Where to Go on a Date in Denver This Summer

Get back out there.

Now that Zoom dates and extended Netflix marathons are happily in the rearview, there's never been a better time to get back out there. Masks are down, and Denver is once again abuzz with the smiling faces of couples trying to get to know each other in a deeper way. No matter how rusty you’ve gotten, the summer air and a good activity can be all it takes to get you back in the groove. So book that room, toss on a swimsuit, slap on some walking shoes, or throw on your nicest date attire, because with the world back in motion, and there’s no reason your dating life shouldn’t be as well. 

Sit at one of city’s most exciting new chef counters

Free Market
While this one might be best suited for special occasions, a visit to Bruto is definitely a sure way to impress any important person in your life. Chef Michael Diaz de Leon has assembled a crack team of some of the city’s most talented career cooks, mixologists, and wine specialists to execute a singular vision. Serving an evolving seven-course tasting menu, the restaurant specializes in fine-dining interpretations of the cuisines of Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Korea, and Japan, with each dish betraying the kind of commitment rarely found outside of dining’s coastal juggernauts. That Diaz de Leon and his sous chef Fernando Granados both worked at Pujol—one of the harder-to-score seats in Mexico City—may account for the place usually being booked out several weeks in advance. If you’re thinking more casual, the crew also runs BOH, a taco and mezcal counter joint in the adjacent alley. 

Loosen up with a visit to The Beer Spa

Five Points
Having just opened in March, The Beer Spa has still managed to take the art of leisure and streamline it for the busy and overworked. The place combines an open taproom, complete with monthly takeovers from local breweries including Elevation and Denver Beer Co., alongside private saunas and hot tubs. Each proprietary tub is then filled with a giant tea bag full of hops, barley and extra ingredients hand mixed by the brewer of the month. Hops being a natural sedative, the spa capitalizes on all things relaxing, making for a luxurious date where the two of you can really let your hair down. The rooms are clothing optional, making The Beer Spa best suited for someone you’ve known for a bit. 

Enjoy some drinks at a local distillery

Various locations
Denver is a distiller’s city. In the past five years alone, the place has welcomed an impressive number of new spots, many of them producing both world-class and award-winning spirits. Arvada’s-own Talnua Distillery produces a range of whiskeys from a single pot still, opting to follow self-imposed Gaelic-style distilling traditions. With whiskeys that often taste more Irish than Ireland’s own, it can be a fun place to hark back to the hooch’s origin. For real spirit nerds, Golden Moon Distillery in Golden is a strong choice, with owner Stephen Gould handing out more than a little knowledge about his own spirits and the rich culture that surrounds them. Gould also collects antique stills, giving Golden Moon something of a museum feel.

Go tube the Platte River

Littleton
With the summer heat in full effect, there are few things better than a long, leisurely float. The South Platte can offer three or more hours of uninterrupted drifting. Beginning at the Blackrock Lake Parking Lot, the river can take you to a variety of exit points. The real pro move is to hop out at Breckenridge Brewery’s Littleton Campus, which serves all of the company’s finest ales alongside upscale American fare at its Farm House restaurant. Or if lakes are more your thing, hop on over the Chatfield Reservoir for a day on the beach or the boat.

Do an art walk and end with a show at the Mission Ballroom

RiNo
With Denver’s newest venue The Mission Ballroom reopening in August, now would be a good time to score some tickets to any one of the postponed or new shows that are filling up the calendar. As new murals seem to be popping up across the adjacent neighborhood on nearly a weekly basis, the place is a rousing stomping ground for pre-dance discussions. If you and your date have a little extra time, there’s also a staggering number of restaurants and breweries—including fan favorite Mister Oso and the massive Great Divide Barrel Bar—that can help extend the stroll and get you properly positioned to cut a rug. 

Enjoy a romantic staycation

Various locations
There’s never a wrong time to get out of the house and book a romantic getaway, even if it’s close to home. The Four Seasons Denver recently reopened the previously old-fashioned steakhouse EDGE Restaurant to fit a younger clientele, opting in favor of three progressive bars and Dom Perignon by the glass. To top it all off, the whole menu can be ordered poolside. Or hop on over to The Source Hotel, where Colorado’s magnificent summer sunsets can be enjoyed either straight from the room window or upstairs at The Woods Restaurant and Rooftop. It also doesn’t hurt that Temaki Den — one of the most exciting openings of the last year — is hardly a stone’s throw away.

Go to a drag queen bingo brunch

Dairy Block
Every Sunday all summer long, drag queen bingo is on in the Alley at Dairy Block from noon to 3 pm. Play a game of bingo with your date while enjoying some outdoor entertainment and eats from Milk Market and other Dairy Block restaurants.
 

Pack a park picnic

Various locations
If you’re just getting to know someone new, an outdoor date can be a great, low-stakes way to feel out a potential special someone. Thankfully the park system has over 20,000 acres of space from city parks to mountain open space areas. So grab some canned wine, a couple blankets, and some picnic-ready sandwiches and get to know your date in the fresh Colorado air. If you really want to impress your date, bring a premade picnic pack from RedCamper, complete with cheese, snacks, utensils, and adorable packaging.

Get competitive with a game of putt-putt

Central Business District
Putt-putt in the Mile High got a major makeover thanks to the addition of Urban Putt. Now you can go for that hole in one all year long, no matter the weather, ‘cause this steampunk-themed course is totally indoors. Bonus: They’ve also got a full bar and serve dinner. Just don’t get too competitive with your plus one, chief.

Test your ax-throwing skills

North Denver
Wanna feel like a badass on date night? Head to Bad Axe Throwing. I don’t know, but there’s just something about hurling large, sharp objects at a target that really ups the stakes on your bonding time. PLUS you can get some serious insight into that special someone’s ability to defend you in a zombie apocalypse situation. Right now, they’re only taking reservations for groups of four or more, so go double date-style, or head in during their walk-in hours. 
 

Put your problem solving skills to the test at an escape room

Five Points
Role playing takes on a whole new meaning at Solutions Lounge where you’ll have to work together to get out of some sticky situations. Can your skills as a team help you find the killer on the Budapest Express train, or solve a murder mystery in a Scotish mansion? Only time will tell, and there’s not a lot of it. But one thing’s for sure, afterwards you’ll probably need a drink -- which they happily offer along with a full menu (don’t miss the bacon mac & cheese).
 

Take a budget-friendly trip to Golden

Golden
Not quite ready for that much car time one-on-one? Take a 15-minute jaunt to Golden where plenty of low-cost options await. Start with a visit to Golden’s first food hall, Tributary, for some oysters or a $5 gelato float, among other options. Then take a riverside stroll through town and check out the over 50 historic buildings along Washington Avenue. On your way back to Denver, take a detour up Lookout Mountain for some photo-worthy views of Denver in the distance.

Check out some art and see if your tastes match up

Union Station
The MCA Denver is smaller than the Denver Art Museum, making it perfect for date night exploration. The art changes regularly, and the rousing exhibits are guaranteed to be conversation starters. They’re currently using a timed ticketing system to help limit capacity for social distancing, so be sure to reserve ahead of time. Admission is only $10, plus they do penny admission days the first Saturday of every month if you’re really on a budget.
 

Take them to Grandma's House, obviously

Platt Park
If you don’t want to scare your date off, you should probably save the trip to your actual grandma’s house for later in the relationship. Grandma’s House brewery is a totally acceptable option, however. They’ve also set up an awesome hidden patio out back so you can enjoy your brews in the fresh air.

Go behind the scenes at one of Denver's most iconic businesses

Chaffee Park, Boulder
Do you and your date both have a sweet tooth? The iconic Hammond’s Candies factory offers free factory tours all day during business hours and you’ll get a sweet treat to take home. While masks are no longer required, the factory is still asking that parties book their tour in advance.

 

Take them on a delicious dim sum date

Athmar Park
It’s not just a feast, it’s a social experiment. By the time the check comes, you’ll know whether 1) you share similar tastes and 2) you’re comfortable unbuttoning your pants for all the wrong reasons together. Plus dim sum is easy on the wallet. Plan on about $20/person for a serious feast. Test this theory at Star Kitchen which is currently open for in person dining and offers their dim sum to-go too. For similar results, head to The Empress Seafood Restaurant, which serves a comparable menu of equally delicious morsels. 

Test your limits with indoor rock climbing

Multiple locations
Rock climbing gym Übergrippen offers 90 minute reservation slots which is a fine step when you’re ready to work up a sweat together, but not yet ready for an outing that could theoretically require calling in a rescue team. Bonus: Your jokes about the relationship hitting a wall are going to kill.

Molly Martin is the food & drink editor for Westword. She enjoys long walks to the nearest burrito joint and nights spent sipping cocktails on Colfax. Keep up with her Mile High adventures at @mollydbu on Instagram.
Colin Wrenn is a Thrillist contributor.
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