By Charlene & Richard Mixa
Abounds with Activities
The Mile High City bursts with activities! Nestled at the base of the great Rocky Mountains, Denver has it all. Its mild climate offers great weather actually averaging over 300 days of sunshine a year. Thrilling history, outstanding shopping, and a rich cultural venue add to the enchantment of this wonderful city. Ranked as one of the healthiest cities in the country, it is only a short drive to fabulous foothills and scenic mountains for hiking, biking, skiing, trekking, and more. Visiting the Mile High City we check out varied attractions, tours, and activities. Denver is among our top picks of the perfect city!
Just the Bear Facts: A 40-foot high bear peeks into the lobby at the Colorado Convention Center. This giant blue bear sculpture, known as “I See What You Mean” injects a welcome sense of fun and playfulness to conventioneers and visitors. The creation of local artist Lawrence Argent, it is a now photo-op for tourists and locals. You can’t miss it! The Blue Bear is also a perfect starting point for local tours.
Ride a Bunking Bronco! Hop Aboard Banjo Billy Bus Tour: It may not be a bunking bronco, but the Banjo Billy bus, www.banjobilly.com, is fully loaded with blasting horns, bizarre seating including couches, no AC and no shocks for a wild ride. Our 90+ minute tour begins at the Blue Bear. Its fun, fun, fun! Driving along, our driver toots with “wild honks” at people along the streets. Liz, our guide, reveals Denver’s past and present with interesting facts and exciting tales. In front of Denver’s capital we see the bright gold dome. Wow, it is plated with 200 ounces of glistening 24-karat gold leaf to commemorate the Colorado’s Gold Rush and the brave pioneers and miners who helped build Colorado. Liz entertains us with lots of trivia adding to the intrigue of the tour. Is Cheesman Park haunted? A beautiful park today it was formerly a cemetery. “Were all the bodies really moved?” Liz shares a personal ghostly experience at this “haunted” park. A must on any Denver tour are stories of the “Unsinkable Molly Brown” who survived the sinking of the Titanic. She is actually Maggie Brown an American socialite, philanthropist, and activist. Banjo Billy’s is a fun and exciting tour of Denver. This is not a traditional bus tour. We suggest a morning tour and then decide what attractions to visit afterward.
Visit Downtown Sights: After our Banjo Billy tour we walk to the Civic Center, known as the center of the civic life in the city. This central area has numerous institutions of arts, government, and culture. The state Capitol sits opposite the city and county municipal buildings with a gorgeous Neoclassical designed central area of magnificent fountains, statues, and formal flowering gardens. We are too late for a tour of the Capitol but do make it for a most informative and intriguing tour of the Molly Brown House. A colorful character, Molly is truly the “talk of the town.” A formidable personality, she was definitely ahead of her time. As a Catholic, Molly was even influential in the building of Denver’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Attending an evening Mass, this elegant cathedral of French Gothic architecture features awe-inspiring art, spiritual mystery and colorful stained glass windows.
Shop til you Drop! The 16th Street Mall: Downtown Denver overflows with shopping and dining options especially at its 16th Street Mall. For those with too many packages or just tired feet, there is a free shuttle that travels the length of the mall. Strolling the tree shaded street, we find shops from the elite to a Walgreen’s Drugstore. Denver Pavilions is home to popular retailers H&M, Banana Republic and Barnes & Noble, while Larimer Square offers many shops with hip clothing and accessories. Dining choices are plentiful from fast food to upscale. Outdoor dining is a good choice in this busy open mall shopping area.
Partake in Some Culture. It’s Dinner and a Play: The Denver Center for Performing Arts, www.denvercenter.org, offers an impressive mix of Broadway shows and professional theatre at the dazzling Denver Performing Arts Complex. Tonight is opening night for the 25th anniversary production of Les Miserables. Arriving at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, we admire its elegance with its 80-ft tall gleaming glass roof. The second largest performing arts center in the World it spans a four-block, 12-acre site housing ten performance spaces all connected by the glass roof. In the Buell Theatre we find a design that provides the audience with a first-rate theatrical venue and features incredible acoustical enhancements. Les Miserables is phenomenal and exhilarating production with glorious new staging and spectacular reimaged scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo. The music, the story, the cast, the staging all add to this epic and uplifting story about survival and the human spirit. The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is a “must do” on any visit to Denver. Visitors will find an exceptional theatre that engages, excites, provokes and inspires.
For dinner, we select the conveniently located, Panzano’s, www.Panzano-Denver.com, only a few blocks from the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Our dinners are excellent! Their Veal Scallopino, a signature dish, is delicious. An overall wonderful dining experience with crisp green salads, fresh baked breads, carefully prepared entrees and scrumptious tiramisu. Working as a team, the staff is extremely attentive. Angelo, our waiter was terrific and really knew the menu and had wonderful recommendations.
Walk Through a Garden: A favorite Denver destination for 50 years is the Denver Botanic Gardens, www.botanicgardens.org. Art and science unite in the gardens’ spectacular 23-acre site, offering an unforgettable experience for the whole family. On our visit it is a beautiful Sunday afternoon as we roam the grounds. Carefully following our map through the maze of gardens we appreciate the serenity of this setting. The Fragrance Garden awakens our senses while the Japanese Garden brings a warm feeling. With over thirty distinct gardens, there is plenty to explore. Bright and elegant orchids, as well as, lush tropical plants are in the Greenhouse Complex. Ah, we leave the Denver Botanic Gardens with a sense of “special tranquility” created by these wonderful gardens.
Get Out of Town! Tour the Foothills of the Rockies! Hop aboard! See, learn and experience the treasures of the Colorado Foothills! The Colorado Sightseer tour, www.coloradosightseer.com, is terrific for getting up close and personal to the spectacular foothills of the Rocky Mountains. All this is found on the outskirts of Denver. Aboard the tour van with its huge windows, Ed, our guide/driver, intrigues us with history, stories and tales of Colorado, Denver and more. Ed offers great suggestions on each stop and how to make the most of our tour. Refreshments are most welcome from water, sodas, and snacks on this 5 hour tour.
The Red Rock Park is our first stop with impressive scenic views and terrific settings of these Red Rocks. Wow! The Red Rocks Amphitheater is spectacular! It seats over 9,000 people. This massive rock structure is a major venue for open-air concerts. Absolutely amazing! Taking in the sites of this astonishing setting, we watch individuals and groups use the amphitheater to exercise. Runners stride up the steps and fitness buffs are doing various calisthenics. At the bottom of the Amphitheatre are more great views of the Amphitheater and Red Rocks Park.
Next stop is the Coors Brewery to see and taste traditional brewing at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. It’s a wonderful 30-minute self-paced audio tour of the world’s largest single-site brewery. From Coor’s beginnings in 1873 the tour showcases the company’s history and passion for brewing. The tour highlights the malting, brewing, and packaging processes. In the “fresh beer room”, we sip cold samples while sitting on ice-cube benches in this refrigerated room. At the Tasting Room we can have three samplings. Ahh, we sip our “generous samplings” of refreshing Coor’s beers, admiring the smoothness and unique flavors.
On the way up to The Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave, Ed stops to show off the breathtaking 200 mile panorama looking toward Denver and the Great Plains. At the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave, the life, times and legends of Buffalo Bill Cody are presented from birth to death along with his personal memorabilia. With exhibits of the Wild West shows, Indian artifacts, firearms, and many objects from the Old West, a history buff could spend hours. Our visit gives us a new insight on Buffalo Bill Cody. While he traveled the world with the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, he left a lasting vision of the American West and was influential on the United States relationships with other countries and nations.
Our Colorado Sightseer Foothills Tour is “awesome.” It included admissions for the Coors Brewery Tour and Buffalo Bill’s Museum and Grave. Ed is terrific in all the history and stories he shared on each area of our foothills tour. Truly, a great way to see the Colorado Rocky Mountain Foothills.
Getting Around Town: Ranked by U.S. News analysis, Denver is one of the top 10 U.S. cities with the best combination of public transportation investment, ridership, and safety. That makes getting around Denver a breeze. On our visit we took advantage of both the RTD bus service and the light rail lines. It’s fast, efficient, and convenient.
Denver is a wonderful vacation areaDenver has it all! There are definitely hundreds of things to do! Anyone visiting Denver will be amazed at the variety of activities. For us it is now a special place and one of our top destinations to not only visit but highly recommend for a terrific place to live.
If you go:
The Visitor Information Center, 1600 California Street, Unit 6 | Denver, CO 80202; 303.892.1505; www.denver.org