Here’s a blog that one of us kept for several years; it has lots of great historical tidbits you may read at your leisure:
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Is it the Duke of Disney? Yes, you heard that right. We here at Denver History Tours send our staff members on a Disney Vacation every three years (that way they come back happy and ready to work!), so WE KNOW DISNEY. Would you like some help navigating the maze to find Mickey’s cheese? It’s a whole new world, so let the Duke be your guide! No need to wish upon a star …give us a call!
There’s no way to list them all …nope, nope, nope! That being said, we will do our best to list the THINGS TO DO out there for your enjoyment and education. If you see something missing from this list, shoot us an email or drop us a call. The list is always growing; won’t you help its doing so?
Frisbee Golf aka Disc Golf — It’s generally free, and it’s a great way to get out and enjoy a fine day without buying much more than a Frisbee. When I first heard about it, it was called Frisbee golf, but the sport (and it’s become one, oh yes) has progressed to many forms of thrown-things, so now it’s more often called disc golf. There are courses all over the metro area, so buy your disc get out and have some good times! If you win, yay you! Here is a listing of some of the local courses provided by the Mile High Disc Golf Club.
Kit Carson County Carousel — Yes, you have to drive to Burlington, but it’s completely worth it. The Kit Carson County Carousel is one of the last carousels from the great era of carousels left around, and it’s a fine piece of art and a beautiful ride. There is a museum attached, and the fair grounds are there. It’s usually open in the summer only. If you want to maximize your visit, go during the Kit Carson County Fair, which is usually toward the end of July. They have lots going on, and it’s a hoot. On the first day of the fair, they usually have free BBQ, so it you’re a meat-eater, it’s the day to attend! Here’s information on the carousel, and for information on the county (and its fair), click here.
Washing Machine Museum — Ok, we start with the most amazing of them all. Most people, when hearing about this place, look at me as if I have just admitted to being a commoner (not true, of course, but that’s what they are thinking), but the Washing Machine Museum really is one of the most astounding things on earth. You do have to get a group and there is a cost, but it rocks all the way to the deadly wringers. You’d better go now, too, because once the owner shuffles off to that Maytag Repair Store in the sky, it will ALL likely go in the trash. It’s just north of Greeley and worth every moment. Get your brain sparkly clean at the Washing Machine Museum!
Rocky Mountain Arsenal — Just north of the Denver metro area is one of the most amazing hidden secrets around, a place you go to see the natural world being restored to its former glory. It’s free to visit and has lots of great things to do; there’s even a newsletter talking about all the goings-on (I get it!), with bison, burrowing owls and more …the refuge, not the newsletter. Time to go wild: Rocky Mountain Arsenal
Arts to Zoo — This website is a collecting point for lots of things going on, not just along the Front Range, but also in some other parts of the state. You may even use the search engine to seek out FREE events. It’s updated all the time, so check it out and see what you find: Arts to Zoo
National Ice Core Lab — You may thinking that taking a tour focusing on tubes of ice would be BORING, but it is not. It’s cool, both in the “WOW!” sense, and of course in the “Brrrrr!” sense. Tours are free, but must be scheduled in advance. After all, it’s a government installation. Learn and enjoy! National Ice Core Laboratory
Bishop Castle — It’s a marvel in construction for many years, and it’s free. In the mountains west of Pueblo is Bishop Castle. Not for those with a fear of heights, and some might question the place’s safety (there are spots that are a little wobbly!), but it’s worth a visit if you watch where you’re walking! Have fun! Bishop Castle
Lafayette Oatmeal Festival — You might not think that going somewhere to have some oatmeal could be one of the most entertaining things you could do on a Saturday morning, BUT IT IS! Every January, the city of Lafayette has an oatmeal festival, with more than 300 toppings. Yep, you read that right! You have to pay (it goes to a charity, I believe), but it is SO MUCH FUN. Check out the website for more information and mark it on your calendar; I have and you KNOW I will be there: Lafayette Oatmeal Festival
Music at St. John’s Cathedral — Located at 1350 Washington, St. John’s is more than just a beautiful and historic building; they offer a wide selection of music. Some of it is free (such as their Music at Noon series), and it’s all wonderful. Check out the following website: St. John’s Music
EPA District 8 Office — Located at the corner of the 16th Street Mall and Wynkoop, the home of the Environmental Protection Agency offers free tours of this fascinating, LEED certified building. Tours must be scheduled in advance, and they are free. Click on the following link and look for the tour request form toward the bottom of the page: EPA Tour
Denver Art Museum — Whether you visit the only Ponti building in the United States or that marvelous piece of origami, it’s worth a go. Normal visitation has all the enjoyment with somewhat smaller crowds. Check it out and let your senses breathe in the OOOOH: Denver Art Museum. There are free days too, but there will be more people: Denver Art Museum’s Free Days
1830s Rendezvous and Spanish Colonial Art Market — Put on by the folks at the Tesoro Cultural Center, this event takes at the end of September at the Fort, in southwest Denver. A two-day event, the Fort is filled with cooking, crafts and people you would have experienced back in the 1830s, a real treat! It’s free, though a donation is accepted toward future efforts in Denver’s art community. Tesoro does other events throughout the year, including the Farolito Lighting Pinecone Ceremony and Las Posadas, both in December and both free. Check it out for some art and fun! Tesoro Cultural Center
Library Tours — There’s more to our public libraries than the written word; they even give tours. The main branch of the library, downtown, is the one most people think of for tours, and it’s entirely worth it. It’s also entirely free. Other branches also offer tours, but you’ll have to contact them directly to find out what options they might have. Art, architecture, history and, of course, books. Get your thumbs wet and ready to turn the pages of excitement. Sesquipedalian! Denver Library Tours
Plains Conservation Center — It may be far from downtown Denver, but it’s worth the trip! It gives you a chance to learn about the high plains during the mid-1800s, a homestead open to the sky and the wind. Sometimes lots of wind. Free to visit, the Plains Conservation Center also has lots of educational and enjoyable programs that they run. You might even get to feed the chickens and let the cows lick your hands (please wash them before you go somewhere for lunch). A really fine day for folks of all ages, so make plans to see it soon! Plains Conservation Center.
Money Museum — In Colorado Springs you’ll find many things. Among the most interesting, the Money Museum, maintained by the American Numismatic Association. Though there IS a cost, it’s a very interesting place to visit, especially if you’re a fan of collecting coins yourself! Gold coins, old coins and all the things that go along with them may be found within its walls. Time to enjoy the glittering coins!
Vive la France — You don’t have to speak French to enjoy items at the Alliance Française, though it doesn’t hurt! 🙂 Located at 571 Galapago St., this establishment for all things “francophile” frequently has art on display, so check out their events calendar to see what’s happening now! There are also classes, from conversation on up to wine tastings and the like. It’s a little-known resource in some ways, but give it a try. You’ll surely end up crying “Bon appétit!”
Frozen Dead Guy Days — Been to Nederland recently? Been in March? If you haven’t, you might consider attending one of the most entertaining and downright quirky things around: Frozen Dead Guy Days. It’s a two-day event honoring a man in a cryogenic deep freeze. Nederland has taken this and run with it, turning this unusual claim-to-fame into a real event. Much of it is free, all of it is fun. Give it a try sometime, and make sure you stop by to say HELLO to the eponymous Bredo!
Longhopes Donkey Rescue — In the city of Bennett, a short drive east of Denver, is a super cool place to visit, the Longhopes Donkey Rescue. They have events, and you may even adopt a pair of donkeys if you have the space, as long as you adopt in pairs. The Duchess, Damsel and I went to an open-hour fund raiser there …what a blast! Check it out sometime and have a cuddly good time!
Berry Patch Farms — Sure, you have to pay for the food, but it’s fun to pick it and it’s proven to be right off the vine! During the summer, there are activities for kids, too. Who doesn’t like to eat fresh fruits and vegetables? Berry Patch Farms would not be the ONLY such entity around, but it’s one I have visited with great enjoyment. Belly up to the berries!
Colorado Film Festivals — Are you into film? There are many cities around the state which have film festivals. Check out this link to see what might be open for you: Film Festivals. These usually cost, but offer great scope. In the Denver area, there are usually numerous free film festivals. Each summer is a little different, so you may have to do some research, mapping and planning, but it’s worth it. There are multiple places you may read all about it, but here’s one: Summer Film Festivals.
The Clyfford Still Museum — Not knowing much about art, I nevertheless enjoyed my visit here. The artist’s full collection is here, rotating from time to time to keep it fresh, so it’s worth a return visit. More importantly for ME, the building itself is amazing, a piece of art unto itself. There’s a price for admission, but it’s worth a go. Don’t let a visit to Denver pass by without a visit to the Still!
Knock Your Boots Off! Beer Tasting and Chili Cook Off — I didn’t go for the beer (eweh!), but tasting all the different kinds of chili was great fun. It’s a college town, so there are lots of college-aged folks, and it’s a rousing time. The time the Duchess and I went, they ONLY accepted cash, so come prepared. The Chili Cook Off is an unusual and wonderful way to welcome autumn in the Rockies! You should be able to look up information and the website (which changes, so is not added here) with the Golden Chamber of Commerce. Delicious!
The Four Mile Historic Park — This 1859-house is the oldest in Denver, with attendant out buildings and additional items that highlight life in the 1800s. The Four Mile Historic Park also has numerous activities throughout the year, such as learning about Victorian mourning customs, a traditional Fourth of July and a super fun Pumpkin Festival! The museum and some events have a cost, but some events (like the Pumpkin Festival) are free. Entertaining AND educational. Hard to argue with that!
Longs Peak Scottish-Irish Highlands Festival — With caber tossing, trained animals, music, grand processionals, kilts and curls, the Highlands Festival (usually in early September) is well worth a visit, even if you haven’t yet kissed the Blarney Stone. There’s a cost, but this multi-day event is worth a visit. Lots of sheep, which means lots of yarn, which means lots of great crafts. Check it out, aye!
Adams County Historical Museum — This little gem of a museum is located northeast of the downtown area, in what was once more commonly known as the Henderson area. Though generally considered part of the greater Brighton area now, it’s worth a visit no matter WHAT the address! The Adams County Historical Museum is free for general visitors in the main museum. There are also guided tours, for a fee (these must be arranged in advance), which includes a wide collection of historical buildings on the property. What a treat!
Lariat Loop — This scenic byway, on our own doorstep, features numerous historical and natural wonders. Make a day of it and explore, from Golden to Red Rocks. Much of the wisdom of my royal domain’s early elders is visible here. Not one to miss, and the drive is free! Lariat Loop
In Boulder, you may visit the National Center for Atmospheric Research. This monumental (truly) excellent building on the hill, designed to look as if it is part of the Flatirons, offers free tours of their scientific research. You need to set them up in advance, but it’s fun for all ages, and the place has a groovy 60s feel to it, because that is when it was built. Give NCAR a try, and while you’re there, enjoy the view of the city and prairie below!
Buffalo Bill Days — Care to celebrate one of the most iconic figures of the Wild West? It’s time to visit the celebrations for Buffalo Bill Days! They usually have one in February and another in the summer. My favorite event would definitely be the ‘buffalo chip tossing.’ I came in second place. Sweet! It’s great fun, and the local aspects of Buffalo Bill’s legacy really come to life. Check it out and prepare to toss your chips! Here’s a link: Buffalo Bill Days
You may think you have to be in great shape to do it, but a visit to the Olympic Training Center, in Colorado Springs, is for everyone …and they even offer free tours! You won’t know what you’ll see until you get there, but it’s great fun. Give them a call and watch the athletes in training! Wow! Check out the link: Olympic Training Center
Not all dancing is done to the manic beat of loud speakers or involves years of training. Why, with just fifteen minutes of a lesson, you will enjoy one of the most wonderful evenings around: contra dancing. The mid-point between English Country Dancing (think of those Jane Austen movies) and American square dancing, it’s super easy and loads of enjoyment for all. There are numerous places and groups to dance. In the Denver area, one of the best resources is the Colorado Friends of Old Time Music and Dance. Click here and maybe you’ll even see the Duke of Denver at a dance. He and the Duchess are experts! 🙂
Not far east of Castle Rock is Castlewood Canyon State Park. Once a quiet place with a reservoir behind a dam, all that changed one night in 1933 when that dam burst, sending a torrent of deadly water racing into Denver many miles away, bringing havoc to everything along its course. Today, this park still has the remnants of the dam (you’re not supposed to walk on them …ah well), and some great hiking. It’s worth a visit, and while you’re there you may learn about this historic disaster of Colorado’s past. Click to learn about Castlewood Canyon State Park!
We have a gigantic list (really …it’s huge) and are adding them a bit at a time, so come back soon!
We try to keep everything up to date, but things DO slip through from time to time. If you see a bad link or something erroneous, please let us know!