Colorado's capital, the Mile-High City effortlessly combines outdoor adventure lifestyle opportunities with a thriving arts and culture scene. And then there's the beer, an ever-expanding number of breweries now call Denver home. Not unlike most US cities, Denver experienced its share of hard times in the wake of the 2008 financial crash but has since experienced a massive turnaround with huge economic investment and infrastructure developments. It's now among the most desirable places to live in America, and for good reason.
Housed inside the historic Frederic C Hamilton Building (itself a work of art), The Denver Art Museum (denverartmuseum.org) contains more than 70,000 diverse works, spanning several centuries. As one of the largest art museums between the west coast and Chicago, you can peruse anything from a world famous Indian art collection to children's exhibits, travel installations and much more. In 2018 the museum will be home to several only-in-Denver exhibitions, including Dior: From Paris to the World (November 18-March 3, 2019.) And if that's not enough, the museum's famed North Building is also currently undergoing a $US150 million facelift.
For a more upmarket – not to mention, achingly hip option – head to Tag, (tag-restaurant.com) a Denver favourite in the Larimer Square district. Spearheaded by celebrated chef Troy Guard, the menu is the culmination and fusion of his travel experiences from New York to Hawaii and the Far East.
Decked out with an ambience themed around red leather upholstery and exposed brick walls, the dinner menu is an exotic blend of fusion food. Standouts include the Miso Vlack Cod with shiitake mushrooms, artichoke and yuzu kabayaki and the perfectly-seared Colorado Hanger Steak with carrot variations and chimichurri radish.
Formerly Denver's industrial neighbourhood, the RiNo (River North) arts district (rinoartdistrict.org) is now a microcosm of restaurants, galleries, breweries, distilleries and even a couple of urban wineries. Start with a bite to eat from one of the many independent purveyors inside the gourmet Denver Central Market – among Denver's latest hotspots (denvercentralmarket.com) – before moving on for a cold one at one of the excellent local breweries. Favourites include Our Mutual Friend Brewing Company (omfmb.com), Epic Brewing (epicbrewing.com) and Ratio Beerworks (ratiobeerworks.com).
Originally opened in 1881, Denver's Beaux-Arts downtown station (unionstationdenver.com) serves not only as a transportation hub (you can catch a direct train to and from the international airport here) but is now also a nucleus of trendy bars, coffee shops and restaurants. Often referred to as ''The Living Room'' the beautifully renovated interior is home to Terminal Bar (terminalbardenver.com), Pig Train Coffee Co (pigtraincoffee.com), Milk Box Ice Creamy (milkboxicecream.com) and much more. Grab yourself a beverage and kick back on one of the many chairs and sofas scattered throughout the building.
Located inside Union Station itself, the Crawford Hotel (thecrawfordhotel.com) is the downtown area's newest luxury hotel. Containing 112 beautifully designed rooms, it is within strides of the station, making it an ideal option for those arriving on a late flight. Although it was built in 2014, many of the building's historic features have been kept intact, lending the property a wonderfully stylish old-meets-new flair. Expect to pay from $US209 per night.
If you're planning to be in town for a few days, The Mile-High Culture Pass (denver.org) provides admission into some of Denver's best attractions, including the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, The Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, Clyfford Still Museum and many more. Cost is $US30 for the three-day pass.
Guy Wilkinson was a guest of Visit Denver, denver.org