Top Chef Judge Gail Simmons' Guide to Denver, Colorado
Collective Retreats Vail
My family spent three days in a decked-out tent on a ranch two hours from Denver, and I've been looking to return ever since! The Collective Retreats Vail location has every outdoor activity imaginable, from fishing to horseback riding.
From the award-winning team at Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, Colorado, this Italian newcomer strikes that perfect balance between casual service and sophisticated technique, complete with a menu of handmade pastas and a wine list to please every palate. Reserve the chef's table overlooking the kitchen so you can watch all the action unfold.
As far as food halls go, Denver knows its stuff, and Avanti F&B definitely leads the pack. Housed in shipping containers, the multivendor incubator offers great coffee from American Grind, pizza from Brava! Pizzeria Della Strada, Venezuelan arepas from Quiero Arepas, and more, as well as some of the best cocktails and rooftop views in town.
Denver Adventures Zipline Tours
One of the city's many attributes is its proximity to nature, and there's nothing more exhilarating than taking in the fresh air—and those Rocky Mountain views—from high above the treeline! After just a 30-minute drive from downtown, I was soaring 250 feet off the ground through one of the longest zipline courses in the state.
Denver's Union Station is unlike any train station I've ever experienced, with its curated selection of restaurants, shops, and public art. But it's the cool comfort of the Crawford Hotel, located upstairs, that makes the building so special. Combining modern luxury with over 100 years of Colorado history, the Crawford is the most welcoming respite for weary travelers.
Named after the Dutch for "good acid," this low-key sour-beer bar on the border of Denver's Five Points neighborhood was a discovery by me and the Top Chef crew during shooting. We spent several nights tasting the unique wild ales and snacking on rich, inventive small plates, cheese, and charcuterie—all designed with a menu of full-flavored beers in mind.
The best reason to shop local, Hope Tank stocks thoughtful gifts and goods from around the world—every one of which gives back in some way to support the community, independent artisans, or one of Hope Tank's designated charity partners. It's easy to leave here feeling great about making a social impact while simultaneously finding great souvenirs from your trip.