72 Hours in Denver, Colorado (Plus, Business Travel Tips)

72 Hours in Denver, Colorado (Plus, Business Travel Tips)

I’m learning to tolerate business travel. Traveling for work is a relatively new experience for me, one that I’m slowly adjusting to and finding appreciation for. But I think I’ve figured out how a fiercely independent globetrotter like myself can make the most of strict group itineraries with minimal downtime. The key: managing expectations.

Thanks to a big-budget project at work, I’ve been invited on a multi-city technology conference series that brought me to Denver, Colorado (and next, Chicago, one of my favorite cities in America). As a fan of visiting small regions off season, I was excited to fly again (it had been a year since i was last on a plane!) somewhere new. On my to do list was a few small musts: snap a picture of the Rockies, go skiing, find the Topo Designs flagship store, and taste Colorado beef. Unsure of how jam-packed my schedule would be, I limited myself to making a short but realistic “hit list” of Mile High City musts. 

STAY, WORK, LOUNGE

Gear Patrol magazine never fails to deliver. One of my go-to travel sources, I looked up their Denver recommendations and discovered Hotel Teatro downtown. I immediately alerted our makeshift travel agent (aka our Events Director) to book us a stay. Luckily the hotel fell within our budget and our rooms were booked. 

I immediately fell in love with the boutique hotel. For one, the entire staff was incredibly warm and inviting our whole stay. My former New Yorker anti-social attitude still is shocked by the genuine pleasantries offered by strangers. Now as a Pennsylvania resident, I’m getting used to having my guard down – and I have to admit, it’s nice. Second, Hotel Teatro hosts a cafe inside their lounge where you can hide yourself in an oversized chair or snag a table by the fireplace to read the morning paper. Third, and my favorite, is their courtesy car concierge services. Hotel guests can score a free ride anywhere within a two mile radius, any time, day or night. Convenient!

EAT, DRINK, PLAY 

Union Station came recommended by my colleagues who had previously been in town. So my boss and I took a stroll through downtown in part to please our inner history buff and to take in some Denver culture.

Without railroads, Denver would be too dead to bury
— Thomas Durant, railroad executive

The city’s Union Station was built in 1880 and received a massive renovation in the last five years that made its inside a certain kind of glamorous, from horse town to urban chic. 

Union Station is a marvelous meeting ground. Reminiscent of New York’s Ace Hotel, I found myself feeling comfortable sitting at a picnic-like table with a locally-brewed Kolsch beer from the adjacent Terminal Bar reading the latest editions of Conde Nast Traveler and Afar magazines. Inside Union Station you’re surrounded by the beautiful old-school style Crawford Hotel, business men and women taking conference calls and meetings, folks playing shuffleboard, and quirky storefronts and eateries. Shortly before my beer and magazine break I stuffed my face with a breakfast burrito from Snooze just a few steps away. This was my happy place. I didn’t want to leave. 

WALK AND SHOP 

On my last day in Denver I managed to squeeze in a few hours of downtime which allowed me to kill time at Tattered Covered Book Store and Topo Designs.

I’m a sucker for bookstores and will always seek out the best one in any city I visit. So I was really excited to step inside Tattered Covered Book Store to find a much-needed adult coloring book. Walking around the Tattered felt like being in a library with books filled top to bottom and book junkies nose deep into pages. I even sought help finding a book at a computer like one did back in the day! 

For adventurous travelers, Topo Designs Flagship store is a must when in Denver. Shop here if you are a fan of heavy duty travel gear like multi-purpose backpacks, outdoors-ready apparel, and fleece-lined laptop sleeves. Their products are environmentally friendly, all American, and just fucking dope. I am slowly stocking up on everything they sell and have been a loyal fan for years. I suggest getting on board. 

Denver in a word was delightful. Though I only got to see the Rockies from a highway taxi drive and I didn’t get to go skiing, I left with the impressions that I’d be back and the city would receive me with open arms. Next time I’ll be sure to drink more local beer, eat a burger, and ski those slopes. Next time, Denver! 

BUSINESS TRAVEL TIPS

Here’s what I’ve learned about traveling for work and what tips you can practice if you ever have to take a business trip:

  1. Go the extra mile to book cost-cutting amenities, like courtesy car services, whenever possible. This will save you (or whoever is handling expenses) money on taxi’s, including Ubers and Lyfts.
  2. Despite how busy with work obligations you may be, find one spot to sneak in solo hang time. Perhaps find a cafe to duck into before your work day starts, or sneak in a bubble bath back at your hotel room. The important part is to integrate even the smallest bit of solitude so you don’t stress out while on the road.
  3. Befriend the local bartender. They will know what’s up and tell you the best secrets of the place you’re visiting.
  4. Find a work buddy to unwind with. If you’re traveling for work in a big group this should be your excuse to bond with a friendly colleague and make the trip more fun.
  5. Bring petty cash. Cover your ass (and have fun spending it!). I always strive to have $100 just in case.
  6. Find the central area you’ll be staying throughout your trip and build a “play” list within a few blocks. Chances are if you’re in town for work you won’t be traveling far from your hotel so research bars, restaurants, cafes, and shops to check out nearby when free time does pop up.
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