Travel Series: Ang takes Denver!

We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us.

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Well…that was a longer break than I anticipated.

But you can’t fight it, you know? When you need to get realigned, your soul and energy will let you know. You don’t feel inspired or motivated… so in other words, a bih was just NOT feeling it! But we can save the story behind this for another blog post.

Let’s focus on the reason I am here today after my long absence. DENVER.

And Denver is everything your imagination can ever dream and more! At least in my opinion. I took a long weekend trip there with my fiancé and best friend a few weeks ago and I came home with all of this inspiration. A drive filled with the need to share my trip with all of you. 🙂

So before I jump into all the details of Denver, let’s address the elephant in the room.

Yes. I traveled during this pandemic. Yes. I practiced all safety precautions. Yes. I value the lives of others.

I understand there are mixed views regarding the pandemic and the level of severity. I respect the opinions of all. I believe it comes down to a matter of choice.

If you do not feel comfortable traveling, that is more than understandable. However, if you would like to travel, my advice is to ALWAYS wear your mask, regularly wash or sanitize your hands, practice social distancing, and always make your best judgement from circumstance to circumstance.

OK, moving on…

Denver, Colorado aka The Mile High City is located on the west coast of America and offers breathtaking views of over 200 mountain peaks. The city earned its nickname because its official elevation is exactly one mile above sea level. But Denver doesn’t only offer scenic routes throughout the city, Denver also offers a thriving art scene along with an abundance of bars and restaurants to satisfy a foodie’s wildest dreams. And as if all of that was not enough, Denver’s weather during the summer is amazing. Cool in the mornings, hotter in the afternoons, and barely any humidity!

Hear are few fun facts about Denver:

  1. There are currently more marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks and McDonald’s combined. holy sheeet
  2. The very first Chipotle restaurant is located in Denver.
  3. Denver has 300 sunny days a year. That’s more than Florida!
  4. The Denver International Airport has been the subject of conspiracy theories since the finalization of construction in 1995.

Speaking of the Denver International Airport…

Some say the airport was built by the New World Order. Others say that it houses the Illuminati Headquarters underground. Conspiracy or not, you cannot overlook the strange murals and sculptures that are assumed to tell stories of the apocalypse.

We attempted to locate one of the infamous statues, The Blue Mustang, which is a 32-foot horse sculpture with glowing red eyes. Many people refer to the sculpture as Blucifer, an acknowledgment to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful due to lack of time and lack of information offered by the employees at the airport. Coincidence? Maybe. But it seems that the affiliates of this airport are poking fun at us all. Just check out the message here. TOTALLY normal, I’m sure.

While at the airport, we picked up our car rental and was more than ready to hit the open road. So originally, I had a whole itinerary because in my mind we only had three days to explore the f**k out of this city. But you know life doesn’t work out like that. Needless to say, by the time we left the airport with our rental, we had already wasted 2.5 hours. *throw the itinerary out of the window* Seriously, just do it. Definitely research dope places to go but don’t become a slave to the itinerary. As ironic as it sounds, time and travel really don’t go together. Time never seems to be on your side and there’s always delays. I never seem to learn! But I digress. Who cares when you have the opportunity to explore a place you have never been before?? And so, Day 1 was freestyled and nothing but great vibes.

DAY 1:

Pike’s Peak

After the airport, we headed to Colorado Springs, which is about 1.5 hour away from Denver. Our first major destination was Pike’s Peak, the highest summit on the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains that offers views from 14,111 feet above ground. Read more on how to explore ‘America’s Mountain’ at https://www.pikes-peak.com/.

To enter, it’s a $15 ticket but the experience itself is worth it. You have the option of driving to the top on your own, driving mid way and taking a shuttle to the top, or hiking it. We opted for the combo of driving and shuttle because honestly going up an altitude that high not only messes with your car, but it messes with your lungs too! If you ever make it to Denver, make sure that you adjust to the change in altitude before you do any physical activity. I had such a tight heaviness in my chest and felt a bit winded until my lungs adjusted. Most importantly, listen to your body. Unfortunately, several people needed medical attention at Pike’s Peak.

The most amazing part of this experience wasn’t the views, surprisingly. Don’t get me wrong, the views are breathtaking and looks like pages ripped from a nature and wilderness magazine. But my absolute favorite part about this experience was the weather change as we went higher up the mountain. On ground level, the temperature was about 75 degrees Fahrenheit. By the time we reached the very peak, the temperature was recorded to be 41 degrees Fahrenheit and began to flurry. Insane! Snowing in July! Definitely a first for us and such a happy moment. The amazement in our eyes and voices as we realized it was snowing. My true inner child came out in that moment and my heart adored every minute of it.

Pike’s Peak is a recommended must see attraction while in Denver but I do have a few tips for you:

  • Give yourself plenty of time to experience Pike’s Peak. As I mentioned earlier, it’s about an 1.5 hour drive from Denver. Once you are there, you want to give yourself plenty of time to drive and stop along the way before the part closes at sunset. We ended up spending 5 hours there.
  • Get all of your footage of the views on the way up to the top. Once you are at the top, there is not much of a view due to construction currently taking place.
  • Layer up for the temperature change. I didn’t properly plan for this at all lol. All I had was a jean jacket and I suffered.
  • Get the donuts. There’s a café and a gift shop at the very top. Seriously, get the donuts. I still don’t understand how their old fashioned donuts tasted so delectable. I mean, it’s old fashioned donuts. I just don’t get it. BUT GET THE DONUTS.
  • Truly soak up the experience. How often do you get to be over 14,00o feet above ground with those kind of views? Be present and grateful.

DAY 2:

Denver Biscuit Company

We had a full, action packed day planned! Did we have enough time? Lol barely. But it was my fiancé’s birthday and I was determined. Our first stop was Denver Biscuit Company located in the Stanley Marketplace. For my fellow 813 peeps, the Stanley Marketplace is kind of like Armature Works. For those who still don’t know what I am talking about, the easiest way I can describe it is as a really dope flea market of local restaurants and shops.

The Denver Biscuit Company has many great reviews and is often referred to Top 10 best in the area for serving size and taste. The restaurant claims that the secret to their biscuits is love…and LOTS of butter. And they did not disappoint! Definitely come hungry. Beyond worth it and highly recommended. I ordered the shrimp and grits in a biscuit bowl [enter drooling emoji here].

See what the hype is about at https://atomiccowboy.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Stanley-MainMenu-1.pdf.

The International Church of Cannabis

After one of the best breakfast experiences of our life, we headed to another highly anticipated attraction, The International Church of Cannabis. No pun intended. After a bit of research, I quickly realized why this is such a popular tourist attraction and it’s not the obvious reason. This church is aesthetically and visually appealing as its décor focuses on the power of color theory and color therapy. While visiting, we were told that the artist, Okuda San Miguel painted the gorgeous murals inside of the church in 5 days!!! I can’t even imagine that level of dedication!

In addition to the many displays of art inspo, the church offers a guided meditation and laser light show that was really cool to experience. The meditation and light show costs $25 and gives you a full power hour of awesomeness. Feel free to check out more details at https://elevationists.org/.

The International Church of Cannabis have stated that an individual’s spiritual journey, and search for meaning, is one of self-discovery accelerated by the way of ritual and mindful cannabis use. The members of this church are known as Elevationists. Because Elevationism claims no divine law or authoritarian structure, all backgrounds and religions are welcomed with open arms. At your visit, you will not be given anything for cannabis use. The church likes to remain as family friendly as possible so the kiddos can join in on the fun of the meditation and light show as well.

Denver Selfie Museum

After our visit at the International Church of Cannabis, we headed to the Airbnb to freshen up before we went to our next attraction on the list, the Denver Selfie Museum. This was definitely the highlight of the day! As the first and only Instagram pop up museum in Denver, this place offers a selfie adventure like one never experienced before. For a $29 dollar ticket, you can access every corner of the museum that is covered in art, murals, and props for the ultimate selfie. Such a dope concept! 10/10, strongly recommended to visit if you’re ever in the Denver area.

Check out more at https://denverselfiemuseum.com/.

Punch Bowl Social

After the selfie museum, we were way overdue to grab a bite and after a bit of google searching, we came across this gem of a restaurant. Punch Bowl Social offers a scratch-kitchen menu and pairs with a fun zone of entertainment options such as bowling, life size Jenga, pool, karaoke, and old school arcade games. Due to COVID-19, they current offer outside seating only. In my humble opinion, their menu is limited. But then again, I am a pescatarian so that limits the options for me regardless. However, I opted for the shrimp tacos and they were pretty delicious. But my absolute favorite thing I tried on their menu was their Buffalo fries!

Check out the vibes at https://punchbowlsocial.com/location/denver.

Sweet Action Ice Cream

There is ALWAYS room for dessert. If you have a sweet tooth like my best friend and I, there is an ice cream shop a couple of blocks from Punch Bowl Social called Sweet Action Ice Cream. We decided to walk there after our meal. The staff are extremely sweet…again, no pun intended…and vegan options are available. With flavors varying from Stranahan’s Whiskey Brickle to Vietnamese Coffee, there is a flavor to satisfy the most eccentric taste buds. Beware of the double scoop though, it’s A LOT more to take on than you think. See what other flavors that may satisfy your cravings at https://sweetaction.com/. No pictures for this one…I was too busy stuffing my face.

DAY 3:

And so, we are on our final day in Denver! Are you guys still with me? Good. The goal for Day 3 was really about visiting as many establishments as we could, mainly to kill time. We checked out of our Airbnb around 10am but our flight was not until midnight. A full day with an ample amount of opportunities to explore. *swoon*

Snooze, an A.M. Eatery

The Mecca of Breakfast. And to think we almost didn’t make it here. We were running a little behind schedule and after finding Snooze as a breakfast option, we quickly found out just how popular this restaurant is. Please anticipate a minimum of an hour wait if you ever come here. I think the main reason for such a long wait is because they are ensuring they do not reach maximum capacity for proper social distancing (which honestly, kudos to them) and the fact that they do not allow reservations. First come, first serve basis.

We put our names on the waiting list and debated if we should actually wait. We decided no. We found another restaurant 7 minutes down the road called Syrup and placed our names on their waiting list. We were told that it was a wait of about 25 minutes. We ordered coffee and mimosas in the meantime. But 25 minutes turned into 40 minutes and before we knew it, we were receiving a text from Snooze saying that our table was ready. It was a no brainer. We ran to the car and drove straight there as we received threats of losing our spot. But we made it! And OMG, how disappointing would it have been if we did? Cause the food is BOMB.

The bestie and I always like to eat off of each other’s plates, so we strategized what we would order. We decided she would get the OMG! French Toast and I would get the Smashed Avocado Benny, along wit Abri-ca-lav-ra Mimosas to wash it all down. The most satisfying. Delicious. Scrumptious. Love of a meal that I have ever tasted, I could cry. Don’t believe me? Check out the menu here at https://www.snoozeeatery.com/food-menu/. You’re welcome.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Located in Morrison, a city just 30 minutes outside of Denver, lies a concert venue and a park wrapped in one! Here, you can see the celebrity stars and the physical ones with views surrounding you, enhancing your experience all at once. You can either purchase event tickets or you can take the cheap route (like I did) and visit the venue during daylight hours before concert operations commence. And it won’t cost you a penny, only your time. 738 acres of land and an elevation of 6,450 ft. above ground, be sure to fully immerse yourself in the rich, reddish tint of the naturally formed statues that fills the park throughout. It truly is beautiful and a great attraction to add to your field trip while in Denver.

Want more footage of the views? Check out some live cam footage here at https://www.redrocksonline.com/explore-red-rocks/live-cam/.

MCA Denver- The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver

After Red Rocks, we headed to the downtown area of Denver to dive into some much needed art and culture by visiting MCA Denver. By the way, they offer free weekend access to all guests. Helloooo. Again, a no brainer. Nari Ward, a New York based artist and whose work is featured in the museum, creates his art composed of found objects from his neighborhood. With these, he highlights issues related to consumer culture, poverty, and race. We encountered so many deep and meaningful installations as we wandered the museum for 2 hours, digesting what our eyes have set upon.

If you’re ever in the downtown area, be sure to swing by their website and grab a few weekend access tickets at https://mcadenver.org/visit/tickets.

RiNo Art District

After the museum, we headed to the thriving art district of Denver. Listen…So. Much. Art. EVERYWHERE. And along with the colorful, eccentric art splashed across the walls of the buildings and streets, you will find the trendiest restaurants, breweries, and bars. It’s hard not to fall in love with this lively area that offers an escape from reality along with encountering the friendliest people you will ever meet.

Here are a few honorable mentions in the area:

The Preservery

We briefly passed by this establishment as we further explored the art district, mainly because they were closed by the time we arrived. However, the staff was so incredibly friendly and offered suggestions of bars and restaurants to visit in the area. Also, they allowed us to hang out and grab a few pictures of the urban aesthetics that seemed to cover every inch of their walls.

Want to find out more info? Check it out at https://thepreservery.com/our-space.

Lustre Pearl Denver

Ici tout est bon. “Here, everything is good.” Definitely one of our favorite bars in the area! It’s seriously a whole vibe. From the aesthetics to the drink selection, to the music that blasts into the street, to the laid back and conversational staff, it’s pretty hard not to have a good time here. We enjoyed our time so much here that as the day started to wrap up before our departure, we came back to soak up the good energy before our long flight. We didn’t eat there but I made sure to load up on the Asher Skye drinks; yum.

What drink would you choose? https://lustrepearldenver.com/drink

Dio Mio

You guyssss. I have never tasted pasta so good. I’m not even exaggerating. It was cooked al dente and everything! And I think what shocks me the most about this place, is that you wouldn’t expect a counter service pasta restaurant to be that good. BUT IT IS. Dio Mio offers a relaxed atmosphere paired with traditional pasta meals that are explosive with fresh ingredients. The portions are huge as well so you get plenty of bang for your buck. I ordered corn fritters for an appetizer and Cacio e Pepe for the main course, which is basically an alfredo pasta dish. My takeaway? Pasta heaven.

Are you a foodie who likes to read the ingredients of the meals, like me? Here, let me help you- http://www.diomiopasta.com/dinner-menu.

And so, our trip came to an end 😦

But the experiences I shared with my fiancé and best friend in this beautiful city, will forever be cherished in my heart. So many laughs, epiphanies, and great conversations, all shared while basking in the aura Denver shares with its local residents and tourists.

If I could summarize this trip in a single moment, it would be the moment as we were driving up Pike’s Peak. Teyana Taylor’s song, “We Got Love” was playing in the background and as the song began to finish, an audio clip started playing…

A lot of people define success differently

You know, for me, you can have everything

You can have all the money in the world

But if it’s not enjoyable, if it’s not sustainable, know what I mean?

If you can’t be a person of integrity while having all of these things

What does it matter? What does it mean?

The value is internal

Your value is internal

Ms. Lauryn Hill

And for a brief moment, I teared up, filled with the upmost gratitude for where I was at the moment, with two of the most important and meaningful people in my life. I hope you enjoyed reading about our trip! It’s good to be back writing for you all and can’t wait to hear your thoughts ❤