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Destination Guide

 
 
Denverites love the outdoors. The sun shines over three hundred days a year, and the dry climate and unpredictable weather patterns allow for intense mountain biking one day and perfect powder skiing the next. A good portion of the town simply heads to the hills come the weekend, leaving the rest of the populace to enjoy the citys immense assortment of cultural delights. Even though much Denver entertainment involves sweat, residents easily maneuver from an exhilarating day on the slopes or an afternoon hockey game to a night at the symphony. Traveling around city, it doesn't take long to realize most places, whether restaurants, nightclubs, or theaters, are brimming with activity every night of the week.

Sports

When it comes right down to it, Denver is widely regarded as a sports and recreational haven. The Broncos, Rockies, Avalanche and Nuggets draw all sorts of admirers throughout the region, and tourists come from all over to see Coors Field. Skiers and snowboarders jam slopes from November to early July and people converge on Colorado from all corners of the globe to spend summer vacations camping, fishing, or backpacking in the serene Rocky Mountains. Warm weather evenings are packed with mountain bikers and hikers as the after work crowd wrestles with Front Range trails, and weekends lure thousands to the area greenbelts for relaxation and exercise.

Museums

Denver Museum of Nature and Science, located in City Park, is the citys largest cultural attraction drawing almost 2 million visitors annually. Built in 1900, it is the home of the IMAX Theater and Prehistoric Journey, an interactive time warp into the dinosaur age. The museum has also played host to such famous exhibits as The Aztecs and The Imperial Tombs of China. The Denver Art Museum possesses a stellar Native American artifact collection, but also displays a smart mixture of Asian art and contemporary design. The building itself, a modern interpretation of a fortified castle, is an appealing piece of architecture. A recent renovation added a restaurant and viewing space for larger installations. History buffs will dig the Colorado History Museum as it recounts the lost days when Cowboys and Indians ruled the plains and the gold rush inspired a nation to dream of riches.

Denver also contains a wealth of fascinating special interest museums. The Molly Brown House chronicles the legendary exploits of the 'unsinkable Molly Brown,? a RMS Titanic survivor and prominent Denver citizen. In the Five Points neighborhood, stop by the Black American West Museum for an intriguing account of the African-American effort on the frontier. The museum is located in the old home of Colorados first African-American female physician. Golden offers the Colorado Rail Museum, a 12-acre outdoor venue with over 50 antique locomotives on display, and the Buffalo Bill Museum, atop Lookout Mountain, honors the riotous life and legend of William Cody while offering astonishing views of the city.

Film

The Denver International Film Festival comes to town each October with a fresh bunch of shorts, documentaries, and feature length flicks. A variety of quaint art houses along with the sprawling mega-movie complexes are scattered across the metro area. For the latest in obscure, avant-garde releases, stop by the Mayan Theater on Broadway. The Esquire spins the more popular independent features on a wide screen. If you're in the mood for the latest commercial movies, the United Artists Theaters at the Denver Pavilions are comfortable and include stadium seating.

Music

Denvers homegrown music has produced a creative blend of commercial acts ranging from the roots rockers Big Head Todd and the Monsters, to the fevered 16 Horsepower, and the spacey Apples in Stereo. A multitude of intimate venues attract the hippest national and independent bands. Established acts fill the exquisitely renovated Fillmore Auditorium, and blast away on the best sound system in Denver, or drop into the Ogden Theatre on Colfax. In the summertime, fans congregate at Red Rocks Amphitheater for live music in an awesome mountain setting. The Bluebird Theatre, a restored movie hall that once spent time as a porn house, hosts the hottest emerging acts. Local bands take the stage at Hermans Hideaway and Brendans Pub. The Soiled Dove in LoDo is the perfect place to hear Hazel Miller sing the blues or Sally Taylor conjure the ghosts of folk legends. The Mile High City also steams with salsa; after a few free lessons hit the dance floor at La Rumba. If a more refined musical structure appeals to your senses, visit a performance of the Colorado Symphony. Under the direction of Maestra Marin Alsop, the classical virtuosos have attained national acclaim and consistently perform with such notable figures as Yo Yo Ma and the Anonymous 4.

Dance

The Colorado Ballet has been gracing Denver stages since 1961 with quality international dance and classic ballet. The Colorado Academy of Ballet trains aspiring dancers in advanced Russian techniques. The David Taylor Theater brings a distinguished contemporary ballet to Denver and produces the ever-popular Nutcracker during the holiday season. If you're searching for modern dance, check out the celebrated Cleo Parker Robinson Dance troupe for beautifully choreographed interpretive pieces. If you would rather do the dancing, head over to The Church, the citys most popular nightclub, for a night of crazed techno madness. Bash is the "see and be seen" place to dance in Lodo. Vinyl packs in the ladies on Tuesday nights for the citys hottest Ladies Night. Lucky Star keeps the bobbing eighties alive and Polly Esthers boogies to the 70s disco thing. If big band sounds rattle your feet, saunter into the Mercury Café for rip roaring old style swing dancing.

Theater

The Denver Performing Arts Complex is the second largest theatrical venue in the nation behind the Kennedy Center in New York, and stages the latest Broadway musicals and plays. Resting beneath an inventive arched glass ceiling, the complex holds eight distinctive spaces, including the 2800-seat Temple Buell Theater. Recent crowd favorites such as Rent, Chicago and Phantom of the Opera have delighted the patrons of Denver. The Auditorium Theater, adorned in neo-classical design, presents the latest contemporary off-Broadway dramas and comedies and just finished a remarkable run of performances that featured the critically hailed Last Night At Ballyhoo. The Denver Center Theater Group, housed at the complex, recently brought home a Tony Award for the best regional theater.

For local offerings, check out the Avenue Theater for the hottest comedies and the long-running audience participation favorite, Murder Most Fowl. The Theater on Broadway presents black box thinking theater that often focuses on gay themes, and performance art and the spoken word rule the Bug Theater. Opera Colorado, feeding the artistic spirit since 1983, performs three booming epics a year at Bottcher Hall and the Buell Theater.

Other Cultural Odds and Ends

Colorados Ocean Journey is the citys newest arrival on the cultural scene. It opened in June 1999 to rave reviews and offers visitors a chance to explore exotic tropical environments and view beneath the rivers running through Colorado. The Denver Zoo is the citys most beloved attraction, drawing well over a million visitors each year to the Primate Panorama and Tropical Discovery. In beautiful Cheesman Park, the Denver Botanic Gardens display a scenic expanse of varying foliage from around the world and a special new exhibit on water plants. Finally, if you want to see the workings of a brewery first hand, Coors Brewing Company gives tours daily and yes, there are free samples.

T. Turner