See above for my custom map, noting all my favorite murals and colorful spots in Baltimore.
Denver is a hip city located in the midst of amazing natural beauty. We have some really good friends in Denver so over the past few years we’ve had opportunities to visit and explore in both the winter, spring & summer seasons. I am sharing some of my favorite spots, as well as places to explore in the surrounding areas. (Pro tip: If this is your first time visiting Denver, just be aware that the altitude can cause symptoms such as nausea and dehydration, so make sure to drink plenty of water and take it easy if you are doing any hiking.) ♥
River North Arts District
While we are lucky enough to be able to stay with friends when we visit Denver, we spend a lot of our time in this artsy neighborhood and it has plenty of great spots within walking distance.
Thump Coffee | 1201 E 13th Ave, Denver, CO 80218 (Multiple Locations)
I’ve spent several mornings teleworking from this chill cafe. In addition to delicious coffee beverages they also offer breakfast & lunch options and local beer & kombucha on tap. Wifi is free and unlimited and there are plenty of spots to set up and plug in if you get there early.
Snooze an A.M. Eatery | 2262 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80205
This was a happening diner in a fun neighborhood, complete with bright & retro decor. Expect a wait and an amazing selection of egg’s benedicts, breakfast sammies and sweet treats.
Rosenbergs Bagels & Deli | 725 E 26th Ave, Denver, CO 80205
Don’t miss this authentic New York bagel shop on your breakfast rotation in Denver! Yes, the line is really long. Yes, maybe the sandwiches are a bit pricy. But you will not be disappointed with the quality! I mean, they import the water they use to make the bagels from New York, so you know it’s gotta be good.
Sassafras American Eatery | 2637 W 26th Ave, Denver CO 80211
This restaurant has a 2 locations in Denver and one in Golden, Colorado and is also a popular spot. The location we went to in Jefferson Park was in an old house and had eclectic decor and a cute outdoor dining area. The food was American Southern with a strong Cajun flair, and my “Maque Choux Grits” were sooo good with pimento cheese. They also have lots of creative cocktails, milkshakes & coffee drinks – the first Bloody Mary I tried was too spicy (the Sasafrass Mary) and when I couldn’t drink it easily they brought me the Garden Mary with no extra charge which I thought was really nice. We shared the beignets at our table which were pillowy and excellent.
Los Chingones | 2463 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80205
Upscale Mexican in RINO district, has a nice outdoor dining area, creative tacos & good margaritas.
Mizu Izakaya | 1560 Boulder St, Denver, CO 80211
I was surprised to discover Denver has a sushi scene! Mizu had an ultra trendy vibe and the sushi was great – they also had a lot of alternatives to sushi rolls & interesting appetizers, like the crispy brussel sprouts with candied walnuts & lemon oil which were delicious.
The Inventing Room | 4433 W 29th Ave #101, Denver, CO 80212
This place had the most interesting desserts I’ve ever seen – and they are all made with science! Ice cream made on to order with liquid nitrogen is then combined with imaginative ingredients to create instaworthy (and drool worthy) masterpieces. I had the Coconut Rice Pudding Ice Cream with Tropical Fruits & Curried Rice Paper (Amazing), but other items include Creme Brulee Waffle with Grilled Strawberry Jam Ice Cream & Nutella and Sticky Toffee Pudding with Butterscotch Cream & Vanilla Bean Cotton Candy. How could you skip this place?
Ratio Beerworks | 2920 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80205
As you will discover, Denver and the surrounding areas have a lot of breweries, lots of which I have yet to visit. Ratio, however, has been a staple of ours during our time spent in Denver, located in the RINO neighborhood. It’s selection is simple and I enjoy their French saison the best. The outdoor seating area is really fun and has corn hole and usually cute dogs (with their humans of course!). There are rotating street trucks parked outside if you get hungry.
Avanti Food & Beverage | 3200 Pecos Street, Denver, CO
This whole “upscale cafeteria” with a bar trend has really caught on…and I like it! Avanti is one such place – a group of food vendors and a bar all under one roof. There is also a really cool porch/rooftop area where you can sip your cocktail (Paloma in my case) while looking out at the Denver skyline. I hear it gets crazy crowded for happy hour and at night, my friends and I visited during the week mid afternoon and it was lovely.
Venture Out of the City
I recommend you spend at least a day outside of the city, exploring the surrounding nature and towns. Some great places to visit are Breckenridge (great in the winter for skiing with a cute downtown), Golden (historic town with a river where you can go tubing in the summer), Boulder (college town with pedestrian shopping area and hiking nearby at Chautauqua Park). You can also visit drive up the Mount Evans Scenic Byway and take in the views at the top of this 14,000+ peak, or if you are more ambitious you can also hike it. Red Rocks is a large music venue right outside of the city and is breathtaking – definitely stop by and see it even if you can’t catch a show there.
Denver Cat Company | 3929 Tennyson Street, Denver, Colorado 80212
I have this thing where I now visit Cat Cafes in every city I go to. This isn’t 100% true but I have started racking up my experiences! As far as Cat Cafes go, Denver Cat Company rates really well. There is not a strong discernible “cat smell” and they had tons of ADOPTABLE cuties to play with, some of which were kittens! There is also wifi and nice areas to sit, work & read. There is an $8 entrance fee to cover the cost of the foster program which I think is totally reasonable. Like most cat “cafes” in the US, this is not an actual cafe with meal service, although you can buy coffee, hot chocolate or snacks.
This is a cute area where the cat cafe is and has some nice boutiques & vintage stores. Jolly Goods had a good mix of locally made art, gifts & clothing. SecondLove was also really cute – the interior had a really cool aesthetic and they had a really curated collection of designer and affordable consignment pieces. Lady Jones was a really nice boutique with a lot of trendy yet classy pieces that you could wear to work or out.
RINO (see above) also has a few neat shops, notably Topo, the flagship store of high-design, colorful, USA-made outdoor gear, apparel & bags.
For the past 4 years, my high school friends and I have taken a trip to a different destination to reconnect and sightsee. This year we chose Charleston! I have to admit, while Charleston has already been on my radar for some time, I am an avid Bravo fan and watching their series “Southern Charm” really made me want to visit ASAP. Here are the highlights and recommendations – I did a lot of research beforehand consulting some of my favorite bloggers (particularly Grace Atwood @ The Stripe who has great recommendations on so many topics), and an interview consulting the Southern Charm cast on their favorite spots. Between Charleston and New Orleans so this year, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know more special spots in my own country.
Church Street Inn | 177 Church Street, Historic District, Charleston, SC 29401
Charleston’s a very popular destination right now and we really struggled even months out to find a decently priced AirBnB in a good location. I decided to search for hotels, and found this one through Booking.com. The reviews were amazing and the price was surprisingly low for the location (under $200/night, split between 3 people). The rooms are 2 floor suites with a kitchenette, living area, 1/2 bath and TV downstairs and 2 beds, full bath and TV upstairs. The decor was a bit dated/old fashioned but everything was clean, the staff was mostly friendly and the location was UNBEATABLE. We were right in the heart of the historic district, could walk to plenty of shops & restaurants and were right next to the Charleston City Market (see below). I would most definitely recommend this place!
Charleston is SUCH a foodie city. Before we went I joked with my friends that we would have to eat 8 meals a day during our trip to get everything in. While we didn’t do THAT, we were able to hit some great spots during our time there. I’m still dreaming about the scallops at The Macintosh…
Second State Coffee (formerly Black Tap Coffee) | 70.5 Beaufain St, Charleston, SC 29401
Cute coffee shop a little off the beaten path downtown. I tried the famed “Black Julep” which was refreshing, they also have wifi and plugs aplenty if you are trying to get some work done there like I was.
Callie’s Hot Little Biscuits | 476 1/2 King St, Charleston, SC 29403, Also in Charleston City Market
So good! We went to the location in the Charleston City Market as it was so convenient to our hotel. It was SUPER busy on a Saturday morning, so if you want to beat the line maybe try it during the week if you can. The wait was worth it though – I tried a 3 pack of their mini biscuits which was the perfect amount of food for breakfast. I had the Cheese & Chive, Blackberry & the Buttermilk Biscuit.
Bitty & Beaus | 159 Church Street, Charleston, SC
Another coffee place! A really special place where they employ people with physical and intellectual disabilities- it was so warm and inviting. The coffee was really good too! Please support this business if you can.
The Obstinate Daughter | 2063 Middle St., Sullivan’s Island, SC 29482
Oh my gosh – where do I begin? Our lunch here was epic. We got there right at noon (this was on a Thursday) and had our total pick of seating & we chose the porch. As we were leaving it had really filled up, so getting here early is good. I had the Pan Bagnat which was served with the most delicious balsamic veggies. My friend Tyler’s Chicken, Brussels & Farro was equally good if not better – everything was so flavorful and seasoned perfectly! I also had their Blonde Bloody Mary- not as salty as a normal bloody and made with yellow tomatoes, quite tasty and refreshing! Please eat here – you will not regret it.
FIG | 232 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401
All my resources and everyone we encountered in Charleston said FIG is THE BEST restaurant in Charleston. As soon as you know you are going to Charleston, go to their website and try to snag a reservation.
Wonderful ambience, amazing food (“elevated takes on Southern Classics”), awesome service. They change their menu frequently, but we got their pillow-like gnocchi as an app & the grouper and they were both excellent. It was pricy but not crazy, I think we payed around $100 for the both of us (just 2 of us on the trip went to FIG) plus wine. If you want to treat yourself, this is the place.
The Macintosh | 479 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
This place was also VERY good. Hipster vibe with exposed brick and industrial lightbulbs. Our waitress knew a lot about food & wine and was really fun, suggesting things for us & making good conversation. It’s tapas style so the 3 of us shared a bunch of yummy treats, including the best scallops I’ve ever had. It was a similar price point to FIG and closer to the bars and restaurants on King St for going out after if you choose.
Republic | 462 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
Okay I’ll admit – I dragged my friend here because they often go here on Southern Charm and I was hoping for a cast sighting. My friend was a good sport and indulged me, and honestly I thought it would be a little cheesy…but it was surprisingly cool! It was a Thursday when we were there and the outdoor patio was really nice, we were able to get drinks and a seat right away. There was also live music! The inside seemed less quaint and I can imagine it gets really busy and possibly annoying on weekends.
The Commodore | 504 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29403
This was another Southern Charm pick – cast member Shepard Rose is a co-owner. A little off the beaten path this place has a total retro 70s vibe. The staff was friendly, we got a seat right at the bar and they had good live music. We got there before they started charging cover (a perk of being in our 30s – we go out early and come home early now!) which was a plus. It started getting crowded right as we were leaving.
Kamiskys | 78 N Market St, Charleston, SC 29401
This is a well known dessert place in Charleston, but if you go for Happy Hour like we did you can enjoy $5 dessert martinis with your decadent pastry! We all split the cherry crumble and each tried a different dessert martini. I had the Kahlua Espresso for a pick-me-up and my friends tried the Thin Mint & Chocolate respectively, all delicious.
Sullivan’s Island Beach | Atlantic Ave, Sullivan’s Island, SC 29482
This beach was clean and pretty – there was a lot of wind when we were there but otherwise it was very pleasant! We were told Folly Beach had a little more going on in terms of bars, restaurants and shops but we were happy with this quieter beach. It was also during the week when we went so I imagine it would be more crowded on the weekends/in the summer.
Boone Hall Plantation | 1235 Long Point Rd, Mt Pleasant, SC 29464
Beautiful & expansive property & gardens and lots of history – about a 25 minute Uber from downtown. The house on site is not actually the original plantation home but was built in 1936 by a Canadian family that bought the property. They still have original slave cabins with museum exhibits inside and you can hear a presentation by a Gullah woman. The Gullah are African Americans who live in the Lowcountry region of the U.S. states of Georgia and South Carolina, in both the coastal plain and the Sea Islands, and this women did such a good job telling the story of slave history in the area and the Gullah culture. The property has also been used in numerous TV & Movie productions, including The Notebook (!) and was where Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds got married. Also – if you are in the market for a sweetgrass basket – there is a woman making and selling them here and the prices are lower than the City Market (see below).
Walking up King Street you will find everything from antique stores, high end designers, chain department stores & local boutiques. Here are a few spots that I thought were special:
The Charleston Preservation Society Shop |147 King St, Charleston, SC 29401
Loved all the local flair at this shop! The owner/staff were so nice and they carried a variety of items made in Charleston as well as a large collection of books. I was obsessed with the Brackish Bowties, made entirely of feathers.
The Skinny Dip Charleston Edition | 345 King Street, Charleston, South Carolina
Beautiful space with clothing & accessories. They have such a nice collection of local Charleston designers and cute/preppy southern staples! Also, they have an upstairs which is a cafe/bar with a terrace! Hello? You have everything you need right here.
The Charleston City Market | 188 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401
This reminded me a bit of the French Market in New Orleans – a large (partially enclosed) corridor with vendors selling local products, food, art & souvenirs. The locally crafted famous Sweetgrass baskets are also for sale here and are a popular (but expensive) souvenir!