When it comes to romance in Colorado, the city of Loveland gets a lot of attention for some not-so-subtle reasons. (You can even route your Valentine’s Day cards through the local post office and get a sweet postal stamp on the envelopes that says "With Love from Loveland.") But, Denver, like its sweetheart city neighbor to the north, also makes some grand and chivalrous gestures—complete with flowers, chocolates, fancy dinners, and horse-drawn carriage rides.
Whether you’re here on vacation, a honeymoon, or you're a local planning a date night, there are tons of romantic things to do in the Mile High City.
Tear a page from a fairytale by booking a horse-drawn carriage to give you a tour of Downtown Denver, clip-clopping down the 16th Street Pedestrian Mall and looping around Larimer Square, Denver's most historic block. Irish Rose Drafts leads downtown carriage rides and tours with its fleet of horses, which include Belgian, Clydesdale, Percherons, and Suffolks. You can choose different packages and routes; the most expensive ride lasts up to 1.5 hours.
Head to Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House for an amazing meal in a lovely setting. The restaurant doubles up on the romance for Valentine's Day with an “Oysters & Pearls For Two” plate that comes with chilled oysters on a half shell topped with a caviar mignonette, plus two glasses of either Veuve Clicquot Champagne or Grey Goose VX Vodka.
Pro tip: While in Denver, don't let any locals point you to "Rocky Mountain Oysters" unless you have an adventurous palate. For the uninitiated, those are actually roasted bull's testicles and you'll occasionally find them on Colorado menus.
Aim Cupid’s arrow at Vesta, a restaurant in the trendy Lower Downtown (LoDo) neighborhood, which offers a sexy vibe with warm lighting and barrel-aged craft cocktails. The executive chef Nicholas Kayser is the mind behind an innovative menu, which includes dishes like a Colorado rack of lamb or a bone-in ribeye that you can customize with house gourmet dipping sauces on the side. We’re talking barrel-aged hot sauces, jalapeño remoulades, and fig jams. If your special someone has dietary restrictions, Vesta has specialty menus for foods without gluten, lactose, nuts, and shellfish.
Why give a dozen roses when you can give your date an entire 24-acre garden at the Denver Botanic Gardens on York Street? Admire a wide range of plants, from roses in the ornamental gardens to drought-tolerant native Western plants to international plants from Asia, the tropics, and South Africa. You can also enjoy the aquatic plants and shady gardens. If you are visiting during warm weather, pack a picnic and enjoy lunch in the nearby Cheesman Park, which borders the Denver Botanic Gardens.
Corridor 44 is an intimate champagne bar in a romantic setting with a canopy of lights that give it a warm glow year-round. It’s worth ducking into Corridor 44 on Larimer Square for the caviar service. In terms of drinks, while you could go with a classic champagne order, the bartenders here are wildly inventive, and they put some unexpected twists on the sparkling wine. The Raspberry Truffle is made with raspberry vodka, Godiva chocolate liqueur, and champagne. If you are a beer drinker, try the Black Velvet, a mix of Guinness and champagne. Another favorite is the Italian Twist that blends champagne and limoncello, a lemon liqueur—garnished with a twist of lemon.
For a sweet date, tour the historic Hammond’s Candy Factory. The iconic candy factory was opened nearly a century ago by Carl T. Hammond, who got his start in the business working as a candy apprentice. He invented Honey Ko Kos, which are chocolates topped with shredded coconut.
During the tour, you’ll get to watch workers at the factory pull, twist, and shape handcrafted candy canes, ribbon candy, and lollipops. The technique has been in place since the Hammond’s opened in 1920. Afterward, stop in the candy shop and pick out some sweet treats like heart-shaped cherry or bubblegum-flavored lollipops.
Admission is free and reservations are required 24 hours in advance of your visit.
If you book the last spa treatment of the day at The Ritz-Carlton spa in Denver, you and your loved one will enjoy the entire place to yourselves, a totally rare opportunity. Ask about the “Couple’s Spa Escape.” The package includes side-by-side 50-minute massages in the spa’s couple’s room and access to all of the facilities, including the whirlpools, steam room, and relaxation lounges. Plus, you’ll be immersed in the beauty of the Colorado Rockies.
You can also stick around the hotel for dinner at Elway’s (as in the legendary Bronco’s player) that combines the casual tone of a sports bar with the dining quality of a high-end restaurant.
Denver has a thriving 16-block theater district, with the Denver Performing Arts Complex (home to Colorado Ballet), the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, as well as theater and Broadway shows put on by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and Opera Colorado.
You can make a night of it by grabbing show tickets and getting downtown early to enjoy dinner and drinks across the street inside the Corner Office Restaurant and Martini Bar in The Curtis hotel. As a must-do while you’re there, head into the restroom and leave a love note on the wall. The eccentric bar bathroom leaves out colorful Post-It notes that make for fun reads.
Right in the middle of Denver’s museum district is the ART Hotel, which features enough canvases on the wall to practically double as a museum itself. The hotel is perfectly located to visit the best museums in Denver, with the History Colorado Center on one side and the Denver Art Museum on the other.
But one extra plus about this hotel is FIRE Lounge, which has open fire pits that you can warm up to while sipping cocktails from the restaurant's seasonal menus. If it gets really chilly, the staff will throw out some wool blankets for you and your date to cozy up with.
Even Colorado’s pot shops know how to get romantic. If your date enjoys the green stuff, you can make it a night in with some cannabis-infused chocolates and EVOS intimate oil, which is infused with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis) rather than petroleum and synthetic parabens. You can find both at Native Roots, a popular Colorado dispensary that has numerous locations throughout Denver.
This South American dancing is a fun, romantic way to spend some time with your love and get some exercise. Mercury Cafe offers tango classes and performances on some Fridays in their dance hall. They also have a restaurant with an organic and locally-sourced menu. Check their website for dates and details.
If you'd like tango lessons, along with gourmet farm-to-table food and live music set at various historic venues, Denver's even home to a Tango on the Rocks Festival in late August and early September.
City Park is a popular neighborhood, most of which consists of a 330-acre park with the same name, found about a mile from downtown. This area has it all, including plenty of opportunities for romantic moments. Couples can do everything from checking out the Denver Zoo or seeing a movie at the IMAX to peacefully peddling in a paddleboat or kayaking at Ferril Lake. You may also enjoy having a picnic while listening to a freejazz concert on a summer evening, or dining at a local restaurant.
Don't miss bringing your beloved to a highly-scenic and high altitude place—6,450 feet above sea level—to catch an open-air concert, only 15 miles west of Denver in Morrison. Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre is a National Historic Landmark with over 75 years of performances by famous artists like the Beatles, Sting, and many others. It's a unique opportunity to view beautiful rock formations while catching a live show. You and your honey may also want to venture onto one of the hiking and biking trails, take a run, or grab something to eat on the deck of Ship Rock Grille in the Red Rocks Visitor Center.
Chocolate and romance go hand in hand, and Colorado is the lucky home to four annual award-winning festivals celebrating the sweet treat. Indulge in chocolate heaven at two local festivals in the Denver area. The Colorado Chocolate Festival at Denver Mart in May will sweeten you up with over 100 booths, plus tastings, speakers, cooking demos, and additional fun. Or autumn lovebirds can have a great time in October at Choctoberfest held at Arapahoe County Fairgrounds in East Denver; besides chocolate, they have beer, contests, and more fun activities.