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THIS IS MY CITY | Chanelle Leslie's Denver

Chanelle Leslie is a photographer, blogger and former Adelaide native who recently made the move to Denver, a city she was familiar with from holidays and college exchanges. Her love of the Colorado city is well documented - her instagram is full of sweeping mountain vistas - and infectious. When we visited Denver at the start of the year we had a delicious Mexican meal with Chanelle, listening to her recount tales of running in the snow and attending college football games. We knew we had to ask her for her tip for the mile high city. This is Denver, by Chanelle.

All images by Chanelle Leslie

one. Best thing about Denver? The geography: it's an outdoor explorer's heaven. Don't think you're the outdoorsy type? Summer's velvet views of our lake-spotted mountain range will change your mind. And that's before your shoulders are dusted with December's reticent, glittery snow. The mountains speak - and all of a sudden, you realise you had their arcane language in you all along.

two. Worst thing about Denver? It's part of the USA.

three. Favourite secret spot? Carmen Wiedenhoeft Gallery - a modern art gallery that moonlights as an underrated party venue once a month.

four. Favourite everyone-knows-it-but-it's-still-good spot? Red Rocks, the natural amphitheatre that's famous for hosting dozens of iconic concerts. Fans of Mumford & Sons or Dave Matthews Band will recognise it from their tour DVDs.

five. What is your newest discovery in Denver? Yoga is a social event here: many of my favourite bars have free or cheap yoga classes on Saturday and Sunday mornings! I've recently been enticed to get out before 9 on Sunday mornings by free yoga and (also free!) bottomless mimosas at a bar called The Viewhouse downtown.

six. Where is the best place for morning coffee/pick me up? meal with friends? romantic rendez-vous? late night drink? even-later-night boogie? After much frustration, I finally found a place that serves coffee to meet my picky Australian standard: Crema, on Larimer Street in Five Points. The Source is a small indoor market in the spirit of New York City's Chelsea Market, housing a local restaurant, coffee shop, florist, butcher, brewery, art gallery and more. The food there is fantastic, and there's plenty to see once your bellies are full. For romance Beatrice & Woodsley is a modern French restaurant so gorgeously decorated that eating there feels like dining in the middle of an aspen tree populated by fairies. Really. Forest Room 5 is a quirky bar that reminds me of my favourite joints back in Adelaide: quirky, inimitable, and it tends to put people off if they don't like their bars a little strange...which is just fine with me! There aren't a lot of great places to let loose out here - club culture is dominated by twerking and grinding to the likes of Pitbull - but Beauty Bar is as close as it gets to a douchebag-free d-floor, since they're generous with their throwbacks to the 80s and 90s.

Coffee at Crema

seven. Where are Denver's style spots? Where is the best shopping? Denver's beautiful in many respects, but I'll be honest: fashion isn't one of them. However, changes are happening at a grassroots level, and there are a few designers popping up - particularly in outdoor gear and menswear. Topo Designs and Winter Session are two that I find quite interesting because they've met international success, and they both have flagship stores in the Five Points area near downtown.

eight. What is something you can get/read/experience/eat that you can only do in Denver? Well, including marijuana products on my grocery shopping list is certainly something I've never experienced before! I still laugh every time I hear people talk about buying it, like the other day when my friend said she had to go because "I have to get weed before the shop closes at 6pm"! Some restaurants here also pair their food with particular marijuana strains the same way a sommelier would pair wine with a dish.

nine. You can tell a lot about a city from their airport. Describe Denver's. Because it's a regional hub, Denver's fortunate to have an extremely efficient, large and fun airport - in my experience, it's the best in the world after Singapore's Changi airport. Always a relief after coming through LAX or JFK!

ten. How would you describe Denver to someone who has never been there before? If you've ever been to places like Vancouver, Adelaide or Auckland, you know the feeling of touching down in a city with a hospitable soul. Denver is one of those places: it's laid-back, fun, and friendly almost to a fault. There's plenty to do for newcomers, but visiting won't be like checking off a tourist to-do list the way New York City can be. They say the first time you visit Colorado, it's for vacation, and the second time, it's for good. If you experience Denver you'll understand why.

Read more in our This Is My City series here.
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