I took a 1-week trip to Denver in May 2019.

Here are some highlights and tips:

My itinerary

Sat May 11
Fly in
Nocturne Jazz & Supper Club
Death & Co / Suite 6A at the Ramble Hotel
Marco’s Coal Fired, for pizza

Sun May 12: Denver
Bellwether coffee
QuinceEssential coffee
Tattered Cover on Colfax
Voodoo Donuts
Denver Botanic gardens
Glassblowing in Lakewood at the Furnace: a glassworks
Dinner in Evergreen

Mon May 13: Denver
Sassafras cafe for beignets and chicken fried eggs / hash.
Mint tour
Capitol tour
Denver Art Museum
Stranahan’s Whiskey Distillery tour / lounge
Downtown Denver Milk Market / Kachina Cantina for fry bread tacos
Butchers Bistro
Union Station
Tattered Cover downtown
Milkbox ice cream in Union Station
Williams & Graham Speakeasy
Meadowlark bar for live jazz at 10 PM

Tue May 14: Gold Country
Georgetown: Happy Coooker for breakfast
Walk around Georgetown
Georgetown Railroad loop, with a tour of the Lebanon mine
Idaho Springs: Tour of the Argo Mine / Gold panning
Smokin Yard’s BBQ
Central City
Black Hawk
Golden: Golden Moon Speakeasy
Denver: Nocturne Jazz & Supper Club

Wed May 15: Denver
Rosebud cafe
Denver Biscuit Co for breakfast
Downtown Aquarium
Little Man Ice Cream
Museum of Contemporary Art / cafe on the roof
Confluence Park
Oxford Hotel: Cruise Room
Union Station: Cooper Lounge
Green Russel Speakeasy

Thu May 16: Boulder
Lucile’s for breakfast: Beignets
Chautauqua park: 1st and 2nd flatiron hikes
El Dorado Canyon: West face of Redgarden hike
E-bike tour of Boulder at Pedego
License No 1 Speakeasy
Brasserie Ten Ten for happy hour
The Kitchen Upstairs
The Bitter Bar
Press Play arcade
License No 1 Speakeasy for live music

Fri May 17: Denver
Habit Doughnut Dispensary / Carbon cafe
Golden Railroad museum
Golden Mountaineering museum
Golden History Park
Golden: Sassafras for lunch
Denver: Leopold Bros Distillery tour
Dazzle Jazz club
Denver Ghost Tour

Sat May 18: Fort Collins
Brunch at Ginger & Baker
Feisty Spirits Distillery tour
Nuance chocolates
Mary’s Mountain Cookies
Social Speakeasy
Jay’s Bistro for live jazz
Ace Gillett’s Lounge for live jazz
Elliot’s martini bar
Kilwins ice cream

Sun May 19: Evergreen
Hike Flying J Ranch Park
Breakfast in Evergreen
Red Rocks amphitheater
Fly back

Taking Uber to SFO

Uber works well for getting to SFO, even early in the morning. Schedule the Uber pickup the night before.

I you want to save some money, Super Shuttle was about half price for a shared ride.

Getting back from SFO

SFO has a designated area to catch an Uber / Lyft. After you get your baggage, take the elevator to the top (3rd) floor, then walk over the bridge to the central parking deck, section F. You will see Uber/Lyft cars constantly picking people up. In the Uber/Lyft apps, select the garage pick-up option.

Rental Car tweaks

If you rent a car in Denver, you might use toll roads while driving around. In particular, using E-470 from the airport, or using the Express lanes driving to Boulder. Toll roads use automated license plate readers only; you can’t manually pay the toll. If the license plate reader scans your rental car license plate, then your rental car company will charge you the toll fees, plus a convenience fee of about $7/day. You’ll see a surprise charge on your credit card about a week after you get back from your trip. You can avoid this situation by setting up a personal ExpressToll account, and then adding the rental car license plate to your personal account, so that your personal account gets charged, not the rental company. To do this setup:

Go to and create an ExpressToll account. Add your San Jose vehicle as the primary vehicle, even though you won’t be driving it in Denver. You will need to deposit a minimum of $30 into your ExpressToll account using a credit card. It’s a good idea to set the account up about 2 weeks before your trip, so that you get the confirmation letter in snail mail; but you can also set up the account at the last minute.

Immediately after you get your rental car, and before you drive off the rental car lot, call the ExpressToll Service Center at (303) 537-3470, and add the rental car license plate number / state to your account. You must specify the exact date and time that you will return the vehicle; the rental car license plate will be removed from your ExpressToll account at the designated time.

You do not need to use the ExpressToll RFID tag in the rental car.

As you use toll lanes, you can view the tolls that you rack up: On the Express Toll web site, under your account, the tolls will be listed under your primary vehicle, not your rental car vehicle.

Departing from Denver

If you have a rental car, don’t forget to stop at the gas station just outside Denver airport to gas up before returning it. When I gassed up, it was a zoo; budget 30 minutes worst case. 7680 Peña Blvd, Denver, CO 80249

At Denver airport, there are two different security lines: North and South. Be sure to look at both, and go with the one that has a shorter line. It took me > 1 hour to get through security.


If taking United: Install the United app on your iPhone/iPad beforehand; you can use it while you are on the flight to get free flight status, and optionally make use of the expensive in-flight WiFi, but you can’t install the app while you are in the air.


In the spring, schedule your outdoor events in the morning; rain is more likely in the afternoon.


You’ll be using your iPhone all the time, for everything from booking reservations, to paying for parking, to Waze. You will need to recharge your iPhone 3 times per day. Get a battery pack or battery case.

Figure out which days are game days at mile high stadium, or Coors field, so you know when to avoid downtown Denver.

Waze is great, but:

  • In the Bay area, we are used to having good cellular data reception everywhere. That is not the case with day-trips from Denver.
  • You should open Google maps on your iPhone, and download offline maps for all areas where you plan to visit, so that you can fall back to using Google Maps instead of Waze, in case you have no cellular connection.
  • If you have room, you might consider bringing a regular GPS navigation unit.

Apps to install

  • Strava, to record your hikes and bike rides
  • The scooter apps: Lyft, Spin, Lime, Bird. Downtown Denver has all of these. Some scooters have geofencing; they turn off the electric power if they detect that you are anywhere on the 16th street pedestrian mall, or if you are on Wynkoop Street in front of Union Station.
  • Eventbrite, in case you want to book events while out there
  • Sigalert, and the web site for Sigalert Denver.
  • The Boulder BCycle bike sharing app, and the web site
  • The Denver BCycle bike sharing web site


Parking is a real pain in downtown Denver. On-street parking is expensive, and has a 2 hour max, which is enforced until 10 PM, which is crazy. Garages charge about $30/day. Surface lots are cheaper: about $20/day. A lot of these surface-level lots use these apps in Denver, and it’s more convenient than using the flakey card reader machines:

Accounts to setup

It’s handy to already have an account setup for these locations, so that you can quickly order tickets online if you need to book at the last minute, or if you would rather not wait in a long line. These accounts include: