I am a somewhat adventurous traveler. I’ve traveled alone more times than I can count, to a variety of different places both in the United States and abroad. I’ve had the good fortune to be able to stay at friend’s homes when traveling and I prefer to stay at an accommodation that allows me to live like the people in the town that I’m visiting.
One of the best ways to get this homegrown traveling experience is to use Airbnb to book your accommodation. Using Denver as a backdrop, here are the steps that you need to take to insure that you have a safe, fun, and wallet friendly trip that lets you live like a local.
Where to Stay?
There are a number of different neighborhoods in Denver with acronyms that Denverites throw around in casual conversation. Neighborhoods include Rino or River North, LoHi or Lower Highlands, and Wash Park or Washington Park just to name a few. Please note that I did notice that the average Airbnb cost around $100 for locations in close proximity to downtown Denver.
Regardless of which neighborhood you decide on, don’t forget to ask about proximity to the light rail or a bus line. You can get a RTD day pass that is interchangeable between the two services for $5.20.
You can also get a $9 day pass for a B-cycle and ride around town from station to station. Currently there are 88 stations that you can stop and exchange your bike at throughout the day.
What To Consider
There are several unspoken rules to booking on Airbnb that you need to consider and I learned these rules after using the service in very different cities.
- Do your due diligence. Thoroughly read the listing and see what amenities they offer. Are you allowed to use the kitchen? Is there a curfew? Do they have kids? Is it easy to get to? If you have to take a cab to get to the location, does the host include how much it would cost to reach their home?
- When booking make sure to look at the individual listings and read the reviews. Never book a place without reading the reviews. If there is a common issue, trust that there is an issue and don’t gamble your time and money figuring out if it’s true.
- Don’t stay in a place with fewer than 10 reviews. If you’re a new Airbnb host, I’m sorry (not sorry) that I’m suggesting this. But for travelers this minimum number of guests helps establish credibility for your listing.
- If you’re not sure about something ask questions! Email your future host (before finalizing your booking) and ask questions that have been left unanswered in their listing.
Let’s put all the tips together and plan out an itinerary. Let’s say you’ve decided to stay in the North Capitol Hill neighborhood in an $89 a night Airbnb apartment. The apartment is located within walking distance of downtown Denver and the free mall ride that connects you with the light rail or bus for excursions beyond downtown. Right off the bat you’ve already chosen wisely for your quick visit to Denver.
First order of business: stop by the Whole Foods Grocery Store located at 900 11th Avenue and pick up some snacks and some breakfast items. By doing this you’ll be able to manage your food costs and save up for a nice brunch on Sunday. Don’t forget to use your Ibotta grocery savings app and download the Whole Foods saving’s app as well.
If you planned well, you’ve arrived on the first Friday of the month. The First Friday Art Walk is a free event that takes place in the Santa Fe Art District. Using your $5.20 bus day pass, take the #1 bus south from 17th Street and Larimer which is a quick 15-minute walk from your apartment, Take the bus to the Sante Fe and 11th Ave. stop. Upon arrival, spend a few hours strolling up and down the street while popping into the different art studios that line the block. Watch street performers, listen to music, and grab a bite to eat from one of the food trucks along the street. Most meals will cost you between $10-$12 including your drinks.
Friday was great but Saturday will be even better. Walk to Union Station and people watch at the Farmers’ Market. You can eat your lunch sitting next to the fountains that are directly in front of Union Station. After eating, pick up a B-cycle at 1651 Wynkoop St. located about a block away. You will then get on the Cherry Creek Bike path and make your way to the Cherry Creek North Shopping District for a day of window-shopping. It should take you around thirty to forty minutes to reach Cherry Creek North by bike.
Once you’re done exploring Cherry Creek North, return to downtown Denver and drop your bike off at the 1260 17th St. B-cycle station, and walk over to Larimer Square for happy hour at Tamayo.
No trip to Denver would be complete without enjoying a fabulous Sunday brunch. Fortunately, you have almost too many places to choose from. I recommend going to Jelly Cafe, a mere stone’s throw away from your Capitol Hill Airbnb.
Walk off your meal by heading towards downtown to explore the River North Art (RiNo) District. This district is known for the amazing murals that seem to decorate almost every building along the street.
Accommodation: Two nights in the Mile High City: $178
Food: A little grocery shopping and only a couple of meals out should run you about..: $85
Getting Around: Capitol Hill is close to everything. You are always guaranteed to get a taxi or Uber if you need one. 2 bus day passes and a day’s B-cycle rental: $19.40
Entertainment: Sante Fe Art Walk, Cherry Creek window shopping, RiNO mural gallivanting - $0
Did we miss something or do you have a way to cut cost even more? Throw your tips in the comment section.
This post was written by PERA member Michelle Jackson, a former University of Colorado employee and personal finance/lifestyle blogger. If you’re interested in writing for The Dime send us an email at dimecontact at copera dot org.