I nabbed a round-trip airline ticket to Denver for less than $150 last month, then zipped to the Mile High City to see what’s changed since my last visit – just a few months ago.
I ogled some new babies at the Denver Zoo, discovered an affordable Indian restaurant, soaked up the Western American art at the newly renovated Denver Art Museum, and learned about a new immersive King Tut exhibit.
My sister, her husband –– and most recently, my elderly mother –– all live there. We need accessible, fun entertainment, and these places fit the bill…
Catch some culture
The Denver Art Museum, 100 W. 14th Avenue Parkway, reopened after a major expansion and renovation last October.
Before you head inside, take time to sprawl on the interconnected row of lounge chairs out front. They’re comfy, and when you rock them, each one makes a different ringing sound. Also check out the much larger-than-life dustpan and broom near the museum’s entrance, which makes a good backdrop for a photo.
My mom loves the Impressionists, so we always swing through the 19th Century European and American Art gallery, which features paintings by Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, Edouard Manet, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. But my favorite is the museum’s Petrie Institute of Western American Art, filled with paintings and sculpture depicting cattle stampedes, Native Americans and cowboys caught in driving storms. Don’t miss my personal favorites, William Sanderson’s “Composition with Fried Eggs,” and “The Open Range” by William Herbert Dunton. We spent a lot of time looking at overlay maps of the American West, which reveal interesting data about droughts, population shifts and more.
A special exhibit featuring photography by Georgia O’Keeffe continues through Nov. 6, and an exhibit on Mexican fashion goes through Oct. 16. Stop in the museum shop to pick up jewelry, notecards, scarves, puzzles, mugs and more. Admission is $18 for adults (non-residents) or free for kids ages 6 to 18.
Take in the new interactive King Tut exhibit
The last time I visited Denver, I watched images of purple irises and starry night skies bloom on the walls at the riveting Immersive Van Gogh exhibit at Lighthouse Artspace Denver, 3900 Elati Street. That exhibit continues through Oct. 10, but now there’s also a second exhibit that explores the afterlife of King Tut, whose tomb was discovered 100 years ago. Same concept;, different subject material. This one follows the young king as he travels through the Underworld. Tickets to the new exhibit, which continues through Feb. 21, start at $22. For more information go here.
Check out the babies at the Denver Zoo
I caught a furry flash of the zoo’s new golden lion tamarin, which looked to me like a puff of fuzz nestled in the grasp of an adoring parent’s arms.
Other new residents include a pair of blonde raccoons named Pecan and Cashew, rescued because they have pigment loss that would make them easy prey for predators, and a grizzly bear named Tundra, whose mother was hit by a car and killed. New babies include an Asian small-clawed otter, a Southern gerenuk, and a pair of Eastern bongos.
I like the zoo’s focus on conservation and employees are stationed in front of exhibits around the grounds, answering questions and encouraging the public to protect wild animals.
The Harmony Hill area teaches visitors how to coexistco-exist with animals – and includes some good lessons about camping in bear country.
Last year, the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Animal Hospital opened on the grounds, and now visitors can watch through an elevated glass window as veterinarians do wellness checks on the zoo’s 3,000 residents.
Check the schedule for special events in the Adulting with the Animals series of programs. Upcoming activities include an Oktoberfest celebration on Oct. 6 and a Monster Masquerade on Oct. 27. (Did we mention you can buy and drink beer on the zoo grounds?)
General admission is $20 for adults and $14 for kids; special events are extra. Admission is free on Oct. 8, Nov. 1, and Nov. 13.
Stroll the park
Right next to the Denver Zoo, and behind the Museum of Nature and Science, you’ll find City Park. Pedal a bike along pathways that cut through the greenspace, stroll the paved pathway around the lake’s perimeter, or rent a swan-shaped paddle boat to putter across it. Better yet, drop by the African dance class taught by master teacher Djeneba Sako of Mali, West Africa, at 10:30 a.m. every Saturday during nice weather. The class costs $20. Wear comfortable clothes, no reservation necessary.
If You Go
American Airlines, Southwest, United and Frontier all offer non-stop flights to Denver.
I love the Halcyon in the trendy Cherrywood neighborhood, which has a gear garage filled with stuff like cruiser bikes, snow sleds and board games you can borrow. Also recommended? The Kimpton Hotel Born in Union Station.
Go to the zoo, visit City Park, take in an immersive exhibit, or check out the art museum.
Skip the rental car and hop the RTD train from the airport all the way to Union Station downtown, a mecca of restaurants, shops and hotels. A ticket that lasts all day costs $10.50. (August was Zero Fare for Better Air month, so I didn’t have to pay a dime.)