Pro Tip: Denver Summertime Checklist
Ah yes, summertime. When the days are long and the nights are sweaty. I love summer. I am a summer baby through and through, and feel most alive during the warmer months. I love swimming pools, patio beers, picnics, BBQs, street fairs, fireworks, camping, ice-cream, evening thunderstorms, and riding much bike AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. However, with the influx of weekly activities, it’s quite easy for the summer to pass by without ever having attended an outdoor movie or performing an epic belly flop at the pool. So here is a list of my summertime goals; some are quite simple, some require more planning, but all will ensure that it is indeed the best summer ever.
1. Get more stamps than last year in my Denver Passport – The Denver Passport offers its holders 2-for-1 drinks at 60 participating bars, restaurants, and taprooms all summer long. Last year I had a weak showing of 10 stamps, and this year I am committed to at least doubling that number. Don’t have a passport yet? Act fast, because only a limited number remain! Passports can be bought online or in-person at the Denver Bicycle Cafe.
2. Get my face painted at least once.
3. See an outdoor movie – Outdoor movies are the BEST. From the family-friendly movies at Skyline Park to the bike-in movie series at Civic Center Park, you’ll find some nostalgic gem to cuddle-up to.
4. Experience the Chihuly exhibit – The Denver Botanic Gardens presents the Rocky Mountain region’s first major outdoor exhibition by celebrated American artist, Dale Chihuly. Chihuly’s sculptures – ranging in size and form – add even more colors and dramatic beauty to the Gardens’ 24-acre urban oasis. This is a must see; $15 for adults. (And be sure to plan a return visit in the fall for Chihuly Nights.)
5. Eldorado Swimming Pool – Hipsters, locals, and kids alike all flock to this pool in the warm months to enjoy the old-school atmosphere and the cooling waters of this historic resort. Open 7 days a week between 10am and 6pm; $9 for adults. Bring your own chair and your own drinks/snacks for an even more enjoyable experience.
6. Check-out one other new swimming pool – I collect swimming pool experiences the same way that some people collect negative STD results. Not sure where it’s gonna be – perhaps a new public pool that I haven’t been to yet, or maybe a hotel or apartment complex that’s easy to crash, or maybe even your mom’s house. TBD.
7. Attend one new street fair – Who knew Denver had such a burgeoning street fair scene? Aside from these official long-running fests, smaller fests put on by local breweries or neighborhood associations seem to be occurring multiple times each weekend. For more tips, check the events section.
8. Attend a concert (or a movie) at Red Rocks Amphitheatre – Red Rocks is the quintessential Colorado concert experience, and yet tickets tend to be pretty expensive (especially when you are trying to pay down your debt like me. For realz this time.) But I feel like my summer would be incomplete if I didn’t catch at least one show at this national marvel, so my goal will be to see either a concert or a movie this summer at Red Rocks. (But I sure as hell won’t be seeing Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me. I seriously hate that show.)
9. Have a picnic – Every time I have a picnic with family and friends, we always say, “We need to do this more often”. And we do. The City and County of Denver boasts over 200 city parks for you to choose from. Two of my favorites are Cheesman and Confluence Park.
10. Keep a koozy on me at all times.
11. Attend City Park Jazz at least once – If you have lived in Denver for at least seven days during the summer, then you know about City Park Jazz or “jazz in the park”. City Park Jazz is a great weekend culmination of dogs, babies, adults, brie, blankets, port-o-potties, hand sanitizer, vino, and more recently, food trucks. Although I don’t know if I’ve ever actually heard the jazz (I thought I did once, but it turned out to be someone’s iPod from a neighboring blanket), it’s still a great way to end your weekend with friends, families, and canines.
12. Attend at least 2 farmer’s market a month – Seems easy enough, but unless I make a plan to bike my booty to one of Denver’s many farmers markets, I tend to miss out on the best beets. Peep this list of 2014 farmers markets and enjoy a plethora of local fruits, veggies, baked goods, cheeses, honey, popcorn, and more.
13. Go camping at least 3 times. Sitting around a fire under an open sky, wearing some hodge podge combination of clothing, eating food that may or may not have a bunch of dirt in it (but still tastes delicious), drinking beers, and shooting the shit may very well be classified as heaven. Peep this list for some suggestions on where to go.
14. Eat as many (vegetarian) things as possible off of a barbecue grill.
15. See some epic ‘works – Ever since I may or may not have taken ecstasy on the National Mall on the 4th of July in 1999, I have been somewhat obsessed with fireworks. The 4th of July usually offers a fairly good selection of fireworks displays, a few of which are listed here.
16. Try at least one new brewery – It seems like a new brewery is literally popping up each week in this town, and it’s seriously hard to keep up. But peep this Denver Metro Brewery Map and plan your next biking brewery crawl.
17. Discover at least one new patio – With the start of the nice weather, all sorts of “best patio lists” have been showing up in my Facebook feed. To start, cross-reference these lists from Eater Denver and 5280 Magazine and hopefully you’ll find a new favorite as well!
18. Train and run in at least one race – Gotta balance out all of those patio beers somehow…
19. Have a drink and a look on the rooftop of the MCA – The urban rooftop of the MCA Denver is mos def one of my favorite spots in Denver. With a definitive Euro-vibe, this rooftop oasis allows museum-goers to take in the cityscape, while enjoying a snack, coffee, beer, wine, or booze. Combine your visit with one of MCA’s unique special events for an even more memorable experience.
20. Bike home from work at least 3 days a week – Again, gotta balance out all of those patio beers, and plus it’s fun.
21. Ride a roller coaster: One of the best times to ride a roller coaster is during the Denver Film Society’s Summer Scream party at Lakeside Amusement Park. The rides here are extra scary because you never know if/when one is going to break and hurl you off into oblivion. Along with unlimited rides (including the classic Wild Chipmunk roller coaster), party-goers also get to enjoy free adult beverages, free eye candy, and trashy carnival food. This event is scheduled for August 28, 2014 this year. Tickets on-sale soon.
What’s on your summertime list? Did I miss something good? Leave a comment below!