Throughout the 1990s, Denver grew by an average of a 1,000 people a week with more than 500,000 people moving into the area in a decade. The growth rate has continued. In 2014, Denver was ranked by Forbes as the sixth fastest growing city in the United States. Tourism in Denver has mirrored this growth. Since 2005, Denver has experienced a 48% increase in tourism, growing to a record 14 million overnight visitors in 2013, who spent a record $4 billion. Over the same time period, national tourism has increased only 15%.
Some of the new additions to the city include:
NEW - AND NOTABLE - HOTELS:
Hampton Inn / Homewood Suites from Stonebridge
Opened in October 2013 as Colorado's first dual-brand hotel, the property is 302 total rooms branded as a Hampton Inn & Suites and a Homewood Suites by Hilton. The lobby area has two separate front desks, lodging and dining areas, each catering to the respective needs of their guests. The property shares 4,355 sq. ft. of meeting space and is one block from the Colorado Convention Center.
The Crawford Hotel
This historic 112-room property opened in August 2014 as the centerpiece of the newly restored 1914 Union Station and offers three styles of rooms. The "Pullman" rooms on the second floor are modeled after the luxury private sleeping cars of old. The "Classic" rooms on the third floor come with tall ceilings and large windows. The former attic area is now the "Loft," featuring exposed wood timbers, vaulted ceilings and a more contemporary design. To make the most of the architectural features, most of the rooms in the hotel are one-of-a-kind designs and shapes. The hotel shares The Oxford Club Spa with the award-winning Oxford Hotel across the street.
Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center
This full-service, four-star, 221-room hotel opened in May 2014 in the restored Colorado National Bank Building, which was originally built in 1915 from the same white marble used in the Lincoln Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The hotel incorporates many historic details from the old bank, including three vaults with 33-inch thick doors that now serve as meeting rooms. The elegant ground floor restaurant, Range, specializes in foods of the American West with many Colorado specialties, while the lobby bar is surrounded by huge, wall-size murals painted by local artist Allen Tupper True. Considered one of Colorado's premier native-born artists, True focused his work on Western subjects. The murals in the hotel depict the lives of American Indians on the Plains before white people arrived.
Aloft Hotel Denver, Downtown
Opened in December 2014, the new 150 room Aloft Hotel Denver is within one block walking distance of the Colorado Convention Center and the 16th Street Mall. The sleek six-story hotel will feature a below ground swimming pool and fitness center.
The Art Hotel
Coming in April 2015, The Art Hotel, will be a 165-room boutique hotel next to the Denver Art Museum. The look and feel of the hotel will be unique with guests arriving through a portico-like entrance past open spaces that will be a showcase of modern art. The hotel has its own curator, Dianne Vanderlip, former curator of modern and contemporary art at the Denver Art Museum. Each suite will feature a vibrant wall covering. The rooms along 12th Avenue and Broadway will have seats in "pop-out" windows where guests can enjoy views of the city or the Rocky Mountains. The architect is Guadalupe Cantu of Davis Partnership Architects, the same firm that worked with Daniel Libeskind when he designed the spectacular Frederic C. Hamilton Building addition to the Denver Art Museum.
Hyatt Place/Hyatt House, 346 Rooms
Opening in the spring of 2015, White Lodging Services will offer a 346-room (with 113 suites), dual branded Hyatt Place/Hyatt House property at 14th and Glenarm Place. The new hotel will be just two blocks from the Colorado Convention Center. Hyatt Place targets business travelers, while Hyatt House provides extended stay accommodations.
Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant, 200 Rooms
Opening in the spring of 2015, the new Kimpton will be located adjacent to Denver's iconic Union Station. The new 200-room hotel will feature 8,300 square-feet of meeting space, including an outdoor patio and rooftop patio, a 2,000 square-foot fitness center and two local-inspired, chef-driven restaurants and bars.
Westin Hotel, Denver International Airport
Opening in the fourth quarter of 2015, the new 500-room Westin Hotel located at Denver International Airport and is part of the South Terminal Redevelopment project. It will be one of four hotels in America directly attached to an airport terminal. The hotel will have its own station on the electric commuter rail line that will run from the airport to downtown Denver, opening in 2016. The 22.8-mile rail line will run trains as often as every 15 minutes, taking just 30 minutes to get from the airport and Westin Hotel to Union Station in downtown Denver.
The hotel will also include 12 meeting and board rooms, totaling approximately 10,000 square feet. There will be one grand ballroom and two junior ballrooms totaling more than 16,000 square feet.
The new South Terminal Redevelopment Program at Denver International Airport will complete the original vision of the facility. In addition to the new hotel and Public Transit Center, the Program will build an open-air plaza, complete with new concessions and leasable space, which connects the development to the existing Jeppesen Terminal.
Plans for a $60 Million Luxury, Independent Cherry Creek Hotel Announced
BMC Investments and Sage Hospitality have announced their plans for a $60 million, luxury independent hotel in Cherry Creek. Development is set to take place at 245 Columbine, otherwise known as the Old Post Office Building, with the Denver based companies co-developing the project. The 150-room, seven-story hotel will feature a roof-top pool along with restaurant and retail space consistent with the neighborhood's unique character.
Other new hotel projects
Other projects include a 135-room Residence Inn Cherry Creek that opened in 2014; a 245-room Fitzsimons Village Hyatt in Aurora; a 174-room Embassy Suites Hotel in Lone Tree; and a proposed 400-room Meridian in downtown Denver.
CONVENTION CENTER & NATIONAL WESTERN STOCK SHOW FEASIBILITY STUDY
Since it opened in 1990, the Colorado Convention Center (CCC) has been an economic engine for downtown Denver, generating more than $500 million a year in spending, the construction of 3000 new hotel rooms in downtown, the revitalization of 14th Street and created thousands of new jobs, businesses and service companies.
For more than 100 years, the National Western Stock Show has been recognized as the "Super Bowl" of stock shows, one of the premier livestock industry events in America.
In 2013, VISIT DENVER, the City & County of Denver Arts & Venues and the Western Stock Show Association engaged the Strategic Advisory Group (SAG) to prepare a feasibility study to examine all meeting, convention, tradeshow and livestock facilities in the city. SAG was asked to examine nationwide industry trends and based on this information, make recommendations as to what is needed to keep Denver's facilities competitive and state-of-the-art for the next 25 years.
National Western Complex & Denver Coliseum
The study confirmed that the National Western Stock Show is regarded as one of the nation's premier livestock events, however, there is a high level of dissatisfaction amongst users with the facilities. The study found that the majority of the facilities are obsolete and have poor site logistics. The study suggested that with new and adaptively reused facilities, organized in a more functional master plan, Denver could bring 88 new events and 910,500 new visitors to the complex annually, adding $5.1 million new tax dollars revenue.
To be a national competitor for large horse shows and other multi-use, year-round events, the study recommended:
- New Arena - Replace the existing 8,140 seat Denver Coliseum, built in 1952, with a new 10,000 fixed-seat, multiuse arena with up to 40 suites for rodeo, hockey and a broad range of other year-round events.
- Livestock - Replace the existing Stadium Arena with a new multipurpose, 5,000 seat (2,500 flexible seats), concrete floor Livestock Stadium Arena. In addition, it was recommended that the existing stockyards be replaced with more modern and flexible yard pens that would allow for growth and efficiency for other year-round uses.
- Horse - Replace the existing 4,777 fixed-seat Event Center with a 4,500 seat (2,500 fixed), concrete floor, multipurpose Equestrian Events Center, with an adjacent staging and warm-up area.
- Trade Show - Develop a new multipurpose Exposition Hall with 350,000 sq. ft. that also better positions Denver for the Winter Olympics.
- Extending the Stock Show - Explore extending the National Western Stock Show by seven days.
- Governance and Management - Create a new consolidated governance/operating framework to leverage the use of the Colorado Convention Center, Denver Coliseum and National Western Complex facilities.
Colorado Convention Center
The study reported a high level of satisfaction with the convention center experience in Denver and found that Denver is currently ranked as one of the top meeting cities in the nation. However, to remain competitive in the future in this extremely competitive marketplace and to take advantage of changes in the meetings industry, the study recommended:
- Ballroom/Meeting Space - Add a new 35,000 to 50,000 sq. ft. ballroom and 25,000 to 35,000 sq. ft. of meeting space that can be used as specialty space and ensure that the new space captures a unique Rocky Mountain feeling.
- Meeting Experience - Create new, unique meeting experiences and places that encourage social networking.
- Technology - Increase the bandwidth for technology upgrades, offering online video streaming and crowdsourcing to support the evolving needs of clients.
- Hotel Inventory & Configuration - Encourage any future hotel development to be as close as possible to the CCC. Develop a "One-Denver" concept that would allow the booking of the CCC and hotel amenities as one package.
The study projects that following these recommendations could mean 36,000 new attendees for an incremental impact of $47.2 million in annual direct delegate spending, generating an additional $3.4 million annually in local sales and hotel taxes.
Without these changes, the study suggests the CCC could risk of losing business to other cities that are staying relevant and modifying and expanding their convention facilities. A 10 percent reduction in business would result in Denver losing $50 million of annual direct delegate spending.
GROWTH IN RESTAURANTS & NEIGHBORHOODS
Denver has seen explosive growth in dining options, with new chef-owned restaurants, brew-houses, gastro pubs and farm-to-table fine dining springing up in a series of neighborhoods that fringe the downtown core. In just the month of August 2014, more than 80 new restaurants opened. Some of the popular areas seeing this growth include:
Denver Union Station
Denver's historic, Beaux Arts 1914 train terminal reopened in July 2014 with ten new restaurants and bars, as well as a selection of fine retailers including a branch of the popular Tattered Cover Bookstore. Local powerhouse chef Jen Jasinski (winner of the 2013 James Beard Award for Best Chef Southwest) opened Stoic & Genuine, a seafood-centric restaurant in the grand tradition of Grand Central Station's Oyster Bar. Jen also operates two restaurants in nearby Larimer Square: Rioja and Bistro Vendome.
Alex Seidel (Food & Wine's Top New Chef of the Year 2010) opened in the station, Mercantile, featuring food items from his sheep farm located in nearby Larkspur. Union Station includes a branch of the popular Kitchen restaurant chain, and the Terminal Bar, situated in the station's old ticket windows. One of 30 Colorado beers on tap can be ordered through the windows, or it's possible to relax in the Cooper Lounge overlooking the station's grand hall.
Union Station is also fulfilling its original role as Denver major ground transportation hub, serving as an AMTRAK, Light Rail, regional bus and electric shuttle bus station, with direct rail service to Denver International Airport starting in 2016.
Lower Highlands (LoHi)
Connected to downtown by three pedestrian bridges, Lower Highlands (LoHi) has become Denver's "go-to" dining neighborhood with an excellent selection of popular eateries and breweries. Linger is housed in an old mortuary and was selected by Travel + Leisure for having one of "America's coolest rooftop bars." Sister restaurant Root Down has a menu dedicated to locally sourced foods, while Amato's Ale House has 45 local beers on tap, outdoor fireplaces and a great city view.
The walls of popular Denver Beer Company literally "roll up" (it was once an auto repair shop) and the outdoor beer garden has picnic tables and food trucks. Nearby, Prost Brewing has copper kettles from Germany and a delicious selection of sausages.
Duo is another local neighborhood favorite, while My Brother's Bar is a Denver institution, once frequented by beat generation legends Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassidy.
River North Art District (RiNo)
River North Art District or "RiNo" is a former industrial neighborhood that is exploding with art galleries, restaurants, breweries, distilleries, and even a winery (with the grapes supplied from the Western Slope of Colorado, four hours away).
The Source, an old iron manufacturing plant, now houses a bakery, butcher, florist, Israeli cuisine at Safta, and the first Denver outpost of New Belgium Brewing.
Work & Class, the Butcher Block, and Cart-Driver are just some of the new restaurants gaining national attention. Down the block, Infinite Monkey Theorem Winery is building a name for their canned sparkling wines, while Epic, River North, Black Shirt and Our Mutual Friend are just some of Denver's breweries located in this area with Great Divide adding a new destination brewery and bottling operation.
RiNo is still a thriving arts center for artists and galleries. Its main corridor, Brighton Blvd., is scheduled for major refurbishing with new bike lanes, trees, and signage and will serve as the main entrance point for people coming into downtown from Denver International Airport.
LoDo (Lower Downtown)
This 26-square block neighborhood has the largest concentration of restored turn-of-the-century and Victorian brick warehouses in the nation, and is now home to more than 90 restaurants, breweries, rooftop cafes, music clubs and sports bars. The Wynkoop, Colorado's first and largest brewpub is located here, as is Great Divide Brewery, Jagged Moutain, Chop House and Breckenridge breweries, as well as Falling Rock, acknowledged as one of the greatest beer bars in the world with 145 tap beers. Coors Field anchors the neighborhood, which is now home to 20,000 people in resorted lofts and new housing options. LoDo also is home to the Museum of Contemporary Art.
South Broadway and Baker
Yet another hip neighborhood booming with new eateries, bars and nightspots is just one mile south of downtown along South Broadway. The neighborhood has a distinct Brooklyn feel with rooftop decks of the Historians Ale House or the Irish Rover, outdoor palm trees and umbrella drinks at Adrift Tiki Bar, bowling, darts or shuffleboard at the massive 20,000 square foot Punch Bowl. From fine dining at Beatrice & Woolsey to homemade Sweet Action Ice Cream, Baker is pedestrian neighborhood with pizza shops next to bookstores, on a street lined with one-of-kind clothing shops, galleries, original home furnishings, and music clubs.
Denver's food trucks
Food trucks are slinging gourmet street eats on just about every corner throughout the city. Inspired by international cuisine and fueled with entrepreneurial passion, these businesses are changing the way that Denver eats... and drinks. The Mile High City now has more than 60 food trucks, serving everything from Venezuelan arepas to ice cream sandwiches, down-home, southern-style bbq, street tacos and even vegan creations. Every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the summer, at least 25-30 food trucks congregate in downtown Denver over lunchtime at the special foodtruck roundup called, Civic Center EATS.
Denver Restaurant Week
Denver Restaurant Week has become one of the largest culinary events in the nation with as many as 350 restaurants participating, offering multi-course dinners for the fixed price of $30, tax and tip not included. As many as 436,650 meals have been served. Organized by VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau, DRW was created to elevate Denver's dining reputation both locally and nationally.
Denver is Recognized as America's Beer Capital City
Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler and USA Today have all selected Denver as the No. 1 Microbrew Beer city in the nation... an opinion shared by the New York Times.
Denver brews more beer than any other American city and is home to Coors Brewery - the largest single brewing site in the world. More than 200 named beers are produced and served every day in Denver's tap houses, brewpubs, breweries, and gastro pubs. Denver opened an average of a new brewery every other week in 2013, and continued the pace in 2014. There are now 38 breweries in Denver, and more than 100 in the metro area and 260 throughout the state.
A FEW DENVER BEER FACTS:
- Denver is home to the largest single brewing site in the world — Coors Brewery.
- Denver is home to the Great American Beer Festival, the largest beer festival on the planet (Guinness World Records) with more than 2,800 beers available for tastings from 600 American breweries.
- John Hickenlooper is the only former brewer elected to state governor since Sam Adams in 1793. Hickenlooper opened Wynkoop in 1988.
- There are more than 100 breweries in the Denver Beer Triangle between Denver - Boulder and Fort Collins - the Napa Valley of Beer.
- VISIT DENVER hosts the Denver Beer Fest every year, which offers more than 200 beer-centric events. www.DenverBeerFest.com
Denver's Distilleries & Wineries
Growing side-by-side with beer brewing is Denver's distillery scene. Fifteen years ago, there was not a single distillery in Colorado — today there are more than 60 producing whiskey, brandy, vodka, gin and rum. The largest distillery in Colorado is Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey, which is located in Denver, and offers free tours daily.
Denver is also home to several urban wineries, with Infinite Monkey Theorem in the hip new neighborhood of RiNo gaining a national reputation for their sparkling wine served in cans. Mile High Winery is also located in the RiNo neighborhood and features a tasting room on-site.
NEW MUSEUMS & ATTRACTIONS
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Opened a new wing in Feb. 2014 with 126,000 square feet and five levels of exhibit space. Called the Morgridge Family Exploration Center, new space has a beautiful glass expanse that connects the Museum with City Park and gorgeous views of downtown, and also provides exhibit space for world exclusive shows like Maya and major national touring exhibitions.
Denver Botanic Gardens
The new Science Pyramid opened in late spring of 2014, The Science Pyramid is a cutting edge exhibition space to highlight the Gardens' important research and conservation efforts. Much of the scientific work done at the Gardens is not accessible to the public, so the Pyramid provides a unique platform to exhibit this work and emphasize critical behind-the-scenes work done in Colorado and around the world by Gardens staff. It is the latest of a series of improvements that include a new outdoor café, the new Nancy Schotter's Garden and the hosting the record-breaking blockbuster exhibit, Chihuly.
Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art
The Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art opened their new museum in the heart of Denver's Golden Triangle Creative District in 2018. Located near the Denver Art Museum and the Clyfford Still Museum, the new location offers visitors an enhanced experience, while staying true to the salon style and intimate atmosphere for which the Kirkland is known. Central to the relocation, the existing Vance Kirkland Studio building was moved to the new site and is oriented in the same direction with the banks of windows facing north for the natural light. The collection features 5,000 works by 534 Colorado artists, one of the nation's most important design collections with 15,000 items, and 550 paintings by Vance Kirkland.
Toyota Elephant Passage at the Denver Zoo
Opened in June 2012, the Denver Zoo's $50 million Toyota Elephant Passage is a landmark exhibit that occupies 10 acres on the southern edge of the zoo, making it the largest new exhibit in the zoo's 100-year history. The exhibit includes the largest bull elephant habitat in the U.S., capable of housing up to 12 male pachyderms. The five new habitats are seven times larger than the zoo's current pachyderm exhibit and provide new homes for Asian elephants, Indian rhinos and Malaysian tapirs. Animals rotate among the different habitats throughout the day. Sometimes elephants will walk over visitors on a special elephant bridge. At other times, visitors have to stop while elephants walk by them at eye-level at special "elephant crossings." Observation platforms make it possible to look down on the vast complex, while water features will make it possible to be just a few feet from the pachyderms, separated just by water.
American Western Museum of Art
Opened in May 2012, the museum showcases the extraordinary Anschutz Collection - more than 650 paintings and drawings by more than 180 artists spanning 200 years of American history. Selections from the collection have appear in shows from London to the People's Republic of China before finding a permanent home in downtown Denver.
History Colorado Center
Opened in April 2012, this entirely new $110 million experiential museum makes Colorado history fun. Visitors enter by walking on a gigantic map of Colorado, where they push a "Jules Verne-like" time machine that tells the history of various towns in the state as the machine is placed over "hot spots" on the floor. The time machine will use video, historic photos and sound to tell the stories. Other experiences include: traveling across the plains in a Motel T Ford; donning a headlamp and descending into a hard rock mine; soaring off one of the world's first ski jump in Steamboat Springs; arriving at a 19th Century train station; a trading mission at Bent's Old Fort with Chief Yellow Wolf and Kit Carson, and much more. Colorado's colorful history, from 10,000 years ago to the present comes to life in this fully interactive museum. Don't miss Denver A to Z, an irreverent retelling of The Mile High City's history through its most interesting characters.
Mile into the Wild Walkway at the Wild Animal Sanctuary
The 720-acre Wild Animal Sanctuary is the largest carnivore sanctuary in the Western Hemisphere with more than 290 lions, tigers, bears and wolves, including 70 tigers and some 30 lions that were recently rescued from circuses in Bolivia. All of the carnivores have been rescued or confiscated from illegal or abusive situations. The Sanctuary is located on high, rolling plains, 30 miles northeast of Denver, near the town of Keenesburg. The Sanctuary is the oldest in the nation, having been in operation since 1980. The Mile into the Wild Walkway, a mile-long path 20 feet above the ground, opened in 2012 and provides visitors with unprecedented views of more than 290 lions, tigers, bears, wolves and other large carnivores.
Clyfford Still Museum
Opened in November 2011, the museum highlights the work of American Abstract Expressionist, Clyfford Still. Although he is considered to be one of America's most influential modern artists, not many people are familiar with his works. Four of his paintings recently sold at auction for $114 million, including one that went for $61 million, the fifth-highest price ever paid at auction for a contemporary work. Born in 1904, Still was a leading figure in the development of Abstract Expressionism, a post-World War II artistic movement that many consider to be the United States' greatest contribution to the art world. His peers included Jackson Pollock, William de Kooning and Mark Rothko. After the artist's death in 1980, the Clyfford Still Estate was sealed off from public and scholarly view. Still's will stipulated that his estate be given in its entirety to an American city willing to establish a permanent museum dedicated solely to his work.
In August 2004, the City of Denver, under the leadership of then Mayor John W. Hickenlooper, was selected by Still's wife to receive the substantial collection, most of which had never been seen by the public. Located adjacent to the Denver Art Museum, The Clyfford Still Museum's collection includes almost 2,400 of Still's paintings, drawings and prints - roughly 94 percent of this influential artist's total output. The building's dense, cantilevered, two-story structure, is unified through the use of a single building material-a highly textured and resurfaced concrete, designed to modify light on both the exterior and interior of the museum. The 31,500-square-foot museum is generously lit through natural lighting, filtered into the museum through a clerestory on the second floor. Built also with meetings and events in mind, the museum can do receptions for 250 or sit-down dinners for 60.
New Airport Rail Service
It's now easier than ever to get from Denver International Airport to downtown Denver.
At a cost of $10.50 each way (with discounts available), travelers can use the new rail service, known as the A Line, from the airport to Denver Union Station and vice versa courtesy of the Regional Transportation District (RTD), metro Denver's public transit provider.
The A Line, accessible on Level 1 of the airport's main terminal, whisks travelers to the heart of downtown, specifically the recently restored Union Station, which is the city's new transportation hub and "living room," thanks to its plush surroundings. From Union Station, travelers can access additional local and regional transportation services, such as light rail, regional and local buses, Amtrak rail service, taxis, and the free 16th Street Mall shuttle (MallRide) and free downtown MetroRide buses that provides access to most downtown hotels. Union Station itself is a beautiful 1914 Beaux-Arts building and the location of hip, locally-owned restaurants, bars, shops and a boutique hotel.
The airport rail has six stops along the way and takes approximately 37 minutes. It opened on April 22, 2016.
The West Rail Line
A 12.1-mile light rail transit corridor between Denver Union Station and Golden opened on April 26, 2013. The West Rail Line travels through a series of parks in Denver on the east end of the alignment, through residential neighborhoods along 13th Avenue in Lakewood, through the Lakewood Industrial Park, onto the Federal Center site, and along 6th Avenue to the Jefferson County Government Center on the western end of the project.
With its joint venture partner All Nippon Airways, United's passengers will benefit from connecting service in Narita to 20 other destinations in Asia. DEN already has nonstop flights to London on British Airways and to Frankfurt on Lufthansa, as well as many nonstop flights to cities in Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica and Dominican Republic.
Direct service to Panama City began in December 2014 with connecting service throughout Central and South America.
The following airlines offer nonstop service to more than 160 destinations worldwide: Aeromexico, Air Canada, AirTran Airways, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, American Eagle, British Airways, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Great Lakes Aviation, Icelandair (May, 2012), JetBlue Airways, Lufthansa, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways.
Average Daily Passengers: 142,425 (2010); 53 percent originate in Denver, 47 percent connect through Denver
International traffic at DEN accounts for approximately two million passengers annually - approximately four percent of the airport's total passenger traffic.
Average Daily Flights: 1,600 (2012) to more than 160 nonstop destinations.