My childhood was spent moving a lot, to the far corners of the country, but since then, I’ve spent the majority of my life in Colorado. And the only thing I’d change would be to have gotten here sooner. As an IT professional stuck in an office every day, my personal preference is to get outside to hike, mountain bike, camp, ski/snowboard – anything to soak up the 300+ days of sunshine we get. But I’m also married to my [much] better half and we have three kids with diverse interests and many activities, so while the mountains may be calling me, we often explore the many things that the Denver Metro (and surrounding) area has to offer our young family.
One of the beauties of Denver is that you aren’t limited to one season – all year-round there are great things to experience here! It’s really just for you to decide which experience you want, and whether to pack your down jacket or shorts (or both).
Whether you like to ski or snowboard, or just want to experience the Colorado Rockies in the winter, you’re only about 90 minutes away from incredible mountain towns, shopping and snow activities. And don’t worry if you make it up late in the day, because you can try night-skiing out at Keystone. If carving up the mountain isn’t your thing, the Frisco Adventure Park (in the town of Frisco) offers snow-tubing for the whole family and is a complete blast (book online to reserve a time so you don’t have to wait for this popular activity when you get there).
In Colorado, our snowiest months of the year are March and April – usually after some lovely spring-like days that trick everyone into thinking the white stuff is behind us. So spring skiing can last into May if the conditions are right. Which sets the stage for a fairly unique Colorado opportunity – getting some turns in during the AM hours before heading down the hill to play a round of golf in the PM hours. There are so many great golf courses worth playing in and around Denver, but for a true Colorado experience, I highly recommend playing (or marveling at) Arrowhead Golf Course. Nestled right up against the foothills, about 45 minutes southwest of Denver, this course plays around and through incredible red rocks jutting out of the earth all around. If the breathtaking surroundings aren’t enough for you, the Denver skyline can also be seen in the distance.
I’d be remiss not to brag about Red Rocks Amphitheater. I challenge anyone to prove there’s a more scenic or awesome place to see live music. The amphitheater is carved right into the middle of larger than life, well, red rocks. The stage is set downhill, with a backdrop of Denver and the entire surrounding area sprawling out before you. How do you improve on this you ask? Grab tickets to a July 4th show and watch dozens of fireworks shows going off all over the front range while you rock out.
Oh – did you know Colorado is one of the fittest states in the country? If you don’t believe me – or couldn’t fit in a rock concert – just show up to Red Rocks on a Saturday morning (it’s open to the public when not hosting a show) to run the steps, do yoga, or join the coordinated Fitness on the Rocks. Who knows, maybe the inspiring views will get you past the altitude and exertion…
Within a few square miles, there’s Mile High Stadium (Broncos Football), The Pepsi Center (Avalanche Hockey, Nuggets Basketball, Mammoth Lacrosse), and Coors Field (Rockiest Baseball). And just north of Denver, at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park you can also catch a Colorado Rapids Soccer game. In Denver, there’s a professional sport for just about everyone!
While my preference is watching the Avs skate, it’s not the most economical of the pro sports options in Denver. Enter, Mammoth Lacrosse games. Indoor lacrosse is fast paced, has lots of scoring, loud music and excitement – for a family interested in live sports, it’s a great bang for your buck!
With beautiful views of the Rockies (the mountains, not the baseball team – though you can see them too if you really want to) from most seats, Coors Field is a great stadium to spend a lovely summer evening. There’s a glassed-in restaurant down the first base line or the Rooftop if you don’t want a traditional seat. The Rooftop even offers a ‘Business Person Ticket’, which usually includes a Burger, Drink, seat and Wifi in case you want to work off site some afternoon… The atmosphere at Coors Field is phenomenal, and tickets are usually found for fairly inexpensive prices – just don’t get your hopes up for a Rox win. Located in the heart of Lower Downtown (LoDo), there are more restaurants and bars surrounding the stadium than you can shake a bat at. So if you get tired of the great view from the stadium (complete with inspiring rocky mountain sunset most evenings), it’s many locations to eat or drink from (not including your seat), or the game, you can venture out to something different in the hottest part of the city.
Just a few blocks from Coors Field, you’ll find one of the best breakfast experiences around. Snooze is a Colorado-born AM Eatery with an epic following. If you go – and you should go – expect to wait. But you’ll be happy that you did. It doesn’t matter what you order because it’s all incredible. But do as the locals do, and order the Sinful pancake – it’s not on the menu so you have to ask for it. When you bite into the white chocolate chips, cinnamon, bacon crumbles and ginger butter pancake, you’ll know why it’s called ‘sinful’!
Leña is a more recent discovery that my wife and I are obsessed with. Here they serve Tapas – small portions that are meant to be shared. When the two of us go, we will order 5 or 6 dishes (we do love our food). The stand-out dish is their Ceviche de Pulpo – octopus ceviche. My wife is not a big fan of octopus but loves ceviche. I’m so-so about ceviche but love octopus. So we compromised and gave it a shot. Served with plantain chips, this dish is out of this world. If licking your plate clean wasn’t frowned upon in public, we would’ve fought over the chance. DO NOT miss the ceviche de pulpo if you are able to check Leña out for a late lunch (they don’t open until 4) or for dinner.
Heading south through LoDo towards Union Station and the rest of Downtown, you’ll come to Vesta. For 20 years Vesta has been serving up delicious meals centered around Colorado flavors with seasonally inspired menus. The aged wood floors and exposed brick walls make for an ambiance that adds to the charm and dining experience of the “Vesta Vibe”. I’m a sucker for the Grilled Beef Tenderloin, but you’ll be hard pressed to go wrong, no matter what your taste.
And because no diet is complete without dessert, head to Larimer Square and hit The Market. The Market dates back to the 70’s and along with Larimer Square, represents some of the preserved history of downtown Denver. This coffee shop and deli is a great option for both, but the real treat is found in their dessert counter. Cakes, pies, cannoli, tarts, eclairs and more are made in house. There’s also ice cream if that’s more your style. Our favorite is their Spring Fling cake – a zucchini cake with cream cheese frosting and layered with every fresh fruit you can imagine. If there’s a slice left by the end of the day, consider yourself lucky indeed (I usually call ahead to have them hold a slice).
These are just a few of the things we love about Denver. If you’re looking for a slower pace, maybe you’ll want to check out the Denver Art Museum, Denver Mint, the Botanic Gardens, the Zoo or Natural History Museum – all in and around Denver downtown. We also have Broadway shows and other great performances consistently making a stop at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. No matter what your tastes, there is something interesting and fun for everyone.