In this issue:
- Getting to know the Neighborhoods
- Good Beer
- Remembering the Pony Express
- Day Trips
- Travel Deals
Welcome to the October 2011 issue of USATourist News Magazine. Our stop this month is in the gorgeous Mile High City of Denver, Colorado. The fact that the city sits at 5,280 feet above sea level is what has earned this thriving city its "Mile High" nickname. Not only is Denver full of outdoor opportunities, unique neighborhoods, popular sports teams, amusement parks and plenty of shopping, it's also the gateway to Colorado's 22 ski resorts which are lovely over the no-snow months.
Getting to know the Neighborhoods
Denver has a long list of neighborhoods, but some stand out as favorites. For example, 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver is a favorite stop for shopping, eating and nightlife. In addition to a wide selection of eating choices (there are over 28 outdoor cafes) the area is full of renovated historic office buildings and shops. As you stroll along the Mall, be sure to look down to see the gray and pink granite pathway which was designed to resemble the pattern of a diamondback rattlesnake. The Mall is a mile long, but a nice feature is its free shuttle buses that run seven days a week. In the evening visitors can take horse-drawn carriages for a romantic ride or hop on a pedicab - these are best described as three-wheeled, human powered, short-term taxi rides. Rides average two-dollars a block.
The spacious Denver Visitor Information Center is situated on the corner of 16th and California. You can find information on anything about the city, such as hotels, restaurants and attractions like the Denver Zoo which boasts 3,500 different animals or the 23-acre Denver Botanic Gardens with its 45 different gardens which include a Japanese Garden, Rock Alpine Garden, and Mordecai Children's Garden.
Larimer Square is another favorite hot spot for locals and tourists with its Victorian buildings, night clubs and trendy shops. The other hopping Denver neighborhood, LoDo Historic District, is home to converted warehouses that host almost a hundred brewpubs, sports bars, and restaurants including rooftop cafes.
Shopping lovers will especially enjoy the upscale Cherry Creek Shopping District. You'll find Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Tiffany's along with over 500 department stores, boutiques, galleries and even spas. When you're not busy browsing stores, take a stroll along the two-mile Cherry Creek Bike Path that runs between downtown and Cherry Creek.
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is the fourth largest museum in the U.S. and, speaking from first-hand experience, it is worth a visit. Exhibits and attractions include Egyptian Mummies, Gems & Minerals, North American Indian Cultures, Prehistoric Journey, Space Odyssey, Wildlife Exhibits and an IMAX theatre.
Denver has more than its share of microbreweries; however one of the biggest brewery attractions is the Coors Brewery Tour in the town of Golden, west of Denver. Fascinatingly, the world's largest brewing site still uses the same Rocky Mountain spring water that Adolph Coors discovered in 1873. Free guided tours introduce visitors to the brewing process. Adults over age 21 can go to the sample room and try a variety of beers.
Located just east of Golden, the Colorado Railroad Museum is a railroad enthusiasts' dream. Along with memorabilia and photos displayed in an 1880's-style depot from the early days of railroading, other highlights include 100 narrow and standard gauge locomotives, cabooses, cars and a working Roundhouse, model railroads, photographs and artifacts. Saturdays the 1/3 mile loop Galloping Goose train ride is available for rides.
Remembering the Pony Express
Pony Express rider Buffalo Bill Cody is remembered at the Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave just west of Denver on Lookout Mountain. This area is also known for the herd of buffalo that calls these hills home. To see them, take Lariat Loop Drive, continue to I-70, exit 250.
It's a shame to visit Denver and not get to experience the mountains. If you visit during the winter months, the ski resorts come to life with a variety of winter sports and a range of lodging options. Shuttles run daily between the resorts but there are also many regional airlines that have daily flights between Denver International Airport and many mountain airports. Of course, snow play isn't the only attraction in the Colorado Rockies.
There are several charming towns only a short drive from Denver. Two old gold mining towns, Central City and Black Hawk made for fun day trips when I lived in Denver - formerly known as the "Richest Square Mile on Earth" have branded themselves as gambling towns. You'll find two dozen casinos, abandoned gold mines, Victorian buildings and Old West history.
Another favorite mountain getaway is the pretty old mining town Georgetown which has been featured in several western movies including Every Which Way But Loose starring Clint Eastwood. The 200 Victorian buildings add to the "old time" feel and a "must do" is riding the Georgetown Loop Railroad.
The ultimate getaway is to Estes Park (about 70 miles from Denver). This charming town has a cute downtown with shops, restaurants, and gift shops. The biggest attraction though is Trail Ridge Road with its fabulous wildlife viewing. Hawks and eagles circle overhead while herds of elk, moose and big horn sheep are almost always seen.
Written by: Elizabeth L. Blair
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