I’m getting ready to hit the skies again! This week my job sends me back to two cities that I visited last year, so I thought I’d share some of the highlights from those trips and ask for your suggestions to see in 2014.
As many business travelers know, you don’t get too much free time on the ground. I might get an hour mid-afternoon, or a solo breakfast or dinner. Still, during that time I do try to make the most of these trips, and so I appreciate any advice for local shops, sights and food. Please share in the comments!
First up: Denver 2013 highlights
I was able to stay within walking distance to the main street in downtown Denver, the 16th Street Mall. Lots of fun places to eat and shop along this handful of city blocks, and very walkable (though there is also a trolley that will take you up and down if your feet get tired).
Upon multiple recommendations I knew I couldn’t miss The Tattered Cover bookstore so I high-tailed it there during a free hour. It is a really beautiful bookstore, with the cozy nooks and that worn-in, stay-a-few-hours-and-read-here look that Barnes & Noble is lacking. The in-house coffee counter doesn’t hurt either.
I was a bit disappointed that they were doing construction so I couldn’t explore the second floor, which also made it uncharacteristically noisy, so I’ll be heading back this year to get upstairs.
Even so, I managed to occupy myself with plenty of selections on the first floor. I remember a really great greeting card section, and the used-book section with really reasonable prices did not disappoint. Note to self: leave extra room in luggage this year for more books!
While on the 16th Street Mall, I had a brief but memorable lunch at The Kitchen Denver where the servers were very attentive to my tight timeline. The restaurant is known as a “community bistro” and manages to stay casual despite the well-considered chef’s menu. It has a fresh, farm-to-table vibe and industrial-cozy decor. While this place probably attracts tourists, there was a decent business lunch crowd.
One evening, I ventured further along 16th Street to Larimer Square.
This seems like a great place for a date or a group of friends to meet for drinks and dinner. I had already eaten, but the romance of the strings of lights and pedi-cabs drew me in anyway for a leisurely stroll.
The next morning I woke up to snow. In late April. I was headed out of town, but glad that I was able to do so much walking before the storm hit Denver. I thought late April was a great time to visit to explore downtown – not bitterly cold – but if you’re headed here for the outdoor activities…well, you’ll need a different tour guide. I’m afraid I can’t help you :)
Next stop: Salt Lake City 2013 highlights
One great aspect of Salt Lake City is the proximity of the airport, which allowed me to avoid renting a car. My hotel offered a shuttle, which was good because I found that taxis were a little more difficult to come by than in other urban areas. But you could easily arrange for a taxi at the airport or at a hotel.
Walking around downtown was not exactly what I expected. The city blocks are long – it looks close-by on Google Maps, but in reality it was further than I expected – and there were some areas that felt rather desolate. I’d recommend choosing your hotel location carefully so that you can access the points of interest.
While there, I visited the Grand America Hotel which is a must-see. It is truly a gorgeous hotel, standing out among the chain hotels, and its also well positioned in front of a local trolley/train that you can take to get downtown.
During my downtime I did some shopping in the lifestyle shopping centers in Salt Lake. The City Creek Mall is the newer one, and located right near Temple Square.
If you’re in Salt Lake, you really must see Temple Square. Not only is the architecture beautiful, but the history really orients you to the city.
Individuals can walk into the Church History Museum for free tours during open hours – no reservations needed. Full disclosure: it was a bit intense for me to go on this tour alone, but I did appreciate learning about the LDS community and history from my two missionary tour guides. The tour also included a visit to the famous Mormon Tabernacle, one of the most acoustically perfect buildings in the world.
So I felt like I did justice to both destinations in 2013, but I’m looking to make the most of my trips back this year. What attractions did I miss? Favorite restaurants? Shops? Please share!
Bon Voyage, mes amis!