We live in a state offering virtually limitless opportunities for fun and recreation.
During the pandemic, many of the state’s amazing festivals, gatherings and places to gather went dark. And now, they’re back.
This is a place that gives reasons for staycations, staying power.
Read on, discover, or re-discover, some of the close-to-home perks that make so many people want to move here each year, as well as some prime reasons to take a road trip around our square state.
Find some flowers at the Wildflower Fest
There is a whole lot more to Colorado’s mountain-town scene than the resort towns that dot the Interstate 70 corridor. Crested Butte is chief among those largely-hidden gems. While the powder hounds know this town at the north end of Gunnison County is worth the trek a couple times every winter, the annual Wildflower Festival there each summer is among the more unique Butte weekends you can have. Events include art classes, birding and butterfly walks and culinary and medical classes that teach you about the healing properties of mountain plants.
Crested Butte Wildflower Festival July 7-16. Prices for events vary. www.crestedbuttewildflowerfestival.com
A state full of hot air
Welcome to the windbag state. Colorado is home to more than a few of the finest hot air balloon festivals this side of New Mexico. Albuquerque, after all, is the king of these fests. With at least three major balloon festivals taking place over the summer (July in Steamboat; August in Craig; and Labor Day weekend in Colorado Springs), there’s ample opportunity to see some colorful flying apparatus and — if you dare board one of those bulbous flying machines — a whole lot of colorful Colorado scenery.
Various locations and times. Visit www.colorado.com/articles/colorado-balloon-rides-balloon-festivals for a list of events.
Whether you are a roller coaster aficionado, a fan of bumper cars or you just can’t resist those impossible-to-win carnival games, everyone can be 13 again for a few hours. For any longtime metro Denver resident, that means a trip to Elitch’s. The sprawling amusement park near Downtown Denver has long been a staple on the region’s summertime scene, from its days in northwest Denver to the past couple decades along the Platte River. And as an added bonus, if you prefer your thrills to include a little more H2O, Elitch’s water park is open from Saturday of Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, too. This year, there’s more entertainment with new family shows, Dive-In Movies, a free summer concert series and three fireworks shows.
Elitch Gardens, 2000 Elitch Circle, Denver. Check online for visiting hours. Tickets prices vary (find them cheaper online). elitchgardens.com.
Discover the Denver Capitol building tours
Find out for yourself what’s under the gorgeous gold dome in Denver. Colorado boasts one of the most beautiful and historically significant capitol buildings in the country. Besides the dome painted with more than 200 ounces of gold leaf, originally a gift from miners in the 1800s, the inside boasts a wide variety of Colorado onyx, marbles and granites. Construction of the massive building lasted from 1886 through 1901. The guided historical tour explains what took so long and is well worth the visit.
Weekdays all summer long. Tours start at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. No reservations necessary. Free. 200 E. Colfax Ave. 303-866-2604 or leg.colorado.gov/visit-learn.
Get melon-ed on a
Take a day to drive to one of the state’s agricultural wonders in the Arkansas Valley for cantaloupe and watermelon. South on Interstate 25 to Pueblo, then east on U.S. Highway 50 to Rocky Ford, and a few HIghway 50 fruit stands along the way. Season begins in very late July or early August.
This is the humble heart of your state, from Pueblo to Lamar, and Highway 50 offers a life you’ve probably never seen. There are endless roadside produce stands along the way.
Beat the rush and hike the 13ers like a pro
It’s crowded down here and crowded up there. Bagging 14ers, native and long-timer lingo for climbing the state’s highest peaks, is so popular that hikes to places like Mt. Bierstadt and Quandary are more like mass marches than exceptional getaways — even during the week. A little lower can get you plenty high. Colorado’s 13ers are far more plentiful and often much more sedate.
Just a two-hour drive from A-Town, Byers Peak, just outside of Fraser, makes for an accessible and validating tally on the 13er score card. Another favorite relatively close to Aurora is Mummy Mountain, located in Rocky Mountain National Park beside Estes Park. Though less frequented, Colorado’s 13,000-foot peaks still require gobs of respect, preparation and endurance.
Go low or lower, skip the crowds and hike Colorado’s quieter 13ers. Mostly free, all over the state. Visit climbingcooneys.com, www.fs.usda.gov.
Ballet on display at Vail Dance Festival
A host of ballet and dance companies will present a week-and-a-half-long celebration of the art at the Vail Dance Festival starting July 28. Martha Graham Dance Company, L.A. Dance Project, Brazilian tap dancer Leonardo Sandoval and BalletX are scheduled to kick off the festival’s opening night. Shows will take place at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail, Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek and the Avon Performance Pavilion at Harry A. Nottingham Park in Avon.
From July 28 through Aug. 7. Ticket prices vary. Visit www.vaildance.org for information.
Challenge yourself at Manitou Incline
One of Colorado’s greatest physical challenges awaits in the Manitou Springs Incline, an increasingly popular climb that results in a satisfying accomplishment and beautiful photo opportunities. The former site of the Mount Manitou Scenic Incline Railway — which used to take people in a cable car up to the summit at 8,600 feet — now features a challenging staircase of railroad ties used by an estimated 70,000 people per year. Traveling the incline requires a climb of 2,011 feet in the span of just 1.02 miles with an average grade of 41% and steepest grade of 68% with a total of 2,744 steps. Plan on spending at least three hours on the climb and descent (using the Barr Trail).
Manitou Incline, just across the road from the Cog Railway at 515 Ruxton Ave., Manitou Springs. Free reservation required from coloradosprings.gov/parks/page/manitou-incline.
Take a stroll on the High Line Canal Trail
Don’t read about Colorado history this summer, ride through it! One of the region’s best-kept secrets is free and open for your summertime enjoyment just about any time you’re ready for it. The region’s historic High Line Canal Trail winds an amazing 71 miles from Aurora across Denver and into Littleton, ending at Chatfield State Park and Reservoir at the foot of Waterton Canyon. Parts of the trail intersect with numerous other trails and even bike roads along and near the South Platte River.
Bike Through Colorado History on the High Line Canal. Free. Visit www.denverwater.org/Recreation/HighLineCanal.
Ride a steam engine at Georgetown Loop
Take a ride into Colorado mining history. Just 45 minutes from Denver west on Interstate 70, this restored and legendary steam-engine chugs through a loop where mining history was made. Across the thrilling loop bridge, through tunnels and tight against the backdrop of some of Colorado’s most stunning vistas, the trip is fun tourism for natives and transplants alike.
Georgetown Loop Steam Engine train ride daily from about 10 a.m. to 3:50 p.m., departing from either Georgetown or Silver Plume. $18.95 to $39.95, coach or first-class service. About an hour and 15 minutes round trip. 1-888-456-6777. Visit www.georgetownlooprr.com.
Learn something new at the Aurora History Museum
There’s something for everyone this summer at the Aurora History Museum. The museum’s exhibit “A History of Lowry Air Force Base” about the city’s military roots is on display through July 2 and a new exhibit, “The Great Outdoors of Aurora” opened at the beginning of May and will run through April 2024. The museum is also hosting a number of programs throughout the summer, including Coal Creek School Days at the historic schoolhouse June through August, an Aurora history walk at the High Line Canal Trail June 10 and a “Legendary Ladies” performance June 17 bringing some notable women in Colorado history to life.
Regular museum hours 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, free admission. Details and program tickets available at auroramuseum.org.
Have a trot on the plains trails
For those equipped with their own equine, there’s no shortage of places to have a trot in Colorado. Along with a lot of plains trails in Cherry Creek State Park and some “mountain track” in nearby Jefferson County, even some metro-area trails are down with horsin’ around. Locally, 12 Mile Stables in Aurora or Chatfield Stables in Littleton can put you in the saddle and on the trail in no time. Those who want the full cowboy experience might look into one of many “dude ranch” vacations in the Centennial state. VHS copy of “City Slickers” not provided.
Horseback riding on the plains, along the Front Range all year long, all over the state. Visit Aurora’s 12 Mile Stables (in Cherry Creek State Park) at horserentalsdenver.com for information.
Country Boy Mine
Colorado is still peppered with abandoned mines after more than a century of digging, deep for hidden treasure — mostly gold and silver. The Country Boy Mine, outside of Breckenridge, is a great way to start exploring a mine that was long regaled for the good, golden stuff. It’s an old-timey experience, with its ramshackle wooden structures and creepy underground shafts. If that isn’t enough, panning for gold in nearby Eureka Creek should be. Visit countryboymine.com for more info.
See a real Colorado castle
Hidden in the Wet Mountains in southern Colorado is a magical place, a castle. It’s a “one-man” project and brainchild of amateur architect Jim Bishop who has been building the structure for over 60 years. The castle, appropriately called Bishop Castle, is complete with a tower, grand ballroom and four stories. The castle is always free and open to the public. To get there, take I-25 south to exit 74 at Colorado City. Then head west on Highway 165. For information visit www.bishopcastle.org.
Burro Days in old mining town Fairplay
Yes, dedicating a weekend to one of the West’s weirder creatures is a little odd. But folks, this is Fairplay we’re talking about. Everything in this old mining outpost on the desolate high plains of Park County is a little off-kilter. And besides, they’ve been doing this Burro Days thing since the first half of the 20th century, so they must be on to something. If you need more of an excuse, try this: 10,000 people can’t be wrong, and each year it’s roughly that five-figure total of folks who make the trek for burros, barbecue and grub.
Fairplay Burro Days, July 28-30 in Fairplay. Free. Visit burrodays.org.
Chalk one up
The Denver Chalk Art Festival will feature more than 200 artists in Larimer Square in downtown Denver. While the festival is fairly established in Denver, the tradition reaches back centuries. According to festival organizers, the Larimer Square festival imitates the street art festivals of 16th-century Italy. Artists were called “madonnari” and the art was intricate and magical, just as the Denver festival promises today. The trendy enclave of cafes and shops in the historic district will become a museum for street art that you’ll hardly recognize as chalk. Festival goers can also expect musicians, a space for kids to practice their own art and a photo contest.
Denver Chalk Art Festival, June 10-11 in Denver’s Larimer Square. Free. denverchalk.art.
Rough it on JeffCo Open Space trails
Living in Colorado means there’s no shortage of trails. So what’s the big deal about JeffCo Open Space? Let’s just say that those who go are in the know: with 29 regional parks boasting nearly 240 miles of mountainous, foothill trails, stunning vistas and a ton of wildlife, JeffCo trails are the absolute paradox of those paved, metro-area amenities located “on the plains” just a half-hour or so to the east. And they’re fun for everyone, regardless of age or preferred mode of travel (including running, hiking, biking or horseback riding).
Run, hike or bike JeffCo Open Space trails all year along the Front Range. Free. More information at www.jeffco.us.
Get your gator on at Gators Reptile Park
Colorado Gators Reptile Park reptile rescue and fish farm west of Great Sand Dunes National Park brings a little bit of the Florida Evergreens to southern Colorado by way of mostly gators and crocs, fish, what appears to be some random fowl and a few turtles to boot. But mostly, it’s about those big, toothy buggers and all their scaly glory. While you’re there, be sure to heed warning signs: “Do not stand, sit, climb or lean on zoo fences. If you fall, animals could eat you, and that might make them sick.” Aww, they really care about those man-eaters!
Colorado Gators Reptile Park all year, open every day. Tickets start at $7.50 for children and seniors, $15 for adults. Children younger than 5 and seniors older than 80 enter free. Call 719-378-2612 or visit coloradogators.com.
Colorado’s Dragon Boat Festival
There’s never a bad day at Sloan’s Lake Park in Denver, especially during the summer when the annual Colorado Dragon Boat Festival arrives. Over two days — July 22-23 — the gathering celebrates a variety of Asian cultures in performance, food and competition. A variety of teams from businesses and local groups compete in beautiful, uniquely decorated boats in races of several different levels. While the races are the star of the show, there’s plenty to hold your interest the rest of the time, with multiple stages set up for a variety of performances from singing to dancing and everything in between. Admission to the festival has historically been free, but bring some cash to take advantage of the huge number of food vendors that provide many options from the mundane to the exotic. Visit www.cdbf.org for more info.
Hike the Sangres
Everyone in Denver seems to think they’re not only fit but also capable of hiking the state’s biggest and baddest mountains on a whim with a Clif Bar in hand and an Arrowhead water bottle. The Sangre De Cristo mountains in the Centennial state’s southern flank of the Front Range should bring us suburban — and urbanites — back down to earth while their peaks scrape the sky. The range offers some of the most dramatic, jagged mountains in the southern Rockies and are often compared to the Grand Teton peaks in Wyoming. There’s a preponderance of 14ers, ranking from hard to even harder, along with myriad mountain valleys filled with mule deer and the Great Sand Dunes National Park on the range’s western border.
To be or not to be at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival
Just up the road in Boulder, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival will be celebrating its 65th year telling the bard’s tales this summer. Held on the campus of CU Boulder, the festival puts on a different rotation of Shakespeare’s plays each year along with a modern performance in the university’s lovely outdoor theater (ponchos for sudden summer downpours not provided). This year’s play’s include Much “Ado About Nothing,” “King Lear,” “The Winter’s Tale” and British farce “One Man Two Guvnors.”
Performances run June 11 through August 3. Details and tickets available at cupresents.org/series/shakespeare-festival
Loaf ‘N’ Jug Chile & Frijoles Festival
Listen: we’re not saying you’re a liar, but if you claim to be a fan of authentic Mexican fare, and you’ve never been to the annual Pueblo Chile & Frijoles Festival, you might just be full of frijoles yourself. But let’s be honest: the frijoles take a back seat to the real star of the show — those “certified Pueblo chiles” which are, well, the stuff of lore and a selling point on the city’s website: “Chile is one of Pueblo’s staples. It can be found everywhere … to be used in anything that needs a little ‘kick.’” If you and your familia get a kick out of hot stuff, find the spice south, down by the big river.
In Pueblo from Sept. 22-24. Find details at www.festival.pueblochamber.org.
Get your glamp on
You deserve a luxurious weekend Colorado style. That means tents with all the amenities: comfy beds, room service, real protection from that pesky uncertain weather. You deserve glamping, or the combination of the words glamorous and camping. Search the trusty AirBnB app for some good recommendations in the region you wish to spend a few days of true R&R. If that already sounds like too much work, look no further than www.glampinghub.com. From Breckenridge to Dolores in southwest Colorado, there’s a chic tent waiting.
Top talent at Central City Opera House
This summer, enjoy a suite of Shakespearian adaptations at the Central City Opera House. The summer festival takes place at 8,500 feet above sea level at the historic mountain opera house, built in 1878. Performances will include Charles Gounod’s “Romeo and Juliet;” Gioachino Rossini’s “Othello” and Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me, Kate,” which draws from Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew.” The festival kicks off June 24 in Central City and will run through Aug. 6. Check with Central City Opera House for additional times and showings.
The Central City Opera House, 124 Eureka St., Central City. 303-292-6700.
Fort Collins Peach Festival
Movin’ to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches. You don’t have to move, just a quick jaunt north to Fort Collins for the 9th Annual Peach Festival where there will be a plethora of Palisade peaches up for celebration. Past festivals have included a 5K, peach pancake breakfast, pies, cobblers and, of course, peach beer.
At Civic Center Park in Fort Collins from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Aug. 19. Free. Proceeds from the festival will benefit the Rotary Clubs of Northern Colorado. www.fortcollinspeachfestival.com.
Classics shown at Film on the Rocks
Film on the Rocks is a summer must do. The film series combines fan-favorite movies with live music and stand-up comedy in one of the greatest outdoor venues in the country. This year’s schedule features a mix of modern and time-tested classics, including “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Mamma Mia!,” “Black Panther,” “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” and “Top Gun: Maverick.”
Doors open at 6:30 p.m., pre-show performances begin at 7 p.m. and movies start at 8:30 p.m. beginning June 12. $20 general admission. www.redrocksonline.com.
Havana Street food tour
This is no ordinary food tour. You’re going to need to plan for this. Make room in your schedule. Know there will be lots of food, and it all will be good. From Korean fried chicken to classic Ethiopian staples, there’s a little bit of everything on Havana Street in Aurora. Definitely plan on grabbing boba tea for dessert after tacos, Korean BBQ and Yunnanese noodle bowls. This stretch between Denver and Aurora is among the most diverse regions in the state. The best way to start planning is studying the On Havana Street Instagram page (@onhavanastreet). That’s where all of the new restaurant announcements sit.
Visit a Colorado State park, or all of them
Bet you can’t catch ‘em all. All of Colorado’s state parks, that is. There are 41 state parks from border to border. Some include alpine lakes and others stretch across the high eastern plains. That means you’ll never miss an opportunity to be a weekend warrior, with a plethora of activities from kayaking to hiking to geocaching. A state park pass will run you $80 for the first vehicle per year and $40 for additional vehicles after that. Day passes are also available at each park, but if you’re planning on an array of day trips, the cost effective way to go is an annual pass. See cpw.state.co.us for more details.
Stargazing in the Rockies
To see a proper nightscape, you’re going to have to head for the hills. There’s no way all of the light pollution from the Front Range will lend to a peaceful night under the Milky Way. But that’s okay, because Colorado is home to dark sky-designated communities. Westcliffe and Silvercliff in Custer County have even enacted local ordinances to prevent more light pollution from seeping into the night. Further south at the Great Sand Dunes you’ll get an equally good show. This year the national park has been designated an International Dark Sky Park. Visit www.darksky.org for more tips and dark sky locations across the West.
We all love a summer night on The Rocks. In fact, we’ll let this one speak for itself. The lineup this summer is stacked, though, with bands like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, 311, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and others coming to entertain Colorado. Visit www.redrocksonline.com for the full summer schedule.
Jazz in the Park
Of course you like jazz. Well, even if you hate the spang-a-lang, Jazz in the Park in Denver’s City Park will wet your whistle with R&B acts that veer ever-so slightly into weird tangents and dissonant digressions. Plus, sitting on the green among frolicking Denverites (and their dogs) has the feel of a mini-music festival. But the kicker? It’s free. The music will include soul, brass, fusion and more. Visit cityparkjazz.org/2023-concert-calendar for the full calendar. See you there!
The state’s third-largest lake is not to be trifled with. Though cold all year-round — even during the summer — renting a pontoon will give you ample opportunity to explore the lake and not freeze your butt off while doing it. Check out the Indian Peaks Marina for a safe and fun way to spend a day on the Lake — and out of hazy, stinky, sweltering Aurora. Visit indianpeaksmarina.com to see pricing.
Blue Mesa Reservoir
It’s dubbed “blue” for a reason. The enormous, shimmering reservoir near-ish Gunnison has suffered in recent years because of drought, but this year’s never-ending winter should fill the reservoir more than enough to enjoy for boating, paddle-boarding, swimming and otherwise lounging on the beach. It’s a beautiful scene with ample camping, but the 4-5 hour drive will keep the rest of us pesky Front Rangers from clogging the water — and the views.
Tube to Work Day
We’ve clearly got you covered with the watering holes to cool off this summer — but here’s one more close to home: the Boulder Tube to Work day. Each year for the last decade, Boulder’s weirdest work-a-holics don suits, briefcases and — wait for it — inflatable tubes for the wildest, wettest commute down the Boulder Creek — and probably the state. Even if you don’t tube, it’s worth checking out. This year’s is Friday, July 14, usually in the morning beginning around 8:15 a.m. Bonus: there’s a rope swing into a rare deep pool in the creek. But we won’t tell you where.
Aurora fireworks for the Fourth
What better way to celebrate the birth of our nation than blowing stuff up? Aurora will have you covered, this year as always, on July 4 with fireworks and fun from 6-10 p.m. Come for the lights, but stay for the ice cream and community, because we’re all in this together, and we’ll never move this country forward without first connecting with each other.
Aspen Jazz Festival
Come hear world-class musicians perform at Jazz Aspen Snowmass concerts scheduled June 22-25 and Labor Day weekend, including jazz, blues, funk, soul and more. It promises to be a time-and-a-half, so giddy on up. Visit www.jazzaspensnowmass.org for more info.
Climb the Via Ferrata
The Pueblo Chieftain newspaper reports that Cañon City government is backing a touristy rock climb up the Royal Gorge Bridge’s Via Ferrata. The city helped establish the “climbing adventure,” according to the Chieftain, in which folks hike down into the gorge and then climb up the canyon wall on the way out. It looks harrowing, but promises to be a climbing adventure that anyone and their mother could do. Trips start at $150 per person.
Shred it up
Two trucks, four wheels and a skateboard: it’s a combination that’s entertained several generations now, and some good clean fun. Aurora has ample skateparks with vertical and “street”-style parks, including Wheel Park near the intersection of East Iliff Avenue and South Chambers Road. Swing by on June 21 for national Go Skateboarding Day and get gnarly, man!
Rides for the whole family
Whether you’re hunting for a deal or a real classic Colorado flavor, head over to Lakeside Amusement Park. An iconic staple since 1908, Lakeside has meant summer fun for over a century, offering an old-school, Americana amusement park feel. The Tower of Jewels, the centerpiece of Lakeside, is a landmark in any part of the day but comes to life at night. With 39 attractions and a cheap pricetag, Lakeside Amusement Park offers thrills for a reasonable price. lakesideamusementpark.com
Swing by Strawberry Days
Free strawberries and ice cream, you say? Color us interested. The 126th Strawberry Days festival in Glenwood Springs is slated to offer those treats and much more the third weekend in June in downtown Glenwood Springs. The Glenwood chamber has scheduled arts, crafts, artisan vendors and a parade for the annual gathering in this gorgeous, albeit somewhat stinky, enclave on the Western Slope.
All day. June 16-18. Two Rivers Park, Glenwood Springs. Free. Visit glenwoodchamber.com/strawberrydays for more information.
Meet Rosie the tarantula
Mediocre sopapillas from Casa Bonita, heartbreak from the Colorado Rockies and a gargantuan arachnid named Rosie — those summer staples have been ever-present for a generation of youngish Coloradans, and it doesn’t seem like they’re headed anywhere soon. Rosie, or at least a distant relative of the original spider at the Butterfly Pavilion, is still posted up at the effervescent hub in Westminster.
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; doors close at 4:15 p.m. 6252 W. 104th Ave., Westminster. Adult tickets are $14.95, children ages 2 to 12 are $9.95. Children under age 2 enter for free.
First Harvest Music Festival
To celebrate World Refugee Day and the first harvest of the season, head to the five-acre Delaney Farm in Central Aurora to hear tunes from an impressive lineup of musicians and support the local refugee community at the same time. The concert, organized by local nonprofit Project Worthmore, is slated to feature Snakes, members of the Flobots and Brothers of Brass. All ticket sales will directly benefit local refugees.
4-8 p.m. June 17, DeLaney Community Farm, 170 S. Chambers Road. Adult tickets start at $35. Search “First Harvest Music Festival” on Eventbrite for more information.
Journey back in time
If dressing up like a medieval jester, swigging overpriced swill and gnawing on a turkey leg the size of most American infants is wrong, we don’t wanna be right. The Colorado Renaissance Festival, and all of its lovely traffic, is back for a 43rd season this year in Larkspur — complete with dozens of artisan vendors for the whole family to appreciate. From Enchanted Brooms and Staffs to Roving Roger’s Royal Rocks to Leather by M. Ferrara, there’s a merchant for everyone to get their jollies in the aesthetic of King Arthur’s Court.
10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays from June 17 through Aug. 6. 650 W. Perry Park Ave., Larkspur. Adult tickets are $28; children get in for $12. Visit coloradorenaissance.com for more information.
Denver Cherry Blossom Festival
In the words of the Denver Cherry Blossom Festival’s website, “MUSIC! FOOD! SHOPPING!” Really, what more do you need? A few cherry blossoms wouldn’t be such a bad thing, we suppose. Get all of that and more, including Spam Musubi, fresh gyoza and sake, at the 49th annual Denver Cherry Blossom Festival. The annual event is a celebration of Japanese and Pacific Islander cultures, complete with suds, grub and performances.
11 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 17, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 18. 1255 19th St., Denver. Free. Visit cherryblossomdenver.org for more information.
Denver Botanic Gardens Lavender Festival
If cherry blossoms don’t exactly get your chili cooking hot, maybe some fresh lavender will help turn up the heat. The Denver Botanic Gardens’ satellite site in Littleton, which often doesn’t get the attention it deserves, is once again holding a day-long celebration of lavandula — that’s for all you scientists out there. The event is slated to feature tours of the expansive farm, live music, demonstrations on how to grow lavender and vendors selling the tasteful flower to bring to your own private Idaho.
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 15-16, Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms, 8500 W. Deer Creek Canyon Road, Littleton. Tickets start at $13 for adults. Visit botanicgardens.org for information.
Get mindful at the Clyfford Still Museum
Taking a purposeful break from the ceaseless cacophony of deadlines, tweets and the general doom and gloom of daily life sounds pretty darn pleasant. Add in a setting festooned with world-class works of abstract expressionism and you’ve officially got our interest piqued. That’s precisely what Denver’s Clyfford Still Museum is offering in September with a guided meditation throughout the space on Bannock Street. Led by the Zen Center of Denver and the Shambhala Meditation Center of Denver, the event will feature both seated and walking meditations through one of the state capital’s finest artistic jewels.
9-10 a.m. Sept. 10. The Clyfford Still Museum. 1250 Bannock St., Denver. Free. Visit clyffordstillmuseum.org for more information.
Nederland farmers market
Sure, you can grab fresh veggies, artisanal honey and boutique soap at any of the umpteen farmers markets sprinkled across the metro area, but any excuse to get to Nederalnd, that peculiar little burg nestled at the end of Boulder Canyon, is a good one. Held twice a month through September, with one more event scheduled in the beginning of October, the Nederland Farmers Market is one of the newest members of the growing scene across the Front Range. Started in 2016, the market provides a gaggle of apothecary-style vendors on top of the standard veggies and niche bites.
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Second and fourth Sundays May through September. 80 E. Second St. & 85 E. First St., Nederland. Visit nederlandfarmersmarket.org for more information.
Aurora Global Fest
Aurora is again going global on the third Saturday in August. The city’s annual Global Fest is returning to the Aurora Municipal Center on Aug. 19. Don’t miss this celebration of Aurora’s status as an international fondue pot of languages, foods and cultures.
11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 19. Aurora Municipal Center. 15151 E. Alameda Pkwy.
Denver Greek Festival
You don’t have to be Greek to enjoy good food and drink at the 56th annual Denver Greek Festival. Tens of thousands of people have attended the event in the past, with more expected this year. Denver’s largest cultural festival will run from June 9-11 at the Assumption of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Cathedral. Hellenic art, paintings, sculptures, and jewelry will be sold, and 22 authentic dishes will be on the menu. General admission is $5, kids 12 and under are free. For information and schedules of activities visit www.thegreekfestival.com/about/.
Colorado Rockies games
Few things can beat a Rockies game on a warm summer night when the splendor of Colorado is on full display. Coors Field is known around Major League Baseball as one of the crown jewel parks and offers much for those seriously interested in baseball or just out for a fun time with a crowd. Tickets can be purchased at coloradorockies.com or at the box office on the east side of the stadium along Blake Street.
Colorado Mammoth indoor lacrosse games
Time is running out, but you can still catch some quality indoor lacrosse from the Colorado Mammoth, as last season’s National Lacrosse League champions (did you know that?) have a postseason home contest May 29th against the Buffalo Bandits at Ball Arena. Visit coloradomammoth.com to purchase tickets, which begin at $45.
Don’t Tell Comedy
Also known as comedy’s worst kept secret, Don’t Tell Comedy shows are the warehouse rave of humor. The location is undisclosed until noon the day of the show, when ticket holders receive an email with the address. Don’t Tell was founded in 2017. The group started with managing just 35 events in two cities, which expanded to over 350 shows in 27 cities within a year. Shows are 18+ and BYOB. Tickets start at $25. For more details visit www.donttellcomedy.com/denver.
Learn how to fly fish for free
If you’re interested in picking up the hobby of fly fishing but not in the potentially exorbitant price of lessons, now is your chance to learn the basics for free. The outdoor outfitter Orvis offers Fly Fishing 101 and 201 classes at their retail stores and other participating retailers throughout Colorado. Orvis’ team of instructors have taught over 250,000 people how to cast, set and reel in the hogs. Visit www.orvis.com/flyfishing101.
Friday Night Bazaar
The summer months bring with them an endless list of outdoor markets, but the annual Friday Night Bazaar hosted by the micro-retail curator DenverBAZAAR is one you can’t miss. The event opened in March 2015 by TheBigWonderful founder Josh Sampson. Vendors are hand selected, and you can expect to find handmade gifts, clothes and home accessories made by local artisans. You can also enjoy Colorado-made beer and cider, and a rotating weekly lineup of area food trucks. Admission is free. For more information check out denverbazaar.com.
Art for free
“Art is not a thing, it is a way,” said Elbert Hubbard. On June 13, find your way down to the Denver Art Museum from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. when they offer free admission to explore the many exhibitions and art collections from across the centuries. The museum’s sensory garden is also accessible to all visitors, offering plants that engage all five senses. 720-865-5000.
Free. Denver Art Museum, 100 W. 14th Ave. Parkway. www.denverartmuseum.org/en/free-days-dam.
Catch a UFO in Crestone
Crestone, Colorado is a statutory town just under three hours southwest of Pueblo. Over the last few decades the town of around 200 residents has become a spiritual Mecca for a variety of different religions. To those who believe in aliens, it’s also a hub of galactic energy. Judy Messoline, a resident and extraterrestrial enthusiast, turned her plot of land in the active area into an official UFO sighting outpost, complete with a spiritual rock garden and watchtower, which stands out against the flat landscape about 15 miles outside of town. If you want to make a weekend out of your trip, there are plenty of other unique religious monuments to see. The area also boasts miles of beautiful hiking and camping in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness area.
If something has got your goat lately, then inhale and let out an “Om.” Rocky Mountain Goat Yoga lets you roll out your mat and take a class with baby goats. With events that run through the summer and the option to set up a private class, there are plenty of opportunities to get zen. There are several locations across the Denver metro area. For tickets and more information go to rockymountaingoatyoga.com.
Check out the art on First Fridays
Denver is home to four different art walks on the first Friday of every month. Between galleries, museums, studios and pop-up art sales, everyone is sure to find something that fits their aesthetic. Along your walk, stop at one of the many bars, breweries or restaurants to satisfy your tastebuds. Check out www.colorado.com/articles/inside-denvers-first-friday-art-nights for details on each art district.
Calling all shower-singers and shy musicians! Muse Noraebang and Cafe has you covered. With nine noraebang rooms, or private karaoke rooms, you can belt-it-out without the whole bar staring at you. Each room comes with a phone-service so you can order food and drinks. The cafe can host groups as large as 30 people. 2222 South Havana St. Suite D, Aurora, CO 80014. To make a reservation go to www.musenoraebang.com.
Sounds of Southlands concert series
There are free concerts in southeast Aurora? There are free concerts in southeast Aurora — all summer long, folks. The annual Sounds of Southlands concert series is once again taking over the main square in the city’s southeastern cranny every Thursday this summer. Bands include Message in a Bottle, The Margarita Brothers, Soul X, and many more.
6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays June 15 through Aug. 3. 6115 S. Main St. Free. Visit shopshouthlands.com for more information.
Need a couple drinks to get you over the week’s hump? Every Wednesday, you can enjoy a beer while testing your knowledge. Geeks Who Drink challenges audience members with rapid questions at Dry Dock Brewing Co. South Dock as the backdrop. Trivia nights are 21 and older and begin at 6 p.m every Wednesday. 15120 E. Hampden Ave., Aurora, CO 80014.
Colorado Rapids games
It’s been a bit of a slow start for the Colorado Rapids, the local Major League Soccer franchise that has developed a good following in its lengthy stay in Denver, which started way back when it played home games at the original Mile High Stadium. The franchise built a sparkling new home in Commerce City and Dick’s Sporting Goods Park is a cozy, enjoyable venue to watch the world’s most popular game. The Rapids have three home games in June (vs. San Jose, Vancouver and Los Angeles) and three more in July (vs. Portland, Dallas and Houston), so there’s plenty of time to get there and maybe grab a spot on the patio. A wide variety of ticket options can be found online at https://coloradorapids.com/tickets or call the box office at 303-825-GOAL.
Nickel-a-Play, provides a heavy dose of nostalgia and hours of family fun that won’t cost you a pretty penny. With tons of new and vintage games, this arcade is a perfect way to escape the heat. There is a $3.95 admission fee for anyone above the age of 4 and daily and group specials. More information can be found on Nickel-a-Play’s Facebook page. 15201 E. Mississippi Ave., Aurora, CO 80012. Call (303) 306-6035.
Learn a new dance move at Mercury Cafe
If you have two left feet, then walk them over to the Mercury Cafe. There are classes and dances most days, including classic swing dancing, Brazilian zouk dancing and more. 2199 California St. To find a class visit mercurycafe.com.
Morbid Curiosities Carnival
Halloween is coming early with the Morbid Curiosities Carnival on June 10. The carnival will have hearses, ambulances, live music and various vendors. Tickets are $20. 2430 S. Havana St., Aurora, CO 80014. For all things odd, search “HearseCon and Morbid Curiosities Carnival 2023” on Eventbrite.
Go to the beach
Who says you can’t be a beach bum in Colorado? As of Memorial Day, it will officially be swimming season at the Aurora Reservoir. Lifeguards will be on duty from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Memorial Day weekend through early August and then again on Labor Day weekend. Members of the public swim at their own risk if there is not a lifeguard present. To ensure that the weather conditions are good, call 303-326-8425 before you grab your beach towel and swimsuit. During the summer, day passes are $15 on weekends and $10 during the week, with an additional fee of $30 per vehicle.
Say goodbye to Bandimere Speedway
Thunder Mountain will soon be going silent, as plans have been announced to shutter Bandimere Speedway in Morrison at the end of the racing season. There is still one great chance to jam in the earplugs, drink in the smells of all sorts of fuels and exhaust and have tiny bits of rubber tires rain down on you from above at the Mile High Nationals, which will run at the track for the last time July 14-16. Visit bandimere.com for more information and to purchase tickets.
Put on your cowboy boots and hat and celebrate our nation’s independence and western heritage June 22 – July 4 at the annual Greeley Stampede. The summer festival and rodeo features country and classic rock concerts, a Fourth of July parade, demolition derby and carnival midway mixed with food and fun galore. For more information on concert and rodeo times, visit www.greeleystampede.org.
Clear-ly a good time all summer
Despite constant advertisements spewed by The North Face, REI and other outdoor merchants, you don’t have to be a professional whitewater kayaker to enjoy a gurgling strip of water. On the contrary, an afternoon spent slowly moseying along a creek is one of the more enjoyable ways to pass a summer day — no training required. (And, sure, it may seem geeky, but wearing a life jacket may not be the worst idea.) Golden City Brewery is nestled right on the banks of the creek at 920 12th St., and finishing the day with a pint makes for a fine exclamation point to a session of nonchalant tubin’.
Stanley Summer Series at Stanley Marketplace
Second Sunday of the Month from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. 2501 Dallas St. Aurora, CO 80010. Visit http://alturl.com/owfwh for more information.
We might have found your Sunday plans for you. Well, the second Sunday of the month anyways. Stanley Marketplace is bringing in live music and performers as well as their best vendor friends for a fun afternoon, chock full of entertainment, eating and shopping.
Bringing lawn chairs or blankets is highly encouraged, ya know, for that additional comfort while hangin’ in the sun, catching the vibes, supporting local businesses and sipping on a refreshing beverage.
And be sure to check on the theme for the day before heading out. It’s always a little fun to dress on theme for sunny day parties.
Giddyup at home
Aurora might just be the Denver metro’s final frontier for the urban cowboy. Nestled off Sixth Avenue, the Coal Creek Arena is an important part of a still-thriving horse culture here in A-Town. The 10-acre rodeo arena is the gateway to the Sand Creek Regional Greenway, one of the best trails for equestrians in the metro area. It’s also a neighbor to Kenlyn Arabian Stables, where out-of-state riders can lodge their horses while visiting the state. The arena hosts rodeos, stunt riders and even circuses, and it’s become a testament to Aurora’s rural past.
Coal Creek Arena, 20255 E. Sixth Ave. Events throughout the summer months.
It’s the biggest con of all. Fan Expo Denver — previously Denver Pop Culture Con and, before that, Comic Con — a three-day nerd extravaganza. The convention returns to the Colorado Convention Center June 30-July 2. The legendary event includes movies, costumes, popular TV shows, celebrity guests, Japanese anime and a special area for kids to make their own superhero shield!
HearseCon 2023 at Stampede
June 10 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 2430 Havana St. Aurora, CO 80014. Visit http://alturl.com/z436z for more information.
Do you dabble in the macabre? Is your interest piqued by the world of oddities? If so, Stampede is hosting an event tailored to you. In addition to the bevy of hearses that will be on display, there will also be a Morbid Curiosities Carnival, a collection of vendors selling spooky and odd wares and art. And what’s a convention without live music and food to add to the overload of entertainment that will surely greet you upon your arrival. Tim Cappello will be preforming as well — he was the sax player in the Lost Boys. Y’all know the scene. “I Still Believe.”
If your interests are stoked, consider checking this event out. Should be quite the scene.
Havana Street Global Market at the Havana Exchange Shopping Center
Visit http://alturl.com/stqcf for more information.
Tis the season for outdoor markets and bazaars — cue the return of the second season of the monthly Havana Street Global Markets. This event plays host to the rich diversity that our city boasts so proudly.
Vendors from all around the world offer tasty delicacies, complimented by a bevy of music and entertainment, including some new faces to the markets.
A new event, in a night market, will also take place this year promising to provide an even more electric atmosphere after the sun goes down.
Check out the ponies at Bally’s Arapahoe Park
The thundering of hooves can be heard on occasion in southeast Aurora, where Bally’s Arapahoe Park has live horse racing that runs from June to September. The opening of the season is scheduled for June 17 with closing day on Sept. 11 with racing days of Saturday, Sunday and Monday every week. Race days are for all ages and those 17 and under get in for free with adult supervision, with general admission tickets going for $5 on Saturdays and Sundays with Mondays free (except holidays). Visit casinos.ballys.com/arapahoe-park/ for more information.
See what Roller Derby is all about
Roller Derby is the stuff of legend in many cases, but you can get an up-close look at the extreme game on wheels this season. Denver Roller Derby offers that chance with a bevy of events over the summer, beginning with the Altitude Adjust tournament May 27-28 with matches stretching from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. at The Rollerdome (2375 S. Delaware St.). Visit denverrollerderby.org for information on purchasing tickets or if you have the itch to lace up the skates and give it a try yourself.