Once a ritual of Denverites, sadly the horrible food of Casa Bonita and it’s woman pleasing divers hath gone.
Denver is not this amazing crazy gorgeous city with stunn… oh wait a minute, yes it is. Arriving in Denver nearly 20 years ago in the winter, after living all my life in one city, (Houston, to be exact,) was like stepping into a fairy tale. I remember seeing one of those single stream fountains on the way back from the bus station downtown, one of those crappy fake ponds that waste the water in a single stream like a garden hose left on a brick fountains, that commercial business plots are so fond of, had frozen over time to make a horn of ice that water shot out of like a mythical unicorn had buried itself under a thick sheet of winter’s discontent. Framed by the back drop of 14’ers and the Flatirons of Boulder, it was an inspiring and amazing sight to my southern eyes. We drove down a freeway surrounded by snowy fields, a freeway, (36, to be exact,) that is now an endless sea of residential construction, shopping centers, and other lifeless institutions, and all the snow is scraped away by men in trucks with giant blades on them, like some monstrosity from Beyond Thunderdome. Oh well, progress in america has never been uglier, so what can a person do in Denver that is truly worth seeing? Lucky for us, Denver has quite a few things in it other than malls, though Wal-Mart seems to be the second most obvious sight here, some of these things are quite worthy of being a part of. A weekend to spare might just want to make you move here, so lets take a look at it from a I-only-have-two-days perspective.
First off, you have to discover 13th street, the actual heart of everything worth being a part of in Denver. Inside of almost every shop is the local rag we first look to every thursday, and if you are young or a fan of music, I recommend picking up an issue of Westword and perusing the live music scene here in Denver. The stories try to be edgy and interesting, I find a lot hogwash is in it, but the ads for bars and clubs are the best way in the city to find music, art, and dining. The reviews on food are so so since Jason Sheehan left, but the art, music, and stage reviews are usually spot on, just pay attention to genre, you could end up at a death metal show that you hate, while two blocks away City Park Jazz is in full swing. Wax Trax is a hot spot record store, where underground and punk meet classics and jazz, volumes of vinyl and even 45’s can be found here, and what ever is happening that is worthy to see, or even that which is not worthy can usually be found by the stacks of flyers and notices at the door. Local musicians and fun folks work here, usually long time residents and if you haven’t a clue as to what to see, they can fill you in. Right across the street is Vixens and Angels, for serious cool duds, of the rock and punky nature, where Doug runs the show, and if its cool or good, he is in the know. Jelly is the colorful spot on the corner for the hipsters breakfast, but don’t let that get you down, the food is awesome, if you are up early enough to take part in the awesomeness of breakfast, if not, the lunch is also ridiculous, and finally, just around the corner is Denver Ted’s, which offers the best cheese steaks in Denver. That is just one block, one little block of 13th street.
Baseball is not my hat, to be honest, no sport ever gets my panties in a wad, but I can be convinced to go to a game at Coors Field. Get there early and sit with the citizens in the Rockpile for just 4 dollars. Yes, I said 4 dollars, MLB in downtown Denver for a steal. Do yourself a favor and just get beers, or perhaps sneak a few whiskeys in PocketShots and buy a coke, but don’t eat. Save your drunk munchies after the game for a short walk over to Biker Jim’s, just two short blocks from the field. Seriously, the BEST hotdogs in the whole world, with Alaskan Reindeer, pheasant, and a full on bacon wrapped beef, these dogs are acclaimed worldwide and for very good reason. Another two block walk will take you to El-Chapultepec where no jazz fiend should ever pass by without a stop, and every Jack Kerouac fan should stay and get some beat in their soul. Not all of us are cool daddy jazz fiends though, so just around the corner on Blake Street is my personal favorite bar in Denver, The 1UP. The music is good, the crowd can be a bit much, but you can find the best in old school arcade games and pinball at this funky bar. The food is so so, and overpriced, but I ate at Biker Jim’s. I love the bar though.
For final look at Denver, spring, summer or fall, an eclectic gathering of people occurs during sunrise at Mount Falcon. For years and years people have come here to watch the sunrise after a long night, or to begin a wonderful hike for the day. Spring is best, when the flowers are blooming, but I have been here many times, and always, the sunrise is just stunning. I have started my day for a Red Rocks concert here, lost my love here and cried to the rising sun, and just had an awesome day hiking about the mountain. It is a very short drive, easy to get to, and you do not have to be an athlete to enjoy it.
Denver is a small city, but after 20 years, I have had some great times and good friends in this peaceful and lovely urban oasis. The weather is almost always mild, rain never lasts long, snow rarely stops the city from its hustle and bustle, and the sun shines a lot, warming even cold winter days to light jacket temperatures. If you visit, be sure and pack a kit for the outdoors, but don’t forget the city itself, it has treasures and gems hidden all over, as if the original gold miners left pockets of gold hither and non for you to discover.