Plantlife is becoming more of a draw for bars, restaurants and cafes

After long days of snow and endless gray, a dose of spring is called for. Indoors, that is.

That’s where these plant destinations come in. After all, what better way to feel the natural high of the outdoors than by visiting one of the many places catering to it? Sure, you can go to a plant store or a garden center for a little plant action, but with these nine spots it’s less about buying a new succulent or spider plant and more about basking in growing green glory.

As we wait for the opening of Marigold, a highly anticipated bar and plant shop debuting in Five Points this winter, here are some other ways to get some natural greenery.

Dine with plants

Bar Dough (2227 W. 32nd Ave.) in Highland recently got a makeover, and with that change came a whole lot of plants. The team brought in Maime Trotter with Herbal Riot to outfit the once stark space with bright green pathos hanging from a now illuminated skylight.

“Our goals were to highlight the gorgeous skylight and also give the space a sense of comfort and make people feel at home,” said interior designer Abigail Plantier, of Maximalist. “Bar Dough is not only a destination restaurant, but beloved by the neighbors, so grounding the space with plants was really important to the overall feel of the design.”

Not only does the new green installation look nice, but it also works to showcase how tall the ceilings are and the fact the skylight existed in the first place. The only trick is getting up there to water them every week or two.

Though Kini’s (233 Clayton St.) in Cherry Creek doesn’t have living plants to bask in, the whole ceiling sports a jungle of well-done artificial flowers and vines. Dine on Mediterranean-inspired dishes such as fattoush salad with candied pecans, grilled lamb chops with smoked cherry, and grape leaf-wrapped sea bass while under a floral canopy. It’s the perfect place to pretend you’re somewhere warm and lush, without the fear of allergies getting in the way.

Another great spot for plant-saturated dining occurs in Highland at Nest Cafe and Rewild, both located inside Nurture: A Wellness Marketplace (2949 Federal Blvd.). Here, while nibbling on a salmon-ginger salad, sipping a coffee while working on your laptop, or revitalizing with a cold-pressed juice, you will see everything from cacti to snake plants to fiddle leaf figs and stunning monsteras.

“Our plants are our most abundant living contributors to the sensory experience of Nurture, how they look, smell and feel. It all has such a significant positive effect on our systems, leaving us feeling grounded and recharged,” said Nurture co-founder Kelly Campbell. “The symbiotic relationship of plants and people allows us to feel more connected, by bringing the natural world inside.”

Many of the dining tables have a plant nearby, as do the cozy chairs scattered about the space.

Drinks and snacks with a side of plants

When pastry artist Thoa Nguyen opened her Aurora spot Bánh & Butter Bakery Cafe (9935 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora) in 2021, she knew that things beyond cake, banh mi and mochi muffins would be offered at her shop. And now, Nguyen has a mini plant store set up right in the front of the bakery thanks to a partnership with a local company, Living Decor Store.

“Although the plants create a beautiful, welcoming ambiance, the main reason I wanted to have plants in the cafe was to support a local vendor,” said Nguyen, who often has monsteras, water lilies, succulents and cacti surrounding the shop. “This partnership not only gives our customers a chance to purchase the plants, but also a way to keep the cafe lively and no maintenance on my part,  since Andy (Greer) from Living Decor comes and maintains, refreshes and feeds all the plants.”

Dandy Lion Coffee Co. (5225 E. 38th Ave.) in Park Hill is another jungle oasis where you can get a drink and purchase a plant, or simply enjoy being surrounded by greenery while having a small bite. Owned by Duc Huynh, the man behind the popular banh mi cafe Vinh Xuong Bakery, the shop opened in 2021. Nature makes a debut in the drinks, too, like the lavender latte, herbal tea or a bright green matcha latte complete with plant-themed foam art.

Another coffee shop decorated with greenery is Hudson Hill Coffee (619 E. 13th Ave.) in downtown Denver. The bright and airy cafe serves cocktails, coffee drinks, teas, pastries, cheeses and small snacks to nibble on, all under a canopy of pathos and a few other plants littered throughout the space.

Tropical adventures

Don’t hesitate to make a trip to the Denver Botanic Gardens (1007 York St.) this time of year. While the outside area wanes this time of year, the Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory teems with greenery. Inside, guests can warm up among hundreds of exotic tropical plants from all over the world.

It’s been this way since the conservatory opened in 1966, designed by architects Victor Hornbein and Edward D. White. In 1998, the giant tree in the center of the garden was added, and today visitors can also look for cacao plants, coffee and banana trees, orchids and so much more.

The Denver Zoo (2300 Steele St.) is another favorite spot for a little plant gazing while also taking in the four-legged residents. At Tropical Discovery, plants abound in the warm, humid setting. The tree in the center houses a two-toed sloth; there’s a 60-year-old crocodile in its own jungle haven; and plenty of jewel-like tree frogs set in plant-filled dioramas.

Another place full of creepy crawlies sporting a dose of summer is the Butterfly Pavilion (6252 W. 104th Ave.) in Westminster. Here the butterfly room isn’t just filled with beautiful insects, but a slew of tropical plants as well. With more than 200 plant species from around the world, look for the carnivorous pitcher plants, hibiscus, towering trees and more.

So don’t just sit there shivering and dreaming of the Bahamas — head out right here for a bit of summery plant wonder.

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