Greetings Internet Stranger and welcome to a one day in Denver itinerary. Many people who spend 24 hours in Denver are the outdoorsy type. They want to be in close proximity to the sublime Rocky Mountains, getting Rocky Mountain High. But Denver is also home to many more indoor attractions.
Culture vultures will enjoy the Denver Art Museum, the Capitol Building, and the many delicious restaurants available in Denver. Don’t believe me? Spend a one day in Denver itinerary with me and allow me to prove it to you.
One Day in Denver Itinerary
Where to Stay?
You’re in luck, Internet Stranger, because I have the perfect place to hang your hat during your one day in Denver itinerary. It’s called the Lumber Baron Inn, and it is run by the friendliest couple in the world.
They will give you breakfast made to order each morning. (Just feast your eyes on that flawless avocado toast with egg above. I got to eat all of that, but you haven’t yet because you haven’t been to the Lumber Baron.
The Lumber Baron is also in a quiet, safe neighborhood, so you’ll be able to get a good night’s sleep unencumbered by the sounds of young Denver hooligans. Except that the Lumber Baron is probably haunted, so you might hear a ghost or two. But that just adds to the charm!
One Day in Denver Itinerary
- An excellent small cell charger so you can keep taking pictures all during your one day in Denver itinerary
- The best guidebook to Colorado, including Denver of course.
- My book Get Lost, that I wrote myself with all my best travel tips. This book will show you exactly how solo travel can take your life from BLAH to amazing!
- Want to learn how I saved enough money to travel 16 weeks a year? Check out my top secret How to Afford Travel digital system.
- I always travel with travel insurance from World Nomads. You never know when something might go wrong, especially in this day and age. But with travel insurance, you’re protected even if you’re attacked by a Bronco during your one day in Denver itinerary
One Day in Denver Itinerary
Morning: Denver Art Museum
Before I tried a one day in Denver itinerary, it never occurred to me that there would be a Denver Art Museum. I always assumed the citizens of Denver spent their free time rambling in the mountains, drinking craft beer, or rambling in the mountains while drinking a craft beer. But in fact, the Denver Art Museum is one of the biggest museums in the West. It has over 7000 pieces of art in its collection!
If you want to save money on admission, I suggest getting the Denver CityPass. It includes admission to the Denver Art Museum as well as admission to other major attractions like the Botanic Gardens and the History Colorado Center. You can pick up the CityPass easily right here.
What you choose to do at the Denver Art Museum on your One Day in Denver Itinerary will depend on the special exhibits and how much time you have. But I will be happy to give you some guidance with…
approximately top 5: denver art museum
1) Denver art museum skylight
The first notable thing about the Denver Art Museum is one of the buildings itself. The Denver Art Museum’s newest building is the Frederic C. Hamilton Building. Notable architect Daniel Libeskind built it back in 2006. The building is all brown angles and dips, much like the surrounding Rocky Mountains themselves. (I’m pretty sure this was intentional, but as I don’t have Daniel Libeskind on speed dial, I can’t ask him.)
Once you get inside the Denver Art Museum, look up! The view of the heavens through the skylight is most appealing. The museum has decided to capitalize on this by selling earrings shaped like the skylight. I try to buy earrings in every city I visit, so I was excited to pick up a pair for myself. But tragically, no one has ever seen my earrings and recognized that they were of the Denver Art Museum skylight.
The Denver Art Museum has an impressive collection of non-Western art. And they frequently have special exhibits of art from other countries. When I was at the museum, there was a show about Ganesha, the Hindu elephant god. This show was done in collaboration with the National Museum of Cambodia, which is why this amazing Cambodian Ganesha, pictured above, was the centerpiece of the exhibit.
This Cambodian Ganesha dates all the way back to the 600s. He is in remarkably good shape for someone approaching his 1500th birthday! Before visiting this exhibit, I had no idea that you could find Ganesha outside of India. But apparently Ganesha is popular all over Southeast Asia. People believe he can grant wealth and success. I can see how that would make you popular! I’m sure if people believed I could grant wealth and success, I’d be invited to a lot more cocktail parties.
3) JIm Howard
One thing I like about smaller museums, like the Denver Art Museum, is that they often display works by artists who are interesting but not incredibly well known. Take Jim Howard here. (Jim Howard is the artist who drew the portrait above.
The face obviously belongs to Miss Isabella Rossellini. Jim Howard is a fashion illustrator for department stores like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. Since many of these stores are now going out of business, looking at Howard’s illustrations is like taking a time machine made out of a Delorean back to the 1980s.
Look at this drawing! It is so 80s it hurts! You can practically reach out and touch the shoulder pads!
4) arthur ronnebeck
Because of the Denver Art Museum’s location, you would expect it to have an impressive collection of Western art. I certainly was not disappointed in this expectation! One of my favorite Western pieces was North from Chappell House, by German-born American artist Arthur Ronnebeck.
This painting depicts a view of Denver itself back in the 1920s. You can see the Cathedral Basilica in the background of the painting. This work is important for the history of the Denver Art Museum, as Ronnebeck was in Chappell House when he painted the piece, and Chappell House is one of the former homes of the Denver Art Museum.
But I admire the painting because of the geometric shapes. It looks almost like Ronnebeck was looking through a kaleidoscope as he painted it. And perhaps he was, for all I know. But tragically, I do not have Ronnebeck on speed dial either, as he is very dead.
5) yayoi kusama
The Denver Art Museum is perhaps as well known for its collections of contemporary art as it is for its non-Western art and its art of the American West. You never know which artists they will be featuring when you choose to pay a visit. I love a good thematic exhibition, so I was excited to see the show Stampede when I visited Denver. This show revolves around all kinds of art depicting animals and human’s relationship with animals.
Just one look at this wacky doggy above can tell you it is by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. The bright colors and the polka dots give it away, straight away. The last time I saw a Kusama polka dots, I was in Auckland, New Zealand committing vandalism. Some people might think Kusama’s work is too popular to be any good. But I say life is difficult, and anything that makes you smile this much has to be doing something right.
One Day in Denver Itinerary
Afternoon: Colorado State Capitol
Denver is famous for so many reasons that it’s easy to forget that it is the state capitol. But I’m not going to let you forget, Internet Stranger! That’s why you pay me the big bucks! The Colorado State Capitol offers free tours every weekday between 10 and 3, as long as it’s not a public holiday, so you should definitely visit during your one day in Denver itinerary.
You don’t need to make a reservation, unless you are a very large group. Just show up and prepare to have your brain stuffed with Colorado knowledge! I can get you started with…
three fun facts: colorado state capitol
1) WHAT ABOUT lunch????///????
Calm down, gentle friend. I promise I will feed you on this one day in Denver itinerary. The Denver Art Museum and the Colorado State Capitol are located near each other. Unfortunately, they are not located near a lot of great restaurants. But I was clever and found a delicious food stand called Denver Doner within walking distance of both places.
Denver Doner is located on the 16th Street Mall, which is kind of touristy. But you still should see it when you visit Denver. So if you follow this itinerary, you can nom on some fine grilled meat and knock the 16th Street Mall off your bucket list, all without breaking a sweat.
2) what’s the best object in the capitol?
I’m a woman, so I’m biased, but I say it’s the “Women’s Gold” tapestry pictured above. This tapestry honors the women who have made Colorado the majestic state it is today. One of my favorite women in the tapestry is Clara Brown. She was born enslaved in Virginia, but then she was purchased by a plantation owner from Kentucky who freed her in his will.
After she was free, Clara Brown moved out West, where she became the first black woman to join the Colorado Gold Rush. (I should add that at this point she was about 60 years old. I don’t really know any 60 year olds nowadays who’d be capable of joining a gold rush.) She became quite successful, and when she died, even the mayor of Denver attended her funeral. That’s an American life in full, if I ever heard one!
Unfortunately I don’t know the story of every single woman on the tapestry. Maybe someday I can return and find out why there is a woman in evening gloves standing on a rock in the middle of the river. Or maybe you can just go to the Colorado State Capitol and ask for me! We’ll work on researching Colorado women’s history together!
3) why should I take the tour?
Because you’ll learn a plethora of fascinating historical facts! Why wouldn’t you want to do that? Are you an ignorant person who hates knowledge? I’m sure you’re not because you’re smart enough to read this blog.
If the answer to that question is yes, you should still take the tour. It’s the only way you can get out on the dome and see the amazing views of Denver.
Look! You can even see the spires of the Cathedral Basilica here. They look a little more normal than they did in the painting at the Denver Art Museum. You can also see little signs showing you the way to Pikes Peak.
But do not try to walk to Pikes Peak from the top of the Colorado State Capitol! That would be extremely dangerous! Just take a car there instead.
One Day in Denver Itinerary
Evening: Dinner at Guard and Grace
Do you like steaks, Internet Stranger? Well, how would you like to eat one of the best steaks I have ever put in my mouth? Then allow me to send you over to Guard and Grace. I’m a proud, born and bred New Yorker, and we have our own tradition of fine steakhouses. But I have to admit that out West, they know what they are doing when it comes to cooked cattle.
Guard and Grace has a location in Denver and one in Houston, but I feel like it goes without saying that we’re visiting the Denver location for this itinerary.
Indiana Jones’s picture was in the restaurant, so I have to assume he agrees with me. Now onto the food!
This picture of my appetizer might be confusing you. After all, Guard and Grace is a steakhouse, not a sushi house. But in fact, the place is almost as well known for its raw bar as it is for its meats. (Good news for any pescatarians out there.)
I don’t like to have two meat courses in a row anyway, so I started with the tuna sashimi with jalapeno, ponzu, and black lava salt. The fatty tuna can really stand up to a strong sauce like this.
I assume Indiana Jones brought the black lava salt back from some adventure he had in a volcano. That explains why his picture is on the wall.
24 hour treat: mooooo!
I just noticed that, given the placement of the steak and the carrot, it kind of looks like a cow head with horns. But it isn’t! It’s just a four ounce filet mignon. I was really tempted to order the filet mignon flight and try one prime, one angus, and one grass-fed piece of beef. But I didn’t think even I was capable of consuming 12 ounces of beef in one go.
As I happily bit into the tender beef, I looked around me and saw that the restaurant was full of groups of people (mostly dudes) who seemed to be talking shop over their steak. It makes sense to bring business dinner dates to a place like this. Steakhouses are expensive, so why not make your boss pay for the meal?
Also, chowing down on a steak this flawless would put anyone in a good mood. Even Gwyneth Paltrow recommends this steak! Do you know how good a steak has to be for Gwyneth Paltrow to recommend it? Good enough to tempt her away from her juice cleanses and healing crystals, that’s how good.
Keep in mind that the steak doesn’t automatically come with a side, so it makes sense to choose one to add to the dish. I selected the truffled gnocchi, and I regret nothing.
24 Hour treat: sticky toffee cake
Guard and Grace is almost as well known for this dessert as it is for its grade-A, top choice meat. You might think that you couldn’t eat such a rich dessert after consuming a whole steak, but you would be wrong. Everyone knows that you use a separate stomach for dessert.
Also the creamy burnt sugar ice cream is the perfect partner to the dense sticky toffee cake. I know the British get a bad rap for their food, but the world owes them a debt of gratitude for the two words “sticky” and “toffee”. This dessert is a perfect end to our One Day in Denver Itinerary!
One Day in Denver Itinerary
How to Get There
By Car: This is really only feasible if you’re going to your one day in Denver itinerary from somewhere else in Colorado or from a fairly nearby state. I live in New York City and don’t know how to drive, so this would be impossible for me.
By Plane: Fortunately it is very easy to fly into Denver because it has an airport. Yay! No muss, no fuss. I was coming to Denver from Salt Lake City, and the flight was quick and easy. I think for most people, flying into Denver is the best choice.
I recommend using a search engine like Expedia to search for the best prices on flights.
By Train or Bus: Greyhound does go to Denver, so if flying is really outside your budget for your 24 hours in Denver, this might be your best option. Check out their website to see if Greyhound will work for you. As you know if you’ve taken the Hound before, it’s not always super reliable, but I use it from time to time because something nothing else will do.
Amtrak also sends trains to Denver, at least if you’re coming from the Chicago direction, so feel free to check that out as well.
That’s a Perfect One Day in Denver Itinerary!
What would you do with a One Day in Denver Itinerary? What was your favorite work in the Denver Art Museum? And does the lady in evening gloves on that river have anything to do with Indiana Jones and his black lava salt? Please leave your thoughts below!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY do a one day in Denver itinerary. If you have an extra One Day in Denver Itinerary, try this itinerary.