Travel

The Denver Guide

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LA may be filled with New Yorkers seeking better weather and quality of life, but for real progress in the area of work/life balance, you’ll want to book a trip to Denver. After all, how can anyone justify hanging around the office past five when there are three hundred days of sunshine and some of the country’s best skiing less than two hours away? In addition to the ski resorts, the front range is an easy drive from sight-seeing and camping in Rocky Mountain National Park, fly fishing and rafting in Routt National Forest, and the sand dunes and Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Southern Colorado. The laid-back, active style and unmatched natural amenities have made Denver one of the country’s fastest growing cities for the past several years. On your way in from the airport, keep an eye out for all of the cranes looming above the city: In the past ten years, there’s been a complete transformation of the downtown area, a process that was bolstered by a redevelopment of the historic Union Station—now home to several new restaurants, a sleek bar, and a new hotel. Luckily, the food and culture in the Mile High City have more than kept up with the influx of newcomers—expect plenty of future updates to this guide, as great restaurants and hotels continue to open at an inhuman pace. And since nearby Boulder, a thirty-minute drive or bus-ride north, is a gateway to accessible hiking and home to a dynamic food scene of its own (note Frasca Food & Wine, which is often cited as the best restaurant in the state), we’ve included our favorite picks there, just for good measure.

Alpine Modern

1048 Pearl St., Boulder | 720.460.1806

Husband and wife Lon and Lauren McGowan founded this hand-curated design shop in 2013 in downtown Boulder, where they provide gifts and décor that perfectly suit cozy mountain life. The array of artisan-made gifts and goods here truly runs the gamut, from Donna Wilson’s adorable lambswool plush toys she hand-knits in Scotland, to super-soft hats, scarves, and throws, to more practical items like survival knives and study/desk necessities. Don't miss Alpine Modern’s in-house line of candles, made with essential oils that evoke the Colorado wilderness (think: fresh-cut fir and fragrant cedar). The Pearl Street shop’s interior, replete with beautiful, natural-wood wrought in refined, geometric designs, is a sight to see in itself.

BLOOM by Anuschka

1701 Wynkoop St., Ste. 140, LoDo | 720.941.2862

BLOOM has a backstory as fascinating as its unique selection of flowers, jewelry, and gifts. Originally from a small town in Germany, Anuschka Pashel traveled the world as a fashion model before landing in Denver in 1998, where she worked out of a studio and in the local markets until she opened this LoDo boutique in 2011. With a subtly eclectic combination of modern and Victorian-inspired furnishings, shopping at BLOOM feels like perusing a beautifully appointed living room—and the best part is, the home accessories are shoppable, from blankets, pillows, mirrors, and light fixtures to small accessories like candles and vintage-chic wall art. For Anouschka, floral arrangements are a fine art, so come here when you need a gorgeous, original floral arrangement, plus Rifle Paper Co. gift cards and ornate pots and planters to gift them with.

Cedar & Hyde

2015 10th St., Boulder | 720.287.3900

Cedar & Hyde is a one-stop shop for modern-mountain-chic giftables for everyone on your list—from minimalist jewelry, clean perfume oil, and aromatic candles for her, to denim, henleys, leather accessories, and grooming provisions for him. Sisters Christie and Poss Lambert own and curate this charming his-and-hers lifestyle shop, keeping it stocked with a dreamy array of small/indie/artisanal designers like Lauren Manoogian, Amo Denim, Baserange, Hope, Jessie Kamm, and Hansel from Basel; plus, hand-picked home goods, of-the-moment cookbooks, quarterlies, and magazines (i.e. Gather Journal); hand-made wooden and ceramic plates, bowls, and pottery, hand-woven turkish towels; and even camping gear. Good luck leaving here without a few gifts for yourself on top of a slew of souvenirs for your loved ones.

Fancy Tiger

59 Broadway, South Broadway | 303.733.3855

Fancy Tiger originally started as a clothing boutique selling Colorado designers and key accessories like hats and jewelry (along with home goods like candles and pillows), but recently, they opened a craft-focused sister shop next-door. They sell everything it takes to make your own clothing, accessories, and home goods—fabrics, yarn, sewing notions, dyes, patterns for sewing, plus kits for crocheting, knitting, quilting, embroidery. You can also take hands-on classes here, from beginner-level (think: Sewing 101) to intermediate, project-based courses where you’ll learn how to knit hats and scarves, read and make patterns so you can design and create your own clothing, and even turn a cherished Pendleton blanket into a clutch or tote bag.

Goldyn

2040 W. 30th Ave., Highland | 888.646.5396

Opened in May 2011 and set in the old Olinger mortuary building at the LoHi Marketplace, Goldyn’s OG brick-and-mortar boutique is like a highly fashionable conduit for indie designers more typically found in, say, LA and NYC. But the goods here translate perfectly to the hip LoHi neighborhood and Denver’s generally laid-back vibe; here, you’ll find chic, versatile pieces from designers the likes of Rachel Comey, Lauren Manoogian, Helmut Lang, MM6, and Apiece Apart; boots by Freda Salvador; sunglasses by Illesteva; hats by Janessa Leone; locally made home goods; and handmade beauty products by R.L. Linden & Co.

Hazel & Dewey

70 S. Broadway, South Broadway | 303.777.1500

Hazel & Dewey is a haven for hygge-inducing home goods and gifts, with an emphasis on creating the perfect, cooly curated kitchen. A small sampling of what you’ll find here: beeswax candles; artisanal bitters and cocktail mixers, shakers, and other home-bar essentials; clean bath & body products for men and women from Los Poblanos; glasses, plates, serving ware, knives and cutting boards, and (our favorite!) Staub cookware; cookbooks, mandolins, and beautiful handcrafted cherry-wood spoons of all kinds by Jonathan's Spoons; edible treats, from small-batch candy to tea and coffee to jams, spices, and local honey; hand-thrown ceramic mugs, Japanese stoneware...the list goes on.

MAX Clothing Store

264 Detroit St., Cherry Creek | 303.321.4949

Max Martinez and his eponymous stores (there are also locations in Boulder and Aspen) are really the cream of the Colorado fashion crop. An early buyer of now-household names like Isabel Marant, the boutiques (a partnership between Martinez and owner Scott Seale) always carry a mix of name-brand classics and little-known newcomers. It’s probably the most luxurious of the area’s boutiques, so go for investment pieces like Nili Lotan sweaters, Céline bags, and Pierre Hardy boots. If you can, try to stop in when Max is in the store—in addition to being the warmest host imaginable, he has an amazing eye for pieces that flatter.

Queen City General Store

220 E. 13th Ave., Capitol Hill | 720.458.0202

This cool little space, a few blocks away from the Denver Art Museum, is filled with all kinds of collected treasures, from crystals and Tarot cards, to succulents and houseplants, to an apothecary section with fragrances, salts, and bitters. They also stock a selection of (primarily Western-inspired) vintage clothing items like shearling-lined denim jackets, fringed leather pieces, and embroidered peasant tops, as well as turquoise jewelry and a lovely table stacked with lacy lingerie from small, indie lines. It's a great spot to pick up a souvenir.

REI

1416 Platte St., LoHi | 303.756.3100

Located in a massive, lofty old warehouse building, REI's flagship store is nestled up against the Platte River, and it's not uncommon to see people swimming and kayaking, or dogs fetching sticks right outside the store in the summer months (since it's also next to the Cherry Creek bike path, the built-in Starbucks is also a common pit stop for cyclists). There's a great little kid-friendly bike park out front, and the interior famously houses a multi-story rock wall that kids go crazy for. As for the merchandise, you'll find two full floors of the finest outdoor gear the industry has to offer, from tents and kayaks to fly-fishing equipment and skis.

Rockmount Ranch Wear

1626 Wazee St., LoDo | 303.629.7777

This longstanding Wazee Street establishment was founded by Jack Weil, who later became a Denver celebrity, not just for his amazing ranch shirts (he's the original inventor of snap-close cowboy shirts), but because he continued to work in the store every day until his death at the age of 107. Rockmount is now run by Weil's son and grandson, and it's still the best place in Denver to buy old-school cowboy shirts, and the store also has a great selection of boots, hats, and belts, plus some really great bolo ties for sartorially brave Westerners.

Sacred Thistle

1110 Acoma St., Downtown | 720.598.6957

Sacred Thistle is a joint venture of mother/daughter duo Sydney and Cornelia Peterson; Sydney was a visual manager at Nieman Marcus for years, so putting her creative skills to use arranging flowers was a natural transition (this is a creative family—Dad/husband Richard, a talented photographer, is a fixture in the local arts scene). Arrangements here take inspiration from the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi, which emphasizes that beauty is found in quirks and imperfections, which means each piece is wholly unique. If you're not in the market for flowers, the shop also carries some selected odds and ends, like jewelry, Pendleton blankets, sage, incense, candles, and more.

Tattered Cover

1628 16th St., LoDo | 303.436.1070

This glorious indie bookshop occupies multiple floors (which makes for literally countless cozy ready nooks) filled with new and used books of every kind. After almost fifty years in business, they're now a Denver mainstay for literary culture, hosting readings from new authors in their cafés. Once you pick something out, grab a latte—or one of their sandwiches—and snuggle up in one of the couches. For non-readers, there's also Wifi. There's a second location on the other side of town.

Topo Designs

2500 Larimer St., RiNo | 303.954.8420

Topo Designs is a Colorado-based company, and this shop was their first-ever brick-and-mortar (though they now have several locations in Denver and Boulder). The outdoor brand is best known for their brightly colored packs for hiking, backpacking, bike commuting, or just bopping around town (they also make the best, most durable laptop sleeves), and for the fact that all of their products are made in the United States. In the shop, you’ll find a full selection of their offerings, plus favorites from Zeal and Smith Optics, Ursa Major, Wigwam, and Hestra.

Weekends

1200 Pearl St., Boulder | 303.444.4231

Weekends has had a shop on Pearl Street for going on thirty years (though they've upgraded to bigger spaces over time), offering a mix of clothes for men and women, plus a solid selection of shoes, exceptional jewelry case, and a few well-curated home items. You can always count on them for a few great Canada Goose jackets, Rag & Bone denim, delicate cashmere sweaters, and dainty gold jewelry—they now carry Shinola watches, too. An attached, semi-separate denim shop offers a wide range of designer jeans, plus some fashion picks that skew a bit flashier and younger than the rest of the shop.