Welcome to Leafly’s travel series, our definitive 24-hour cannabis-infused guides to the best cities in the world.
Denver, Colorado is the city that put marijuana on the map, but its cultural and culinary scenes were booming even before it was legal. While most of the city’s center is home to big business, the recently revitalized Denver Union Station has made headlines around the world, bringing tourism to an all-time high for a place that was once just a pit stop en route to a ski town. Denver is more happening than ever and even earned the number one spot on Conde Nast Traveler’s Best Places to Live list for 2016. And after a longtime illegal love affair, cannabis and Colorado are official. Today, cannabis travel in Denver is booming, which makes the Mile High City the ultimate destination to visit…well, high.
Cannabis legality: Recreational (21+, ID required)
Nicknames: The Mile High City, Queen City of the West, Broncos Country
What people think of: Peyton Manning, music, mountains, microbrews, marijuana.
Dispensaries on Leafly: 121
For the record: It is unlawful to lend your vacuum cleaner to your next-door neighbor.
At 4:20 p.m., you’re: Arriving at L’Eagle, an all-organic dispensary with the best bud in Denver.
It’s located in an industrial park just outside of the city, so head there directly from the airport in a Lyft or take a slight detour for one last stop on your road trip. With its grow facility on site, L’Eagle produces 100 percent organic cannabis (AKA no pesticides ever) with super knowledgeable budtenders (ask for Courtney) to help guide you through the long list of strains and highly curated edible offerings. Go for what L’Eagle is known for: Death Star (indica) and Strawberry Cough (sativa) to pack into a new piece from the solid glass and vaporizer selection, or pick up a 10-pack of pre-rolled “shorties” ($60) from the rotating “Joint Menu.”
At 5:00 p.m., you’re: Checking in at The Crawford Hotel.
The luxury boutique property opened in July 2014 in conjunction with the train station’s restoration, blending historic Denver into a hip hideaway in what is now the city’s epicenter.
Still a stigma: We considered recommending The Art Hotel, but were declined info and images from the property’s PR firm (not based in Colorado, of course): “As it turns out, the property's guest rooms are non-smoking, so we don't think the hotel will be the best fit for your readership.” Like tobacco, we’re well aware that pot smoking is not permitted in any hotel rooms in the state of Colorado and will take this opportunity to reiterate the rules now. Although Colorado blazed the legalization trail, there is still technically nowhere to consume cannabis in public.
Plan B: Want to stay somewhere that’s smoker-friendly? Some Airbnb hosts don’t mind, which is where Bud and Breakfast comes in — it’s a similar platform offering out-of-towners a resource for marijuana-friendly vacation rentals throughout Colorado and beyond.
At 6:00 p.m., you’re: Getting some modern inspiration at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.
Photo credit: Todd Carpenter
The David Adjaye-designed building is an incubator for progressive artists, featuring an eclectic and rotating collection of photography, new media and mega works. After strolling through the stark space, sip a glass of wine at the MCA Café on the rooftop with beautiful views of downtown. The gift shop is also a must for quirky matter and art books.
At 7:30 p.m., you’re: Walking along the Cherry Creek River toward Confluence Park where it merges with the Platte River to catch a perfect Colorado sunset.
Photo credit: Craig Turpin
The trail system continues to Commons Park where you’ll see “Stoner Hill.” Continue through the park up two pedestrian bridges and you’ve hit the heart of LoHi, Denver’s original hipster hood.
Word to the wise: Stay on the paths, smoke stealthily at your own risk, and keep an eye out for the cops that are frequently present.
At 8:15 p.m., you’re: Doing dinner at Old Major.
The award-winning chef (and cannabis enthusiast) Justin Brunson does “seafood, swine, and wine” serious justice at his wildly popular restaurant known for its in-house butchery and pork-focused menu. Go whole hog with the signature “Nose to Tail” — a perfectly presented plate featuring a porchetta of belly, sausage, and tenderloin, crispy ears, asparagus, maitakes, and lemon-thyme jus.
Meat haters: There’s one in every group, so hit Avanti Food & Beverage just a few blocks away as a backup. The modern day food hall features seven culinary concepts with a full bar and a roof deck.
At 9:30 p.m., you’re: On Recess…in a beer garden!
Since Denver is pretty much the craft brewery capital of the country and you only have 24 hours in town, hit the mother lode of lagers at a single location. Once a book bindery, the spacious spot features a rotating menu of big-name and small-batch beers to taste, which we recommend doing outside. More like your friend’s backyard than a bar, the patio is dotted with fire pits, picnic tables, and lawn games.
Word to the wise: You may have heard that alcohol’s effects are more potent at higher altitudes. This is technically a myth – however, you are more likely to become dehydrated at higher altitudes, which can exacerbate a hangover, so it’s best to sip slowly. Can you get higher at higher altitudes? It’s similarly unlikely, but it never hurts to step outside with your new pipe and give it a try…
At 11:00 p.m., you’re: Hopping in a Lyft to catch a live show at El Chapultepec, Denver’s oldest jazz and blues club.
Photo credit: David Hill
The dim, vintage, and intimate downtown landmark has welcomed the sultriest of sounds to the stage since 1933. And if you’re feeling a second wave of hunger before you call it a night, order up a burrito smothered in green chile — a Denver diet staple.
At 12:30 a.m., you’re: Back on foot and heading home to retire in one of the 112 custom Crawford guest rooms.
No two rooms in the historic hotel are alike, but all of them take inspiration from train travel in its heyday and feature original wooden beams, exposed brick, clawfoot tubs, and high ceilings. The dog-friendly property’s other awesome amenities? In-room iPads, a fleet of Teslas, Panda bicycles, and C.O. Bigelow bathroom products.
At 9:00 a.m., you’re: Checking out a bike outside Union Station at 16th & Wynkoop.
In 2010, Denver B-cycle became the first large-scale municipal bike-sharing system in the country. With over 80 stations and 700 red bikes (basket included!) available throughout the city, you can check one out where you begin and return it where you end.
At 9:15 a.m., you’re: Pedaling back up to LoHi for coffee.
Photo credit: Blackeye Coffee
Word to the wise: However tempting their pastry and breakfast menu looks, hold off until the next stop.
At 10:30 a.m., you’re: Brunching at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox.
Owner and chef Justin Cucci (of Root Down and Linger fame) transformed this former-brothel-turned-peep-show-turned-adult-video-library into an eatery and music venue, and its circa-1894 building remains on the National Register of Historic Places. Paying homage to its past, Ophelia’s celebrates sexuality with boudoir-style furniture and décor — most of which Cucci personally sourced from eBay, Craigslist, estate sales, and nearby dumpsters. Oh, and the food on the organic and worldly menu is impressive too – it pairs best on Saturdays and Sundays with an inventive cocktail or three from bar director Mike Henderson, enjoyed while rocking out to a no-cover live brunch show.
At 11:45 a.m., you’re: Still on a bike and cruising RiNo.
Photo credit: The Plus Gallery
It’s inevitable that the industrial part of any town will eventually turn its vacant warehouses and rail yards into great gallery spaces, hip hangouts, and modern lofts. Jack Kerouac’s old neighborhood has evolved in such a way over the past decade, and is now home to a crazy concentration of cool. Check out the many murals of street art between stops at a few of my favorites: Topo Designs, Megafauna, Plus Gallery, RedLine, Kit and Ace, Mid-Mod Mall, and The Source.
At 1:30 p.m., you’re: Hitting up Botanico, a boutique brick-walled recreational cannabis store in RiNo with a small-business vibe, great pricing (check out the sale selection), experienced staff, and invariably friendly service.
Let your budtender walk you through the menu in a private bud room, where you’ll feel comfortable asking any burning questions one-on-one, and don’t forget to ask about the edibles menu; we suggest picking up at least a few sweet treats to go.
Don’t be a Dowd: Colorado edibles are more potent than most other states’, with many clocking in at 100 milligrams apiece. While this frequently means more bang for your buck, remember that a recommended dose is 10 milligrams, and be sure to portion your brownies and chocolate bars accordingly.
At 2:30 p.m., you’re: Returning your B-Cycle and back at Union Station to check out (request a late one!).
Photo credit: The Terminal Bar
Since you haven’t even had time yet, hang out in the Great Hall for prime people-watching and more beer sampling at The Terminal Bar, known for its extensive draft selection. To circumvent the need for airport food, you can also mosey over and hit the market inside Mercantile Dining & Provision for gourmet munchies to go.
If you’re feeling so inclined: Break off a piece of the edible in your bag and pick out a Terminal Bar beer to savor it with a cold one (pairing advice here).
At 3:30 p.m., you’re: Stocking up on travel reading materials at Tattered Cover, the historic 20,000 square-foot bookstore of all bookstores, which is located just across the street.
Photo credit: bookchen
The impressive newsstand features publications from all over the world, and owner Joyce Meskis is one of the nation’s staunchest advocates for intellectual liberty and freedom of expression.
At 4:20 p.m., you’re: Heading straight out back to the platform to board the “Train to the Plane.”
A $9 one-way ticket takes you from downtown to Denver International Airport along the just-finished University of Colorado A Line.