to sty with. I don't anymore, so when I go back to Denver, I will simply do what I always do and start by looking up hotel deals on the following websites: Expedia, Hotwire, Travelocity, and Cheap Tickets. You could also try to make an offer at Priceline, but I only try one offer there, then if I do not get it, I go somewhere else that works with me better than they do.


I will tell you that the airport is pretty far outside the city, but luckily there are many options for travel between the airport and the city. You can of course rent a car, but there are other options as well. Many hotels have shuttles between the airport and their hotel. There is also public transportation available, and you can probably walk to some of the places you want to go depending on the location of your hotel. The city of Denver has a great website on which there is an excellent page about transportation options in town. Please see that page here.


The main 2 food experiences (away from my house) I remember from living in Denver were both fairly expensive, but were both not just meals, but full experiences: Casa Bonita and Mataam Fez.

Mataam Fez is a Moroccan restaurant complete with sitting on the floor and belly dancers. It is a lot of fun, but as I mentioned it is fairly expensive and it is not is a great neighborhood. In fact it is in a terrible neighborhood, but well worth the experience-just be careful going from your car inside to the restaurant!

Casa Bonita is a must do for any families visiting Denver. It is every child's dream dinner. They are the self proclaimed "World's Most Exciting Restaurant". The multi-story, Mexican-themed restaurant includes a 30-foot-tall waterfall, cliff divers, fire jugglers, strolling mariachi bands, a pirate cave, magicians, puppet shows, skee-ball machines, etc, etc. Be warned though-you are not going here for the food! It is terrible-well all is terrible except the all you can eat sopapilla desserts. But, you have to purchase an entree to enter, so buy something cheap and be warned it will not be good food. Then plan on watching the cliff divers, enjoying all the entertainment, and eating a lot of the sopapillas-they are heavenly! It is the only truly edible thing in the joint in my opinion.

I actually have read multiple reviews today that recommended eating at Taco Bell on your way over to Casa Bonita, then looking at your required entree purchase more as an admission fee. If you are looking for a uniquely Denver "dining" experience though, do NOT miss Casa Bonita!! (I have to refer you to the funniest and possibly most accurate review I have ever read about this place, but with a warning that there is some poor language involved in the review. See it here.)

In my 3 years of living in Denver, those were by far the most memorable dicing experiences I had, so I recommend trying one or both of these great experience places!

As far as being frugal in Denver, I would try to get a hotel with a kitchen area and stop by your local Walmart or King Soopers and get some food to eat in your hotel!

Also, when you are planning to go to Denver, start checking out City Deal Tracker's Denver site daily to see what deals you can snag there. They list Groupon as well as 2 other Groupon-like daily deals. (As a total side note, if you do join and buy a Groupon, I would really appreciate if you do so under my referral link here.)

One more site to check out is MyDenverDeals.com.

Attractions and Activities

Here are a few lists of things to do from me (there is way more to do that I am listing!):

Choose from these "Must see/do" for first timers
How to get discounts on some on the attractions that cost:
  • Also, when you are planning to go to Denver, start checking out City Deal Tracker's Denver site daily to see what deals you can snag there. They list Groupon as well as 2 other Groupon-like daily deals. (As a total side note, if you do join and buy a Groupon, I would really appreciate if you do so under my referral link here.)
  • Look for discounts online
  • Look in the travel books
  • Ask at the hotel for discounted deals-they often have discounts available if you ask.
  • Ask locals when you get there!
  • Check out MyDenverDeals.com.
Free Attractions (My FAVORITE!!)
There are literally thousands to choose from. Since I have no clue what you will be interested in, can I recommend that you check out a travel guide (you can often find these at local libraries), go through it and pick the things you really want to do.

And Remember, you cannot so it all! Pick your favorites, then start looking for discounts.


Check out some of the following fun and interesting shopping destinations:
  • The teenager in my wants to send you to Cherry Creek Mall and tell you to scout out the boys...  :)
  • Tattered Cover Bookstore is SOOO Denver and a must see for book lovers!
  • 16th St Mall


These are just the things I have learned in my Denver travel/living and research and my opinions on traveling to Denver. I am not the definitive Denver expert by any means. Please feel free to add your own tips and tricks to this and feel free to ask me any questions you might have.