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The 7 Mistakes Tourists Make When Visiting Denver (and What to Do Instead)

Denver Travel Insider Guides
by Annabelle Needles Jun 14, 2017

HERE ARE a few suggestions to make the most of your time in the Mile High City and avoid riling the typically laid-back locals.

Traveling to Colorado? Check out Matador’s Colorado accommodation guides to the best places to stay across the state: 

1. Assuming Denver is all about weed.

Yes, we’re a cannabis-friendly city. No, we’re not all high. So, grab your gummy strawberries from Denver Recreational and enjoy them in the privacy of your accommodations, but please don’t get behind the wheel or light up in public parks. Both of those things are against the law. If you happen to strike up a conversation with a resident, ask us about our favorite 14er or IPA instead of quizzing us about marijuana — you’ll be our new best friend.

2. Hydrating improperly.

Denver is called the Mile High City for a reason, and that reason is not marijuana. Visit the elevation marker on the steps of the State Capitol building to see that we sit at 5280 feet in elevation, one mile above sea level. One of the side effects of being 5280 feet closer to the sun is dehydration — which is why almost every Denverite carries a water bottle at all times. Make sure to drink up if you want to avoid the headaches and nose bleeds that come with altitude sickness.

3. Thinking Red Rocks is the only place in Denver to see live music.

Concerts at Red Rocks can be on your list, to be sure, but there are many great venues in Denver to hear awesome music — no matter your style. Head to Ogden Theatre for a show and walk to 1 Up for some classic arcade games afterward. Visit Nocturne for live jazz and a seasonal menu, or grab some tacos from a food truck on your way into the underground Meadowlark to dance the night away.

4. Thinking the only thing to do at Red Rocks is attend a concert.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre is one of the most renowned concert venues in the country, but don’t get discouraged if your favorite band isn’t playing during your visit or if tickets cost more than your airfare. Instead, bring a picnic for Film on the Rocks, get in an early morning workout at Yoga on the Rocks, or just show up to watch the sunrise.

5. Trying to drive anywhere after a brewery tour.

Most locals will be able to outdrink you, and it’s not just because we love our craft brews. Being a new-comer to our altitude affects your tolerance of adult beverages. Breweries are generous with their tastings, so hold off on tours at Great Divide until a few days into your visit.

6. Never leaving 16th Street Mall.

The free shuttle makes 16th Street Mall easy to get around and popular with tourists, but you rarely catch locals hanging in LoDo (short for Lower Downtown.) Make reservations for dinner at Euclid Hall and snap selfies under the lights on Larimer Square with the other tourists. Once you’re done, take the shuttle all the way to the Western end and walk across the pedestrian bridge into the Highlands neighborhood where you’ll find more of that down-to-earth Denver vibe.

7. Expecting Denver to be a mountain town.

When you land at the Denver airport, you might as well be in West Kansas — which always surprises new visitors. Even upon arriving in downtown Denver, the mountains are still off on the horizon. To see the Rockies from within the city limits, try the views from a few stories up at Coors Field or Peaks Lounge. If you’re after a good hike without having to rent a car, take the RTD into Golden — where you can reward yourself with a visit to Golden City Brewery after exploring North Table Mountain Park.

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