Running Through Mile-High City

I dragged my bro to Denver for my fourth half marathon in 2014. Well, the Denver part didn't require much coaxing, but the running part did. Either way, we both did great (elevation aside!) and also had a blast exploring this super hip mountain town.

The uber charming Crawford Hotel shares a common space with Union Station's terminal, which boasts a variety of restaurants, shops and the Terminal Bar. Super convenient when you're like me and don't check into a hotel without a drink in hand.

One of my favorite finds: Bloom by Anuschka. German-born Anuschka evolved her florist roots into this co-located shop featuring gorgeous jewelry, accessories and home decor. (Bloom has a second, larger location in upscale 'hood Cherry Creek 15 minutes away.) Most jewelry is designed in-house - the diamonds and aquamarine set in gold plate and oxidized silver was my gift to myself after running the half.

In true form, we carb-loaded with brews and a savory dinner. Multi-accolade executive chef and founder Justin Brunson's Old Major combines sustainably sourced and raised meats and seafoods and locally-farmed ingredients into magic on your plate. We stumbled upon Blue Moon's Sandlot Taproom by Coors Field, where I learned the brewery produced much more than the wheat ale I associate with the brand. (Note: can't recall if I tasted it while at the Sandlot, but months later I found Blue Moon's Cinnamon Horchata Ale, with which I'm now OBSESSED. It's the perfect nuttiness of the wheat with the oh-so-slight sweetness of the cinnamon.)

Despite elevation and inclines that'll challenge your lungs, Denver's course was beautiful. Love seeing a city this way.

Nothing quite soothes the post-run body like bourbon :) Local Breckenridge Distillery's concoction did the trick.

We rounded out this visit with the record-setting Broncos v. 49ers game, during which Manning threw 4 TD passes to eclipse Favre's previously held record for the most career touchdowns. So, my home team may have lost, but we watched history go down.

I loved Denver and would go back in a heartbeat. This town is friendly, clean and livable. There's a vibrant young population that warrants a dining and drinking scene to keep folks culturally on point, and recent residential developments are chic, modern and affordable.

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Stay. I'd swiftly recommend Crawford to anyone visiting Denver. It's centrally located, walking distance from shops, restaurants and Coors Field, and a short metro ride from Sports Authority Field @ Mile High. Plus the bonus already being IN the metro terminal!  Rates range from just shy of $200 to well into $400s with special thoughtful packages. Crawford offers AAA discounts.

Shop. Budget time to explore the terminal, with Bloom and 5 Green Boxes at the top of the list. Another local spot I loved was the nearby Patagonia store that made me want to uncharacteristically plan a camping trip.

Savor. Old Major for delicious farm-to-table fare. Rio Grande for a margarita and carnitas. Acorn for eclectic Americana.