Things to do in Denver when it's cold?
January 3, 2014 6:32 PM   Subscribe

Besides skiing, of course. I think myself and Ms Jo will be in Denver area for 4 days or so within the next two weeks. We may ski one day, but prefer just being out of doors and walking and hiking. Is this too crazy given the season? I would love to go to a hot springs but the closest one looks kinda cheesy/expensive. We will have a car. I like beer. Suggestions for activities and accommodations are welcome. Basically, I am looking for a non-ski reason to go Denver area this month for 3 or 4 days. If the answer is to come back later (during brew fest and better hiking weather, so be it).
posted by J0 to Travel & Transportation around Denver, CO (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The marijuana scene is pretty topical.
posted by shew at 6:45 PM on January 3, 2014

Which hot springs are you talking about? The closest to Denver is Indian Hot Springs in Idaho Springs, and it is neither cheesy nor expensive. I think I've been to most of them, and I don't think there are any hot springs in Colorado that I'd describe that way.
posted by Wordwoman at 6:51 PM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It was 60 today, not that bad, it'll be 28 tonight. The weather is super variable, don't let it scare you. My husband and I walk a couple miles every day. Just be sure to bring gloves and hats and such.

We are going to try this Hot Spring in Feburary. Indian Springs is supposed to be cheesy yes, but awesome and kitschy.

City Park and the Zoo are good for people watching and hanging out. If you bike, there are lots of good urban trails.

Red Rocks is very cool hiking close to the city.

This isn't very coherent, sorry. We just moved here from Atlanta and the weather was a little shocking at first, especially coupled with the thin, dry air, but it doesn't have to be an obstacle.
posted by stormygrey at 6:51 PM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also you can combine the snow and hiking with snowshoeing. Any of the typical places will rent you gear.
posted by mmascolino at 7:01 PM on January 3, 2014

Best answer: The foothills have barely any snow right now. We went mountain biking last weekend in Boulder with just a bit of mud. My friend tried to go snowshoeing at Brainard Lake yesterday and there wasn't enough snow to snowshoe! As mentioned above, the weather is incredibly variable! Over the course of one week, I ran in everything from short sleeves to snow gear.

I am outside everyday. You just have to dress appropriately. But winter days can be SUPER sunny and lovely and once you are moving, you warm way up.

If you like beer, you should go to Ft Collins. The Avery tour is tons of fun but you have to reserve a spot way in advance. But, if you can't get in, there are tons of other taprooms to check out. Boulder can be fun if you want to stroll on the Pearl St Mall and have some great food (Mountain Sun is one of my local favorites).

There is tons to do in Colorado all year round!
posted by rachums at 7:05 PM on January 3, 2014

If you can hold off until late January you can go to the Winter BrewFest. I went to the summer version and it was great.
posted by Clustercuss at 7:13 PM on January 3, 2014

Best answer: If you don't mind a bit of a drive, Glenwood Canyon is amazing this time of year. Actually, that entire drive down I70 is amazing - I'd recommend it. Also Yampah Hot springs are on the other side - and I haven't been, but I have heard it is nice.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:39 PM on January 3, 2014

Best answer: My favourite brewpub in Denver is Wynkoop. There is an outdoor mall in downtown, too, plus many museums etc. It's damned hard to find affordable parking on game days.

We ate at Solera when we were there over Thanksgiving, and it was really great.

The Railroad museum is mostly outdoors.You can take rides on trains, though we always ride the Cumbres-Toltec so have never ridden one there.

I was going to suggest Sand Creek, but it looks like a lot of trails are still closed because of the flooding.

The weather is variable, but doesn't preclude outdoor activities at all.

Any specific type of of food you are looking for? You can find just about any type in Denver, but have to be careful of certain neighborhoods. We've had wonderful German, Greek, Ethiopian, Spanish, Italian, etc.
posted by annsunny at 8:50 PM on January 3, 2014

Stormygrey links to Mt. Princeton, which is lovely. My only problem with it is the long-ish drive back after I'm ridiculously relaxed and fighting to stay awake on a winding 2-lane road with few places to pull over for a quick nap.
posted by bibliowench at 9:42 PM on January 3, 2014

I don't know where you are planning on skiing, but if Winter Park is a possibility, Hot Sulphur Springs (my favorite!) is right in the vicinity.
posted by Wordwoman at 10:19 PM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Some great walks in the Denver area that should be doable even if it's just snowed include the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Preserve, North Table Mesa, and the Flatirons Vista trails ($5 parking, bring the cash for the envelope).

If you're really looking to beer it up and you'll be here before the 15th or after the 22nd, MeMail me. Failing that, go to Crooked Stave at the Source, Freshcraft, Bull & Bush, Falling Rock (not on a weekend night), Vine Street, and Jagged Mountain. Go to Backcountry Pizza afterwards if you hike the Flatirons.
posted by j.edwards at 11:00 PM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Disclaimer: I'm biased in that I want to see as much abstract art in my life as possible, so....

If I were in Denver one indoor activity I would do would be to go to the Clyfford Still Museum.
posted by mbarryf at 6:02 AM on January 4, 2014

Best answer: You should take a day and go to the National Western Stock Show, Jan. 11 - 26. It's a slice of life that most of us never think about (well, I never did anyway, before I moved here 20 years ago).

Coincidentally, the show was also going on the first time I visited Denver in 1991. It did not occur to me that the reason most of the people staying in my hotel were wearing stacked jeans, cowboy boots, and Stetsons was because they were ranchers and rodeo cowboys in town for the stock show. (Most Denverites do not "dress western.")

The Kick-off Parade in Denver on January 9 is a hoot - 100 long-horned cattle being herded by cowboys in the streets of downtown Denver is quite a sight. There are horse shows, rodeos, mutton-bustin', dog shows (herding dogs and others), and a "Wild West" show. You can tour the indoor barns and see all breeds of cattle, plus llamas, goats, sheep (also sheep shearing), mules, yaks, and bison, and the people who raise them. There's a fiddle championship (sponsored by the Colorado Old Time Fiddlers’ Association (COTFA)) and the Coors Western Art Show and sale.

The exhibit hall is kind of fun - lots of overpriced merch, and cheesy cookware demos, for sure, but I always enjoy the huge vendor displays of ranch style furniture and decor. Lots and lots of cowboy kitsch.

A word of warning - if you go to any of the ticketed events, such as the rodeo, wild west show, or the horse shows, be prepared for some of the most over-the-top uber-maudlin-super-"patriotic" announcing you will ever hear. I find it's necessary to imagine you are an anthropologist visiting a foreign culture, or else your eyes will roll right out of your head.

For extra added hilarity, if you want to drive up to Steamboat, you can catch the Cowboy Downhill. I don't know why it is so entertaining to watch a bunch of cowboys and cowgirls in full regalia (chaps and jeans and hats) attempt to take a slalom course, but it surely is. Here's a video from last year.

If for some reason weather prevents you from being outside, the Denver Art Museum currently has a show of French impressionists, the Kirkland Museum is worth a visit, and the Museum of Contemporary Art is right downtown. (I was not impressed by the Clifford Still.) Visit the REI flagship store at Confluence Park (downtown) to see (and/or climb) a 47-foot indoor climbing wall.
posted by caryatid at 10:19 AM on January 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: As far as beer goes, a good loop would be to go up to Fort Collins (About an hour and a half drive), hit New Belgium, Odell, and\or Funkwerks and then work your way back via Oskar Blues and Left Hand in Longmont, finishing off with Avery and Boulder Beer in Boulder.

In town: Breckenridge, Great Divide, and Dry Dock are especially worth hitting, and if you like sours I'd highly recommend Crooked Stave. Oh and if you do Breckenridge it's right down the street from Stranahan's, just in case you like whiskey.

If there's no snow on the ground I think Dinosaur Ridge is great, You get to touch dinosaur bone fossils that are still in the ground. Plus, it's super cheap: free to $5 a person depending on if you take the shuttle or walk. The shuttle driver usually knows their stuff.

Winter weather here is odd, yesterday was 60, today has 6-8 inches of snow. On the other hand, we usually get more snow in March than in any other month, so holding off 'till spring may not work out too well either, and really even our sudden swings don't usually get too extreme.
posted by Gygesringtone at 2:33 PM on January 4, 2014

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