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Denver: What to See & Do

Elitch Gardens is an amusement park built around gardens and it has been here since 1890. This is where Benny Goodman's band first gained its fame and the place retains the wonderful aura of the early part of the century. There are myriad flower beds in the park, along with rides including a fine roller coaster, The Twister. There are still many concerts held at Elitch Gardens and a visit here is a summer must during your stay in Denver. It is located at 4620 West 38th Avenue. Lakeside Amusement Park is another old amusement park without the massed flowers but this one has a lake, the Cyclone Coaster and other popular attractions. It's on Sheridan Blvd., south of Interstate 70.

If beer is important to you, the Coors Brewery is a significant cultural icon. The brewery offers a free 30 minute tour of their "unique" brewing process, with beer tasting at the end. It is open Monday through Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM, at Ford and 13th streets in Golden, at the western edge of the metro area.

Colorado's State Capitol is a smaller version of the U.S. Capitol, with a gold plated dome. It sits on a hill with good mountain views. Weekday tours are conducted on the half hour during summer months from 9 AM to 3:30 PM. There are also free tours of the Governor's Mansion which is located in a magnificent garden. The house is basically as it was designed by Walter Cheeseman around 1900 and features the huge Palm Room which gives a fine view of the garden displays. The free tours are conducted from June through August, from 10 AM to 1 PM.

The museums of Denver reflect the makeup of the community. The Colorado History Museum features excellent displays of Colorado's Indian heritage, as well as the rambunctious mining era. This is a fine way to learn about the rich history of this area. There is a book shop in the museum, which is located near the State Capitol at 1300 Broadway. It is open daily: Mon. Sat. from 10 AM to 4:30 PM and Sun. from noon to 4:30 PM.

The Black American West Museum reflects the large black community in Denver, telling the history of blacks in the west including the many black cowboys who helped to settle it The museum is located in the Five Points district and offers a fascinating experience. The address is 607 28th Street.

There is also a Children's Museum, across the street from Mile High Stadium, at 2121 Crescent Drive. The museum is filled with interactive displays, a circus tent and a padded ball room. There are often puppet shows being staged and your children (and you) will have a grand time.

The Museum of Western Art, at 1727 Tremont Place, holds probably the best collection of Western art in the nation, in one of Denver's original downtown buildings (across the street from the famous Brown Palace Hotel). Frederick Remington is only one of the renowned western artists whose works are featured. There's also a good selection of works by Georgia O'Keeffe. And while you're in the area, you must visit "Leadville Johnny" Brown's hotel -- even if you're not staying there.

Another popular stop for visitors is the U.S. Mint. This is where United States coins are made and a guided tour takes you through the process. It is also a large repository for gold. The mint is open daily from 8:30 AM to 3 PM, and is located at the corner of Cherokee and Colfax.

Denver nightclubs feature country and western music and jazz and both are in good supply. The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is a large complex which offers opera, ballet, drama and music concerts. It is home to the Denver Symphony and the Stagewest cabaret theater.

Denver Zoo, in City Park on East 23rd Street, features a children's zoo as well as the main displays which include the "North Shores" exhibit with polar bears and sea lions. There is a miniature zoo trail for children, and it all is open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM.

 

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The Brown Palace Hotel is Leadville Johnny's famed hostelry in downtown Denver. Opened in 1892, this hotel has a lobby six stories high, and the whole place is steeped in history. It's a magnificent place to stay or to visit, with rooms and suites, restaurants and bars.

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