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Denver - United States
Denverites love the outdoors. The sun shines over 300 days a year, and the dry climate and unpredictable weather patterns allow for intense mountain biking one day and perfect powder skiing the next. A good portion of the city heads to the mountains come the weekend, leaving the rest of the populace to enjoy Denver's immense assortment of cultural delights. Even though much of the city's entertainment involves sweat, residents easily maneuver from an exhilarating day on the slopes to an afternoon hockey game or a night at the symphony. Most places, whether restaurants, nightclubs or theaters, are brimming with activity every night of the week.
When it comes right down to it, Denver is widely regarded as a sports and recreational haven. The Broncos, Rockies, Avalanche and Nuggets draw all sorts of admirers throughout the region, and tourists come from all over to see baseball at Coors Field. Skiers and snowboarders jam the slopes from November to early July, and people from all corners converge on Colorado during summer for its wealth of camping, fishing and backpacking options in the serene Rocky Mountains. Warm weather evenings are packed with mountain bikers and hikers when the after-work crowd escapes to the Front Range trails. Weekends lure thousands to the area's greenbelts for relaxation and exercise.
Denver Museum of Nature and Science, located in City Park, is the city's largest cultural attraction drawing almost 2-million visitors annually. Built in 1900, it is the home to the IMAX Theater and Prehistoric Journey, an interactive time warp into the dinosaur age. The museum has also played host to such famous exhibits as The Aztecs and The Imperial Tombs of China. The Denver Art Museum displays two floors of Native American artifacts, and also offers a smart mixture of Asian art and contemporary design. The building itself, a modern interpretation of a fortified castle, is a stunning piece of architecture. Recent renovations added a restaurant and viewing space for larger installations. History buffs will enjoy the History Colorado Center, as it recounts the lost days when cowboys and Indians ruled the plains and the gold rush inspired a nation to dream of riches.
Denver also contains a wealth of fascinating special interest museums. The Molly Brown House chronicles the legendary exploits of the "unsinkable Molly Brown," a RMS Titanic survivor and prominent Denver citizen. In the Five Points neighborhood, stop by the Black American West Museum for an intriguing account of the African-American effort on the frontier. Appropriately, the museum is located in the old home of Colorado's first African-American female physician. Golden offers the Colorado Rail Museum, a 12-acre outdoor venue with over 50 antique locomotives on display, and the Buffalo Bill Museum, atop Lookout Mountain, honors the riotous life and legend of William Cody while offering astonishing views of the city.
The Denver International Film Festival comes to town each October with a fresh bunch of shorts, documentaries and feature length flicks. A variety of quaint art houses along with sprawling mega-movie complexes are scattered across the metro area. For the latest in obscure, avant-garde releases, stop by the Mayan Theater on Broadway, or the Esquire which spins the more popular independent features on a wide screen. If you are in the mood for the latest commercial movies, the United Artists Theaters at the Denver Pavilions are comfortable and include stadium seating.
Denver's homegrown music has produced a creative blend of commercial acts ranging from the roots rockers Big Head Todd and the Monsters, to the fevered 16 Horsepower and the Apples in Stereo. A multitude of intimate venues attract the hippest national and independent bands. Established acts fill the exquisitely renovated Fillmore Auditorium and blast away on the best sound system in Denver. Or drop into the Ogden Theatre on Colfax. In summer, fans congregate at Red Rocks Amphitheater for live music in an awesome mountain setting. The Bluebird Theatre, a restored movie hall and former porn house, hosts the hottest emerging acts. Local bands take the stage at Herman's Hideaway and Brendan's Pub. The Soiled Dove in LoDo is the perfect place to hear Hazel Miller sing the blues or Sally Taylor conjure the ghosts of folk legends. The Mile High City also steams with salsa; after a few free lessons hit the dance floor at La Rumba. If a more refined musical structure appeals to you, attend a performance by the Colorado Symphony. Under the direction of Maestra Marin Alsop, the classical virtuosos have attained national acclaim and consistently perform with such notable figures as Yo Yo Ma and the Anonymous 4.
The Colorado Ballet has been gracing Denver stages since 1961 with quality international dance and classic ballet. The Colorado Academy of Ballet trains aspiring dancers in advanced Russian techniques. The David Taylor Theater brings a distinguished contemporary ballet to Denver and produces the ever-popular Nutcracker during the holiday season. If you prefer modern dance, check out the celebrated Cleo Parker Robinson Dance troupe for beautifully choreographed interpretive pieces. If you would rather do the dancing, head over to The Church, the city's most popular nightclub, for a night of crazed techno madness. Bash is the "see and be seen" place to dance in Lodo. Vinyl packs in the ladies on Tuesday nights for the city's hottest Ladies Night. Lucky Star keeps the bobbing 80s alive. If big band sounds rattle your feet, saunter into the Mercury Café for rip roaring old style swing dancing.
The Denver Performing Arts Complex is the second largest theatrical venue in the nation behind the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, and stages the latest Broadway musicals and plays. Resting beneath an inventive arched glass ceiling, the complex holds eight distinctive spaces, including the 2,800-seat Temple Buell Theater. Recent crowd favorites such as Rent, Chicago and Phantom of the Opera have drawn huge crowds. The Auditorium Theater, adorned in neo-classical design, presents the latest contemporary off-Broadway dramas and comedies and just finished a remarkable run of performances that featured the critically hailed Last Night At Ballyhoo. The Denver Center Theater Group, housed at the complex, recently brought home a Tony Award for the best regional theater.
For local offerings, check out the Avenue Theater for the hottest comedies and the long-running audience participation favorite, Murder Most Foul. The Theater on Broadway presents black box thinking theater that often focuses on gay themes, and performance art and the spoken word rule the Bug Theater. Opera Colorado, feeding the artistic spirit since 1983, performs three booming epics a year at Boettcher Concert Hall and the Buell Theater.
Other Cultural Odds & Ends
Colorado's Ocean Journey is the city's underwater take on the cultural scene. It previously earned rave reviews and offers visitors a chance to explore exotic tropical environments and discover what lies beneath the rivers running through Colorado. The Denver Zoo is the city's most beloved attraction, drawing well over a million visitors each year with such popular exhibits as the Primate Panorama and Tropical Discovery. In beautiful Cheesman Park, the Denver Botanic Gardens display a scenic expanse of varying foliage from around the world and a special new exhibit on water plants. Finally, if you want to see the workings of a brewery first hand, Coors Brewing Company gives daily tours and best of all, free samples.