Agree or disagree — Denver is one of the best cities in the country for a simple reason. It’s a growing city, and it’s a stone’s throw from one of the most beautiful mountain ranges — the Rockies. Being able to have the city life and escape to the mountains on any given afternoon or weekend is truly a blessing. But, in case you haven’t noticed, there is one thing that Denver and Colorado are missing — beaches. Sure, there are some lakes, but it’s not the same. There’s just something about going to the beach in the summer that feels right and utterly relaxing.
If for some reason you’re tired of the mountains and lakes, but you can’t make it to a beach — there are some places here in the city that give off the feeling of being near the ocean. Whether it’s beach chairs, tropical drinks, Carribean food, bright colors or a breezy rooftop — venture to one of these spots to get that faux beach feeling.
Elevated by Departure – Rooftop @ the Halcyon Hotel
Where: 245 Columbine St., Denver
Hours: Monday – Thursday, 4 – 11 p.m., Friday, 4 p.m. – close, Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. – close
The Lowdown: A rooftop patio with refreshing cocktails, modern Asian eats and views of the city — Departure Elevated sits atop the Halcyon Hotel in Cherry Creek, offering a beach-like getaway. A huge wrap-around patio with tons of comfy couches, beach chairs, cabanas — and a pool, for hotel guests only (unless you attend a 303 Pool Party). The menu could easily be that of a nice seaside bar — fresh sushi such as the spicy tuna roll ($12) complete with fermented chili, a full bar with tropical-inspired drinks and much more. Even if you can’t get in the pool, having the clear blue water insight with a drink in hand is just as satisfactory.
Bang Up To The Elephant
Where: 1310 Pearl St., Denver
Hours: 7 a.m. – 2 a.m. every day
The Lowdown: This place is a total sensory experience. Brightly colored mosaic glass, flowy patterns on the floor and the intense blue walls and lighting give the feeling of being under the sea. Bang Up to the Elephant is a new addition to Capitol Hill, offering Caribbean-inspired food or as the team calls it ‘Calypso Cuisine.’ Open early every day, you can dine for breakfast or visit the cafe that’s open until closing every day serving chicory coffee ($2.25), doughnuts and more. At nighttime, the tropical vibes are alive with flavorful dishes. Some namely fares are the mofongo ($8) plantains and potatoes with sweet and spicy peppers; roasted tomato and spiced rum, and jerk chicken ($13). And of course — lots of rum drinks.
Adrift Tiki Bar
Where: 218 S. Broadway, Denver
Hours: Tuesday – Thursday, 5 p.m. – 12 a.m., Friday – Saturday, 5 p.m. – 1 a.m., Sunday – Monday, Closed.
The Lowdown: This place lives up to its name of making patrons feel like they are ‘adrift’ at a tiki bar on a faraway island. The atmosphere is full-on tropical with Tiki totems, a bamboo bar, island art on the walls and a beachy patio. But, the real McCoy is the Polynesian drinks and food. We recommend going during happy hour which is 5 – 7 p.m. every day offering $2 off all tiki cocktails, $5 daiquiris, $4 draft beers, and cheap appetizers like sweet and sour glazed pork belly ($6). For the full menu and more info, go here.
Where: 2927 Larimer St., Denver
Hours: Tuesday – Thursday, 5 p.m. – 12 a.m., Friday – Saturday, 2 p.m. – 1 a.m., Sunday, 2 – 9 p.m., Monday, Closed.
The Lowdown: Finn’s Manor is a staple bar in RiNo, which has a backyard that always has two food trucks on site. The bar is very impressive with over 400 spirits (161 of them are whiskey), a house-made rum, a rotating tropical punch and 16 taps. In fact, it just made our list of best beer bars in Denver. The outdoor seating area is huge and resemblant to a big beach hut with wooden tables, bright-colored posts and chairs and string lights. Sit outside and listen to some chill tunes with your drink, and grab some grub from one of the food trucks like Dos Abuelas which is always on-site, serving up Puerto Rican food like mofongo and guava bbq. Chicken Rebel is another food truck serving fried chicken sandwiches at Finn’s Tuesday through Saturday.
Punch Bowl Social – Stapleton
Where: 3120 N. Uinta St., Denver
Hours: Monday – Wednesday, 11 a.m. – 1 a.m., Thursday – Friday, 11 a.m. – 2 a.m., Saturday, 8 a.m. – 2 a.m., Sunday, 8 a.m. – 12 a.m.
The Lowdown: Punchbowl Social has been a favorite spot on Broadway since 2012, so it makes sense that there’s a new huge one in Stapleton to keep up with the popularity. It’s got all of the extravagances of the original with an added bonus: a big, awesome patio with tons of seating. There you’ll find patches of fake grass, a faux blue area made to look like a pool and retro beach chairs resemble a sunny backyard pool party. The patio is a great spot to hang out (before or after a few games of bowling) with a fresh strawberry daiquiri ($9) and perhaps some lobster bacon fries ($15).
Hidden Idol at Beetle Bar
Where: 3014 E. Colfax Ave., Upstairs level, Denver
Hours: Wednesday – Thursday, 7 p.m. – 12 a.m.; Friday – Saturday, 7 p.m. – 1 a.m.; Sunday, 7 p.m. – 12 a.m.; Closed, Monday and Tuesday.
The Lowdown: In the heart of the ever-vintage East Colfax is a speakeasy tiki bar called Hidden Idol. The downstairs is a restaurant/bar called Southside Bar Kitchen serving burgers and wings, happy hours and an NFL Sunday ticket. But up the stairs and through the red door is a whole different world — when the day turns to night — you can transport yourself to this ’60s vibe tropical paradise. Blue ocean lights, totem decorations, fruity drinks and a bartender with a Hawaiian shirt — this intimate hip bar is the perfect escape.
Where: 1173 Delaware St., Denver
Hours: Monday – Thursday, 5 – 10 p.m., Friday – Saturday, 5 – 10:30 p.m., Sunday, Closed.
The Lowdown: Cuba Cuba is a little slice of Havana in the Mile High. Slight details like a bongo drum by the doorway to the patio, tables with a worn teal ocean color and photos of Cuban streets on the wall, takes you on a subtle trip to Cuba. The menu includes empanadas, ceviche and entrees like camarones al coco ($24) — pan-seared shrimp sautéed with garlic, ginger, coconut milk, peppers and a potato mash. Traditional Cuban cocktails like the mojito ($9) and the Cubanita ($9) which is a pineapple margarita, can be found here. We’re salivating just thinking about it.
Big Trouble @ Zeppelin Station
Where: 3501 Wazee St. # 100, Denver
Hours: Tuesday – Thursday, 4 – 11 p.m., Friday – Saturday, 4 p.m. – 2 a.m., Sunday – Monday, Closed.
The Lowdown: The new Zeppelin Station in RiNo is a marketplace full of vendors for lunch and dinner, as well as coffee, ice cream and two bars. It’s a convenient spot to hop on or off the light rail or train. It’s the perfect place for a professional business lunch or some late-night food and fun. Located on the second floor of Zeppelin is the bar, Big Trouble which has a fun, seductive vibe. Most importantly, tropical drinks. We’re talking drinks with little umbrellas in them, tiki glasses and wispy straws. Some notable drinks are the Coconut Drift ($12) — Bombay Sapphire East, coconut, Makrut lime leaf, ginger liqueur, pineapple, lemongrass and lime; and the Fortune Cookie Mai Tai ($12) — fancy rum, sesame, curaçao, vanilla and ‘eerily predictive fortune cookie.’