The road to Denver involved a last-minute stopover in the small railroad town of Salida. This was the only night of our roadtrip where I hadn’t booked accommodation. It also reinforced the fact that spontaneity on a roadtrip with young kids is tough. After calling a few motels directly who had no availability and/or travel cot, I used the Hotels.com helpline who were efficient in booking a room at the Holiday Inn Express.
We spent the morning in Salida playing in the Riverside Park and drinking delicious coffee from Brown Dog. Then we hit the road for the 3 hour drive to spend a weekend in the Denver suburbs….
This was the halfway point of our two-week roadtrip and we were meeting friends from San Francisco. Instead of booking two hotel rooms, we found a 5 bed house on airbnb for the same price. Booking through airbnb was a revelation, you can read all about it here.
For me, Denver itself was somewhat of an anticlimax (although to be fair, nobody really built it up). I know we had been spoilt by the spectacular scenery of Ouray, Crested Butte etc but the downtown felt a bit soulless. However, we weren’t there for sightseeing, we were there to catch up with friends and EAT!
What we did
- Your kids will love the planes at Wings Over The Rockies Air & Space Museum. The short cockpit tour held their attention and there’s even a small playroom with activities.
- Downtown Denver was a bit.. meh… We took a photo of the famous Big Blue Bear at the Convention Centre. We had intended to go to the Denver Firefighters Museum located around the corner but it was closed (looks great for kids)
- Washington Park was nearby to our airbnb rental home. The park is delightful with greenery, a lake and a kids playground. The highlight was hiring a bicycle big enough for 8!
- My husband is obsessed with stadiums, regardless of the sport. Our house was a 10 minute drive from the Denver Broncos football stadium, Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Normally we park up, he disappears for 10 minutes to try to sneak into the stadium. This time, we all traipsed in and found the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Museum. Even if you’re not a fan, there’s a room full of sports/cheerleader uniforms and equipment that the kids can play with. You can pay for a tour… or you can do what my husband did and sneak in for a photo.
- A trip to Boulder (approx. 45 mins drive from Denver). For some reason I had pictured Boulder as a scenic Colorado mountain town. It isn’t, it’s actually a sprawling city at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Pearl St is nice to wander around with lots of street entertainers and quirky shops. I had really wanted to get my geography geek on and go to the National Centre for Atmospheric Research but it was closed on a Sunday.
- Denver has an awesome Children’s Museum.. apparently… But we didn’t go there and went to the Wow! Children’s Museum which was on our way back from Boulder. I have to say it was brilliant. In some ways you don’t want an enormous kids museum as you can’t keep an easy eye on them. This was the perfect size so they could run around, partake in all the activities and parents can enjoy themselves too.
Where did we eat
Denver was all about visiting the restaurants from the show Man Vs. Food, if you haven’t seen it go and watch an episode after you read this.
- Awesome burgers at The Cherry Cricket. Customise your burger with a dizzy array of toppings. Deciding between fries and onion rings? Get both with a basket of ‘frings’. Always wanted to try deep fried mac’n’cheese? This is the place.
- If you fancy yourself as a competitive eater, go to the West End Tavern in Boulder. The challenge? 50 wings in 30 minutes. Dan & Chris were cheating by attempting the challenge together. They still didn’t do it. However, the wings are delicious!
- Located in Denver’s oldest neighbourhood, the Buckhorn Exchange has been serving steaks since 1893. If you’re an adventurous meat-eater there’s lots of choice from elk to Rocky Mountain Oysters (I’m not sharing what these are.. google it..) With walls covered in hunting paraphernalia and stuffed animals watching while you eat, it’s an atmospheric place to eat with great steaks.
- You can always count on the trendiest neighbourhood for varied restaurant choice. We visited the area of Lo Hi for delicious homemade Mexican at Rosa Linda’s Mexican Cafe topped of with phenomenal ice cream at Little Man Ice Cream.
For more on our Colorado Road Trip: