- Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre–Just a few minutes from downtown Denver is a geological phenomenon–the only naturally-occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheatre in the world. Red Rocks offers a variety of recreation options for everyone–from drive-through sightseers, family picnickers, nature lovers, and outdoor exercise enthusiasts. Around you are 868 acres of deer, dinosaurs, pines and prairie, geological wonders and spectacular vistas. The park opens one hour before sunrise and closes one hour after sunset every day of the year. Access to the Amphitheatre may be limited after noon on show days. For more info, visit http://redrocksonline.com/visitor-info/hours-directions-maps.
- Run or bike at Cherry Creek State Park–This huge park (5 square miles!) calls itself the Denver area’s “backyard playground.” Located in Aurora just southeast of I-225 and Parker Road, the park has miles of trails where it feels like you are miles away from the city :). It’s my private escape. Find out more at http://cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/CherryCreek/Pages/default.aspx
- Civic Center Nosh & Posh and Civic Center EATS–How fun! Civic Center Nosh & Posh runs the second Thursday of the month, November through April. Civic Center NOSH & POSH brings several of your favorite Civic Center EATS trucks together with local fashion trucks for a fun and unique way to spend lunchtime in Civic Center Park. Then, beginning in May, Civic Center EATS is metro Denver’s largest gathering of gourmet food trucks and carts. It will run May 2 through October 5 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 11AM-2PM in Civic Center Park just across Lincoln from the State Capitol. And it doesn’t matter what kind of food you prefer–you *will* find something there! Vendor applications are being taken right now — past years have featured African, Asian, BBQ, Burgers, Cajun and Creole, Eclectic, European, Latin, Mediterranean, Pizza/Italian, and Salads, Sandwiches, Soups, and Wraps. There will even be live music to enhance your experience. Find out more on the Civic Center Conservancy website.
- Free summer concerts–These are happening all over the state. To find ones in your area, do a Google search for “free summer concert” with the name of your town.
- Golf–I don’t golf, but if you do or just want to see it, Arrowhead Golf course is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Another fun idea is TopGolf Centennial. Located south of Arapahoe Road at the corner of Havana Street and Easter Avenue, TopGolf offers 100+ bays over 3 floors, free WiFi, a rooftop terrace, and 200+ HDTVs. It’s even kid-friendly, with their KidZone Spring Break Academy and Summer Academy programs.
- Colorado Symphony–Join the Colorado Symphony for one of their Summer Concert Series events. Check http://www.coloradosymphony.org/Tickets/Summer for schedules and tickets.
- Denver’s great museums–My faves are the Denver Art Museum and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science , mainly because they each have a lot of hands-on exhibits. History Colorado is another great one, and has recently moved to larger space on Broadway. Don’t forget the Denver Zoo; it’s a fun way to spend the day no matter if you’re 2 or 92. Finally, the Denver Botanic Gardens are ablaze with color and activity over the summer. As members of the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, each facility offers free days throughout the year — check the schedule at http://scfd.org/p/free-days-calendar.html.
- Denver/Colorado breweries–Coors, located in Golden, does free 30-minute self-paced tours and tastings, and everyone needs to visit once (http://www.millercoors.com/breweries/coors-brewing-company/tours). There are also a ton of local places in town. One of my favorites is Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora. They’re conveniently located at Hampden and Chambers, and have won awards from both the World Beer Cup and the Great American Beer Festival.
- Art District on Santa Fe–More than 60 creative industry members span the area between Alameda Avenue and 12th Avenue along Santa Fe Drive and Kalamath Street. On “First Fridays” (5:30-9:30 p.m. the first Friday of every month, free guided shuttle coaches pick you up at the light rail station at 10th Avenue and Osage Street and ferry you around the Art District to participating galleries, studios, and restaurants. For details, see http://www.artdistrictonsantafe.com/visitor-info/first-friday-shuttle/.
- Park Meadows mall and the Outlets at Castle Rock–With 191 stores and restaurants, Park Meadows is the best mall in the metro area in my opinion. You can literally find ANYTHING! See https://www.parkmeadows.com/en.html for a complete directory and details on current sales and events. Just a few minutes farther south on I-25, the Outlets at Castle Rock are a close second. It’s the largest open-air outlet center in Colorado, and you’ll find over 100 name brand stores, including Coach, Polo Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, American Eagle, OshKosh and many more. Find out more at http://www.outletsatcastlerock.com.
If none of these struck your fancy, check out http://www.doingdenverforless.com, where there is a searchable calendar overflowing with events.
I’d love to see how you make the summer fun! Post your pics on my Facebook page.