Seeing the Sights in the Denver Area

Sheridan, CO (near Denver)

While in the Denver area we have taken the opportunity to do some sight-seeing.  Twice we joined fellow RVers on visits to local attractions.  Both couples (Sue and Dave, as well as, MonaLiza And Steve) are staying in a park in Golden and one day invited us to join them on a visit to the nearby Coors Brewery.  Also joining the group was Dave and Sue’s son, Jesse, who lives in nearby Boulder and recently completed a graduate program at the University of Colorado.

The tour begins in a visitors parking area where you board a shuttle bus that takes you to the tour entrance.  But first the bus takes you on a quick trip through downtown Golden, with the driver providing a brief history of the town.

John, MonaLiza, Steve, Dave, Sue, and Jesse await the shuttle bus

The tour is self-guided and each visitor is given an individual auditory player.  Each station along the tour is identified by a number.  Press the corresponding number on your device and you hear information about that step in the process.

Attentive visitors

At the end of the tour each visitor of legal age is entitled to three glasses of the Coors of your choice.  Three glasses seemed a bit much for the group (especially for those driving) so one was our limit.

Later in the week we were again invited to join the group for a visit to NCAR in Boulder (more on that later).  On the way we stopped back at Red Rocks Park to check out the amphitheater.

The road to the upper parking lot goes through a short tunnel

The amphitheater at Red Rocks was built by the CCC and completed in 1941.  With a seating capacity of 9,450 the open air venue has near perfect acoustics.  A long list of famous musicians, including the Beatles in 1964, have performed here.  The site is open to the public each morning and is utilized by a large number of people as an exercise facility.  The group below was working its way up the seating area completing a variety of exercises along the way.

Tired arms do some push-ups

Can you spot the leader of the group?

After our quick stop at Red Rocks Park we continued up the road to the city of Boulder where we met Sue, Dave, MonaLiza, and Steve in the parking lot of the Mesa Laboratory of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).  NCAR is a research center funded by the National Science Foundation.  Studies include meteorology, climate science, atmospheric chemistry, solar-terrestrial interactions, environmental and societal impacts.

The Mesa Laboratory complex was designed by architect I. M. Pei in 1961 as his first project outside of city building design.  It has been noted for its Anasazi-inspired architecture and use of bush-hammered concrete to blend into the surrounding area.

Pam, John, Sue, and Dave

The Visitors Center at the Mesa Laboratory is open to the public daily at no charge.  There are many displays, some interactive, related to the various atmospheric studies of NCAR.

The children playing in a cloud

Two scientists confer on a climate question!

Each day at noon one of the staff leads a tour of the Visitors Center.  We arrived just before the tour began and enjoyed an interesting and informative presentation.

One of the displays has a diorama of the facility and information on its designer, I.M. Pei.  The display is in a room with a beautiful view of the mountains to the west.

Following our tour, the group adjourned for a late lunch in downtown Boulder.  We arrived at The Bohemian Biergarten a half hour before they opened so we spent some time exploring the nearby shops.  The wait was well worth it, as the food and drink were both excellent.

One of the nice things about the Denver area is that there are numerous bike paths throughout the city.  One of the paths runs right by our RV park and connects with another trail leading to downtown Denver, about ten miles to the north.  So one afternoon when it looked like the daily thunderstorms might hold off until late in the day we put some air in our tires and headed out.  The trail runs right along the South Platte River as it heads north of the city.

Due to all the rain in the area the past month there are a number of spots where the trail literally runs through the river!

As we approached the center city the trail went right by Sports Authority Field, home of the Broncos.

Just north of the football stadium we crossed the Platte River and rode into the center of Denver for a visit to the 16th Street Mall.  The 16th Street Mall is a pedestrian and transit mall that runs along 16th Street for 1.25 miles.  It is home to over 300 locally owned/chain stores and over 50 restaurants.

One of 16th Street’s most distinctive buildings is the D&F Tower (Daniels & Fisher).  When it was completed in 1910, this was the highest building west of the Mississippi River. It is modeled after The Campanile (St. Mark’s Bell Tower) at the Piazza San Marco in Venice and its four clocks (one for each side) are 16 feet high.

The D&F Tower

Another feature of the mall is the upright pianos located at various locations.  The “Your Keys to the City” program places 10 pianos along the sidewalks of the mall for public use from May 1st until September 30th.  Piano players, or anyone really, can use the pianos during the day between 8 a.m .and 10 p.m,, before they are covered. The pianos as are also covered during inclement weather.  The pianos are painted with inspirations from artists such as Vincent Van Gogh and also with some local landmarks such as Coors Field and the Rocky Mountains.

A local showgirl entertains the masses one afternoon

As we re-crossed the South Platte River on the return ride, we made a stop at what may be our favorite store in the whole world.

Can’t read the name of the store in the photo above?  Let’s zoom in a bit for a better look.

The arrow points to the name of the main business in this building, Recreational Equipment Inc., or REI.   This is a great store for hiking and biking equipment and has locations all over the country.  The Denver store is the largest one we have visited in our travel.  Now, to make this building even more exciting, the oval is around the location of that little chain of coffee shops from Seattle.  An REI and a Starbucks in the same building!  Life doesn’t get any better!

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26 Responses to Seeing the Sights in the Denver Area

  1. Sue says:

    small pleasures……

  2. Sarah says:

    It’s fun to read about your adventures in my old stomping grounds. Tim and I lived in Estes Park, and spent many a day in Boulder. I’m sorry I never visited NCAR. The tour sounded interesting, and I certainly would have appreciated the architecture. Isn’t the REI in Denver amazing? I had passed the building on numerous occasions but for some reason had never stopped in until this past April. What a great reuse of a very cool industrial building. It’s nice that you are able to enjoy the Denver area with so many fellow bloggers.

    • placestheygo says:

      Two years ago when we were in this area we stayed in Estes Park and enjoyed the town. We really enjoyed being so close to Rocky Mountain NP. Estes Park has my all time favorite Starbucks. We loved sitting out back by the river. Putting a Starbucks with an REI made us very happy campers in this area. The REI is almost too large to enjoy. But we are making it work:)

  3. Nancy says:

    Fun in Colorado! Enjoy!

  4. Those were mighty big glasses for tour tastings at Coors!

    It cracks me up that the Denver REI has a Starbucks inside too! They must have been thinking of you! I thought it was a kind of weird, chopped up store though…I guess it makes shopping an adventure when you have to really search for what you are looking for.

    • placestheygo says:

      We were surprised when they told us we could each have three eight ounce glasses. That’s a lot of beer when you are driving. Of course, they remind you to be responsible!!

      I now understand what you meant by the REI being chopped up and hard to find things. It took me forever to get to the women’s area on the “maybe” third floor:) Then getting back out was tough. But the store does seem to have everything REI ever sold! Not sure I like the floor plan. I’m waiting for Jessica to arrive to shop:) Sure was a nice location for a Starbucks with lots of outside seating. We did visit that store:)

  5. Who would have thought the Red Rocks Amphitheater would be a fitness center? Looks like you had a good time in the Denver area.

    • placestheygo says:

      Most of the people that were at the amphitheater were there to workout. It didn’t look like a lot of fun. But I understand this is what locals do. We’ve been enjoying seeing the Denver community. Our last visit we stayed in Estes Park so we only came in to Denver to go to the airport.

  6. Mary says:

    So many fun things to see and do. You are going to have a busy summer I can tell.

    • placestheygo says:

      There is plenty to keep you busy in this area, for sure:) We actually are heading east for the summer to visit family. We’ll leave on the 17th after our daughter’s visit and return mid August.

  7. Jodee Gravel says:

    Great to see you all together! We would definitely love the NCAR and who doesn’t want to play in a cloud? Lucky to have prominent scientists in your group 🙂 I’m loving all the art and music and fitness options that more and more cities are adding to get folks outside and walking their streets. How did you ever manage to block out the crowds of listeners for the photo of Pam at the keys?

  8. Sherry says:

    Good call I think on the 3 large free beers. Wonder what the blood alcohol level is of someone drinking them all. I knew that the nimble hiker would find a hike in the midst of all these tourist attractions. Well done! Love the pianos idea but I wonder what their condition will be by the end of this very rainy spring/summer out there. We’ve got seemingly never ending daily rain too. Sure wish it would all go where they really need it.

    • placestheygo says:

      That was way too much beer I thought. It wasn’t exactly the place to stand around and drink three beers. It would be interesting to see how many people actually drink all three. Someone covers the pianos when it rains and every night, so they probably make out pretty well. But I believe the amount of rain we have received this spring is unusual.

  9. pmbweaver says:

    I can’t believe they give three BIG glasses of beer. I would be lucky to get one down. I wonder how many people actually take them up on their offer.

    Egads….those steps look like butt busters for sure.

    Mesa Laboratory looks like a place we would really enjoy. I think the tour would make it so much better.

    I just put this post in my Pinterest. Paul and I want to spend some time in CO…maybe next winter. You guys did a great job of showing us around. Keep enjoying your adventure.

  10. debbiemc14 says:

    The lab looks educational and fun. Always love a good bike ride. How’d you get over the flooded rivers? I wish we had time to do Colorado this year, but at least we’ll be there most of next year. I think if I had to pick another state to live in, it could easily be Colorado. Gotta love a nice Starbucks now and then!

    • placestheygo says:

      Debbie, when the lower bike path is flooded, you have to take the path above that crosses the road. All the lower path does is take you under the road so you don’t have to stop for traffic. So we didn’t have any trouble:)

  11. Whew what a fun week with friends. Believe it or not Im already missing our get togethers. We are so lonely and hot in southwest Kansas.
    I hope those two lovely scientist can resolve some of our climate problems.

    • placestheygo says:

      It is always fun connecting with friends that have so much in common. We did have a great couple days:) It is quite warm here, as well. As a matter of fact, we are suppose to get to 88 tomorrow! We are heading to Rocky Mountain NP. Should be much cooler up there! Enjoy Kansas! Let us know if you find Dorothy:)

  12. Gay says:

    What a great time…we love colorful Colorado! Great bike path!

  13. Laurel says:

    Looks like you’re having a great time in Denver and lots of adventures with friends, which makes it even better. The Mesa Laboratory looks so interesting, both inside and out. Definitely pinning that. How nice that you found a campground where you can bike into town! That’s our idea of perfect city camping. Oh, and love the photo of that very cute showgirl at the piano. What song was she playing? 🙂

    • placestheygo says:

      The bike path has been very nice. Several times we have used it to walk to Starbucks which is only a mile away and right off the path. How lucky for us!! This has been a rather social stop for us with RV friends,and our daughter arrives tomorrow night so we have five full days of activities with her:)

  14. LuAnn says:

    We love Denver and always dreamt about living downtown in one of the lofts. We really enjoyed all the bike paths when we lived in Colorado. Mesa Laboratory looks like something Terry and I would like. You all look like you are having too much fun!

  15. rommel says:

    WEEE! Mona is back? Huh. Nice to see all together in post. She is still looking so cute. 🙂 Shhhh What is up with RV’ers getting drunk nowadays. Ahihihi I know the leader of the pack is. 😉 … The person you handed the camera to? Ha! 😀

  16. Pam Leonard says:

    Love the piano! Does Pam really play or just goofing around? I couldn’t tell you the last time I heard someone play.

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