When we speak of America we can be guilty of immediately thinking of Los Angeles or New York, the places we see on Netflix and on the big screen.
At least that was my own vision of The American Dream - after spending years daydreaming about my Coyote Ugly fantasy or finding love in Manhattan - but my first taste of America was something I never could have anticipated.
Colorado blew all expectations out of the water as - in place of tourists and socialites - we got to explore the vibrant, beautiful, artistic hub that is Denver.
Denver is the exciting, thriving city with it all - and an escape to the outdoors less than 2 hours away for when (or if!) it gets too much.Unaware of the culture this modern city holds, we were in awe of the incredible art, food, music, cultureand social life on offer.
Norwegian have made it easier than ever to visit Denver as the first low-budget airline to fly direct to the U.S., and we were lucky enough to be whisked awayfrom London’s Gatwick airport to be shown around the beautifulcity.
Plus, travelling in the comfort of their supreme Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes meant that the much-dreaded jet lag was practically a myth! Perhaps that was helped by the at-your-seat service and ability to order drinks straight from your tablet to save any waiting... I guess we'll never know for sure!
So without further ado, here’s all of the must-do bits in a weekend break to The Mile High City…
The City of Art
When you think of Colorado you might think of skiing or the white outdoors but you might not expect it to be an artistic utopia. The art scene in Denver is so prominent that every street looks like a art gallery.
Well, some streets quite literally are galleries.
Artists from around the world came to the RiNo neighbourhood the weekend prior to our visit to paint their unique murals on the city’s walls. Where some places would call it graffiti, Denver embraces eclectic talents to bring colour and life to their streets in this insanely cool outdoor gallery.
If you fancy a more traditional art gallery then Denver Art Museum is the perfect example of how a city so modern in its architecture and style can be so rich in culture and history.
Incredible installations from artists local and worldwide were interesting, beautiful, educational, breathtaking and sometimes hilarious. All in a building that looks like it’s floating.
Wine and Diners
Let’s not kid ourselves, when it comes to a holiday the food is just as important as the destination. How does Denver hold up? Exquisitely.
From luxury dining to quirky breakfast bars (The Snooze), Denver is jam-packed with one-of-a-kind restaurants serving food so delicious you’ll be dreaming about it weeks later. Trust us.
The chic Rioja is an intimate Mediterranean restaurant with exclusive weekly menus and the most attentive, detail-orientated service you’ll ever experience.Fussy eater? No worries here, everything is made just for you and can be amended to your unique tastes. Not to mention the wine selection is to die for.
Get Lost In The Music At Red Rocks
Not only the highlight of the trip but perhaps a lifetime was attending a Muse concert at the indescribably stunning Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
Going to see your favourite band in concert is always a memorable experience but watching them perform with a view of the entire city right behind the stage?
The man-made venue is world famous for its structure, the fact the sound bounces between the rocks and for being strangely intimate.
Sitting with almost 10,000 other people feels small when you’re above everything in the mountains but it only makes for an extraordinary atmosphere.
As for Muse? 10/10, would recommend.
Forget Coyote Ugly, It’s Cowboy Realness
The closest we got to living out our Coyote Ugly-influenced American Dream was when we briefly escaped Denver to take on the outdoors of Estes Park, just 90 minutes outside the city.
Just like Tyra Banks put on a cowboy hat and some leather chaps for a bar dance, we threw on a plaid shirt and some Timberland boots and headed to the barn for some horseback riding in the mountains.
The Moraine Park Stable is hidden away in the spectacular Rocky Mountain National Park, an unbelievably gorgeous park of protected mountains and forests that spans 415 square miles along the Continental Divide.
Even if you’re a first-time rider or have fallen off before, face your fears and saddle up on a horse (like the lovely Caw) to experience views so amazing you’ll be speechless.
Top tip: don’t let the horses eat the grass. Once they start, there’s no going back.
Visit Your Favourite Scary Movie
Just minutes away from these breathtaking views is The Stanley Hotel, which famously inspired Stephen King’s The Shining and the terrifying film version that followed.
We sought out the paranormal among the tranquility, as any horror buff would, and visited the eery hotel that looks exactly like the one in the film.
You can explore the surreal setting and hear the paranormal history, then dip down the creepy corridors for a fancy shmancy lunch that we’re sure Johnny would love!
The Glamorous, The Flossy Flossy
There’s a mysterious magic about Denver in the way that everything is so effortlessly luxurious without feeling materialistic or indulgent. Instead, everything just feels like a right old treat.
That's why we recommend The Kimpton Hotel Born, for this exact reason: simplistic beauty that oozes class while also doing a daily happy hour of free wine.
With floor-to-ceiling windows, every single room has a view to swoon over - if you can take yourself away from the selfie-perfect mirror station in the bathroom. It's what Kim Kardashian's dreams are made of.They also let dogs stay.Heaven, right?
The Kimpton Born is right around the corner from Denver Union Station too, so you can travel anywhere you want to in just a few steps - or grab a delicious cocktail bar at The Cooper Lounge upstairs. Seriously delicious!
Travel In Style On A Budget
Getting to Denver is now easier than ever thanks to Norwegian airlines’ brand new route from London’s Gatwick airport, and we were lucky enough to travel on the inaugural flight in their super comfortable - and super affordable - Premium class!
Norwegian treated their first flyers to some cake, fizz and complimentary socks for the long haul stint to celebrate their latest low-cost long-haul direct U.S. flightbefore we went on board for the surprisingly quick (and smooth) flight on alovelyBoeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
Direct flights from London Gatwick to Denver Airport leave twice a week at the moment, with an additional third weekly flight launching on November 2nd, with fares starting at just £179 for a one way and £360 return in Economy. To enjoy the spacious Premium cabin flights begin at £599 one way and £1,109 return.
So what are you waiting for?Book up and enjoy the endless fun that Denver and Estes Park have to offer!
Colorado? You're my new American Dream...
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