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.
Captain James Cook's nautical adventures have taken him from delivering yachts across oceans using only sextant navigation to earning the ASA's most-advanced instruction certification. Since 1986, he's channeled that oceanic expertise into Victoria Sailing School, where expert instructors help students of all skill levels earn ASA certifications and endorsements through hands-on techniques.
Before they set foot on a boat, however, aspiring seafarers get their feet wet in a safe classroom setting in the Colorado Executive Club Building. Upon passing their exams, they move on to practical sessions on the Cherry Creek, Lake Carter, or Chatfield Reservoirs, where they learn basic maneuvers or rig spinnakers on a J/22. More advanced students cut their nautical teeth on a J/30.
Along with sailing courses, 10-week coastal- and celestial-navigation classes help guests master the skills necessary for steering a course through the open seas, including an ability to decipher longitude, latitude, and the shouted, arcane demands of the moon. Weather for the Mariner classes teach students to analyze weather maps and prep strategies to avoid hurricane hazards.
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.