Afternoon in Denver with a car
August 18, 2015 4:41 AM   Subscribe

I'm arriving at Denver airport just after 11 am on a Saturday, hiring a car at the airport and then planning to stay in Grand Lake for a few days after that. Is it worth spending the Saturday afternoon checking out Denver rather than heading straight for Grand Lake? If so, how should I do this?

Specifically where should I park in Denver for maximum ease of getting in and out of the city and for seeing the sights? And what shouldn't I miss in that afternoon/evening?

I suppose the alternative would be stopping somewhere interesting on the way to Grand Lake but I'm planning to get plenty of outdoorsy fun in the few days after so it seems like I should take the opportunity to see a bit of a new city.
posted by neilb449 to Travel & Transportation around Denver, CO (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I'm an art nut, so I would go to the Clyfford Still Museum.
posted by mbarryf at 5:20 AM on August 18, 2015


It really depends on what you're interests are. In particular the Botanic Gardens are really lovely. If you are a fan of craft beer culture, you should know that Denver and its surroundings are a major hub of activity with most of its offerings not available in the eastern part of the US let alone exported out of the country.

The downtown area of Denver isn't large and is surrounded by highways that will lead you into the Rockies with minimal delays. The only thing that you might want to avoid is if there is a baseball game going on while you are in town. It however is easy to check the schedule and just avoid the area around the statement (or not...maybe you like sporting crowds).
posted by mmascolino at 5:34 AM on August 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Denver Botanic Gardens Park is very nice if you're into that sort of thing.
posted by Perplexity at 5:35 AM on August 18, 2015


If you go down to the Civic Center, you can visit the Clyfford Still, the Denver Art Museum, the History Colorado Center (disclaimer: I worked on a lot of the exhibits in there) and other cultural attractions. It's also not a bad parking base from which to explore downtown (although you can also park downtown). From there you can walk or take the shuttle down the 16th Street Mall to the restored Union Station for a drink or some food and explore around there...
posted by heurtebise at 5:36 AM on August 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Brown's Hotel is a great historic hotel that has a wonderful tea if you want something tasty while sitting down and taking in the stained glass ceiling and carved wood.

A fun stop is walking around the Capitol building grounds - lots of gardens & art, and there is a "mile high" marker on the outside steps that is a quick iconic way to say you were in the mile high city. Lots of interesting architecture - like the main library, and the art museum holds its own.
posted by childofTethys at 6:20 AM on August 18, 2015


My conscience compels me to throw in my $.02. If you really want to see stuff in Denver (I hope so) you may want to consider staying in town that night & heading for Grand Lake the next day. To drive from the airport, you'll either have to go through the metro area on I70 (yucko) or through Boulder and Estes Park on a Saturday afternoon (by my estimation, double yucko.) These routes have nice stops, too, but they can be long, exhausting drives, especially when it gets dark. That being said, Nthing the History Colorado Center and the Botanical Gardens. (Mods, please forgive this addition:heurtebise, great job the History museum- I was so impressed!)
posted by JulesER at 7:08 AM on August 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Denver's Nature and Science Museum is top notch and it looks like they have some interesting exhibits right now. I'd give it a look. You can also walk around City Park before or afterwards too.

Personally, I try to avoid the area around the Capitol building and city hall, which is across from it. There are usually a whole bunch of sketchy people in the area, especially on a weekend. It's a shame, because Civic Center Park is a nice park, but yeah.
posted by Fister Roboto at 7:27 AM on August 18, 2015


I have lived in the Denver area for years. Grand Lake is one of my favorite Colorado towns. Personally, I'd just skip Denver altogether and head up to Grand Lake ASAP.
posted by Rad_Boy at 7:50 AM on August 18, 2015


If you're visiting Denver very soon, the Amorphophallus titanum at the Botanic Gardens will apparently bloom any day now (StinkyCam!), so if your idea of great sightseeing includes interesting smells, definitely try to fit that in.

Be sure to have a look at COtrip.org beforehand (especially at the times you're considering driving) to get an idea what the I-70 traffic will be like (probably dreadful) and you may want to make a last-minute decision to go or stay based on what it looks like the day you arrive. (Ain't nobody wants to spend time on I-70 if there's been a collision.)
posted by asperity at 8:30 AM on August 18, 2015


Also live in Denver. Denver is fine, but whenever I have visitors, I give them a quick driving tour of downtown Denver to see capitol hill and the old Victorians and then get out of the city. The nature and science museum is good, as is the art museum, but unless there is something they really want to see, we usually skip them. Union Station has been fixed up, so it's pretty nice, but a little hipster-y.

Parking in downtown Denver isnt terrible. There are plenty of garages and lots, especially on the weekend. 16th street mall is boring, so stick to the museum areas or the union station area. If I were you, I'd take a half hour driving around the capitol and then park near Union station and have a late lunch and see the Platte river and then head on up to grand lake.
posted by umwhat at 9:16 AM on August 18, 2015


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