Doing Denver right

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Herstory and high times in the mile-high city

A city of culture and counter culture, Denver is a study in contradictions. This makes it an exciting and interesting destination on its own or as a great side trip for your annual ski holiday.

History, sports, art, politics and pot all fit seamlessly to define the mile-high city. If you have only two or three days to visit there, here are some not-to-bemissed highlights.

Lodging within walking distance of the action when you’re on a limited time budget is smart and the Capitol Hill Mansion Inn Bed and Breakfast combines a gentle old-world setting with modern conveniences. Located in the museum district – not far from the Molly Brown house – this B&B is operated by dynamic father/daughter duo Carl Schmidt and Bailey Claire.

Originally from the Texas Gulf Coast, they bring southern charm and a strong sense of fun to one’s stay at their inn. With eight spacious, gracious guest rooms, the Inn was built in the late 1800s. Its beautiful stone façade is typical of the many splendid, historic buildings you’ll see as you stroll surrounding streets. In addition, Schmidt is a chef and breakfast includes southern specialties, such as jalapeno soufflé.

Make your first stop just down the hill at the Colorado State Capital building to see the gold-plated dome and marble and onyx accents – all mined in mineral-rich Colorado. Informative tours are free.

Next stop is the 16th Street ‘Mall’. This open air shopping area features 42 outdoor cafes. Sipping some suds – there are many excellent local craft beers available on tap at the various eateries – while observing Segway-riding officers patrolling the car-free street provides great lunchtime entertainment. Housed in what once was Denver’s tallest office building and a former theatre, the Paramount Café offers a fresh twist on local favourites served in a retro cool atmosphere.

Free, frequently running shuttles carry passengers between the array of eclectic shops, restaurants and boutiques that line each side of the street. Denver’s version of Union Station anchors one end of the Mall and is the transportation hub of the city.

Colorado State Capitol building

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Take a break at the Terminal Bar, with 30 beers on tap or perk up with a coffee from the Pigtrain Coffee Company. Both great ways to replenish your energy for the hike back to the historic district to see Molly Brown’s house.

Christened ‘unsinkable,’ her real name was Margaret Tobin. While Molly Brown did survive the Titanic disaster, her real fame was as an early suffragette and as one of the first women in the U.S. to run for public office. The historic home on display was one she and husband J.J. Brown purchased as they amassed wealth from Colorado’s silver and gold booms. It is open for tours Tuesday to Sunday and is located just one and a half blocks from the Capitol Hill Mansion Inn.

Many food options are within walking distance of these lodgings, too. One of those is Prohibition, a 1920s-inspired speakeasy pub and contemporary eatery known for its cocktails. It was once featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives with chef Guy Fieri, and is only three blocks north of the Mansion.

One of Denver’s favourite mustexperience food options is Voodoo Doughnut. This wildly popular bakery prides itself in fresh and eclectic doughnut styles featuring toppings such as M&Ms and Froot Loops.

No visit to Denver is complete without visiting Sports Authority Field. Formerly known as Mile High Stadium, it is home to the 2016 Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos. The tour takes visitors onto the playing field and gives a good look behind the scenes, with a tour of the locker room, media box and VIP lounges. Maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of retired quarterback Peyton Manning.

In 2014, Colorado legalized the use and possession of marijuana and visiting one of the several shops which sell different varieties could be an interesting part of your visit to the Mile High City. The shops are clean, bright spaces that one must prove age to enter. Products are labelled in display cases and staff persons are generally knowledgeable and helpful.