Denver Patio Ride's party bus moves through the River North arts district and downtown by way of pedaling—any willing pub-crawlers can power the party forward as the sober driver steers and brakes. After jump-starting at Billy’s Gourmet Hot Dogs on Larimer and Broadway, the bus cruises at a low-key 5 miles per hour, stopping at a smorgasbord of bars, many of which pour $5 specials of one shot and one beer. Guides infuse jaunts with historical tidbits, trivia, and prizes, while the solar-powered sound system’s iPod hookup allows pedalers to blast their personal collection of upbeat audio books. No weather other than rain or snow prevents tours, and the bus’s capacious storage space accommodates any party accessory except beer, which is not allowed on the bus. Revelers can rent out the whole bus for large parties, or buy seats on a weekly schedule of public pub-crawls.
Extra Innings Littleton's sprawling baseball enclave sharpens batting and pitching skills with a lineup of seven multiuse training tunnels. Each spacious tunnel is 70 feet long, 25 feet high, and 15 feet wide, leaving plenty of room for wild pitches, fly balls, and improvement. There's no limit on the number of pitches flung by the ball-launching machines, which can be adjusted to spew out blazing fastballs for the pros or gentle, encouraging lobs that help to train new players; tees are also available for the youngest sluggers. If human pitchers want to sub in for Extra Innings' robotic all-star, the facility's protective L-screens stand ready to protect them from line drives as pitching arms practice hurling orbs toward a catching or batting partner.
Children run in trails marked by prehistoric footprints, and fingers run across fossils during each visit to Dinosaur Ridge, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of ancient artifacts. Around every corner of the outdoor museum—which rests on land designated as a national natural landmark—bones and impressions protrude from their earthy abodes as evidence of the area's once larger-than-life inhabitants. Paleontologists of all ages can examine curious tracks on surrounding hiking paths, such as Triceratops Trail, or hop on a guided bus tour to examine fossil sites and valleys where brontosauruses used to question the meaning of life.
Lurking inside the visitor center is the Trek Through Time exhibit, where interactive children's games, replica fossils, and massive murals join forces to lead explorers into different prehistoric eras. In addition to its day-to-day operations, Dinosaur Ridge also plays host to various events during the year, including Boy Scout days, birthday parties, and lectures that explain how T. rex stayed humble despite his large stature.
With a blazing marquee declaring “Hollywood” in towering neon letters, SouthGlenn Stadium 14 invokes the image of classic cinemas while still using the latest moviegoing technology. More than 2,500 high-backed seats cradle viewers across 14 theaters equipped with state-of-the-art Sony Digital 4K projection systems. Nine of these theaters also surround audiences with RealD 3-D systems, allowing them to revel in the thrills of endless snakes-in-a-nut-can scenes. Before films, the SkyboX Bar and Grill offers up a full-service menu of café entrees and craft drinks, including $1 domestic beers, $2 craft beers, and $1 fountain sodas. Entrees and beverages can be delivered to viewers lounging in Premiere Cinema balcony seats or enjoyed in the Skybox lounge.
Gates Tennis Center boasts 20 public-access courts and a skilled staff of international pros and former world-ranked racqueteers. Fledgling forehanders are separated by skill—beginner, intermediate, and advanced—and taught in 6:1 student-to-teacher groups, affording players plenty of room to spread sphere-swiping wings. A trio of one-hour swat-athons instill beginners with basic baseline skills, and veteran volleyers fine-tune careening crosscourt shots and lofting lobs.
Denver Botanic Gardens houses vibrant flowers, lush vegetation, and educational activities for visitors of all ages. Native and adapted plants flourish in the York Street campus, which also houses Mordecai Children’s Garden—a 3-acre lot with alpine gardens, mountain ranges, and cool bugs. The two-story waterfall at Marnie's Pavilion bursts with blooming orchids year-round, and a Japanese garden features Ponderosa pines sculpted to look like bonsai. Visitors stroll through water gardens inspired by Monet's estate at Giverny.
Revamped and relocated from its original subterranean location in Cherry Creek, the new Roo Bar rests atop the earth in a spacious location with the same neighborhood regulars, addictive wings, and a congenial staff. Melding the spirit of Denver with Midwestern staples such as butter burgers and Chicago-style hot dogs, Roo Bar's kitchen serves up a menu of casual eats. Weekly specials include all-you-can-eat wings on Monday nights. Thursday nights bring rounds of poker, and Wednesday evenings award beer and prizes to the trivia team with the highest combined pool of totally inessential knowledge.