Here’s an unexpected vacation destination in Colorado that will exceed your expectations.
It puts you right in the middle of Denver and Boulder, with easy access to large stretches of trails, water, and parks, but it’s right in the city — walking distance to bars, a movie theater, bowling alley, arcade, the nation’s largest ice arena and the state’s quirky insect zoo.
When you stay here, you don’t need a car, except for quick day trips to the Pearl Street Mall, mountains or downtown Denver. The location, as well as high level of service, is why we think the Westin in Westminster is one of Colorado’s best kept secrets — right in front of your eyes.
This hotel is about 30 minutes to downtown Denver and about 20 minutes to Boulder (depending on traffic on Highway 36 and the interstate).
Here’s what you can experience if you plan a weekend stay at this stunning resort: our five favorite, surprising ways to enjoy a vacation in Westminster.
Views for Days
Westminster is no small town. It’s not a mountain town, either. So, many travelers are expected by the views from the views at the Westin Westminster. On one side: full views of the Rocky Mountains. On the other: a dramatic overview of parks and green space.
Right out the door, guests can go to the park, walk around the lake at the promenade and explore lengthy trails that wind throughout the open space. You'll see multiple fountains, bunnies, birds, and flowers, not far from two of the busiest highways in Colorado.
Inside, the Westin’s outdoorsy values express themselves in nature-inspired decor and green initiatives.
The Westin Westminster is the first Colorado hotel to be partially solar-powered with 139 solar panels. More than 5 percent of guest rooms are powered by solar. Rooms are cleaned with Ecolab non-phosphate cleaning products, toilets are water-saving and you’ll find recycling bins.
The hotel itself is first class, what you would expect from the Westin brand, with cloud-like beds and an impressive lobby that looks like a mountain chalet, with thick wooden beams and a floor-to-ceiling fireplace marking the center of the room.
Book your stay at the Westin Westminster here.
Open Space in the City
Little known fact: Westminster itself offers more than 3,000 acres of open space, about 14 percent of the city’s entire land area. If you add in parks and golf courses, that number jumps to about one-third.
Nowhere else in the Denver-metro area can boast this.
The city also has 74 miles of off-road trails and a trail system with more than 40 underpasses to avoid the busy highways. The nearly-12-mile Big Dry Creek Trail is a highlight, as it winds along a creek and across open space bigger than New York’s Central Park.
Margs on the Patio
Connected with the Westin is one of our favorite restaurants in the state, the Kachina Southwestern Grill. In warm weather, you can enjoy an indoor-outdoor patio with views of the lake, which makes you almost feel like you’re sitting in a beach-side hut.
The adobe exterior and Santa Fe-style decor, as well as white lights, greenery, and artsy chandeliers, lend the space a cheerful, party-like atmosphere, while the food is delicious enough to drive you there regardless of the environment. Order the fluffy Navajo tacos and the guacamole trio for some of the best Southwestern flavors around.
Wash it all down with a margarita. The spicy margs and Prickly Pixie (cazadores reposado, prickly pear puree, triple sec, and lime) are our top choices.
Easy Access to Entertainment
Whether you want a great date night or a night out with the family, you can find it within walking distance of the Westin. No need to pay for a taxi or assign a DD for the night. The beautiful walk around the lake and over the bridge, past statues, and shops, is entertainment, in and of itself.
The Westminster Promenade is a bustling outdoor pedestrian village with a 24-screen movie theater (one of the busiest in the nation), a three-rink ice-skating arena — the biggest in the nation — a bowling alley and more.
For adults, Bar Louie features handcrafted martinis (as well as a full menu and full bar) that you can sip outside next to a fire pit. The Rock Bottom Brewery is another popular destination for some local brew.
For families (and playful adults), Dave and Buster’s is a sports lounge boasting more than 40,000 square feet of games and simulators. Families can also bowl at Fat Cats — which also has glow golf, a laser maze, arcade and food, and drinks. Thursday through Saturday, the Madcap Theater brings family-friendly improv comedy to the stage.
Right now, the movie theater area is undergoing a facelift, so live music and dancing are on hold, but look for plenty of more excitement in the future.
Bugs and Butterflies, Oh My
The Butterfly Pavilion is a widely popular excursion, especially for families, and the Westin is walking distance away. The tropical rain forest room, home to about 1,600 colorful butterflies, is the namesake of this insect zoo, but it’s just the beginning.
This building is home to more than 5,000 different critters (all invertebrates), from fish (even a real-life Nemo and Dory) to cockroaches to bees to Rosie, the tarantula — that you can hold, if you dare. In the tropical conservatory, you’ll also see turtles, birds and tortoises.
Kids can stick their hands in compost and dig for beetle grubs, play on the indoor playground and gaze at the beautiful gardens outside.