If you haven’t been to Denver in a while or have never visited, you’re in for a mile-high surprise.

From innovative, community-driven marketplaces to an ultra-hip arts scene to a burgeoning brewery portfolio, the city and neighboring Aurora have the cool factor down to a T.

On a recent visit, Meetings Today checked out the following off-site experiences that are sure to impress attendees.

RiNo Art District, Denver

A walk through a vibrant area just a mile north of downtown will have attendees reveling in its creative and entrepreneurial spirit. The River North Art District (RiNo) is home to artisans, painters, photographers, designers, filmmakers, architects, restaurateurs and brewers.

It combines the city’s most progressive exhibition spaces with the city’s coolest live/work spaces, and there’s no shortage of great ways to experience the district.

Colorful and impressive murals grace exterior walls on countless buildings throughout RiNo, making it one of the most intriguing districts to wander during downtime.

Meanwhile, a wealth of off-the-beaten path markets, restaurants and bars make it a hot spot for locals and visitors alike, including an impressive list of breweries. Groups can take advantage of tastings at several of the breweries, as well as utilize them for private events.

The Odell RiNo Brewhouse & Taproom is a favorite, featuring 16 taps and a 10-barrel pilot brewhouse. Of the 16 taps, eight are Odell classics while the remaining eight are dedicated to experimental releases brewed on the pilot system and available only at the RiNo location.

Odell RiNo Brewhouse & Taproom Beer Garden Hops Mural
Odell RiNo Brewhouse & Taproom Beer Garden Hops Mural

The two-story building was originally built in 1917. With original brick and countertops made from reclaimed floorboards, the space preserves its historical beauty with modern accents.

Groups can take advantage of two bars, enjoy an outdoor patio with two fire pits, a partially-covered rooftop and a live music and performance space.

Denver Milk Market

As one of the nation’s only dining marketplaces run by a single culinary mastermind, Denver Milk Market, situated on the corner of downtown’s historic Dairy Block, is an attention-grabber from the minute you enter the bustling environment.

Acclaimed Chef Frank Bonanno created the concept of 16 distinct culinary venues (13 eateries and three bars), with everything from homemade gelato and pasta to a salumeria, a fish market and a creperie.

Chef Frank Bonanno at the Denver Milk Market
Chef Frank Bonanno at the Denver Milk Market

Guests can grab pastries and morning coffee, enjoy a freshly chopped salad or hot sandwich for lunch, and meet friends and colleagues for evening cocktails and dinner.

Groups can rent parts of Denver Milk Market or buy out the entire facility and have a highly unique dine-around, sampling food and drink from the varied vendors in the marketplace.

Local musicians are also available for private events.

Denver Union Station/Mercantile

Denver Union Station is one of the most historically hip and vibrant places to host an off-site in the city. Multiple locations in the building are available for private and semi-private events, including:

  • the Gallery Level, with its rustic, 20s-era feel and custom artwork;
  • the Terminal Bar, which used to be the station’s ticketing terminal and faces the famous LoDo District;
  • The Great Hall, ideal for glamorous, dress-to-impress events;
  • the Shuffleboard Platform, with two handcrafted “Fritzi” Shuffleboards;
  • and the Cooper Lounge, a favorite for its panoramic city view.

Meanwhile, Mercantile, located next door to Union Station, is James Beard Award-winning Chef Alex Seidel’s restaurant and market.

Mercantile at Denver Union Station
Mercantile at Denver Union Station

Cheeses from Seidel’s Fruition Farms Creamery, house-made charcuterie, pickles, jams, fresh-pressed juices and pastries are available for take away in the European-style market.

The market focuses on seasonal goods from a hand-selected ensemble of artisans.

Meanwhile, Mercantile’s gourmet restaurant serves delicious cuisine. It is available for private events in a memorable setting, with buyouts of the marketplace and private dining areas.

Denver Art Museum

One of the largest art museums between Chicago and the West Coast, the Denver Art Museum (DAM) is dedicated to helping visitors explore art and creativity through hands-on activities, extensive art collections and world-class exhibitions.

The Denver Art Museum’s Hamilton Building is an architectural work of art. Designed by Daniel Libeskind, it provides a dramatic backdrop for private events that can be packaged with group admission to exhibits at the museum.

Denver Art Museum Exterior
Denver Art Museum Exterior

The museum is currently staging Dior: From Paris to the World, surveying 70 years of the house of Dior’s enduring legacy and its global influence.

A selection of more than 200 couture dresses as well as accessories, costume jewelry, photographs, drawings, runway videos and other material are on display.

Set in the heart of downtown Denver, DAM’s contemporary event spaces are ideal for everything from corporate dinners to galas to receptions. The museum can accommodate events of up to 1,500 people.

Stanley Marketplace, Aurora

With its retro neon sign, there’s no mistaking Stanley Marketplace and its innovative community of 50-plus businesses that work together to offer locals and visitors a place to eat, drink, work, play, learn, grow, gather and explore.

It originally began with two neighbors wanting to open a small beer hall and grew into an idea that eventually came to fruition: a marketplace and gathering spot of independently owned Colorado businesses under one giant roof.

Stanley Marketplace in Denver
Stanley Marketplace, Aurora

The marketplace also hosts events such as concerts and walking tours spotlighting the various businesses—from cool breweries, wine bars and restaurants to artisan shops.

It’s also an ideal spot for events, with venues such as a host of intimate spaces all the way up to massive spots such as The Hangar at Stanley, a former airplane hangar, and a five-acre field. It can accommodate everything from small receptions to giant festivals.

The Upper Deck at Stanley is one of the only third-floor locations in the building, offering expansive views of the Stanley grounds among the backdrop of the Front Range mountains. The Upper Deck serves as an exclusive VIP experience, a respite from a pulsing event below or a stage for artistic installations.

As one of the largest indoor and outdoor venues in the Aurora and Denver metro area, Stanley Marketplace offers original structures from its 1954 building, featuring steel beams, polished concrete floors and 30-inch light fixtures that once lit up Stanley Aviation, the original business.

The venue’s patio has movable flourishing greenery and the original Stanley Aviation weigh station, which has been retrofitted.

Meanwhile, Create Cooking School is one of Stanley Marketplace’s establishments that cater to groups. Create is a perfect spot for three- to four-hour teambuilding experiences, during which groups learn to prepare a multicourse menu and brush up on culinary skills such as searing, roasting and sauteing.

They then sit down to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Southlands, Aurora

They call it “Aurora’s Living Room” and with good reason. Southlands is a welcoming outdoor lifestyle center with a four-block “Main Street” and community plaza surrounded by dozens of retailers and restaurants, with a relaxing firepit or three thrown in for good measure.

Locals come to shop, dine, drink, ice-skate during cold-weather seasons and enjoy warm-weather events such as ongoing musical performances in the plaza, and groups can, too.

The plaza is available for group buyouts, while several Southlands establishments cater to groups.

A Beer Flight at Bent Barley Brewing Company
A Beer Flight at Bent Barley Brewing Company

The Local is a hip haven of handmade goods and culinary treats from Colorado-based artisans and other businesses that are ideal for attendee gifts.

Wine Experience Cafe and World Cellar hosts private gourmet group wine-pairing meals.

Rocky Mountain Chocolatier creates an array of homemade confections that groups can package for attendee gifts. Bar Louie is a group-friendly casual restaurant that has a patio and balcony overlooking the plaza.

Bent Barley is a new brewery that accommodates groups with fun beer tastings.

Aside from the many local boutiques and culinary establishments, name-brand stores include Barnes & Noble, Eddie Bauer, H&M, Best Buy and American Eagle.

Denver Metro CVB Contact Information

Visit Aurora
720.484.8902

Visit Denver
303.892.1505