The visitors approach the steps, climbing them one by one until they reach the thirteenth. They turn and smile for the camera. Click! As the sign on the stairs says, they are exactly one mile high. They are visitors to Denver a.k.a. the Mile High City-it’s exactly 5,280 feet above sea level-a fact noted on the stairs of the Colorado State Capitol Building.
Visitors to Denver will enjoy many of the same things Denverites do: over 300 days of sunshine annually, inspiring mountain vistas, and a vibrant downtown area loaded with activities year-round. From its roots as a mining town on the frontier, Denver has grown into a city that offers it all.
Amtrak passengers will pull in at historic Union Station, situated in the area known as LoDo (short for Lower Downtown), where turn-of-the-century buildings have been converted into a hip neighborhood full of galleries, restaurants, coffeehouses and microbreweries. Spend some time browsing the stacks at the Tattered Cover Book Store, an independently owned book shop housed in the old Morey Mercantile building. Historic markers are posted throughout this part of town, reminding visitors that those that made the Old West haven’t been forgotten; from Mattie Silks to Buffalo Bill Cody. Also in LoDo is Coors Field, a 50,000 seat stadium that is home to 2007 Baseball World Series contenders, the Colorado Rockies.
The Oxford Hotel is Denver’s oldest grand hotel, with a guest roster to be proud of. Presidents and celebrities past and present have stayed here, enjoying the hotel’s ambiance and the great seafood served up at McCormick’s. Don’t miss the hotel’s renowned bar, The Cruise Room, whose Art Deco relief panels featuring toasts from around the world have earned it a place as one of the top examples of Deco architecture in the country. The bar opened with fanfare the day after Prohibition was repealed, and has been a hot spot for cocktails ever since.
Locally owned deli-cafe The Market is a beloved Denver mainstay. This eclectic gathering spot calls Larimer Square home, and is the perfect place to grab lunch on the patio while you people-watch. Denver’s first city block, Larimer Square is now the perfect spot to dine, shop, or sip a latte. The square also hosts an annual Oktoberfest, as well as a variety of Christmas activities, including carolers and horse-drawn hay rides.
If you want to grab a little action, rent a bike from Cherry Creek Bike Rack and cruise downtown that way-the Cherry Creek Bike Trail covers 15 miles of Denver’s neighborhoods. Another option-walk to the 16th Street pedestrian mall and catch the free shuttle, which runs from one end of downtown to the other. You’ll ride past the skyscrapers that make up Denver’s skyline, and along the mall you’ll see countless shops, restaurants and hotels, whether in Tabor Center or Denver Pavilions shopping centers. The centers include a cinema, bowling alley, bookshops, even a Hard Rock Cafe.
Disembark at Court St. and take the short walk to Civic Center Park. There you’ll be surrounded by Denver’s best attractions. The gold-domed Colorado State Capitol Building, modeled after the U.S. Capitol in Washington, offers free tours on weekdays. Nearby is the Colorado History Museum, keeping the colorful history of the west alive. Art and architecture aficionados won’t want to miss the Denver Public Library, one of the nation’s largest, designed by American architect Michael Graves. The Denver Art Museum is next door, with one of the finest collections of American Indian art anywhere and a spectacular new addition, the Hamilton Building, which opened in 2006. The museum’s current exhibition is a collection of paintings from the Louvre Museum in Paris.
Denver is also home to one of two U.S.Mints in the country, making as many as 10 billion coins per year, state quarters among them. Tours take you through the money-making process, but require reservations in advance. Nearby, tour the Victorian home of socialite and Titanic survivor the “unsinkable” Molly Brown, now a museum that hosts Halloween Edgar Allan Poe readings and Holiday Victorian teas. In her later years, Molly Brown resided at the Brown Palace Hotel, one of Denver’s most notable historic landmarks and finest places to stay. End your busy afternoon by taking high tea in the hotel’s lobby, where you’ll relax to live piano music under the majestic stained glass ceiling.
If theater is your gig, enjoy dinner at Kevin Taylor’s, fine dining from a local chef in the newly renovated Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Then spend the evening attending ballet, opera, theater or the symphony at any of the 10 theaters in the renowned Denver Performing Arts Complex.
The Mile High City offers it all-whether you’re looking for the outdoorsy recreation of the nearby Rockies or the irresistible activities of a modern Western city, Denver is a great destination.
Colorado Fast Facts and Trivia--http://www.50states.com/facts/colorado.htm
2005/2006 Official Visitor’s Guide (Denver Metro Convention and Visitor’s Bureau
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