With hot, sunny weather in the summer and excellent snow sports in the winter, Denver is a popular destination year-round. Despite this, if you’re looking for cheap hotels, winter is a great time because many skiers skip the city and head straight for the mountains. September through October and April through May also tend to be slower times. The worst times are high summer (June-September), when temps soar and travelers flock to the city’s open squares and courtyards to soak up the fresh Colorado air, making budget hotels scarce.
If you’re looking at a specific weekend and finding very few options for hotels, there might be a convention in town – the city is an ideal town for convention organizers – so explore alternative dates for getting the best prices.
If you haven’t been to Denver before, you may be surprised to find that the Denver airport is about 25 miles outside of downtown, and travel times can be considerable at typical rush hour times. Be sure to plan ahead how you’ll be getting to/from the airport and leave yourself plenty of time, both coming and going. Your options for airport transfers include shuttles, the city’s SkyRide express bus, or renting a car. If location isn’t important to you and you already plan on renting a car, you can score a cheap hotel deal near the Denver airport; hotels are clustered around 40th Avenue as well as Tower Road.
Denver airport is a focused location for several airlines: United Airlines, Frontier Airlines, and Southwest Airlines. If you need cheap airline tickets, start your search with these three carriers.
Apart from the airport, downtown Denver is where most of the hotels are. You may find that luxury abounds when it comes to spending the night in downtown Denver – several high-end hotels that opened in the early 1900s are still in operation. If you look closely, though, you can find some affordable luxury options.
One traveler favorite is the Curtis, a boutique hotel owned by Doubletree Hotels that has kitsch luxuries for affordable prices. Another option is the Springhill Suites Downtown. Owned by Metropolitan State University, it is used as a training ground for their hospitality students, making it a unique, vibrant hotel that fits in most budgets and is just a few blocks away from the downtown core. Many of the larger hotels adjacent to the 16th Street Pedestrian Mall offer great package deals and discounts, particularly if you’re planning well ahead of your trip – Courtyard by Marriott and the Hilton Garden Inn are two great options to consider.
If you’re looking for a more relaxed environment, sites like AirBnB have many apartments and room shares welcoming travelers with open arms. These units are generally in the outer neighborhoods as opposed to downtown, but can give you a significant price break if you aren’t looking for the extra amenities.
If you’re just visiting downtown Denver, you don’t need a car – take the airport shuttle, unpack your best walking shoes and hit the pavement. Most locations are within 15 minutes of each other on foot, and if your route takes you along the pedestrian mall, you can hop aboard the free shuttle.
For neighborhoods near downtown, you can take advantage of the city’s Regional Transportation District. RTD operates a light rail service that covers popular residential areas, with bus service covering the rest of the city. While the light rail is fairly straight forward, most travelers feel the bus network is complex, so investigate your route options thoroughly before heading out for a smooth travel experience.
If your plans require you to visit several locations or make trips outside the downtown core frequently, a car is highly recommended. This also gives you the flexibility to get out of town for the day and head into the mountains, or perhaps hang out in the nearby quirky college town of Boulder.
Looking for affordable things to do downtown while you’re here? You’re in luck – most of Denver’s attractions are quite inexpensive. Downtown Denver has quite a few museums, so it’s worth investigating to see what interests you the most. One of the most popular is the Denver Art Museum, which features a more modern collection. If you’re more inclined to explore the American West, visit the American Museum of Western Art. If it’s a sunny day and you don’t feel like being inside, the Denver Botanic Gardens are a real treat.
If you love sports, be sure to budget for some sporting tickets since Denver has no shortage of options for you. Hockey (the Avalanche & the Cutthroats), lacrosse (the Mammoth), baseball (the Rockies), football (the Broncos), and basketball (the Nuggets) are all possibilities, depending on when you visit.
Denver is also very well-known for its beer, so at some point along your journey, be sure to take a minute to relax and enjoy a sample of a locally brewed beverage. Wynkoop Brewing Company and the Yard House are two downtown options with several beers for you to enjoy, though local beers are always available at most pubs and restaurants.
Downtown may be Denver’s focus, but it’s not the only area of interest for visitors. Cherry Creek is where the bulk of the city’s shopping district is, from high-end retailers to budget boutiques. Cheery Creek also boasts great biking paths for a stroll after enjoying dinner at one of the many great restaurants that call this area home.
North of downtown is an area called Five Points, which is famous for being home to Denver’s many well-regarded jazz clubs. Today it features hip cafes, quirky ice cream parlors, and wonderful Victorian houses; locals will also send you here if you’re looking for diverse ethnic foods, from Caribbean to Cajun.
Just a few blocks off of downtown is an area called Uptown, which is the city’s oldest residential district. The Denver Zoo is located here, as well as the city’s largest park, City Park. Lately, Uptown’s biggest claim to fame is the rise of its Restaurant Row, a lineup of top-rated pubs and eateries on either side of 17th avenue – be sure to find a bowl of the famous Denver green chili.
The official Visit Denver website is a great place to start for links to sporting websites, conference schedules, museum exhibits, and other activities in the metro area. Visit Denver also has a rotating list of hotel deals and discounts, as well as tips for making your stay more enjoyable, considering the high altitude and higher sun exposure.
If you’re interested in music or other cultural activities, pick up a copy of Westword or download their online mobile app. It has the most comprehensive events calendar for smaller businesses and venues, as well as restaurant tips, movie showtimes, and full write-ups on unique festivals and fairs that occur fairly regularly in Denver.
© 2015 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.
© 2015 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.