Denver LGBT: 3-Day Weekend
Denver has the most vibrant LGBT scene in the Rockies, with citywide annual events and a busy club scene. The Mile High City is also home to one of the biggest Pride Festivals in the country, held every June, as well as the Colorado Gay Rodeo, held every July. Follow this detailed itinerary for the perfect LGBT weekend.
On Friday, your first afternoon in Denver, take a little time to orient yourself and get to know this friendly but unmistakably cosmopolitan city. The vibrant LGBT community here permeates the city, but you'll find an especially visible presence in historic Capitol Hill, which is anchored by charming Cheesman Park, a good place to relax with a snack from nearby Weathervane Cafe (1725 E. 17th Ave.), in the eclectic Uptown neighborhood. This popular java joint is also close to several fun spots for happy hour, including the Denver Wrangler (1700 Logan St.), a friendly LGBT sports bar, and M Uptown (700 E. 17th Ave.), a fab burger joint and cocktail bar. You can also pick up other great resources in Capitol Hill, at the GLBT Center of Colorado (1301 East Colfax).
No matter what time you awaken on Saturday morning - well, at least assuming it's still morning - make it a point to sample brunch at one of the many Denver establishments that’s renowned for this festive meal. In the funky Highlands neighborhood, Sassafras American Eatery (2637 W. 26th Ave.) is a good bet for its hearty, Southern-inspired fare (biscuits and gravy, Cajun Benedict) and luscious hand-turned milkshakes that come in all sorts of wonderfully weird flavors (salted-chocolate pretzel, Cinnamon Toast Crunch). Nearer to downtown, Snooze (2262 Larimer St.) is justly famous for its delicious sweet potato pancakes.
In the afternoon, you might plan a short trip just outside of town to get a sense of this beautiful area. It's just a 30-minute drive to Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre (18300 W. Alameda Pkwy., Morrison), in foothills of the Rockies, just west of town. Here you can tour the stunning natural concert hall that has hosted countless superstar rock bands over the years, or hike the park's gorgeous terrain. Or, make the 45-minute drive up to the gay-friendly town of Boulder, whose historic downtown buzzes with lively shops, cafes, and restaurants.
If you'd prefer to spend the day in Denver, you can still get the blood flowing, perhaps with a bike ride around the enchanting Cherry Creek neighborhood. You can rent bike using the Denver B-cycle bike-sharing program. Or walk to your heart's content amid Cherry Creek's dozens of fine shops: upscale Cherry Creek Shopping Center (3000 E. 1st Ave.) and Cherry Creek North (1st-3rd Ave. at University Blvd.) are two of Colorado's premier shopping destinations, with a mix of top chain and independent stores.
As the sun sets on Denver, you could remain in Cherry Creek and grab dinner at one of the neighborhood's fine restaurants, such as romantic Piatti Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar (190 St. Paul St.), a superb seafood eatery, or Second Home Kitchen & Bar (150 Clayton Ln.), which specializes in contemporary regional American fare and craft beer. Or if you're returning to downtown from an excursion to Red Rocks or Boulder, plan a special meal here. Consider one of the restaurants operated by much-celebrated local chef Jennifer Jasinki, such as hip and informal Euclid Hall (1317 14th St.), a source of adventuresome gastropub cuisine and an exceptional beer list, or Rioja (1431 Larimer St.), a long-acclaimed source of inspired Mediterranean-influenced cooking (the Colorado lamb T-bone with lamb merguez sausage shouldn’t be missed).
Saturday night is a great time to check out Denver's most happening gay nightclub, the always-packed Tracks Denver (3500 Walnut St.), a massive warehouse disco with two big dance floors, one spinning the latest house music, the other offering up classic '70s and '80s anthems. It’s in the up-and-coming River North Art District (RiNo), which also serves as a stop (38th and Blake Street) on the airport rail line, one stop away from the glorious Denver Union Station. RiNo is becoming quite the hub for art studios and craft breweries like Ratio Beerworks (2920 Larimer St.), served in an eclectic taproom, and even an urban winery with a rather catchy name, Infinite Monkey Theorem (3200 Larimer St.). If you're looking for a cozy restaurant, try The Populist (3163 Larimer St.), or for something laid back and unpretentious, check out Work & Class (2500 Larimer St.).
This is also a good night to visit the city's artsy and diverse South Broadway neighborhood, which has a clutch of popular gay nightspots, including the Compound (145 Broadway), a fun dance bar; and Boyztown (117 Broadway), a lively spot known for male dancers.
Start Sunday morning off just north of downtown in Lower Highlands (LoHi), a very cool neighborhood whose star is rapidly rising, consider brunching at Root Down (1600 W. 33rd Ave.), where you might feast on the pulled-pork omelet or chilaquiles “steak & eggs” - the bottomless blood orange mimosas will put you in a relaxed mood, too. For terrific lunch options, check out Avanti Food & Beverage (3200 Pecos St.), a unique concept with a selection of mini-restaurants inside a revamped warehouse building, or Linger (2030 West 30th Ave.), featuring farm-to-table selections in what was once a mortuary.
Sunday afternoons are a good time to explore some of the city's wonderful cultural diversions, or simply to curl up with a latte and read a book at the city's most famous bookstore, the Tattered Cover (1628 16th St.) which has a particularly atmospheric location in historic Lower Downtown (LoDo), a neighborhood where you'll find plenty of inviting shops, boutiques, and galleries. The Tattered Cover has an extensive selection of books with LGBT interest.
Fans of the visual arts should allow time to explore the fantastic Denver Art Museum (100 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy.), a dramatic contemporary facility that stages thought-provoking exhibits and installations and is also home to a superb restaurant, Palettes (100 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy.), which makes for an excellent lunch choice. If you're a devotee of theater, opera, and music, see what's planned at the state-of-the-art Denver Center for the Performing Arts (1101 13th St.), which comprises several venues and hosts everything from touring Broadway shows to acclaimed opera at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.