By Nick PapaDenver is half mountain-town lifestyle, half cosmopolitan city. On a recent visit to oversee a photo shoot for the ART, a hotel in Downtown Denver, senior copywriter Nick Papa explored the Mile High City. From the perfect weather to amazing restaurants and a cool arts scene, here’s why Denver is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States — and why you should get out there before it becomes the next big thing.
What did you love most about this city?
Everything is new. And clean. I live in New York, where everything is stuck in the 1970s — or worse, the 1870s. Denver is shiny and modern. Even the historic architecture is so wonderfully preserved that it’s hard to believe anything is hundreds of years old.
Where would you take a first-timer in this city?
The River North Art District. It’s just a hop, skip, and a jump from LoDo, which had the spotlight a decade or so ago, but is now trendy and touristy. RiNo is still rough around the edges. It’s all warehouse buildings that have been converted to cool art galleries and restaurants. The street art is phenomenal. In my mind, it’s a cross between Bushwick and Santa Monica — on my trip, I heard that young people from New York and Los Angeles are moving to the area in droves, bringing aspects of both cities with them.
What is one thing that a first-timer must do in this city?
Get a drink in Denver Union Station. Yes, it’s a train station. No, it’s not like any other train station you’ve been to. The locals lovingly call it “Denver’s Living Room,” and rightfully so. The main hall of the Beaux-Arts station has been completely restored and transformed into a massive space with comfy leather couches surrounded by bars and restaurants.
What is your favorite dish from here, and where might we find it?
Literally everything on the menu at Woodie Fisher Kitchen & Bar, which is located on the outskirts of LoDo, near Coors Field. If you geek out over architecture like I do, you’ll love that the restaurant is housed in an 1881 fire house, which happens to be one of the oldest buildings in the neighborhood. The flatbread pizzas will transport you to Italy. The burger, topped with Havarti and smoked bacon and crispy onions, is mouth watering. But first things first: Start with the house-made burrata, which is served with green tomato jam. It’s an otherworldly experience.
Tell us about the locals.
Everybody — actually everybody — in Denver is nice and friendly. People on the sidewalk will talk to you. Your taxi driver will talk to you. Restaurant servers will talk to you — and not just about the specials on the menu.
What is something they have in this city that you wish you had at home?
The weather. Denver is dry and cool. If I never have to experience humidity again, it’ll be too soon.
What are five words that describe this city?
Artsy. Casual. Cool. Friendly. Outdoorsy.
Cover photo by Nico Schinco
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