A Weekend in Denver, Colorado / by Tess Cagle

I booked another flight to Denver in less than a week after I arrived home from visiting in April—so I guess you could say the city left a good impression on me. I visited Denver in June to see my best friend, Devon, yet again and to see our all-time favorite band First Aid Kit perform at the Red Rocks Amphitheater.

My departure from Austin came at the best time possible—right after I received really terrible news at work and desperately needed to get out of town and out of my own head. I was more than ready to board my flight and crash with my bestie for a weekend of live music, museums, homemade meals, and kitties.

Here's my top recs for a weekend trip to the Mile High City. 

Take the train into the city. 

The no. 1 advice I give to everyone who visits Denver is to make use of the city's transportation system! The airport is nowhere near Denver and a typical Lyft/Uber costs about $32 or more. Instead, take the A Line train to Union Square for just $9. Obviously, it doesn't make as much sense if you're traveling in a group, but the train is perfect for solo travelers like I was. The trip takes about 37 minutes and takes you straight to where all the fun is happening. 

Check out Kindness Yoga. 

I carried a lot of stress with me after a difficult week in Austin, so I felt the need to move my body and get out of my head. Kindness Yoga was the best cure to my blues. The studio offers Yin, Vinyasa, alignment, and restorative classes for yogis of all levels. Kindness Yoga recommends you pay $18 per class—but it's donation based so you can pay what you can when you visit. This was perfect for a gal like me who was low on funds but wanted to get a good workout in. 

Pro tip—the Capitol Hill studio has a partnership with a DELICIOUS (vegan) cafe next door, called City O' City. Ask your instructor after class for a coupon to get a discount at the cafe so you can grab lunch after your class. 

See a concert at the Red Rocks Amphitheater. 

I know, I know—this is probably the most given advice when it comes to Denver. But it can't be said enough! Even if you're just a casual music listener, nothing beats watching a concert at the venue because of atmosphere alone. And if you really hate music (wow), you can visit the venue for free during the day. (Throwback to when I did that with my pals last April.) Devon, Peter, and I watched First Aid Kit and Ryan Adams, and it was magical. BTW, if you plan to catch a show, consider packing a few beers and tailgating in the parking lot—it's what the locals do. 

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Visit the Museum of Nature and Science, as well as the Downtown Denver Aquarium. 

Honestly, the best purchase I made while in Denver was a CITYPASS. For a little under $50, I got entrance into three different museums. I visited the Museum of Nature and Science, the Downtown Denver Aquarium, and the Denver Botanical Gardens. I don't usually spend time in museums when I'm in a new city—I prefer to roam the streets to learn about the culture of the town—but since this was my second trip to Denver this year, I decided to get the pass. 

I had so much fun at the Museum of Nature and Science. I stopped by a dispensary on my way to the museum and had a blast just walking around the museum all afternoon and absorbing information. My favorite exhibits included the mummy exhibit and the dinosaur exhibit. 

I also really wanted to visit the Denver Zoo, but it was raining the weekend I was in town. Instead, I went to the Denver Aquarium—which was awesome, because I had never visited an aquarium before. I really loved watching the sea otters swim, the tiger roam around its den, and all of the sharks swim around. While the aquarium was really fun, it was also sad at times because so many of the animals they have are endangered. 

Have a photoshoot in the Denver Botanical Gardens. 

I used my CITYPASS to visit the Denver Botanical Gardens with Devon and we had the perfect date during her day off. Lots of tourists don't realize it, but you can bring your own snacks and alcohol into the gardens. We packed a ton of fresh fruit, chips, and split a bottle of wine—it's no wonder we were feeling super inspired to take photos. 

Make dinner at home, al fresco style. 

Did I mention I was broke during this trip? Denver is known for a lot of great things—its mountains, its weed, its craft beer—but its not exactly known for being a town for foodies. While I still recommend the staple brunch spots—Syrup, Jelly, and Sassafras—I didn't find too many dinner spots that really WOWed me. (Steuben's is pretty dope, though.) So we survived off Devon's sick Trader Joes employee discount and cooked at home a lot—TBH, it was better than anything we would have bought elsewhere. Some items on the menu: pizza, grilled peaches topped with goat cheese and honey, caprese salad, black bean burgers, sausage, and lots of sangria. 

I feel like I have so many other pieces of advice for Denver visitors, but I'll leave it with the food—how can top those grilled peaches, anyways? I left Denver feeling a little more emotionally intact and ready to tackle reality for a short week before another vacation—that blog will be coming soon!