Northeast of Denver, this former home to the airport (before that moved east) is now a growing community that’s got its own stash of newer Mile High gems. Yes, it is a suburb with a lot of cookie-cutter homes. But for a getaway near the city that feels nothing like a city, it can be a relaxing break. Stroll through its paths and open spaces, play in the water features that are really meant for all those suburban kids, and enjoy the low-key vibes and the chance to check out some great spots that are easy to miss if you’re spending most of your time Downtown.
Where to stay
There are a slew of chain hotels in the area, but you don’t have to settle for those. Since this is a newer development, the Airbnb options are loaded with clean and comfy private options aplenty. Rent out an entire townhouse with your own gas fireplace for some cozy romantic vibes, or score a spot with access to an outdoor hot tub that you don’t have to share with a bunch of hotel guests.
Things to do
Since you’re already outside of the city, why not get outside for real? Just a short drive from Stapleton is an area that even locals tend to overlook: the 17,000-acre Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. It’s free to visit and is open from sunrise to sunset daily. Explore it by car on an 11-mile wildlife drive or take a nature walk on the hiking trails and look for bison, bald eagles, deer, owls, and more along the way. If the weather’s keeping you indoors, you can still get active. Stapleton is home to Übergrippen, an indoor rock climbing gym where you can get a day pass to scale their walls with options for everyone from first timers to experts. If you want to get a little competitive, head to Punch Bowl Social. Their Stapleton location is the old airport air control tower and they have tons of options for activities including private karaoke rooms, putt putt, bowling, a vintage arcade, giant jenga, and more.
Restaurants & Bars to Hit
Though it’s technically in Aurora, a stay in Stapleton gives you super easy access to the Stanley Marketplace. This former airplane factory is a community hub filled with shopping, dining, special events, and more. It’s got food for anytime of the day, but the breakfast and brunch lineup is particularly impressive. Your options include NY-style bagels (and soon to be added, pizza and sandwiches) from Rosenberg’s, towering biscuit sandwiches at Denver Biscuit Company, and everything (seriously) off the menu at Annette.
The neighborhood isn’t where you wanna go if late-night drinking is a priority. But if you’re the “let’s have an epic dinner then go back to the Airbnb to soak in the hot tub” kind of person, you’re in the right spot. Two of the best options for dining happen to be next door to each other. After leading the kitchen at Downtown Italian staple, Panzano, Elise Wiggins moved to Stapleton and opened her own place, Cattivella, in 2017. There, she serves up wood fired dishes inspired by her own travels in Italy which include some regional specialities you can’t find anywhere else in town (do not miss the focaccia di recco). Just steps away, Lon Symensma has brought a second location of his modern Asian spot, Cholon, to the neighborhood along with its deservedly famous French onion soup dumplings and his own take on dim sum for brunch.