Soaking up the summer sunshine, a mile-high in Denver
The great outdoors is religion to the people of Denver, and summer solstice is the hallmark of their 300 days of sunshine. This June 21, with light shining upon the city for a remarkable 14 hours, 59 minutes, and 18 seconds, you can bet that locals and visitors alike will be savoring every glorious moment. Here are some ideas for a perfect summer solstice in the Mile-High City:
Lookout Mountain: For a taste of Colorado’s open spaces, drive 20 minutes west from downtown Denver to Lookout Mountain. Situated in the foothills of the incredible Rocky Mountains, you can easily access hiking trails leading you up 7,500 feet to the mountain’s peak. Even if you don’t summit, you’ll still get an incredible view of D-Town at sunrise and can also pick up a Stetson hat on your way out at the Buffalo Bill Museum and gravesite.
Denver Art Museum: Head back into the city to visit the two-building Denver Art Museum. A fascinating architectural dichotomy, one structure resembles a fortress and the other boasts peaks and shards that bring to mind a titanium crystal. Inside of both buildings, you’ll find the world’s greatest collection of Native American art and more than 68,000 other pieces that include works from European masters, Old West classics, and traveling exhibits.
Exhibits at the Denver Art Museum
Snooze: For a nibble, check out Snooze, one of Denver’s hottest spots for brunch. There's often a line of people waiting to eat, but Snooze sets up bag toss, Jenga, and sidewalk chalk to entertain the impatient. Try the chilaquiles benedict, sweet potato pancakes, or French toast topped with agave-soaked strawberries and toasted coconut. You won't be disappointed.
Confluence Park: Your full stomach will beg for some exercise and Confluence Park, at the confluence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River in the Lower Downtown district, is the ideal place to stretch your legs in the sunshine. The Queen City of the Plains was founded at this site in 1858 as a gold mining camp, and today the river park is the heart of the city’s 850-mile bike trail network. Saddle up a bike and pedal around, or visit nearby attractions such as the Downtown Aquarium, Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park, and more.
Sixteenth Street Mall: You won’t have to sacrifice fresh air and warm solstice sun if you want to go shopping. The Sixteenth Street Mall is an outdoor pedestrian promenade lined with trees and spouting fountains. Stroll through the center of downtown and stop in at the popular vintage consignment shop Cali & Mo, the tasty Lucky Pie Pizza and Tap House, or the incredibly cool Tattered Cover Book Store. If you need a break, sip on an iced coffee and enjoy the street entertainment staged in the plazas.
Blackshirt Brewing Company: Considering that Colorado claims to be the “United States Beer Capital,” many Denver locals believe that craft brew is part of their DNA. There’s no better way to cool off on summer solstice than with a foamy ale at the hip Blackshirt Brewing Company. Off the beaten path in the River North district, this small brewery churns out everything from saisons to IPAs to porters. With an industrial, no frills interior, it’s clear that their focus is on the beer.
Denver PrideFest 2014: This annual event attracts more than 250,000 people each year, making it one of the top 10 Pride events in the country. Check out a parade with pizzazz as this festival celebrates the LGBT community and culture.The event spans solstice weekend.
Denver Outlaws: When’s the last time you watched major league lacrosse? Since the Broncos are out of season, this is your best chance to cheer on a Denver sports team at the famous Mile-High Stadium. On the solstice, the Outlaws are playing the Chesapeake Bayhawks. Beside, June 21 is “Paws at the Park” night, so feel free to bring any furry family members to the 5 p.m. start time.
Viewfinder Tip: Enjoy live outdoor music in the sunshine at Belmar’s Free Music on the Plaza on Saturday, June 21, from 2-4 p.m.
Linger: Aptly named because you’ll want to stay and relax, Linger is a popular rooftop deck eatery offering local sustainable food. From the Mongolian BBQ duck buns to the honey-pepper scallops, the flavors are delectable in this Denver hotspot. Watch the sun droop as you sip on a lemon-ella and appreciate the golden day.
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater: “No better place to see the stars” is the motto of Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater, an iconic open-air music venue on every music lover’s bucket list. Just 15 miles southwest of downtown Denver, the amphitheater has hosted everyone from The Beatles to The Boss. The natural acoustics and sharply rising red cliffs encompassing the venue make it not only an unforgettable musical experience, but offer an almost transcendental sunset (or sunrise) experience. Skillrex is headlining the venue on June 20 & 21, and whether you’re into electronica or not, a visit to Red Rocks is an absolute must.
Where is your favorite place to enjoy the great outdoors in Denver?
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