Unique visits to do in Colorado

Eat dinner at a mortuary.

Colorado

Photo: @brittwilltravel via Liger

Grab a Thai Collins or a 5 Spice Old Fashioned at Linger, on the rooftop deck of what was Olinger Mortuary. This restaurant serves vegan and gluten-free global street food, with Happy Hour from 4 to 6:30 pm, Monday through Friday. If you’re not into mortuaries, check out one of Chef Justin Cucchi’s other concepts around Denver, including Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox, an adult book store-turned-music venue and restaurant.

Clear your sinuses in Celestial Seasoning’s Mint Room.

Take a free tour of the Celestial Seasonings factory in Boulder: the factory floor and a visit to the Mint Room, then a tasting room where each of the 105 varieties of Celestial Seasonings tea is available as a free sample. Tours are on the hour from 10 am to 4 pm Monday through Saturday, and from 11 am to 3 pm on Sunday. If you want to see all the machinery in the factory up and running, choose a weekday tour.

Get the best skyline views for cheap.

Get your great mountain views at Coors Field during a Rockies baseball game. Bleachers tickets are as little as $5 for a 360-degree view of the cityscape and the Rocky Mountains. Once you’re inside, head straight to Rio on the Rocks for one of their potent and delicious margaritas. Rio will only sell you 3 per ID during the game.

Cozy up to big horn sheep.

The Colorado Trail runs 486 miles, but you can get a hit of the hike (plus hobnob with bighorn sheep in the area) by heading out from the Waterston Canyon trailhead. The trail follows a river through a canyon, gaining 700 feet of elevation over its 6-mile length. Depending on when you decide to turn back on this out-and-back trail, it will take 2 to 6 hours to hike. Please note: Thanks to the resident sheep, no dogs.

Cruise downtown for bikes and brews.

If there is anything Coloradans love more than beer, it is costumed bike rides. Just ask New Belgium brewery and their annual Tour de Fat celebrations. If you’re visiting Denver in the summertime, find yourself a costume at Goodwill and rent a cruiser from B-Cycle to join up with Denver Cruiser Ride, who’ve done 243 night rides since they launched in 2005. Denver Cruisers are switching from weekly rides to 5 monthly rides. Meet downtown at the Ginn Mill on Wednesdays at 6 pm for drink specials before the 8:15 pm ride.

Jump in glacier water at St. Mary’s.

St. Mary’s Glacier is a perennial snowfield about an hour west of Denver. A three-quarter mile hike uphill takes you to a beautiful mountain lake created by runoff from the glacier. Cool off with a polar plunge at this popular cliff-jumping spot. St. Mary’s Glacier is on private property, so be respectful of the community by parking in the designated paid lots. Five dollars is a small price to pay to help ensure this hike is accessible to your fellow travelers. Enjoy the whistle pigs (marmots), but leave them alone.

Eat peaches in Palisade.

John Harlow first planted peach trees in Palisade in 1882, and the Museum of Western Colorado estimates that the peach has been honored with a festival in the area since the late 1880s. Today, Coloradans will drive hundreds of miles to get their hands on juicy Palisade peaches. Festivities of the annual Palisade Peach Festival in August include orchard tours, a parade, and a peach-eating contest.

Dance with wolves in Divide.

The Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center — one of the few certified wolf sanctuaries in the United States – lies thirty minutes west of Colorado Springs. They’ve been rescuing wolves since the 1990s, and give one-hour educational walking tours through the sanctuary. After your tour, visit nearby Paradox Brewing Company’s tasting room for a wood-fired pizza and a sour beer.

Race coffins through the streets of Manitou Springs.

In the 1800s, Emma Crawford, a young tuberculosis patient came to Manitou Springs for a cure in the mineral. She died in 1890, and her family buried her on top of nearby Red Mountain. Twenty years later, the city reburied her coffin on the southern slope. After several years of the harsh mountain weather, the coffin dislodged and Emma’s remains slid down into the town below. There is an annual race in October to celebrate this local history. Teams of four runners escort their coffins (hypothetically containing Emma) through the streets of Manitou Springs to win prizes for both fastest time and costume creativity.

Best bars in California

It’s no secret that Californians knows how to fuel a good time, from craft brews to frozen boozy concoctions that are surprisingly potent. Here are the top watering holes to grab a drink throughout the state, whether you prefer a pirate-themed bar where rum is king or a spot dedicated to the 70’s where after a few drinks you will think you time traveled back a few decades.

Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.

1. Good Times at Davey Wayne’s (Los Angeles)

 Good Times at Davey Wayne’sLos Angeles, United States70’s themed bar with boozy snow cones and disco music.

Step through an oversized refrigerator at Good Times and dance the night away to 70’s music, fueled by alcoholic snow cones and delicious secret-family-recipe BBQ. Drinks are strong, with names like “The Fat Elvis,” and the “Village People.” The dress code is California casual, but no athletic wear or shorts after dark.

2. Smuggler’s Cove (San Francisco)

 Smuggler’s CoveSan Francisco, United StatesPirate themed bar with strong mixed drinks.

For those who like their drinks fruity and strong, this pirate-themed bar is one-of-a-kind. You are transported into a lawless place, where dimly lit lanterns light your way. Rum is the poison of choice here. Check out one of the specialty drinks, like their classic Mai Tai. If you are with a group, the Top Notch Volcano is an adventure in itself for those who are daring enough.

3. Gestalt Haus Fairfax

 GESTALT HAUSFairfax, United StatesBiker bar with German brews and brats.

Gestalt Haus is the perfect spot to refuel after a bike ride on one of the nearby trails. The clientele is mostly clad in body-tight spandex and proudly hang their rides on the full-wall biker’s rack inside. There are delicious wursts to choose from, flavorful sides like potato salad and a collection of German (as well as local) brews on tap.

4. Shotwell’s (San Francisco)

From the mysterious bullet holes in the bar panels to the original back bar that survived a train trip from coast to coast, this century-old dive bar is one of the city’s treasured haunts. The drink menu is limited to wine, beer and ciders. You can bring your favorite food from a nearby restaurant to nibble on – and your four-legged friend.

5. Angel City Brewery (Los Angeles)

 Angel City BreweryLos Angeles, United StatesLocal brewery with games, food trucks and beautiful murals.

One of the best places to find California’s craft beers is ACB in the heart of downtown LA’s Arts District. Grab the “Marilyn Blond” and take a seat at one of their upstairs picnic tables. There is always a food truck downstairs. Board games to live music at night make this brewery a must-stop. Stop by the angel wings mural on the wall outside for a perfect Insta shot.

6. The Trappist (Oakland)

This well-loved neighborhood spot, specializing in Belgian and other specialty beers, is housed in an 1870’s Victorian building. The interior pays homage to Belgian pubs with plenty of beer décor adorning the walls. 25 rotating taps are available. Leave room for food, as they offer delicious sandwiches and cheese boards.

7. Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens (San Diego)

 Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty StationSan Diego, United StatesSpacious spot to grab a cold brew and good food.

This craft brewery, housed in the historic Liberty Station, is the tenth largest craft brewer in the U.S. There are a beer garden, a large indoor dining area and the brewery itself (tours are recommended). The beer is the star here (including a delicious gluten-free option), but the food holds its own, with options like duck tacos and shrimp and grits. You can get a variety of their beers in growlers to go in their shop.

8. The Shady Lady Saloon (Sacramento)

The Shady Lady features a New Orleans-like dark interior and live jazz. Come for the drinks like the Horse’s Neck or Gin Daisy, but do not overlook crowd favorites like biscuits and gravy and shrimp po boys. Brunch is served on the weekends, with items like buttermilk pancakes and duck sausage breakfast scramble.

9. Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar (Anaheim)

Trader Sam’s is in the Disneyland Hotel. From the tropical island décor to the surprisingly strong blended drinks, it feels like you have been transported to the South Pacific. The Mai Tai is a popular choice with a blend of rums, sweet orange, agave and lime flavors, or their OH-HA! that comes with its own souvenir tiki bowl.

10. Brew Cruz (Santa Cruz)

Let local beer enthusiast Annie Pautsch show you the way around town in Betty Jane, a renovated 1989 school bus. You’ll travel with plush seating, installed sound system, hardwood floors and plenty of coolers where you can stash your own store-bought beers in. Get ready for a memorable night out.

11. Drake’s Dealership (Oakland)

 Drake’s DealershipOakland, United StatesSpacious outdoor space with delicious food and craft brews.

Situated in a former car sales lot in part of Oakland’s Auto Row, Drake’s is a great place to catch some rays in their garden, as you sip on a cold brew. Go for their Electric Owl (coffee ale) or their Pomegranate Cider or any of their excellent drinks. All ages are welcome, as well as Fido.

Free activities in California


California
is not cheap, but that does not mean you need to spend your money to ensure that you will have a good time. Here is a round up of our favorite things to do in California that let you explore the wonders of the Golden State without spending a cent.

Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.

1. Drive up the PCH

 Manhattan Beach PierManhattan Beach, United StatesLooking down Manhattan Beach in LA with my drone. Great place to just relax and enjoy the ocean views!

The Pacific Coastal Highway is most likely the most iconic road in California. PCH hugs the coastline and has stunning views of the Pacific Ocean at every turn. Jump in your vehicle – convertible preferred – in Malibu and zip along the highway with the dazzling sea on one side and million-dollar homes nestled into the rugged mountains on the other. Head towards Los Angeles. You’ll go through Redondo Beach, Hermosa and Manhattan Beach, all worthy stops in their own right. Take time to admire the spectacular views of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, then finish up the last highway stretch to San Pedro.

2. Watch TV live (Los Angeles)

From The Ellen DeGeneres Show to Jimmy Kimmel Live!, watching a live taping of a popular TV show is a fascinating free experience. Depending on which show you want to see, it can be quite difficult to obtain the free tickets. To find out the details on a particular show, head over to their website and follow the specific instructions to request the tickets. If there are open spots available, you will feel like you won an Emmy.

3. Go sailing on the Berkeley Marina

 Berkeley MarinaBerkeley, United StatesGreat for going on a free sailboat ride with Cal Sailing Club.

The non-profit organization, Cal Sailing Club’s is volunteer-run and takes guests on introductory sailboat rides every month during their Open House. Children must be at least 5-years-old and accompanied by an adult. Open house hours are 1-4 p.m. Pro tip: get there early, since spots fill up fast.

4. Take a walking tour (San Francisco)

 Japanese Tea GardenSan Francisco, United StatesBeautiful gardens in the middle of Golden Gate Park.

San Francisco is a great pedestrian city and there’s no better way to get to know it than a walking tour by San Francisco City Guides. You’ll love learning the lore of the Japanese Tea Garden and listening to tales of the stately Pacific Heights mansions. The guides themselves are engaging, knowledgeable volunteers who spill San Francisco’s secrets and keep you highly entertained throughout the tour. Pro tip: at the end of your tour ask your guide for restaurant recommendations nearby, since they know the area more than well.

5. Hike in Griffith Park (Los Angeles)

 Griffith ObservatoryLos Angeles, United StatesAbsolutely stunning views of the cityscape and the surrounding mountains. The ideal spot for your obligatory Hollywood sign viewing, while the observatory itself adds to the atmosphere with its classical architecture. Free, lots of hiking tras, and not far from downtown! #astrology #science #free #hiking #photography #landscape #cityscape #cityview #touristspots

There is nothing more magical, day or night, than seeing Los Angeles from above. The Griffith Observatory is set high on a hill and a great place to throw down a blanket, lie down and stargaze. There are also plenty of trails to hike, with no shortage of stunning vista points. Make sure to look over to you’re the massive Hollywood sign.

6. Tour the State Capitol Building (Sacramento)

 California State Capitol MuseumSacramento, United StatesLearn about California’s political past in this beautiful building.

A visit to Sacramento is not complete without stopping by the historic Capitol Building and the museum within it. Wander through replica rooms of government offices from the early 20th century and learn about how the state’s early government was conducted. Sign up for one of their free tours and find out more about the politics of the Golden State. Tours run every hour from 9 to 4 p.m. and allow you access into parts of the Capitol Building which are usually off limits to the public.

7. Experience Timken Museum of Art (San Diego)

The Tinken Museum of Art is the only museum in Balboa that is completely free. A visit is a great opportunity to enjoy world-class European and American masterpieces. The museum building is a modern architectural beauty that features a spacious entryway and is framed by nearby palms. Tours are offered for those who want to learn more about the history behind the art. Closed on Mondays.

8. Tour a fortune cookie factory (San Francisco)

 Golden Gate Fortune Cookie FactorySan Francisco, United StatesLearn how fortune cookies are made in this historic place.

Golden Gate Fortune Cookies is tucked away in a Chinatown alleyway and allows visitors to get a glimpse into how fortune cookies are made. You’ll view workers making batches of fragrant cookies and you’ll get to sample them hot off the press. There are plenty of treats to buy on your way out: fortune cookies in various flavors, almond cookies, and flattened fortune cookies. If you want to be the master of your own fate, you can create a personalized message that they will slip into a fortune cookie for you. Make sure to bring cash.

9. Enjoy lakeside botanical gardens (Oakland)

Lake Merritt is a popular waterfront destination, but the gardens at Lake Merritt are lesser known – and do not cost anything to enter. Wander around seven acres of Japanese tea gardens, edible gardens, pollinator gardens and a sensory garden where you can touch and smell the plants to your heart’s delight. Do check out the exceptional Bonsai Garden next door.

10. Learn about how craft beer is brewed (Chico)

 Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.Chico, United StatesTour one of California’s iconic craft breweries.

Craft beer breweries in California are plentiful, but Sierra Nevada stands out from the rest. Learn how this well-known beer is crafted to perfection in their free Brewhouse Tour. Hold and smell some aromatic hops, watch the process of packaging the beer in their packing facility and, as a grand finale, try samples of some of their best brews. Reservations recommended. You can make them on-line.

11. Admire the buildings and artifacts of one of California’s legendary families (Los Angeles)

The Getty family is the stuff of California legends and The Getty Center is no exception. The stunning collection of buildings high above Los Angeles have plenty of exceptional art, well-manicured grounds and stunning views both day and night. Entrance is free, but parking is $15 ($10 if you come after 3 p.m.). For an imaginary trip to ancient Greece and Rome, visit The Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades. A visit is also free, but the charges for parking are the same.

12. Watch a movie poolside (San Diego)

 Pearl HotelSan Diego, United StatesRetro hotel where you can watch a film by the pool.

Head over to The Pearl Hotel to enjoy a classic California movie projected on a screen next to a vintage pool. Selections include well-loved flicks like The Graduate and Sixteen Candles. Food and drinks are served throughout the night. Make sure to bring a suit, since guests can use the pool if they purchase a drink or are staying at the hotel. Movies are weekly and start at 8:00 p.m. Reservations recommended.

12 ways Denver will surprise you

BELOW THE RADAR of everyday press coverage flies the fact that Denver is booming in 2017. Resting between the skyscrapers of downtown and towering mountains to the west, the Colorado capital is a thriving cultural hub rivaling cities on both US coasts. The music scene is alive and well, and the outdoors-y vibe on our streets gives Denver a personality all its own. Not to spoil the surprise, but hey — a city like this is worthy of a dive beneath the surface.

1. Denver Union Station isn’t just a train station.

Union Station Denver

Denver Union Station. Photo: Scott Dressel-Martin

For someone born and raised here, nothing sparks a fire of hometown pride quite like Denver Union Station. This once was a place that performed one very basic function: getting train travelers in, out, and on their way. The station first opened in 1881, underwent a remodel in 1914, and served primarily Amtrak passengers and, in more recent decades, skiers heading to Winter Park. So it went until 2014, when the doors of Denver Union Station opened again to reveal a massive facelift.

The standard high-back bench seats gave way to a lounge area complete with shuffleboard and seating that’s actually comfortable, all served by a bustling lounge dubbed Terminal Bar — yes, with Colorado craft brews on tap. The station now hosts The Crawford Hotel, a diverse collection of restaurants — including Stoic & Genuine and The Kitchen Next Door — the Tattered Cover Book Store, Cooper Lounge, and more. It’s possible to spend hours here without getting bored. If ever there was a place to escape without ever leaving the city, it’s Denver Union Station.

2. The legends you’ve heard about Red Rocks totally undersell it.

Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre must be seen to be believed. As the most stunning concert venue on the planet, it hosts the world’s best musicians for 130+ nights of unforgettable shows each year. Nowhere else will you find a roster that includes Tom Petty, Dave Chappelle, and Kings of Leon — with the Denver skyline, Rocky Mountain foothills, and more than 9,500 screaming fans cementing the night into your memory. Be sure to bring your camera.

But that’s just on the inside. Outside the walls of the amphitheater are an amalgam of hiking trails, a music museum, and the best tailgate scene this side of a Broncos game.

3. It’s hip to be at Larimer Square.

Denver Larimer Square

Larimer Square. Photo: Evan Semón

If you’re looking to relax and check out Denver’s extensive history, Larimer Square is the place to be. Denver’s oldest block — birthed by the Gold Rush and where, later, figures like Jack Kerouac were known to prowl — is also its most vibrant. You can really make a day of it here — contemporary boutiques and clothing shops are a highlight, as is some of the city’s best dining. Or take in some people watching while sipping a cocktail on the patio at Corridor 44. After dark, the Crimson Room is the place for jazz.

The nation’s top stand-up comics perform here at Comedy Works, and no shortage of celebrities have been spotted enjoying a late-night meal in Larimer Square. The city’s light rail will get you downtown from just about anywhere in the metro area, and Larimer Square is an easy jaunt from the 16th Street Mall or Denver Union Station.

4. There are 100 craft breweries in the metro area.

Denver Beer Company

Denver Beer Co. Photo: Evan Semón

Okay, I lied. This statement is false. There are actually more than 100 craft breweries in the metro area. Denver has really embraced its beer culture. In fact, Governor John Hickenlooper got his start here by co-founding the now legendary Wynkoop Brewing Company, our original brewpub, across the street from Denver Union Station back in 1988. These days, finding amazing craft beer is commonplace — breweries are located everywhere from century-old buildings to quirky urban spaces.

If you’re not sure where to start, the Denver Beer Trail will put you on a path to success. The guide to some of the city’s best brews is downloadable and serves as a self-guided liquid tour of historical buildings and sights throughout Denver. Note that many brewpubs specialize in certain styles, so it never hurts to do a little advance googling. If you’re looking for some solid recommendations, Tivoli Brewing is Colorado’s oldest and most historic; Denver Beer Co. has one of the largest patios in the city; and Prost Brewing comes right out of the heart of Bavaria.

5. What are you into? We’ve got a museum for that.

The Golden Triangle neighborhood is the backbone of Denver’s art scene, and its anchor is the Denver Art Museum — one of the most recognizable buildings in the city. The museum houses an impressive collection of Western American art to complement other standing exhibits showcasing American Indian art, colonial-era standouts, and contemporary masterpieces.

The Denver Art Museum manages to keep locals coming back again and again with a stellar lineup of traveling exhibitions. This summer, see innovative installations by Latino artists at Mi Tierra: Contemporary Artists Explore Place, and in October, Her Paris: Women Artists in the Age of Impressionism comes to town.

This is impressive enough, but we’re not done yet. The Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art will be re-opening in early 2018 after a significant expansion, adding another dose of flare to the campus. At the Clyfford Still Museum, across the street from the Denver Art Museum, you can peruse the most celebrated work from one of the founders of Abstract Expressionism. A bit of insider knowledge: Admission is free on the final Friday of every month. Wink, wink.

6. Street art is defining contemporary Denver.

Love this City Denver

RiNo – River North Art District. Photo: Evan Semón

With the influx of artists to the city, street art is more prevalent than ever. This is particularly true in the River North (RiNo) neighborhood and the Art District on Santa Fe. A haven for musicians, artists, and brewers, these districts stray from the appearance of other parts of the city by prioritizing commissioned murals over chic, empty building sides.

The best-known pieces are the Love This City murals, created by pro snowboarder and artist Pat Milbery. His work reflects the artist’s strong local pride, as well as the art scene that’s an increasingly large part of Denver’s culture. The murals can be found in three neighborhoods:

  • Art District on Santa Fe (7th and Santa Fe Drive)
  • RiNo (River North Art District, Broadway and Arapahoe)
  • Golden Triangle (12th and Bannock)

Also worth checking out:

  • The “Larimer Boy” and “Larimer Girl,” found at 2732 Larimer Street. Hint: You’ll have to walk by this one twice.
  • “The Mermaid,” eye-catching colors at 9th and Santa Fe.
  • “Smiling Boy,” part of a whole row of murals in the alley between Inca Street and Santa Fe Drive.

7. Amusement parks can be in the middle of downtown.

Elitch Gardens and Theme Park

Photo: Garrett W. Ellwood for Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park

“Not to See Elitch’s Is Not to See Denver.” So says the sign outside the front gate of Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park. Since moving downtown in 1994, the park’s famous Twister II and Sidewinder rollercoasters, along with the 250-foot Observation Tower, have become staples of the city’s skyline. Elitch’s, as it’s known around town, is a place to see and be seen during the summer months. The park has a full gamut of thrill rides (like the new Star Flyer), games, entertainment (how about that guy who plays 15 instruments by himself!?), and several options for food and drink. A connected waterpark is available to cool off on hot days.

Go in the early morning to get a full day in, or avoid the lines and head over in the evening. A local’s hint: A great time to visit the park is on weekends throughout October. The kids are back at school — meaning shorter lines — and nowhere else in Denver celebrates Halloween quite like Elitch Gardens.

8. The Old West lives side by side with the New West.

National Western Stock Show Denver

National Western Stock Show & Rodeo. Photo: DT

You might have already heard about Denver’s significant growth over the past 30 years. With the revitalization of Denver Union Station, a budding tech and entrepreneurial sector, and thriving brewery and arts districts, one may be led to believe our city is all new and modern. But the heart of the Old West still beats strong here. Each year in January, the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo takes over town for nearly three weeks. With it comes cowboys, rodeos, and the famous National Western Stock Show Parade.

The rest of the year, Denver’s Western roots are celebrated at the legendary Rockmount Ranch Wear on 16th and Wazee. Founder Jack A. Weil invented the snap shirt, now a staple in contemporary Western fashion. This revolutionary piece of clothing has become quite a hot item, with rock stars, movie stars, and the occasional professional athlete popping in to buy one. It’s perhaps the best way to honor the prospectors and cowboys who created makeshift settlements along the South Platte River and became Denver’s first permanent residents.

9. Yes, we can actually do fashion.

Cherry Creek North Visit Denver

Cherry Creek North. Photo: Visit Denver

Cherry Creek Shopping Center may be the state’s most renowned shopping mall, but the district surrounding it is also flush with boutiques. Cherry Creek North offers the same posh retail experience, but with a heavy dose of Colorado thrown in.

Namely, the fresh air. Denver’s high altitude air is a welcome setting for exploring the boutique shops in the area, like Show of Hands and Spinster Sisters Co. Also on show is ample proof that, contrary to popular belief, Coloradans can dress up on occasion. Don’t tell that to any fashion bloggers, though — we’re fine with our laid-back image. To feel like a true Denverite, stop into the Cherry Cricket for happy hour and a burger to round out the day.

10. You don’t have to go to the Rockies to escape.

Denver Lush Garden

Denver Botanic Gardens. Photo: Visit Denver

Denver Botanic Gardens is a lush oasis in the city, and perhaps the most tranquil space there is Sho-Fu-En. This traditional Japanese garden has a stunning array of plant life, with the central focus naturally shifting from season to season. If you find yourself needing to momentarily step away from the hustle and bustle of the city, there isn’t a better spot to do so.

Adding to the beauty and allure of the gardens is a selection of traveling showcases in which renowned artists, decorators, and scientific exhibits highlight the beautiful scenery. This, in addition to the four distinct seasons we experience in Denver, keeps locals and tourists coming back again and again — the Gardens always offer something new. Exhibits this year include works by Alexander Calder in Calder: Monumental, a display of sculptures formed out of bolted steel plates that still somehow manage to capture the curves and flow of nature.

11. Broadway’s second home is right here.

Denver Performing Arts Complex

Denver Performing Arts Complex. Photo: Geoff Livingston

The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is a regular host of Broadway shows fresh from New York. The largest tenant of the Denver Performing Arts Complex, the DCPA brings premiere theatre productions from around the world into its collection of venues. Experiencing a concert, ballet, or theater production inside the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, with its plush red seats and high ceilings, is an unforgettable night.

This coming season at the DCPA promises to be a good one — and not just because we’ll see the world premiere of Frozen: The Musical. There’s something for everyone: The Colorado Symphony Orchestra plays regularly at Boettcher Concert Hall, the country’s first in-the-round concert hall when it opened in 1978; Hamilton (yes, that Hamilton) will take over the Buell Theatre February 27 – April 1 next year; and for fans of Jack Black, School of Rock: The Musical is coming to the Buell, May 29 – June 10, 2018.

12. Dinosaurs are everywhere.

This is readily apparent from your first steps inside the Denver Museum of Nature & Science — my earliest school field trip memory is of being greeted by the giant T-Rex skeleton as I walked into the museum for the first time. The Prehistoric Journey exhibit is like nothing else in the country, to the point of almost being intimidating. Dinosaurs do battle in front of you, some fossils are actually touchable, and you can watch scientists work in the lab. This fall, the Ultimate Dinosaurs exhibit will hit the museum as well.

Across City Park, Denver Zoo hosts 19 animatronic life-size dinosaurs this summer for the DINOS! Live exhibit. Finally, a chance to solve that lingering curiosity of how an elephant stacks up against a Suchomimus. Beyond the museum and zoo circuit, Dinosaur Ridge out by Red Rocks offers some cool fossil viewing and a moderately intense uphill bike ride for those up to the challenge.

And to round out the list, the Colorado Rockies mascot is a giant purple dinosaur (not the one you’re thinking of — this one’s name is Dinger) who “hatched” in the outfield before a game back in 1994. It all makes sense now, doesn’t it?