15 Actually Cool Things to Do in Denver During Quarantine
All social-distancing approved.
Exploring Denver looks a lot different these days. As in, “I have already deeply explored every inch of my house/apartment/neighborhood in these last few weeks...now what!?” But there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the best of the Mile High, even while you’re perfecting those social distancing skills. From virtual tours of classic landmarks like the Botanic Gardens and online concerts featuring local musicians to hikes close to the city and a self-lead street art tour, we present: the stuff you can and definitely should be doing to keep yourself from going stir crazy while still following guidelines to keep us all healthy, safe, and prepped for future celebrations together.
Take one look at the Denver Botanic Garden’s Instagram and it’s clear: the spring blooms are most definitely showing off. The one thing that’s missing: you. This Denver landmark is still closed for visitors, although they’re working on reopening plans and are hoping to welcome the public back with new restrictions soon. In the meantime, they’ve gone virtual with online resources like classes, workshops, YouTube videos, and photo and video tours so you can enjoy the beauty of spring’s bounty from home.
Pick up some local produce at a farmers market
Farmers market-ing is one of the top spring and summer pastimes in Colorado. Typically, local growers show up in droves with all kinds of farm-fresh foods waiting to go home with you. We’re talking bags of Palisade peaches, strangely shaped squash with names you’d never heard of before that day, and big bouquets of sunflowers. And these markets are packed with more than just fruits and veggies. They’re also a prime spot to find other delectable locally made products. Many of these small producers and farmers need your support more than ever, and thankfully, farmers markets are still opening as scheduled, though things will look a bit different this year. New precautions like mask requirements for vendors and shoppers, increased space around booths, and less sampling are in place. Metro Denver Farmers Markets are already open, and more like the South Pearl Street Farmers Market will soon join in. Other markets, like the Boulder County Farmers Markets in Boulder, Lafayette, Longmont, and at Union Station in Denver are offering online ordering while they work towards in person openings later in the season.
Explore our amazing street art scene
RiNo and the Santa Fe Arts District
Over the past few years, Denver’s streets have become a whole lot more colorful thanks to a slew of new works by street artists, especially in these two neighborhoods. All you need is some free time to wander to find eye-catching examples painted everywhere from alleys and underpasses to the outsides of prominent businesses. If you’re looking for a socially distant friendly outdoor activity, these two districts are like open-air museums for modern art, just waiting to be (safely) explored.
Catch a live virtual concert
Live music venues abound in the Mile High, and even though the stages are empty right now, many venues are offering support to local artists via virtual concerts. The best part? Everyone gets a front row view. Tune in to support these venues and musicians so that when live music makes a comeback, your favorites will be a part of that. Levitt Pavilion is hosting a daily “Levitt in Your Living Room series” via it’s Facebook page, City’s Park’s summer jazz series (which has been canceled) is also giving a platform to its performers on Facebook, and the organizers of the cancelled ARISE Music Festival has pivoted to the Rocky Mountain Virtual Music Festival with new videos and interactive sessions every Friday. And as social distancing continues, more virtual concerts are being added every day so keep an eye out on your favorite performers and venues for the latest options.
Parks remain open, and as long as you’re respecting social distancing and sticking to parks in your neighborhood, a picnic is your current best bet for a safe meal outside of your house. With over 20,000 acres of urban and mountain greenscape, the parks offer the perfect spot for a relaxing getaway, peppered throughout town. All you need is a blanket and some snacks, and you’ve got a classic Colorado experience covered. Just leave the booze at home -- alcohol is temporarily not permitted.
Golf lovers all over Denver collectively (but distantly) celebrated when it was announced that city courses would be permitted to reopen. And with tee times at the city’s courses starting at just $10 (that’d be for the nine-hole Harvard Gulch), this is one outdoor activity that’s also easy on your wallet. There are some new restrictions, so be sure to review those before making your reservation, and be sure to bring your mask along -- they are required when in the clubhouse.
Hop on an e-scooter
Before we had bigger things to deal with, many lamented the scourge of the Limes and Birds and other brands of rechargeable, shared scooters on Denver’s sidewalks. But after initially pulling their fleet from the city amid the stay-at-home order, they’re back and they offer a fun way to make your next essential business run. Skip the car and get some fresh air and a dose of excitement next time you’ve got an errand to run. It definitely makes going to the grocery store feel more adventurous.
State parks remain open, but current guidelines for recreation require you to stay within 10 miles of your home. Thankfully, there are a few state parks very close to the Metro area, which means there’s a good chance some of these hiking opportunities are in reach, especially if you live in the suburbs. Roxborough near Littleton has over 4,000 acres to explore that include forests, red rock formations, meadows, and the historic Waterhouse Homestead -- as well as birds, mule deer, fox, and a whole lot of wildflowers in the spring and summer. Cherry Creek, Chatfield, and Castlewood Canyon are also great, nearby options for hiking and biking trails.
Sample local eats at a food hall
Even in the midst of social distancing, most of Denver's many food halls remain open for to-go orders, and some have even added more grocery options so you have another outlet for shopping local for the necessities. Avanti, an OG of the movement, boasts an impressive lineup of rotating concepts. Denver Central Market not only has prepared foods from their vendors, but also new grocery boxes. Milk Market has also gotten into the grocery game and is a must-visit for fresh pastas and a large booze to-go selection. Stanley Marketplace may have the widest variety of options of them all and is planning for both curbside and socially distant spring and summer market shopping options. And there’s Zeppelin Station! And there’s The Source! And hopefully soon other favorites like Broadway Market will reopen.
Go brewery hopping, to-go style
The sheer number of Denver breweries can be a bit daunting, but with extra time on your hands, this is the perfect chance to explore as many options as you can. Once breweries got the go-ahead for to-go, it was game on for Denver’s craft beer scene. Check out our roundup of the best breweries to check out now for good options to start with, from newer additions to the classics. Some, lime Ratio and Breckenridge Brewery, have also recently added home delivery to the mix to make it even easier to sip local.
Go distillery, winery, and cidery hopping, to-go style
Sure, beer gets most of the attention when it comes to boozy beverages, but the Mile High is also packed with plenty of locally made non-beer options that are absolutely worthy of your attention. Like breweries, many of these favorites have jumped bottle-first into the to-go game. Some must-trys: Bigsby’s Folly and Infinite Monkey Theorem for a wine fix, Stem Ciders for bright, dry hard ciders, and The Block Distilling Company for vodka and gin made right in the neighborhood along with to-go cocktails.
Find your favorite bowl of Denver's most popular dish
Everyone who’s spent a significant amount of time in Denver has a favorite spot for green chile. Everyone. But even if you’re loyal to a certain bowl of this pork-studded regional go-to, there are countless options to try, and now lots of time at home to order takeout. Pretty much any restaurant with even a slightly Mexican or Latin slant has a version so start ordering and sampling ASAP. Some must-visits on your pickup and delivery green chile adventure? El Taco de Mexico, North County, and Sam’s No. 3.
Crush a breakfast burrito
If you’ve accomplished the task of eating green chile on its own, it’s time to take it up a notch. Perhaps no dish is more uniquely Denver than a breakfast burrito with green chile piled in or atop it. And there are a ton of options to satisfy your quarantine hungover urges. Santiago’s handhelds are ubiquitous, while at El Taco de Mexico (yeah, we mention the spot a couple of times, you need to go) when they ask if you want it smothered and with onions and salsa, your answers should be a resounding “yes” and “yes.”
If you’ve done even a minimal amount of research on Denver, you’ve probably read that the capital’s historic train station has been renovated and stuffed to the gills with awesome stuff to do. And it’s true! Currently, Union Station is limiting visitors, but many of its businesses are open for carryout, curbside pickup, and delivery including classic cocktail kits from The Cooper Lounge, curbside delivery of coffee and pastries from Pigtrain Coffee, and boozy shakes to-go from Milkbox Ice Creamery. You can also shop some of their retail stores like Tattered Cover Book Store and 5 Green Boxes online.
Get food and booze to-go from My Brother’s Bar
Pretty simple instructions, right? Just go. This place is a Denver institution where Kerouac used to drink late into the night. And while you can’t currently post up at the bar like Jack, they did recently reopen for pickup which means a Johnny Burger and an old fashioned are just an online order away.
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