The Denver Broncos didn’t just win Super Bowl 50, they are the World Champions apparently (memo Hawthorn fans, better upgrade your bragging status too, Premiers & AFL World Champions ..), and when it comes to snow gateways this relaxed city a snowball’s throw from the Main Divide of the Rockies offers plenty for a short or longer stopover.
Yes, it’s easy to grab a shuttle from Denver International Airport straight to the likes of Breckenridge, Copper Mountain or Keystone, but as we discovered dropping in for the SIA America Trade Show there is a lot more on offer.
Instead of flying in and arriving jet lagged and breathless at the ski areas spending a couple of nights at Denver’s 1600m altitude (they call it the “Mile High City”) is a big bonus to getting ready for 3800m summits to be skied later.
The downtown area is wide open and relaxed, with cool features like a free bus service along the 16th Street Mall, a mile long pedestrian-friendly strip packed with shopping, restaurants and attractions. These include The Denver Pavilions, a one-of-a-kind retail/entertainment center which includes a special retail project to support the local creative economy. All goods are 100% local and the artists receive 70% of sales. With more than 135 local artists and designers, it is one of the best places to experience Denver’s creative scene.
Denver does scenes pretty well, from shopping (apart from downtown be sure to visit Cherry Creek and the historic Larimer Square/Riverfront district), to history (extensive – Wild West, Gold Rush, native American etc with great museums), culture (the 2nd biggest performing arts centre in America) and, my favourite, a brew pub scene that rocks – from visiting the Coors Brewery at Golden en-route to the ski fields to any number of great brew pubs around town, this is good beer central.
We were lucky enough to experience the amazing natural amphitheatre at Red Rocks Park & Ampitheatre, thanks to Icelantic Skis annual ski show party concert event – the natural acoustics here are incredible, attracting an absolute who’s who of music acts over the years to play here. Check the 1983 list below, headlined by Australia’s own Men At Work. As an extra bonus we got to see the full moon rise over Denver below as we watched Icelantic’s line up of top rap artists.
It’s no surprise Denver is one of the fastest growing cities in the USA, very popular with millenials moving here for the relaxed lifestyle and opportunities in the creative & tech industries that are booming. Like a lot of great winter destinations the locals will tell you they came for the winters but love the summers, and we would have loved to trial the share-bikes along the riverside trails and a whole lot more.
Walking around downtown you feel safe and relaxed, it’s friendly and easy to navigate. The light rail system is being extended to the airport at the moment, so there’s no need for a car.
There’s heaps of great accommodation from budget, Air B&B, to excellent hotels. Sure the aussie dollar has tanked lately, but with airfares cheaper than they have ever been in real terms and lift pass option like the Perisher / Epic Pass or Copper’s super earlybird season pass deals a Ski USA mission remains very affordable. Most itineraries for that will require stopovers somewhere, and for us making that Denver instead of LA proved a big bonus.
Freindly Visit Denver booths are scattered around with heaps of information and their site is your best first stop for trip planning www.VisitDenver.com