Like a lot of little boys, Paul Stewart grew up playing the now politically incorrect game of Cowboys and Indians, although Stewart never got to be a cowboy. He always had to be an Indian. There's no such thing as a black cowboy, he was told.
So imagine his surprise and delight when years later, he moved to Denver and met a real life cowboy and he was black. It changed the course of Stewart's life and the result is the Black American West Museum, a small but significant museum in Denvers Five-Points area that tells the world that yes, indeed, there was such a thing as a black cowboy.
This little museum is one of many old west experiences in Denver, but certainly the old west does not define this culturally diverse city located at 5,280 feet or exactly one mile above sea level.
Larimer Square is the oldest part of Denver, where the city was founded as a gold rush supply town in 1858. Today, Larimer Square is the coolest part of the city, particularly in the summer months when outdoor dining and people watching on the square is at its best.
The altitude allows for warm but not hot temperatures, making this fabulous walking district even more popular. You'll find lots of boutique shops, street performers and outdoor art.There are any number of good restaurants and nightclubs here, but my favorite is Wednesday's Pie. Originally it was open just on Wednesdays, but they still serve only one thing - pie. But this isn't your average pie, the chef behind the counter is James Beard-award winner Frank Bonnano, who owns several fun restaurants in the city.
One of those places is Green Russell, so named for the first prospector to hit it big in the region's gold rush. With swinging doors like an Old West saloon, Green Russell also serves those fabulous pies, but is best known as a craft cocktail bar.
The bartenders come to each table and chat with guests about their favorite flavors and likes/dislikes in a drink. And then, they make a drink designed just for you from the sodas, bitters and tonics made in house.
Denver is above all - nice phrase for a mile-high city - a town known for its microbreweries. The Great American Beer Festival in October shows off 2,700 kinds of beers to about 50,000 people in three days. Of course, these are not all Colorado beers, but the Rocky Mountain State makes a nice showing.
Denver and its immediate suburbs boast about 50 microbreweries and a couple of companies that offer walking and/or driving tours to each of them. My favorite is actually a place called the Cheeky Monk Belgian Beer Caf, but then I'm a big fan of Belgian beer. No matter what your preference is, you're bound to find a new favorite.
Other than eating and drinking, Denver has a wonderful art museum that attracts world-class exhibits. DAM, as it's called by locals, has a spectacular American Indian and Western American art collection, but unexpected in this landlocked state is the collection of Oceanic art that celebrates the artistry of South Pacific island cultures.
But if the weather is lovely, as it can be much of the year in Denver, get back outside with a visit to any of the four locations of the Denver Botanic Garden.
Located on four sites totaling 750 acres throughout the Denver area, it was one of the first gardens in the country to emphasize native plants and to incorporate water conservation and biological control of pests in its regular maintenance routine.
Please drink responsibly and use a designated driver, as your RoamRight policy does not cover loss resulting from or caused by being under the influence of alcohol.
What are your favorite things to do in Denver?
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A Midwest farm girl at heart, Diana Lambdin Meyer caught the roaming bug early in life. Diana married well - to a photographer who also has the travel bug and whose work in still and video complements her words. Now based in the Kansas City area, Diana is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers who makes a full-time living on the road and at the keyboard. Read about Diana's adventures on her blog, Mojotraveler or follow her on Twitter or Google Plus.
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