You’ll never find me as one of those snobby frequent travelers who eschews typical “tourist experiences.” Oh no, I’m all about anything hyped—the kitschier, the better. After all, life’s no fun if you’re serious all the time.
So when I found myself in Denver in February working on a travel guide for Sunset, I was all about hitting up the attractions I’d skipped over during my previous visits to the Mile High City. Because I was in town on assignment, the local tourism board gave me a pair of passes that would get me into most local tourist draws. My always-up-for-anything friend Samantha took a couple days off work to flit about the city with me, and I was happy to introduce her to a number of things she’d never done—despite having spent the past five years residing in the city.
It should come as no surprise that our first stop was the Downtown Aquarium. Given my love for diving, I am always up for a virtual trip underwater.
While it can’t compare to my two favorites, the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta and the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Denver’s version was still fun to peruse. It was more child-like with a lot of bright colors and cartoon-y fonts and had a number of massive rays and a flash flood canyon where you get to experience what it’s like to go through a number of weather systems.
It also had…tigers. I’m still mulling that one over myself.
Our next stop the following morning was the Denver Zoo.
Unfortunately, the sign is all I saw of this attraction, as they denied our passes (despite it saying very clearly on them that we were to be admitted!). We saw no point arguing—I mean, a lion is a lion is a lion, right? after all, I’ve seen those bad boys in their natural habitats in South Africa—and so moved onto my favorite Denver attraction, which just happened to be around the corner.
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science was way cool. Even though science has always been my worst subject, I love me some science museums. Sam and I traveled through space, through prehistoric times and through a land of frightening reptiles—all in a matter of an hour!
My favorite exhibit, by far, was the gem stone room. What girl doesn’t like sparkly baubles?
Other places I want to put on the to-do list for my next visit are the Coors Light brewery in Golden and the Celestial Seasons factory tour up in Boulder (both free attractions). Alas, 72 hours is hardly enough time to cram in all Colorado has to offer! Maybe next time I’ll turn to Directline Holidays to plan it all for me!
On our way to check into Hotel Monaco for our slumber party, we stopped by the Four Seasons for a cocktail at EDGE. Given how crowded it was for a Wednesday night, I’d say this is a pretty popular spot for after-work drinks.
Of course, every Denver day should conclude with a trip to a local bingo hall. (What, you didn’t know that was the thing to do? Yeah, me neither.) Sam, her boyfriend Josh, her sister Dani and Dani’s husband Thomas all let me in on their favorite pastime.
I may not have beaten the lady next two us, with her own dobber carry case, an oxygen tank and eight cards at once—I had enough trouble keeping up with one—but I sure had fun. One thing’s for certain: Sam doesn’t let me leave town without adding something new to my horizon. Last year, I broke a bull; this time, I broke in my very first bingo dobber.
Before my flight on my final day in Denver, we made it over to the Brown Palace Hotel for afternoon tea. I’m a fan of tea—as evidenced by my attempt to drink my way around the globe—and Brown Palace’s is one of the most famous in the United States.
It was totally worth the calories and all the trips I had to make to the lavatory on the plane!
Man i love your blog!! I laughed so hard at our snake picture!! Thanks for the Monday morning pick me up!! You Luna ladies have fun on your trip! Miss ya friend!
I want to come back to Denver if only to play bingo with you again!
1) I don’t get the tigers either, but I love me an aquarium.
2) I love Edge’s logo, with the knife as the heel.
3) I told husband about your trip and his response was that your trip sucked because you never skied. What can I say, the man has a one-track mind.
Oh but I did! We spent four days in Vail prior to my time in skiing. Bam!
Whoa! What a great time! If you can’t enjoy a bit of kitsch now and then, life isn’t worth living!
Very proud of you and your new bingo dobber.
We just found out we are moving to Denver in a few months so I am bookmarking all of your Denver posts. I can’t wait to take my kids to the science museum. We always look for an aquarium whenever we travel! I also hear that there is a candy factory to tour!
What an awesome place to live! Such a departure from the beach, but now you guys can become snow bunnies!
What a fun and fast trip. Love that shot of the little girl at the aquarium. And of course I like the gems. Bingo, well, I thought that was for Old people. 😉
Heading to Chicago next week for a fast four days, 40th HS reunion. (I am NOT old.) Want to see Millennium Park and eat at Diana’s in Greektown.
Well, I would say that the average age of those in the bingo hall was about 60 years older than all of us, but I do hope it becomes “hip” among the younger folk, as well, as I could totally get on board a nationwide bingo trend =)
Bingo rocks and anyone who says differently has obviously never played! Sounds like a fun trip.
No joke! I need more bingo in my life. Must research that in Tennessee, stat.
I am SO with you on the cheesy and popular tourist attractions. Um, they’re popular for a reason! This is totally making me regret not flying to Denver earlier for TBEX! I did get to check out the Denver Museum of Art and the Denver Botanical Garden while I was there, and both were awesome.
I really wanted to go to the Botanical Garden, but given that it was February and I’m a Southern wuss when it comes to weather, I declined being outdoors any more than necessary!
This was a nice piece to read, since I made it to the Denver Science Museum but didn’t have a chance to check out any of the other attractions. I need more aquariums in my life.
Definitely! I just wish in general they weren’t so expensive to visit. The Georgia Aquarium is around $35 for an adult! Highway robbery.
Andrew and I tend to visit the aquarium in every city that has one. Same for zoos. If can spend time with critters, we will. Also, I’m intrigued by the Celestial Seasonings tour…
Which is why we would be perfect travel buddies, the four of us. Because I happen to know for a fact that you would indulge–and participate in–my regular food truck and ice cream stops.
Wow! I would surely love to visit the Aquarium and the Zoo especially!! Wonderful captures, 72 hours well spent 🙂
My motto is “sleep is for the weak; cram as much as is humanly possible into every trip anywhere.” Ha!
I never got to yell that out sadly. All the more reason to play again…BINGO!
I have a confession — I love bingo. My friend Lisa and I used to go all the time in Newfoundland. I never had my own bingo dobber case though. 🙂
We all need something to aspire to…
I started off as a snobby traveler but I am really starting to embrace the tacky tourist spots too, they can be fun if you can loosen up a bit.
As much as I adore silly photo shoots, I almost prefer them to the “off-the-beaten-path” spots.
That looks like a lot of fun. I’ve wanted to go visit the Denver Zoo for a while now but have never made it there yet. The Downtown Aquarium also looks like it could be fun.
Thanks for the post, I enjoyed reading it.
How much fun!!!
I really REALLY want to go play BINGO. Really.
This is awesome! I love Denver, and I can’t wait to check out some of these cool spots when I go back in April! Thanks so much for all the info!
Good info and I know this is an old post, but still helpful, but Denver is the most expensive place. Please tell best ways to enjoy Denver on a budget.