Our Colorado Getaway Part I: Hiking in Red Rocks, Art, and an Adventurous Food Hall in Denver

Updated: Sep 25, 2018

Colorado is a stunningly picturesque nature lover’s paradise; a.k.a. Curious G's dream come true. After a 3.5 hour morning flight, we arrived at Denver International Airport and dove right into our end of the summer adventure! We spent a couple of days in the beautiful city of Denver, then headed to Colorado Springs and Avon for a much needed dose of fresh mountain air. Follow along as I document our getaway via this three part post!

This is what we came for: open skies, fresh air, and natural beauty

Red Rocks

Red Rocks Park is known for its grand amphitheater, where you can catch a performance under the stars amongst the stunning namesake rock formations. While the amphitheater was closed for a Jason Mraz sound check while we were there, we did manage to walk up 100 steps to experience the partial climb (many fitness enthusiasts come just to run up the steps) without going in. The acoustics provided by the galactic goliath rocks surrounding us were enough to make us feel like we were in the center of the performance space. It was a lovely soundtrack for exploring.

The rest of the park offers breath taking hiking trails, and we hiked a trail for about a mile, just enjoying the fabulous scenery. The terrain was kid friendly, and we felt like explorers in a foreign land far far away from the noise and grit of the city. Along the way, we saw cacti, a variety of dessert flowers and insects. We spent about 3 hours in Red Rocks Park, stopping in the Dinosaur Discovery area on the way out (there’s not much to see there; it's an extremely abridged version of a museum/ gift shop). There is a general store and a Music Hall of Fame museum where we bought over priced water and snacks (since we came directly from the airport and didn’t pack the necessities). There are restrooms available by the general store as well. Dining options, which we did not partake in, are also available in the park.

This paved trail was a good starting point for our first Colorado hike with Curious G

We saw so many varieties of cacti this summer at all the Botanical gardens we visited. Yet, nothing beats seeing cacti while hiking in Colorado!

This was a more rugged trail

16th Street Mall: Arcade Games, Oysters and Wine, free shuttle rides, and more

After checking into our hotel, we headed out to the 16th Street Mall, which was about two blocks away. We did a quick cursory walk-thru, then met up with our local friends at FTW, which is the arcade and game hall attached to the Lucky Strike Bowling Alley, to kill some time before our dinner reservation at The Kitchen. The food at The Kitchen was good and the company was great. Curious G was a fan of the oyster selection and her scrumptious ricotta tart, but after having an early wake up call, flight across the country, moderate hike, change in altitude, and two glasses of wine I was toast. We took the free 16th Street shuttle back to our starting point and walked two blocks back our hotel, where we all immediately tapped out.

While I was chatting with my friend, Curious G was zapping zombies with Daddy at FTW #vacationmode

The first time Curious G tried an oyster at Hog Island in San Francisco, she winced. This time, at The Kitchen, she decided that she is an oyster fan.

Our breakfast at The Corner Bakery was served quickly and the portions were quite generous

In addition to these whimsical bulls, there were also colorfully painted pianos that lined the 16th street mall. We were treated to an impromptu concerto as we walked towards the Denver At Museum.

Denver Art Museum

The Denver Art Museum greatly contributed towards my fondness for Denver. I was so impressed with it the first I visited about a decade ago. Thus, I was excited to take my family there! We strolled through the 16th St Mall and through the lovely Civic Center Park, where Labor Day and Taste of Colorado festivities were underway, to get there. The museum not only lived up to my favorable memory of it, but it surprised us with an incredible selection of kid friendly activities! It was the perfect way to spend a few hours in the morning before we had to check out of our hotel.

Climbing a rock pile in front of the civic center because, well, Curious G adores climbing rocks

This is Curious G trying to not touch the Claes Oldenburg statue in front of the Denver Art Museum

La Musidora: Not only did these chairs rock, but they also rang a bell every time we rocked back and forth

Past the Tangled Present Interactive Installation: This was a very fun play area!

Peek-a-boo: The interior behind this face was like a little woodland house

A Walk in the Woods is a family space with art projects and other activities based on animals in art

This is "Turtlelina" swimming with some friends in A Walk in the Woods

These little animal cards came in handy later on in the car

The animals in art theme continued throughout the museum's Stampede exhibit. We saw amazing pieces from artists that Curious G admired throughout the summer including Yayoi Kusama (pictured here) and Nick Cave

Made in China by Sui Jianguo

The Denver Art Museum Terrace

We love a good hands-on exhibit

Curious G making a horse puppet, which was one of two art projects of the day at the museum

The architecture of Daniel Libeskind makes for such an amusing canvas

RiNo and Zeppelin Station

After checking out of our hotel and packing up the car, we drove about 10 minutes over to Denver’s River North Art District known as RiNo, where we planned to have lunch. Our friends raved about the Banh Mi they had at Zeppelin Station the prior week, and I had also seen an Instagram post about this food hall from a feed I started following in the process of planning this trip (I started following some local Denver moms to get the scoop). I was getting slight Chelsea Market vibes from Zeppelin Station, although its location along an old railroad track is distinctly Denver with its open blue sky, wild desert flowers and the fabulous crush walls which dot the whole neighborhood.

Mural in front of Zeppelin Station...a post of this mural is what initially piqued my interest in Zeppelin Station, What can I say? I'm a Kate Moss fan...

Ramen to the left, limited-edition skateboard decks to the right

Fun bleacher seats leading up to the restaurant Big Trouble

View while waiting for our poutine

Fried chicken sandwich from Injoi Korean Kitchen and poutine from Au Feu

After lunch, we set out to follow the Crush Walls map to find all of the Crush pieces

When in RiNo...

The Lot at RiNo is an audio and visual production company with beautiful grounds

I think Curious G's handmade horse puppet enhances this juxtaposition of industrial art and wild flowers quite nicely lol

Where we stayed:

Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center

I stayed here about 10 years ago when I was in Denver for work and booked it for our family trip for its convenient location. It’s within arm’s reach of the 16th Street mall, where we ate dinner and breakfast during our overnight stay. It was also a 10 minute walk from the Denver Art Museum. Our room was very comfortable, and had we had the energy, we would have gone up to the hotel bar, Peaks Lounge, to take in the stunning Denver city and mountain vista.

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