I’ve never lived in Denver, but for most of my life, I’ve lived a few hours outside of it, tucked away in a cozy mountain town that truly is my happy place. The proximity to the “Mile High City”, however, isn’t something I take for granted though. As one of the quickest growing cities in the country, Denver has no shortage of things to do and places to see. But, since I’ll likely never get around to seeing them all or doing them all, I’ve recently begun looking for businesses, restaurants, cafes, and shops that prioritize sustainability.
Last month, for my birthday week, AJ and I had a full weekend away to visit some of the places I’d been researching for our little “Sustainable Denver Staycation” and although we barely scratched the surface of all that Denver has to offer, these recommendations are based on our trip there and a few other gems we’ve discovered over the years.
Kimpton Hotel Monaco, Downtown Denver
When we go to Denver, we typically just drive home after a full day or, when needed, stay with friends. But this time, I decided to go all out and research hotels with high ratings for sustainability and treat the trip like a true tourist. Hotel Monaco, one of Kimpton’s two Denver locations, was sweet enough to accommodate us for a night and it truly made the "Staycation” a dream.
A little bit about the hotel and their sustainability endeavors:
Single-use goods like coffee cups, napkins, paper bags, key cards, and the like are all made using recycled materials
Waste from the hotel is recycled/composted via commercial centers and in-room recycling bins
Reusable mugs/cups/flatware all provided for staff
The first hotel brand to become 100% certified by the Green Key Eco-Rating Program
Kimpton sources only organic and sustainably made wines from vintners with shared values (we can attest to how tasty their complimentary wine hour is).
They don’t offer “to-go” toiletries, instead, have re-fillable containers with organic shampoos, conditioners, and body washes.
We felt so welcomed and, yes, at home, there. And to sweeten the deal, all of their rooms were recently renovated, giving a very modern sophisticated, yet art deco feel that I couldn’t get enough of.
Thanks so much, Hotel Monaco. We’ll be back soon!
Not surprisingly, when we weren’t at the hotel, we were eating. This little list barely scratches the surface of everything that Denver has to offer in the way of sustainable, farm-to-table eating, but oh my gosh, my belly was happy for two full days.
Rootdown: A forerunner in the farm-to-table movement in Denver, Rootdown (and their several sister locations - even one in DIA for all you passersby) has an incredible, seasonal selection at an approachable price point. The majority of their dishes are made with food grown either in house or locally, their business is entirely wind-powered, and the restaurant as a whole composts or recycles 80% of their waste. Read more about their sustainability efforts here.
Panzano: Located in the first level of Hotel Monaco, Panzano is considered one of “the” happy hour spots in Denver, as well as one of the best sustainable Italian restaurants. Their ingredients are nearly 100% organic and, when possible, locally sourced. They recycle and compost everything that they can and, of course, refrain from using straws and other single use plastics.
The Family Jones: Right next door to Rootdown and, conveniently, partnered with Hotel Monaco to offer guests buy-one-get-one cocktails, The Family Jones was a spontaneous stop before dinner but I’m so glad we tried it out. All of their spirits are made in house and the atmosphere was unique and modern, but so cozy and welcoming.
Mercantile: On my list for a while, Mercantile is located inside Union Station in the heart of Downtown. Mercantile hopes to bridge the “information gap between farmer and consumer” by promoting transparency in each step of the farm to table process. Their breakfast was amazing and they serve locally roasted coffee from Commonwealth.
Little Man Ice Cream: Little Man is designed to pay homage to the whimsy of the 1950’s and it’s a must-stop almost every time we come to town. In every relationship, Little Man seeks to develop long lasting relationships that support local farmers and businesses as well as the 9 countries they donate supplies to as part of their “Scoop for Scoop” model.
Again, I can barely scratch the surface of all of the things to do in the Mile High City. These things are just a few of the places I’ve been that support my values.
Jalan Facial Spa: Last year, Aj and I were treated to an afternoon at this spa and it was mind blowing. If you’re looking for a sustainable spa that values organic products and will truly let you relax, book a facial or other service at Jalan Spa.
Denver Botanical Gardens: Supporting conservation all across Denver, the Botanic Gardens have two locations with gardens, tours, art exhibits, and more. There are scheduled free days as well throughout the year, if you plan your trip well.
Denver Center for the Performing Arts: I’ve seen many plays at the Denver Center over the years and they’ve never disappointed. Most recently, Les Miserables made me sob more than anything else ever has.
Cafe Crawl: I could chat Denver coffee with anyone for hours. A growing craft coffee scene with quality coffee and great vibes all over the city, I always hit at least two or three cafes each time I’m in the city. Here are a few stand-by favorites: Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters, Jubilee Roasting Co., Amethyst Coffee Co., Little Owl Coffee, Huckleberry Roasters, Middle State Coffee…I could go on, but I won’t. Feel free to message me if you run out of options ;)
Where are your go-to spots in Denver? My list is always growing.