Of all the possible reasons a person might have for traveling, most can be filed under one of two labels: “business” or “vacation.” There are, however, some trips that defy easy classification.
Take, for instance, one trip that occurred on February 1, 1976, when Elvis Presley made the two-and-a-half hour flight from Memphis to Denver so he could procure a sandwich. (Specifically, a sandwich called the Fool’s Gold Loaf, consisting of a hollowed-out loaf of French bread filled with one jar of peanut butter, one jar of grape jelly, and one pound of bacon.) The King ordered 22, which he shared with the crew of his private jet and washed down with champagne before flying back to Graceland, the mansion in Tennessee where, incidentally, Elvis would soon be found dead on the bathroom floor.
Brad Shervheim, Senior Solutions Consultant at Sailthru, travels to Denver often from his homebase of San Francisco (typically for business, not sandwiches). Rocketrip caught up with him after one recent trip to get his tips for visitors to the Mile High City.
What brought you to Denver?
A sales meeting with an ecommerce company based in downtown Denver.
How did you choose where to stay?
To get the most Rocketrip points on lodging, it always makes the most sense to stay with a friend or family member, so that's typically my first choice.
Did you eat anywhere memorable?
A local specialty called Quiznos. It’s based in Denver after all.
It looks like you come to Denver quite often for work. Any suggestions for things a first-time visitor should do in the city?
I've only been to the city for business travel, not leisure, but downtown is quite nice and worth a visit.
Any suggestions for how a first-time visitor can adjust to the elevation?
I run frequently, and found the elevation adjustment to not be an issue. However, I was told to drink lots of water due to the elevation change.
Editor's tip: Drinking water is in fact one of the most important steps to take while adjusting to a higher elevation. Here are a few more.
How much have you earned from Rocketrip traveling to Denver?
How will you spend your Rocketrip rewards?
I already spent them on a $500 AMEX card! I plan to use the money for movies, restaurants, and travel!
If you found yourself with a free afternoon in Denver, what are you most likely to spend it doing: skiing, mountain biking, or touring one of Denver's many microbreweries?
I would likely tour the city's mircrobreweries.
Though he was born in New Mexico and raised primarily in Arizona, Alabama, and Texas, Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. is most associated with Colorado, the state whose capital city provided the basis of his stage name - John Denver. Which of these traveling songs are you most likely to include on a business trip playlist?
A) Leaving on a Jetplane
B) Country Roads, Take Me Home
C) Literally any other song in the world that isn't by John Denver.
“Country Roads, Take Me Home”
Denver Transport Tips
- Denver International Airport is the largest in the world by land area, and occupies more than twice the space of Manhattan. Despite its vast physical size, the flight options into DIA can seem limited. Three airlines - United, Frontier and Southwest - account for the vast majority of traffic, so it’s best to remain flexible in what flights you book, even if you usually fly with a different carrier.
- Denver’s a sprawling city, but it’s possible to get around without renting a car. The city’s light rail system connects the suburbs to the city center, while Regional Transportation District buses (RTD) cover downtown and provide hourly service to the airport. Not surprisingly for a city that frequently ranks as one of the fittest in America, Denver also offers a bike sharing program.
What to Do
- Denver has an abundance of park space, and a surprising amount of sunshine in which to enjoy it. (The 300 annual days of sunshine that Denver gets is more than Miami or San Diego.) What the city’s main park, City Park, is lacking in the way of an original name, it more than makes up for with open spaces for running or relaxing. If you have more time on your trip, and a car, you can explore one of Denver’s mountain parks, such as Genesee Park, which is, fans of wildlife and obscure facts will be happy to know, home to the largest herd of municipally-owned bison in the country.
- If you’re more into beer than bison, Denver’s got you covered. In fact, with apologies to Portland, Milwaukee, San Diego, and some other contenders, Denver has a strong claim to be the beer capital of the United States. Denver's case is certainly strengthened by the fact that it’s the only major American city to elect a brewer as mayor. Or that every September, it hosts The Great American Beer Festival - the largest in the country. Or that the Coors Brewery in the suburb of Golden is the biggest single-site brewery in the world. Denver’s also home to a number of craft breweries that offer tours (and free samples). Be careful though: at high altitude, a little bit of alcohol tends to go a long way.
Where to Eat
- In Denver, enjoying an authentic local dining experience isn’t incompatible with eating at a chain. If you’re in the mood for a sandwich with a side of corporate history, check out the original Quiznos, located at 1275 Grant Street in Capitol Hill.
- Chipotle is another Denver export. The massively-popular chain started by serving massive burritos to hungry college students at a shop near the University of Denver campus (1644 Evans Avenue). There’s a good chance that the next next big thing in quick-serve dining might also trickle down from the Mile High City: the Chipotle-owned Pizzeria Locale applies the “make-your-own [blank]” concept to Neapolitan-style pies. You can visit one of the two pilot locations in Denver, or just wait for one to open on a corner near you.
- Apart from Chipotle, Denver’s known for its Southwestern cuisine. There’s some debate about whether the “Denver” omelette is actually a local invention, or just a generic designation for any old egg-pepper-and-ham mix that Denverites would prefer not to sully their city’s culinary name. Lola, a popular brunch spot in the LoHi District, offers an unconventional but delicious interpretation, featuring green chiles, spicy avocado, fromage blanc, and poached lobster.
- Founded in 1893, The Buckhorn Exchange in Lincoln Park remains a semi-kitschy bastion of Denver’s Western heritage. The menagerie of stuffed animals mounted on the walls practically doubles as a menu. Popular dishes include elk, buffalo, rattlesnake, ostrich, and - subject to market availability - yak.
Where to Stay
- Warwick Hotel - What was built as an apartment complex in the 1960s and converted into a Playboy Club in the 1970s is now a hip hotel in the Uptown neighborhood. Nearly every room has a balcony, but if you happen to get one without a mountain view, head up to the heated pool on the rooftop.
- Hotel Teatro - Hotel Teatro takes its name from its location in Denver’s theater district. Though a bit pricy, this is a great option for travelers who prefer refinement to Rocky Mountain ruggedness.
- Hotel Monaco - This boutique offers everything you’d expect from a Kimpton brand hotel (urban location, stylish design, happy hour every evening), but what sets it apart is an unusual amenity. Plenty of hotels can accommodate guests who forget, say, a toothbrush, but the Hotel Monaco is the only one we’ve heard of that will let you borrow a pet goldfish.
Denver frequently ranks near the top of “Most Livable City” lists. Even if you’re just in town for a night, you can pretend you’re a local by staying at an Airbnb.
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