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Denver City Guide

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Suggested Itineraries for Visiting Denver
©2006 Denver CVB The exotic fish of the Downtown Aquarium are conveniently located just steps from downtown Denver's 16th Street Mall.

With so much to do in Denver, you can easily become overwhelmed. But don't worry -- this section offers a great way to break up your day (or days), and explore the top highlights of the Mile High City. Whether your priorities lie in taking in the arts and culture of Denver (such as the Denver Art Museum), shopping at indoor and outdoors malls (such as the one in Cherry Creek), or exploring the city's outskirts (such as Rocky Mountain National Park), the following suggestions will point you in the right direction.

's Special Events & Attractions

's Special Events & Attractions

The attractions and special events below really shouldn't be missed during your visit to Denver. Follow these itineraries to ensure that you see the most you can in the time you have.

1 day: Every visit to Denver should begin where the city first put down community roots -- in Larimer Square (1445 Larimer St). This pristinely restored, Victorian-revived enclave is dotted with java joints, unique shops, trendy bars, and globetrotting restaurants, most notably Rioja (1431 Larimer St), a Mediterranean-inspired food temple that lures the cognoscenti with its indelible artichoke mousse ravioli.

Just down the street from Larimer Square is Sakura Square (1255 19th St), a tiny Tokyo that includes the Denver Buddhist Temple and Pacific Mercantile, a wonderfully authentic Japanese supermarket. Walk across the Millennium Bridge, a pedestrian footbridge connecting the Platte River Valley to the 16th Street Mall, and you're just steps away from the Downtown Aquarium (700 Water St). There, you'll encounter exotic fish, Sumatran tigers, moray eels, and stingrays.

Want to live on the edge? Look no further than Six Flags Elitch Gardens Theme Park, home to more than 45 thrilling rides, including Twister II, a heart-stopping 10-story rollercoaster with a 90-foot-drop.

If your adventurous streak hasn't run its course, don't miss the spectacular REI flagship store (1416 Platte St), an outdoor-lover's paradise that allows visitors to practice their rock-climbing skills, test-drive bikes, and practice their kayaking maneuvers on adjacent Cherry Creek.

2 days: Walk and talk with the animals at the spacious Denver Zoo (23rd Ave and Steele St), home to more than 75,000 species of ubiquitous, unusual, and endangered critters. Nostalgics won't want to miss the Conversation Carousel featuring wood-carved renditions of several endangered species.

During the summer months, cool off at Pirate's Cove Aquatic Park (1225 Belleview Ave) complete with a 35-foot slide tower, spray garden, lazy river, and 25-meter, six-lane pool. If time permits, surround yourself with fluttering butterflies at the Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Center (6252 W. 104th Ave), a foliage-flush, humid habitat beautified by thousands of kaleidoscopic butterflies, moths, and skippers.

3 days: Breakfast on pineapple upside down pancakes at Snooze (2262 Larimer St) before hitting a Colorado Rockies baseball game at Coors Field. The games are rarely sold out, so tickets are easy to come by -- but stay away from scalpers. The stadium sports the thinnest air in major league baseball, and a block of purple seats on the 20th row of the upper deck marks the point where it's exactly one mile above sea level. The "Rockpile" seats, located 500 feet from home plate, are only $4 per ticket, and the crowds who sit there are some of the loudest and liveliest in baseball.

's Arts & Culture

's Arts & Culture

There is no shortage of arts and culture in Denver, from the unique collections at the Denver Art Museum to the exhilirating performances at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Use the following itineraries to help you fit it all it in.

1 day: Spend the morning winding your way through the Denver Art Museum (100 W. 14th Ave) galleries, pausing to reflect on the stellar Native American and Spanish Colonial art collections, for which the museum is noted. With the highly anticipated opening of the new Frederick C. Hamilton wing, crowds will clamor for tickets, so buy them in advance.

While away the afternoon in the Golden Triangle Museum District (located between Speer, Colfax, and Lincoln Sts.), an artsy enclave comprised of several small stage live theaters and more than 50 galleries, artist's studios, restaurants, and specialty boutiques.

Shutterbugs shouldn't miss Camera Obscura Gallery (1309 Bannock St), one of the oldest photography galleries in the nation and a boon for those interested in both vintage and contemporary images. At the William Havu Gallery (1040 Cherokee St), prepare to drool over the show-stopping, cutting-edge works from top-drawer artists from around the world.

Enjoy an early dinner at Cuba Cuba (1173 Delaware St), an infectiously upbeat spot to nosh on paella and plantains before making your way to the Curious Theater Company (1080 Acoma St), a local's favorite for provocative live stage performances.

2 days: Linger over coffee and eggs Benedict at Racines (650 Sherman St), one of Denver's most popular morning joints for conversation and a caffeine fix. Spend the afternoon at the Colorado History Museum (1300 Broadway), a site that showcases an amazing collection of William Henry Jackson photos and the "Colorado Chronicle," an 1800-1949 timeline that uses press clippings, dioramas, photographs, and plaques to illustrate the state's historical past.

Brush up on your artifacts at the Museum of Science and Nature (2001 Colorado Blvd), while taking in a film at the museum's IMAX Theater or floating in space at the Charles Gates Planetarium.

©2006 Denver CVB Coors Field is home the Colorado Rockies. Tickets are pretty easy to come by in this stadium, which in some points is exactly one mile above sea level.

3 days: Start your day the old-fashioned way at Davies Chuck Wagon Diner (9495 W Colfax Ave), a quintessential roadside breakfast shack that dishes out decadent chicken fried steak and eggs. Consider this your morning fuel for a full day wandering around the historic town of Golden -- one of the state's original boomtowns.

Explore the stone-structured Astor House Museum (822 12th St), a Western-styled Victorian hotel that housed the state's legislators in the 19th century. While you're there, you can partake in a walking tour of the 12th Street Historic District or head up to Boettcher Mansion (900 Colorow Rd) for an estate tour of period crafts dating from the late 1800s and early 1900s.

's Architecture & Landmarks

's Architecture & Landmarks

Denver is known for its historic preservation movement, particularly in the LoDo area. The following suggested itineraries will help you take in the many architectural treasures and landmarks throughout the city.

1 day: Stroll through the Capitol Hill neighborhood, stopping to gawk at the Colorado State Capitol building (136 State Capitol, Denver). Across the street at City Grill (321 E. Colfax Ave), join the legions of legislators who come here for the juice-dribbling cheeseburgers.

After lunch, take a leap of faith and enter through the sculpted brass doors of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (1530 Logan St), one of the finest (and most overlooked) examples of French Gothic architecture in the region. The imposing exterior, constructed of acanthus stone and bolstered by a green ceramic tiled roof, is stunning, but so is the interior with its hand-painted, stained-glass windows and jaw-droppingly beautiful art.

Feast on potato-crusted scallops or roasted butternut squash risotto at the Red Room (320 E Colfax Ave), one of many restaurants located throughout the Denver area owned by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper.

2 days: Walk through the nostalgic hallways of Union Station (1701 Wynkoop St), Denver's grandly appointed historic train station that resides on the west end of 17th Street. Opened in 1881, the original Italian Romanesque structure was destroyed by fire in 1894 and later rebuilt in Beaux-arts style, complete with a red marquee, three-story arched windows and 64-foot-high ceilings. The basement houses one of the world's largest model-railroad collections.

Another must-see landmark is the Mobil Four-Star Brown Palace Hotel (321 17th St), the undisputed crown jewel of Denver architecture. Book a tour to discover the cast of presidents, dignitaries, and entertainers that have slumbered here, the likes of which include Dwight Eisenhower (who has a suite named after himself), the Beatles, and Queen Marie of Romania.

Satiate your hunger pains at the Mobil Two-Star Buckhorn Exchange (1000 Osage St), Denver's oldest restaurant and a designated historical landmark for its impressive collection of taxidermy and Old West memorabilia, including a Col. William "Buffalo Bill" Cody display. Nosh on Prime grade steaks and a stellar selection of wild game dishes like elk, smoked buffalo, and rattlesnake.

3 days: Begin your morning with prime rib hash and eggs at the Rialto Cafe (934 16th St), one of Denver's original silent movie houses, then make your way to Four Mile Historic Park (715 S. Forest St), a former stagecoach stop that now marks the site of Denver's oldest log home. Costumed guides lead tours of the 12-acre farmstead outfitted with period furnishings, old farming machinery, and outbuildings. On weekends, take a horse-drawn carriage ride.

Spend the evening watching a concert, ballet, or theater production at the Art Deco-styled Paramount Theater (1631 Glenarm Pl), the city's last grand movie theater turned elegant haven for the performing arts.

©2006 Denver CVB The Colorado State Capitol building is modeled after the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

's Shopping

Whether you're just looking for some souvenirs to commemorate your trip or want an all-out shopping excursion, there are plenty of malls and boutiques to choose from in this great city. Following are some suggested itineraries.

1 day: Cherry Creek North (2960 E. 2nd Ave) leads the way when it comes to chi-chi retail therapy. Everywhere you turn, well-heeled socialites strutting Prada bounce down the streets armed with bags of highfalutin' fashions foraged from the hundreds of chic shops that line the manicured streets bumper to bumper with BMWs.

Follow the other well-to-do denizens to Garbarini (3003 E. 3rd Ave), a sleek and chic clothing emporium brimming with trendy lines like Paper Denim Cloth, AG, Antik, Nougat, Ya Ya, Alvin Valley, and Vertigo.

Find the year's most coveted toys at Kazoo and Company (2930 E. 2nd Ave) or The Wizard's Chest (230 Fillmore St), and outfit your home with fancified furnishings from HW Home (199 Clayton Lane).

Make time to slurp fresh oysters shucked at Ocean (201 Columbine St, 303-377-5350), one of Cherry's Creeks hottest spots for gossip swaps (and showing off your new stilettos.).

2 days: At Belmar Shopping Center (7000 W. Alameda Ave), an al fresco mini-metropolis, shopping is intertwined with bowling, dining, gallery-hopping, people-watching, and summer flings at the Parisian Street Market. Sample authentic Mexican foodstuffs from Chama (425 S. Teller St, 303-935-5170), helmed by one of Denver's top toques before plunging wallet-first into groovy shops like Kamala (7240 W. Alaska Dr, 303-935-3337), a snazzy emporium stocked floor-to-ceiling with worldly art and handcrafted jewelry.

For the latest in footwear and ski and snowboard apparel, visit The Fall Line (386 S. Teller St, 303-937-6325). Pure Parisian-styled furnishings can be procured at the shabby-chic antique flea market, a summer-only outdoor marketplace parading 50 different vendors. Turn your own flea market finds into treasures by taking part in the Retro-Revamp 101 class.

3 days: Hopefully, you've packed light, because you'll want to spend a day shopping on Antique Row (400 S. Broadway), a cluster of 400 antique shops and dealers hawking everything old and vogue.

Dust off your credit card, jump on the light rail, and begin your treasure troving at East Evans Avenue, working your way north to East Ellsworth Avenue. Pop into Decade (56 S. Broadway, 303-733-2288) for fabulous retro home furnishings and vintage clothing; peruse the chaotically stocked shelves at Blinky's Antiques and Collectibles (1590 S. Broadway, 303-778-7583), named, of course, for Blinky the Clown; and gape at the gorgeous estate jewelry lining the glass cases at Somewhere in Time (1415 S. Broadway, 303-777-3659). Take a lunch break at Pasquini's Pizzeria (1310 S. Broadway, 303-744-0917), a kitschy pizza palace that's as colorful as the antique shops that surround it.

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Denver's Nightlife & Entertainment

Even if you've had a full day of sightseeing, you'll want to save some energy for the many nightlife and entertainment options in Denver. Below are suggestions on to best spots to check out during your stay.

1 day: Play a challenging 54-hole miniature golf course, race around an outdoor electric go-kart track in authentic NASCAR-themed speedsters, or zoom down a drag racing course at Highlands Hills Adventure Golf & Raceway (9650 N. Sheridan Blvd).

Chill out at 5 Degrees (1475 Lawrence St), a trendy lounge for cosmopolitan cool cats imbibing fancified cocktails and perfectly concocted martinis, like the OO7, a James Bond classic. Head next door for a gaggle of giggles and guffaws at Comedy Works (1226 15th St), the city's most popular stage for both established (bold name headliners like Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld have performed there) and up-and-coming comedians.

Dance 'til you drop at The Church (1160 Lincoln St), Denver's hottest spot for DJ-spun tunes, live salsa bands, and up-to-the-moment fashion statements. At 2 am, when the doors close, brave the bright lights at Pete's Kitchen (1962 E. Colfax Ave), a classic Denver 24/7 iconic diner that appeases late-night revelers with butter-slung hash browns, breakfast burritos, and strong coffee.

2 days: Eat like a local at Dixons Downtown Grill (1610 16th St), a popular hangout for the pancake set to perch on the patio and catch up on street scuttle. Amble over to ESPN Zone (1187 16th St) for a fun-filled morning of interactive sports games, sure to test your competitive edge. You'll find virtual tennis, air hockey, hoop games, and much more.

If it's been a while since you've bowled, see how well you score at the Hollywood-esque Lucky Strike Lanes (500 16th St). In the evening, sway to the sultry sounds of national stage talent at Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret (1601 Arapahoe St), a sumptuously sexy nightclub headlined by Lannie Garret, Denver's most versatile chanteuse.

3 days: Today, test your luck on the slot machines in the picturesque mountain town of Central City, home of the world-renowned Central City Opera House (400 S. Colorado Blvd) and its neighboring casinos.

Spin the reels at Fortune Valley Casino (321 Gregory St), the town's newest gaming facility featuring blackjack and poker tables, video poker, and more than 900 slot machines. There's live music in the casino bar and for a bite to eat, try Cedar Grille, the on-site steakhouse restaurant with appetizers, seafood, and desserts to please everyone in the family.

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Relaxing & Unwinding in Denver

If packing your days with sightseeing is not your bag, take a low-key approach by using the following itineraries that include some of Denver's most tranquil outings.

1 day: Begin your day over beignets, buttermilk biscuits, and a Bloody Mary at Lucile's Creole Cafe (2124 14th St), a cozy New Orleans-style food temple that's always littered with both local and national newspapers.

Take a look at Denver's weather forecast (sunny, no doubt), put on your shades and make the short 30-minute drive to Evergreen, a tranquil mountain town just west of Denver that touts the virtues of the TallGrass Spa (997 Upper Bear Creek Rd). Framed by mesmerizing mountain views and flower-studded meadows, this forested oasis offers hot stone massages, rejuvenating body scrubs and wraps, relaxing manicures and pedicures, and all-day pampering packages. A last-minute appointment can often result in 20 percent off selected services.

Browse the shops in downtown Evergreen and enjoy dinner at SoHo (28215 Hwy 274), where the live jazz is a perfect foil for the contemporary American menu.

©2006 National Park Service The beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park is just about an hour's drive from downtown Denver.

2 days: Lounge in bed at the Mobil Three-Star Hotel Teatro (1100 14th St), a sanctuary for weary travelers who find it difficult to part with the Fritte linens, gorgeous Art Deco decor, and luxurious bath amenities, including terrific rain showers.

Take a relaxing afternoon drive to Colorado Springs, an hour south of Denver, to tour the Garden of the Gods, a distinctly unique 1,300-acre rock garden and geological site. The wind and rain sculpted red sandstone formations, 300 million years in the making, are simply beautiful, and you can hike and horseback ride, sans crowds, along the myriad trails. Save time to stop in at the site's Visitor's Center.

3 days: Denver struts a plethora of public golf courses, but Arrowhead Golf Club, a Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed course that resides in Roxborough Park, boasts a

magnificent setting with rolling terrain, towering, ancient red sandstone rocks, and dramatic panoramic views.

If you haven't quite perfected your swing, practice makes perfect at Harvard Gulch Golf Course (660 E. Iliff Ave), a nine-hole, par-3 course in South Denver that only takes about an hour to play. Fees are $6.50.

Canterberry Golf Course (11400 Canterberry Pkwy) is also a good bet for pros, with the added benefit of Beckett's Table, a spectacular club restaurant featuring Sunday brunch, an excellent wine list, and innovative New American cuisine with global twists. The parmesan-dusted truffled fries and Thai curried mussels are delicious.

While the Rocky Mountains may be the first thing you think of when hear the word "Denver," they are just one beautiful part of the Mile High City. Visitors can also enjoy arts and culture, interesting architecture, and a wide variety of restaurants, shopping, and nightlife venues. Visit Denver today to enjoy miles of fun in this incredible city.

©Publications International, Ltd.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lori Midson has lived here, there, and everywhere. She currently resides in her native city of Denver, where she writes full time. Lori is a frequent contributor to Sunset and CITY magazines, the restaurant critic and dining editor at Colorado AvidGolfer magazine, and the Colorado-based editor for multiple Zagat Surveys. She has also written for Life & Style Weekly, Executive Travel, AAA's EnCompass, Acura Style, Midwest Express, and 5280 magazine.

With so much to do in Denver, you can easily become overwhelmed. But don't worry -- this section offers a great way to break up your day (or days), and explore the top highlights of the Mile High City. Whether your priorities lie in taking in the arts and culture of Denver (such as the Denver Art Museum), shopping at indoor and outdoors malls (such as the one in Cherry Creek), or exploring the city's outskirts (such as Rocky Mountain National Park), the following suggestions will point you in the right direction.

's Special Events & Attractions

's Special Events & Attractions

The attractions and special events below really shouldn't be missed during your visit to Denver. Follow these itineraries to ensure that you see the most you can in the time you have.

1 day: Every visit to Denver should begin where the city first put down community roots -- in Larimer Square (1445 Larimer St). This pristinely restored, Victorian-revived enclave is dotted with java joints, unique shops, trendy bars, and globetrotting restaurants, most notably Rioja (1431 Larimer St), a Mediterranean-inspired food temple that lures the cognoscenti with its indelible artichoke mousse ravioli.

Just down the street from Larimer Square is Sakura Square (1255 19th St), a tiny Tokyo that includes the Denver Buddhist Temple and Pacific Mercantile, a wonderfully authentic Japanese supermarket. Walk across the Millennium Bridge, a pedestrian footbridge connecting the Platte River Valley to the 16th Street Mall, and you're just steps away from the Downtown Aquarium (700 Water St). There, you'll encounter exotic fish, Sumatran tigers, moray eels, and stingrays.

©2006 Denver CVB The exotic fish of the Downtown Aquarium are conveniently located just steps from downtown Denver's 16th Street Mall.

Want to live on the edge? Look no further than Six Flags Elitch Gardens Theme Park, home to more than 45 thrilling rides, including Twister II, a heart-stopping 10-story rollercoaster with a 90-foot-drop.

If your adventurous streak hasn't run its course, don't miss the spectacular REI flagship store (1416 Platte St), an outdoor-lover's paradise that allows visitors to practice their rock-climbing skills, test-drive bikes, and practice their kayaking maneuvers on adjacent Cherry Creek.

2 days: Walk and talk with the animals at the spacious Denver Zoo (23rd Ave and Steele St), home to more than 75,000 species of ubiquitous, unusual, and endangered critters. Nostalgics won't want to miss the Conversation Carousel featuring wood-carved renditions of several endangered species.

During the summer months, cool off at Pirate's Cove Aquatic Park (1225 Belleview Ave) complete with a 35-foot slide tower, spray garden, lazy river, and 25-meter, six-lane pool. If time permits, surround yourself with fluttering butterflies at the Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Center (6252 W. 104th Ave), a foliage-flush, humid habitat beautified by thousands of kaleidoscopic butterflies, moths, and skippers.

3 days: Breakfast on pineapple upside down pancakes at Snooze (2262 Larimer St) before hitting a Colorado Rockies baseball game at Coors Field. The games are rarely sold out, so tickets are easy to come by -- but stay away from scalpers. The stadium sports the thinnest air in major league baseball, and a block of purple seats on the 20th row of the upper deck marks the point where it's exactly one mile above sea level. The "Rockpile" seats, located 500 feet from home plate, are only $4 per ticket, and the crowds who sit there are some of the loudest and liveliest in baseball.

's Arts & Culture

's Arts & Culture

There is no shortage of arts and culture in Denver, from the unique collections at the Denver Art Museum to the exhilirating performances at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Use the following itineraries to help you fit it all it in.

1 day: Spend the morning winding your way through the Denver Art Museum (100 W. 14th Ave) galleries, pausing to reflect on the stellar Native American and Spanish Colonial art collections, for which the museum is noted. With the highly anticipated opening of the new Frederick C. Hamilton wing, crowds will clamor for tickets, so buy them in advance.

While away the afternoon in the Golden Triangle Museum District (located between Speer, Colfax, and Lincoln Sts.), an artsy enclave comprised of several small stage live theaters and more than 50 galleries, artist's studios, restaurants, and specialty boutiques.

Shutterbugs shouldn't miss Camera Obscura Gallery (1309 Bannock St), one of the oldest photography galleries in the nation and a boon for those interested in both vintage and contemporary images. At the William Havu Gallery (1040 Cherokee St), prepare to drool over the show-stopping, cutting-edge works from top-drawer artists from around the world.

Enjoy an early dinner at Cuba Cuba (1173 Delaware St), an infectiously upbeat spot to nosh on paella and plantains before making your way to the Curious Theater Company (1080 Acoma St), a local's favorite for provocative live stage performances.

2 days: Linger over coffee and eggs Benedict at Racines (650 Sherman St), one of Denver's most popular morning joints for conversation and a caffeine fix. Spend the afternoon at the Colorado History Museum (1300 Broadway), a site that showcases an amazing collection of William Henry Jackson photos and the "Colorado Chronicle," an 1800-1949 timeline that uses press clippings, dioramas, photographs, and plaques to illustrate the state's historical past.

Brush up on your artifacts at the Museum of Science and Nature (2001 Colorado Blvd), while taking in a film at the museum's IMAX Theater or floating in space at the Charles Gates Planetarium.

©2006 Denver CVB Coors Field is home the Colorado Rockies. Tickets are pretty easy to come by in this stadium, which in some points is exactly one mile above sea level.

3 days: Start your day the old-fashioned way at Davies Chuck Wagon Diner (9495 W Colfax Ave), a quintessential roadside breakfast shack that dishes out decadent chicken fried steak and eggs. Consider this your morning fuel for a full day wandering around the historic town of Golden -- one of the state's original boomtowns.

Explore the stone-structured Astor House Museum (822 12th St), a Western-styled Victorian hotel that housed the state's legislators in the 19th century. While you're there, you can partake in a walking tour of the 12th Street Historic District or head up to Boettcher Mansion (900 Colorow Rd) for an estate tour of period crafts dating from the late 1800s and early 1900s.

's Architecture & Landmarks

's Architecture & Landmarks

Denver is known for its historic preservation movement, particularly in the LoDo area. The following suggested itineraries will help you take in the many architectural treasures and landmarks throughout the city.

1 day: Stroll through the Capitol Hill neighborhood, stopping to gawk at the Colorado State Capitol building (136 State Capitol, Denver). Across the street at City Grill (321 E. Colfax Ave), join the legions of legislators who come here for the juice-dribbling cheeseburgers.

After lunch, take a leap of faith and enter through the sculpted brass doors of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (1530 Logan St), one of the finest (and most overlooked) examples of French Gothic architecture in the region. The imposing exterior, constructed of acanthus stone and bolstered by a green ceramic tiled roof, is stunning, but so is the interior with its hand-painted, stained-glass windows and jaw-droppingly beautiful art.

Feast on potato-crusted scallops or roasted butternut squash risotto at the Red Room (320 E Colfax Ave), one of many restaurants located throughout the Denver area owned by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper.

2 days: Walk through the nostalgic hallways of Union Station (1701 Wynkoop St), Denver's grandly appointed historic train station that resides on the west end of 17th Street. Opened in 1881, the original Italian Romanesque structure was destroyed by fire in 1894 and later rebuilt in Beaux-arts style, complete with a red marquee, three-story arched windows and 64-foot-high ceilings. The basement houses one of the world's largest model-railroad collections.

Another must-see landmark is the Mobil Four-Star Brown Palace Hotel (321 17th St), the undisputed crown jewel of Denver architecture. Book a tour to discover the cast of presidents, dignitaries, and entertainers that have slumbered here, the likes of which include Dwight Eisenhower (who has a suite named after himself), the Beatles, and Queen Marie of Romania.

Satiate your hunger pains at the Mobil Two-Star Buckhorn Exchange (1000 Osage St), Denver's oldest restaurant and a designated historical landmark for its impressive collection of taxidermy and Old West memorabilia, including a Col. William "Buffalo Bill" Cody display. Nosh on Prime grade steaks and a stellar selection of wild game dishes like elk, smoked buffalo, and rattlesnake.

3 days: Begin your morning with prime rib hash and eggs at the Rialto Cafe (934 16th St), one of Denver's original silent movie houses, then make your way to Four Mile Historic Park (715 S. Forest St), a former stagecoach stop that now marks the site of Denver's oldest log home. Costumed guides lead tours of the 12-acre farmstead outfitted with period furnishings, old farming machinery, and outbuildings. On weekends, take a horse-drawn carriage ride.

Spend the evening watching a concert, ballet, or theater production at the Art Deco-styled Paramount Theater (1631 Glenarm Pl), the city's last grand movie theater turned elegant haven for the performing arts.

©2006 Denver CVB The Colorado State Capitol building is modeled after the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

's Shopping

Whether you're just looking for some souvenirs to commemorate your trip or want an all-out shopping excursion, there are plenty of malls and boutiques to choose from in this great city. Following are some suggested itineraries.

1 day: Cherry Creek North (2960 E. 2nd Ave) leads the way when it comes to chi-chi retail therapy. Everywhere you turn, well-heeled socialites strutting Prada bounce down the streets armed with bags of highfalutin' fashions foraged from the hundreds of chic shops that line the manicured streets bumper to bumper with BMWs.

Follow the other well-to-do denizens to Garbarini (3003 E. 3rd Ave), a sleek and chic clothing emporium brimming with trendy lines like Paper Denim Cloth, AG, Antik, Nougat, Ya Ya, Alvin Valley, and Vertigo.

Find the year's most coveted toys at Kazoo and Company (2930 E. 2nd Ave) or The Wizard's Chest (230 Fillmore St), and outfit your home with fancified furnishings from HW Home (199 Clayton Lane).

Make time to slurp fresh oysters shucked at Ocean (201 Columbine St, 303-377-5350), one of Cherry's Creeks hottest spots for gossip swaps (and showing off your new stilettos.).

2 days: At Belmar Shopping Center (7000 W. Alameda Ave), an al fresco mini-metropolis, shopping is intertwined with bowling, dining, gallery-hopping, people-watching, and summer flings at the Parisian Street Market. Sample authentic Mexican foodstuffs from Chama (425 S. Teller St, 303-935-5170), helmed by one of Denver's top toques before plunging wallet-first into groovy shops like Kamala (7240 W. Alaska Dr, 303-935-3337), a snazzy emporium stocked floor-to-ceiling with worldly art and handcrafted jewelry.

For the latest in footwear and ski and snowboard apparel, visit The Fall Line (386 S. Teller St, 303-937-6325). Pure Parisian-styled furnishings can be procured at the shabby-chic antique flea market, a summer-only outdoor marketplace parading 50 different vendors. Turn your own flea market finds into treasures by taking part in the Retro-Revamp 101 class.

3 days: Hopefully, you've packed light, because you'll want to spend a day shopping on Antique Row (400 S. Broadway), a cluster of 400 antique shops and dealers hawking everything old and vogue.

Dust off your credit card, jump on the light rail, and begin your treasure troving at East Evans Avenue, working your way north to East Ellsworth Avenue. Pop into Decade (56 S. Broadway, 303-733-2288) for fabulous retro home furnishings and vintage clothing; peruse the chaotically stocked shelves at Blinky's Antiques and Collectibles (1590 S. Broadway, 303-778-7583), named, of course, for Blinky the Clown; and gape at the gorgeous estate jewelry lining the glass cases at Somewhere in Time (1415 S. Broadway, 303-777-3659). Take a lunch break at Pasquini's Pizzeria (1310 S. Broadway, 303-744-0917), a kitschy pizza palace that's as colorful as the antique shops that surround it.

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Denver's Nightlife & Entertainment

Even if you've had a full day of sightseeing, you'll want to save some energy for the many nightlife and entertainment options in Denver. Below are suggestions on to best spots to check out during your stay.

1 day: Play a challenging 54-hole miniature golf course, race around an outdoor electric go-kart track in authentic NASCAR-themed speedsters, or zoom down a drag racing course at Highlands Hills Adventure Golf & Raceway (9650 N. Sheridan Blvd).

Chill out at 5 Degrees (1475 Lawrence St), a trendy lounge for cosmopolitan cool cats imbibing fancified cocktails and perfectly concocted martinis, like the OO7, a James Bond classic. Head next door for a gaggle of giggles and guffaws at Comedy Works (1226 15th St), the city's most popular stage for both established (bold name headliners like Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld have performed there) and up-and-coming comedians.

Dance 'til you drop at The Church (1160 Lincoln St), Denver's hottest spot for DJ-spun tunes, live salsa bands, and up-to-the-moment fashion statements. At 2 am, when the doors close, brave the bright lights at Pete's Kitchen (1962 E. Colfax Ave), a classic Denver 24/7 iconic diner that appeases late-night revelers with butter-slung hash browns, breakfast burritos, and strong coffee.

2 days: Eat like a local at Dixons Downtown Grill (1610 16th St), a popular hangout for the pancake set to perch on the patio and catch up on street scuttle. Amble over to ESPN Zone (1187 16th St) for a fun-filled morning of interactive sports games, sure to test your competitive edge. You'll find virtual tennis, air hockey, hoop games, and much more.

If it's been a while since you've bowled, see how well you score at the Hollywood-esque Lucky Strike Lanes (500 16th St). In the evening, sway to the sultry sounds of national stage talent at Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret (1601 Arapahoe St), a sumptuously sexy nightclub headlined by Lannie Garret, Denver's most versatile chanteuse.

3 days: Today, test your luck on the slot machines in the picturesque mountain town of Central City, home of the world-renowned Central City Opera House (400 S. Colorado Blvd) and its neighboring casinos.

Spin the reels at Fortune Valley Casino (321 Gregory St), the town's newest gaming facility featuring blackjack and poker tables, video poker, and more than 900 slot machines. There's live music in the casino bar and for a bite to eat, try Cedar Grille, the on-site steakhouse restaurant with appetizers, seafood, and desserts to please everyone in the family.

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Relaxing & Unwinding in Denver

If packing your days with sightseeing is not your bag, take a low-key approach by using the following itineraries that include some of Denver's most tranquil outings.

1 day: Begin your day over beignets, buttermilk biscuits, and a Bloody Mary at Lucile's Creole Cafe (2124 14th St), a cozy New Orleans-style food temple that's always littered with both local and national newspapers.

Take a look at Denver's weather forecast (sunny, no doubt), put on your shades and make the short 30-minute drive to Evergreen, a tranquil mountain town just west of Denver that touts the virtues of the TallGrass Spa (997 Upper Bear Creek Rd). Framed by mesmerizing mountain views and flower-studded meadows, this forested oasis offers hot stone massages, rejuvenating body scrubs and wraps, relaxing manicures and pedicures, and all-day pampering packages. A last-minute appointment can often result in 20 percent off selected services.

Browse the shops in downtown Evergreen and enjoy dinner at SoHo (28215 Hwy 274), where the live jazz is a perfect foil for the contemporary American menu.

©2006 National Park Service The beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park is just about an hour's drive from downtown Denver.

2 days: Lounge in bed at the Mobil Three-Star Hotel Teatro (1100 14th St), a sanctuary for weary travelers who find it difficult to part with the Fritte linens, gorgeous Art Deco decor, and luxurious bath amenities, including terrific rain showers.

Take a relaxing afternoon drive to Colorado Springs, an hour south of Denver, to tour the Garden of the Gods, a distinctly unique 1,300-acre rock garden and geological site. The wind and rain sculpted red sandstone formations, 300 million years in the making, are simply beautiful, and you can hike and horseback ride, sans crowds, along the myriad trails. Save time to stop in at the site's Visitor's Center.

3 days: Denver struts a plethora of public golf courses, but Arrowhead Golf Club, a Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed course that resides in Roxborough Park, boasts a

magnificent setting with rolling terrain, towering, ancient red sandstone rocks, and dramatic panoramic views.

If you haven't quite perfected your swing, practice makes perfect at Harvard Gulch Golf Course (660 E. Iliff Ave), a nine-hole, par-3 course in South Denver that only takes about an hour to play. Fees are $6.50.

Canterberry Golf Course (11400 Canterberry Pkwy) is also a good bet for pros, with the added benefit of Beckett's Table, a spectacular club restaurant featuring Sunday brunch, an excellent wine list, and innovative New American cuisine with global twists. The parmesan-dusted truffled fries and Thai curried mussels are delicious.

While the Rocky Mountains may be the first thing you think of when hear the word "Denver," they are just one beautiful part of the Mile High City. Visitors can also enjoy arts and culture, interesting architecture, and a wide variety of restaurants, shopping, and nightlife venues. Visit Denver today to enjoy miles of fun in this incredible city.

©Publications International, Ltd.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lori Midson has lived here, there, and everywhere. She currently resides in her native city of Denver, where she writes full time. Lori is a frequent contributor to Sunset and CITY magazines, the restaurant critic and dining editor at Colorado AvidGolfer magazine, and the Colorado-based editor for multiple Zagat Surveys. She has also written for Life & Style Weekly, Executive Travel, AAA's EnCompass, Acura Style, Midwest Express, and 5280 magazine.


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