After nearly 11 months of traveling through America’s national parks, we decided to take a day off from our project to celebrate my birthday (Stef here.) We wanted to wear normal clothes (which we discovered that we no longer owned,) sleep in a hotel, and for one day not think about road tripping, endless logistics planning, and trying to capture the breathless. So we set down in Denver, Colorado to explore one Monday during late October... it turned out to be one of the most fun days of the year! Here's a look at what we did —
Denver Botanical Gardens
Our first stop was at the Denver Botanic Gardens in Cheesman Park. Even in a city (maybe especially in a city) we’re always seeking green space. This 23-acre wild utopia is among the top five botanical gardens in the country. With spacious nooks and crannies decorated by dedicated park benches, a mirrored "Monet Pond" complete with lily pads, and a Japanese bonsai garden, it is easy to see why Denverites and visitors like us seek it out for moments of zen. A vaulted amphitheater for musical events greets you as you pass by rotating exhibits—while we were there it was a tribute to Día de los Muertos, better known in the U.S. as the "Day of the Dead." The gardens are home to large collections of plants from cold-weather environments around the world as well as those native to Colorado and neighboring states. While we instinctively keyed in on how much there was to learn about Earth's environment while there, on that particular day we just wanted to wander and it was a perfect place to do that.
Brewery Tasting at the Great Divide Brewery
You can’t go to the Mile High City and not enjoy a tasting of local craft beers—it’s like going to Napa and forsaking the wine. The small bar area inside of the Great Divide Brewery in LoDo only has 11 seats (that are rumored to be forever taken) and for whatever reason, we lucked out with two of them situated right next to the taps where 3-oz pours of various brew styles freely flowed. For only $3 bucks you can get a 3-variety sampler—that's a really sweet deal. Tours of the brewery are available as well and popular for visitors from out of town. We just wanted to hang and chat with the locals and get to know what else was going on around in the city, information that they were more than willing to emphatically share... these locals are proud of their city!
A Stop at the Tattered Cover Book Store
This bookstore is every bit as treasured to the literary crowd as Shakespeare & Co. in Paris, Kramer's in DC, and Powell’s in Portland, Oregon are. With a wide selection of reads, a community feel, hipster gifts, and an ongoing schedule of upcoming readings given by big-time authors and thinkers—it is the kind of place that resonates far and beyond the buying of a book: it's the stuff that great book stores are made of.
Dinner at Sushi Den
Sushi Den is THE institution for sushi in Denver. It has been around longer than most other Japanese restaurants in the city and has a reputation of having the freshest catch with hard to come by selections and an authentic sushi bar where you can saddle up and taste the chef's recommendations. This was our first sushi experience of the year—and we are longtime fanatics but it really isn’t national park-y food, you know—and it totally delivered.