When we pulled out of Chicago last spring, I never imagined how difficult a transition it would be for me to call a new city "home". When we hit the one year mark this spring, it finally struck me that we aren't going anywhere and that I better learn to enjoy living here. I know, I sound like I have the worst attitude. I'll be honest, since this is my blog...this has not been an easy year. To each of my Denver friends, I really love you. New friends have made this crazy past year bearable and I couldn't be more thankful for your friendships. But, if you've ever made a large move, you understand that uprooting your entire life can really throw you for a loop. And so, with Windy City memories behind us, I gave myself one main goal for this summer. I told myself I was going to fall in love with the Mile High City.
For our five year anniversary this month, instead of jetting off to a new city or to a tropical getaway, we decided to stay right here and explore Denver. Because of work schedules and a little dwarf we like to call Mack, we didn't have much time. We had roughly 18 hours (hence the blog title) to make a believer out of me.
We began our evening in the Highlands, one of Denver's most trendy neighborhoods. A few months back we discovered a neighborhood favorite, little Man Ice Cream. Little Man is a little ice cream shop built to resemble a 1950's milk jug with an adorable outdoor patio that can hardly hold all of the visitors who line up here at all hours of the day.
Little Man Ice Cream. Go Here!
Mack's first visit to Little Man... she was loving the Graham Cracker Ice Cream.
Don't worry--she was not invited along for our anniversary trip ;)
JB & I didn't actually eat any ice cream from Little Man during our "18 hours of Denver Exploration" but I felt this place was worth mentioning because of how ridiculously cute it is.
For dinner we chose a newer restaurant "The Ale House". This place caught my eye during my first trip to the Highlands while exploring with Mack a few months back. It was very Chicagoesque with it's patio seating and the the fact that it wasn't a chain restaurant. Score. Although the Ale House just opened in LoHi (the Lower Highlands -- see, I'm even using Denver neighborhood lingo), it has already gotten rave reviews for both it's beer variety and menu selection. For dinner we ordered the Wild Mushroom and Ricotta Crostini's, Ale Brined Slow Roasted Chicken and the Papardelle Chicken Mushroom Pasta. As you can tell, we didn't hold back on the comfort food. We didn't regret it either. The food blew us away. Hands down one of the best meals we have ever had. The only negative to our meal was my cocktail which had me thinking that maybe I had accidentally ordered a melted orange popsicle. Overall, a perfect meal. Not to mention the view of the Denver skyline was beautiful. We would highly recommend this place to anyone.
Five year anniversary dinner at the Ale House.
Our view of the Denver skyline from the Ale House rooftop
After our dinner we decided to do some "on foot" exploring.
Walking along the Platte River
I had to put this in (not because I am for or against the legalization of medicinal marijuana) but more because this was my first time actually seeing an office that sells it.
All right, it wouldn't have been a complete night without a little reminiscence of Chi-Town.
Some friends sent us a text during dinner and recommended we try after dinner drinks at the Oxford Hotel's Cruise Room. The after dinner dessert martini I had here made up for my horrible melted popsicle experience from earlier on in the night. The Cruise Room is downtown Denver's very first bar and it opened the day after Prohibition was repealed in 1933. How's that for a history lesson? This was the perfect little hole-in-the-wall bar and we loved it. Not a tourist in sight. Another point for Denver.
And, here I am playing this zebra print piano in the rain. My husband claims that at this point the alcohol was starting to get to me. Based on the fact that I do actually remember him taking this photo, I tend to disagree. I would like to suggest that I was only having some child free fun.
After a free upgrade to a suite at the downtown Hyatt, some late night pizza and a soak in the hotel's roof hot tub, we rented bikes and used this map to navigate our way around the city's neighborhoods.
Our first stop was to Snooze in the neighborhood of Five Points, where we ate the most incredible breakfast of our lives. I'm not exaggerating. We had some pretty great favorites for breakfast in Chicago but this place blew both Orange and the the Flat Top Grill out of the water. We knew it would be good too because we showed up at 10 am on a Tuesday morning and the line for seating was backed up outside the front door.
The breakfast menu here was simply divine. We ordered a "flight of pancakes" (our choice of any three of their specialty pancakes). Our flight consisted of Pineapple Upside Down, Sweet Potato & Blueberry Lemon Crunch Bar pancakes. What we should have done was order two "flights" so that we could have tried the various other flavors like S'mores, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Red Velvet etc. No, I'm not joking. This place was good.
After breakfast I convinced JB to take me to the Brown Palace Hotel so that I could try the natural Colorado Artesian Spring water. He didn't understand my need for it but he graciously took pictures and then made fun of me. Thanks babe.
We then decided to become full blown tourists (yes, we caved). We visited the Capital building and got pictures at exactly one mile high above sea level. Hey, if you live in Colorado you have to do it at least once.
We wrapped up our "18 Hour Denver Exploration" back in the Highlands, but this time in Highlands Square. Highlands Square is another Denver favorite with streets of boutiques, restaurants, cafes and bakeries. And If you know me, you know I never turn down the chance to try a new cupcake bakery. We grabbed dessert at Happy Cakes Bakery.
By this point we were really starting to miss our little blond dwarf so we decided to cut our trip a few hours short and head home to some sloppy kisses.
What to say now that our trip is over? From the beginning I didn't give this city half the chance it deserved. Denver, I like you a lot more now. I might even love you. I still miss the Windy City and it's miles of lake shore. Chicago may always be my first love. I am officially excited to continue exploring Denver's great neighborhoods, try my skills on a few more animal print pianos and of course....eat more of those heaven sent Snooze pancakes! Here's to a few more years (or possibly a lifetime more) of exploring the Mile High City!