Denver is known for many things: its craft beer scene, its access to outdoor adventure, its altitude (hey, they don’t call it the Mile High City for nothing!). But, did you know it also has a rich creative culture?
Whether you’re looking for a traditional museum experience or something more offbeat, you’ll find it in Denver. To help jumpstart your inspiring trip, below find five creative experiences to have in Denver.
RiNo — short for River North Art District — has quickly become Denver’s street art hub. While you can simply wander without a plan, the local tourism board offers a great list of suggestions on their site.
If you’re a Stranger Things fan you’ll want to head to the 2500-2600 block between Larimer and Walnut streets to see Eleven, Hopper, Mike, Dustin, Will and Lucas — and even a few Demogorgons — hanging out on the walls.
Pro tip: Try to visit in September, when the Colorado Crush Street Art Festival puts up a fresh coat of paint. It’s interesting to watch the artists work, and you’ll be the first to see the city’s newest murals.
When you’re done discovering murals, head to the RiNo Made Pop Up Shop! to peruse locally-made goods. The shop also hosts seminars and workshops for creative types looking to hone their craft.
The Clyfford Still Museum — located within Denver’s Cultural Arts District, next door to the Denver Art Museum — is very unique. First of all, Still was adamant about not allowing his work to get into the hands of any corrupt institutions. Before he died he began safekeeping the pieces in his home, with a wish that it would go to a city — not a museum — after his passing. That’s how about 95% of his total life’s work came to be in this city-owned museum in Denver. Actually, it’s one of the world’s most comprehensive single artist focused museums in the world.
Inside, you’ll find over 2000 sculptures and works on paper, as well as more than 800 paintings. While you walk around the space, notice how Still was influenced by other Abstract Expressionist greats like Van Gogh and Rembrandt, but took that inspiration and truly made it his own.
Pro tip: Buy your admission ticket online for a discount!
If you’re looking to go beyond looking and actually create something yourself, Denver doesn’t disappoint.
One suggestion: the Denver Glass Academy, where you’ll learn the art of glassblowing. In fact, you’ll even leave with your own handmade souvenir, like a wand or pipe.
And if you’re looking for something artsy and boozy, Canvas and Cocktails offers foolproof, step-by-step painting instruction that includes an alcoholic beverage. Events like Sangria Saturdays and Sundays as well as Mimosa Mornings are family-friendly, too!
Having trouble choosing which of Denver’s delicious restaurants to eat at? Luckily, you don’t have to; at least not if you head to one of the city’s creative food halls.
Check out Avanti Food & Beverage in Denver’s LoHi neighborhood, a concept space with rotating restaurants and communal indoor-outdoor seating hugging two gorgeous bars. The shared space allows for lower rent costs — and lower plate costs — and more flexibility for chefs to experiment with recipes.
A fun addition: the assortment of Barbara Streisand artwork created by one of Avanti’s founders that adorns the walls. Another fun food hall is The Source Hotel & Market Hall where you’ll find two market halls showcasing 25 different artisans selling food, household items and other wares.
One sit-down restaurant that you won’t want to miss: Acorn. Here, their oak-fired oven and grill ensures all their seasonal ingredients are cooked to perfection.
Denver has a number of options for live performances. In the mood for a musical experience that’s also nostalgic? The 1up — located in LoDo and Colfax — is a retro arcade that also hosts concerts. So, you can play a round of Pac-Man before rocking out. If you’re a fan of burlesque, The Clocktower Cabaret offers that as well as comedy, drag, circus acts and more — all paired with a delicious menu (did someone say truffle popcorn?).
For a landmark theater space, a visit to Historic Elitch Garden Theater is a must. Dating back to 1891 stars like Grace Kelly and Debbie Reynolds have enchanted the public from this stage. Along with tours, they offer a number of programming series, including an outdoor film series in the warmer months.
Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.
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Jessica Festa is a full-time travel writer who is always up for an adventure. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia and doing orphanage work in Ghana. You can follow her adventures on her travel websites, Epicure & Culture and Jessie On A Journey. You can also connect with Jessica directly on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, or follow her epicurean adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
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