1. How would you describe the spirit of the Mile-High City?
Youthful exuberance. Right now Denver is striving to be on the cutting edge of green practices and modern culture, to be a destination with a strong identity. That rugged, independent Western spirit that helped build the city just over 150 years ago is still thriving.
2. What’s the best way to get around town?
Downtown is incredibly compact and you can see the majority of sights just by walking. This summer a new bike-sharing program will debut so that bicycles can be rented for a small fee from several key spots around town, and there are already bicycle shops that rent bikes by the day. You can pedal down the bike path to the Cherry Creek neighborhood, Confluence Park and beyond.
3. What’s the best time of year to visit?
Spring is my favorite time of year because the weather is perfectly mild with temperatures in the 70s during the day and cool nights. This is also when the cherry trees bloom along Cherry Creek, and gardens all over the city bring welcome color. However, there are some great deals in the winter months with hotels and restaurants offering $52.80 deals (one mile high elevation is 5,280 feet above sea level so the numbers 5-2-8-0 are used often and pronounced fifty-two-eighty).
4. If kids are in tow, what attractions or activities might they enjoy?
Both the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the Children’s Museum of Denver have activities or exhibits for all ages almost every day of the year—and there are playgrounds in nearby parks at each location. The Denver Zoo is very popular for all ages and their indoor aquarium makes it a destination even in winter. My daughter loves the Denver Botanic Gardens, which also has indoor and outdoor gardens to enjoy in any season. And don’t overlook the art museums. The Denver Art Museum has added fun kids activities, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver has a family art room.
5. Denver has the reputation of being the Arts Capital of the West. What one museum or gallery should you make sure and visit?
It’s hard to pick just one arts venue when there are some very unique places such as the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, but I’d have to say the best location to see both world-famous artworks and local artists is the Denver Art Museum. The DAM also has an impressive Western Art collection. Be sure to check their monthly calendar for meet-the-artist events and more.
6. Let’s talk sports. Where can fans get their fix?
Choices, choices. It’s like shoes—too many to pick just one! Basketball, football, baseball, hockey, soccer, lacrosse, rugby: you name it, it’s played here at professional, amateur and college levels. My favorite place has to be Coors Field where the Colorado Rockies play. In addition to seeing a baseball game, people can also enjoy decent restaurants (serving Coors beer, of course!), a play area for kids, a fun mile high row of seats and a spectacular view of the mountains.
7. What restaurants are locals most likely to recommend?
Even if you don’t know who John Elway is (everybody knows that, right?), his namesake steakhouse, Elway’s, gets great reviews. Another steakhouse favorite is The Buckhorn Exchange, both for the food and kitschy décor. With the growing interest in local foods and locally grown ingredients, stand-outs include Duo, Potager, Z Cuisine, and Mizuna.
8. If money was no object, where would you rest your head?
I would have to say the Brown Palace Hotel because you don’t have to leave for any reason. There is a plush spa, a selection of fabulous restaurants, historic tours, tea service and cocktails with live music and luxurious rooms. If you do leave, it’s walking distance to shopping districts, the theatre district, bars, eateries, movie theatres, comedy and nightclubs.
9. What’s the best place to stay on a budget?
The Comfort Inn at the Brown Palace (they are attached by a skybridge) includes room service from the Brown and the same convenient location to sights, shops, restaurants and nightlife but at a more affordable rate than the Brown.
10. Denver has more music venues than LA. Where do you go to see a great show?
If it’s a dry day in summer, go to Red Rocks Amphitheater in the nearby foothills. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see a concert in this gorgeous natural setting. Any time of the year, you can stop in at El Chapultepec in LoDo to hear jazz music into the wee hours of the night. For country music, it has to be the Grizzly Rose, just north of downtown. Check out the Bluebird Theatre on hip East Colfax Avenue for more contemporary bands and the Hi-Dive for punk and indie rock.