Sojourning south from his native Minnesota, Jeff Chayer traveled to Texas, where he received his degree in viticulture and oenology. Not far behind was his brother Danny, who followed Jeff to Texas, where he began work at a local winery. Somewhere along the way, as their passion for wine grew, the two decided to travel to Colorado and open Silver Vines Winery. Since then, their tasting room has been named one of the 11 best tasting rooms in Colorado by the Denver Post. Amid massive swaths of exposed brick and gleaming hardwood, the brothers serve a collection of wines forged from Washington and Oregon grapes. The elixirs include a chardonnay, whose citric bouquet meshes with notes of oak, as well as a dessert-style chocolate wine and a range of merlots, syrahs, and cabernet sauvignons. Shelves cradle stacks of bottles, and glasses clink along the long wooden bar, punctuating the rhythms of the live bands who appear on weekend evenings and when they are locked out of the ZZ Top mansion.
Diving for more than 30 years, Ron Busch—PADI master instructor and owner of Coral Key Scuba & Travel Center—first decided to share his passion for underwater exploration in 1995 by building a facility that catered to all facets of scuba and snorkeling. Since its construction, the center has been recognized as a PADI five-star training center that offers scuba and snorkeling classes, professional gear, and diving trips to far-off locales such as Isla Mujeres. An avid traveler, Busch entrusts day-to-day duties to the center's manager, a PADI master scuba diver and trainer, Randy Partch, who teaches 22 different diving specialties and boasts certification to repair and service many different brands of scuba equipment and one kind of Xerox machine. Factory-trained technicians populate the center's repair shop, mending, maintaining, and returning equipment back to owners with an average one-week turnaround.
D-Tours' on-foot expeditions cater to tourists, as well as longtime residents who want to learn the secrets of Denver's past. Haunted tours make stops at time-worn cemeteries and historic buildings that are allegedly occupied by ghosts, including Hotel Teatro, where voices have been heard coming from vacant rooms. Some of D-Tours' jaunts are self-guided, allowing participants to travel at their own pace and on their own horses.
On a trip to Britain, Chelly Vitry was determined to stop at an authentic apple press. She was eager to sample Scrumpy—a British version of hard cider—and see how it was made. Despite days of searching, however, she couldn’t find a press that would allow her visit. With Denver Gourmet Tours, Chelly guides small groups on the same kind of hands-on culinary experience she sought in Britain. During her excursions—which change seasonally—Chelly and her guests spend three hours strolling Denver’s streets, meeting food specialists, and trying the food at four to six culinary hot spots such as food trucks, sweet shops, and craft breweries.
Along with her main tours, Chelly customizes culinary trips, designs gastronomic team-building activities, and hosts events such as progressive dinners and tasting parties. She also fills her guests with newfound culinary skills during hands-on cooking classes, where they learn to craft cupcakes, bake bread, or grow pizzas in their garden.
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.
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.