Ranked the No. 3 best thing to do in Denver by U.S. News & World Report, Denver Zoo hosts 3,500 different animals from more than 650 species, which blend with several interpretive exhibits. Sprawling naturalistic displays place animals in environments approximating their native habitats, giving a glimpse of exotic locales and diverse behavioral patterns. The Tropical Discovery exhibit boasts a 2,250-gallon pool teeming with piscine life and exotic turtles in a waterfall-lined indoor rainforest. Two prides of lions sprawl along rocky outcroppings in the lion kopje in Predator Ridge while African wild dogs, guineafowl, and spotted hyenas play a heated game of Yahtzee. Commune with ancient cousins in the seven-acre Primate Panorama, where chattering monkeys swing from trees while powerful gorillas amble freely about their one-acre exhibit.
As part of Groundwork Denver’s Porch Bulb Project, volunteers travel door-to-door, offering to exchange incandescent front-porch light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. The initiative saves participants money and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also serving as a simple outreach gesture to help elderly and low-income residents in the community. Groundwork Denver volunteers use the opportunity to talk to community members about other energy-saving steps they can take, including free weatherization, recycling, and other measures.
Established in 1908, Lakeside Amusement Park maintains its turn-of-the-century charm while embracing modern amenities and attractions. An adrenaline-pumping drop tower and a slew of neon-hued, spinning rides contrast the classic joy of a wooden roller coaster, which rises from its perch near the lake.
The all-ages park also comprises Kiddies' Playland, a place where tots can get their fun fix on boats, animal-themed rides, and pint-sized motorcycles. The facility also accommodates large groups with on-site picnic grounds perfect for birthday parties or applesauce fights.
Beth and Jim Trammell started 5280 Gymnastics to share their love of gymnastics with students young and old, novice and expert, casual and competitive. They assembled an elite team of coaches that trained Olympic gymnast Sasha Artemev and placed graduates on the gymnastics teams at Stanford University, into officer's education at West Point, and onto the diving team at Northwestern University. Under this refined tutelage, the two USA Gymnastics teams that regularly train within 5280's confines took home awards at regional, state, and national levels of competition.
The owners and coaches recognize that not everyone desires to train for peak levels of gymnastics competition, and so the range of classes encompasses plenty of other options, including casual, confidence-inspiring play for tots and free running and parkour classes for older students. During the summer, daily camps keep kids busy during sunny hours with athletic games and arts-and-crafts projects such as building a balance beam out of popsicle sticks.
Smokin Joes BBQ heaps plates of beef brisket, St. Louis-style ribs, pulled pork and other menu items slathered in sauce that’s at once sweet, tangy, tart, and spicy. Other sauces include the spicy barbecue, sweet and tangy mustard sauce, and the Carolina sauce, which blends vinegar, brown sugar, and a hint of cayenne pepper ideal for whole-hog cooking. Signature milkshakes cool off the tongue with inventively sweet flavors, such as the birthday cake shake with Funfetti cake mix, milk, and vanilla ice cream. Smokin Joes can also cater for events such as company picnics, class reunions, and weddings, especially weddings where they toast with barbecue sauce instead of champagne.