Colorado’s ski towns are deep into mud season, and the summer pools haven’t opened yet, but Denver’s got a lot on tap if you’re headed here for a little Rocky Mountain fun in April. Pick your passions and pack your bags, ’cause Denver is chomping at the bit to show you a good time.
The crown jewels of Denver culture include the Denver Art Museum, the Museum of Science and Nature, the Denver Zoo and the Botanic Gardens. Don’t miss the Modern Masters of the 20th Century exhibit at the DAM, and connect to all the art museum’s current details by downloading the DAM_SCOUT app on your smartphone.
This dramatic building complex with great exhibits is open Tuesdays-Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Fridays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. MST, and Saturdays/Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Additionally, the highly recommended Palettes restaurant at the museum puts edible art on the table from popular Denver chef Kevin Taylor. Reservations are highly recommended. General museum tickets are available online or at the door. Admission on Saturday, April 5, is free. Nestled along downtown’s south edge, walking to the museum is an option from any downtown hotel, and by RTD transit routes. There is also a large parking garage adjacent to the museum, accessible for a small fee. The Denver Public Library, just next door, has some valuable historic and genealogy collections and a great Children’s Library.
The Denver Museum of Science and Nature is huge fun, no matter your age. The Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed special exhibit tickets are best reserved in advance. A planetarium, IMAX theatre, extensive diorama exhibits and a highly acclaimed North American Indian Art collection, offer great options for a variety of interests. On April 13 and 16, the museum is open at no cost. It is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Located in City Park, the museum is 3 miles east of the central business district. RTD bus routes deliver you to the museum from various areas of town. Parking is free, and tickets are available both online and at the door.
Also adjacent to City Park, the Denver Zoo makes a good companion visit. Exhibits span 80 acres, offering a peek at some large, exotic and unusual animals, along with the usual lions, tigers and bears in creative, clean, well-planned settings. Don’t miss the underwater view of swimming polar bears, the walk-through of free-flight Bird World and the nursery with babies on display. Open every day of the year, hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 1 through Oct. 31, closing at 4 p.m. in winter.
The Denver Botanic Gardens is another worthwhile trip, featuring the Hosokawa Bonsai Pavilion and Tea Garden. The DBG’s signature solarium is magnificent, but the Japanese Garden is a unique treat. Tickets to the Botanic Gardens are available at the ticket window. Tickets for all of the above attractions are included in the Mile High Culture Pass, available on the www.denver.org website.
Play ball! Take in the Rockies baseball home opener April 4 at Coors Field against the Arizona Diamondbacks, with a string of great MLB games throughout the month. The Colorado Avalanche NHL hockey games at the Pepsi Center find them playing the New York Rangers on April 3, Pittsburgh on April 6, with six more games in April. Denver Nuggets basketball will also host eight April games at the Pepsi Center. Grab some great seats on the respective team websites and hop the light rail or bus line to the venue, saving parking and navigational headaches.
Denver has great sports, but even better shopping. Cherry Creek Mall has 160 world-class luxury-brand shops. Just across First Avenue, you’ll find another 16 blocks of outdoor shopping and dining. FlatIron Crossing Shopping Center to the north, Colorado Mills to the west and Park Meadows Mall down south are good suburban options as well. The 16th Street Mall downtown runs a shuttle up and down the length of the 17th Avenue business district, serving Tabor Center and Larimer Square shops and restaurants, connecting to LoDo District bars and entertainment and sports venues.
The Colorado Symphony performs a series of April concerts at Boettcher Concert Hall in the Denver Center for Performing Arts complex downtown. Tickets are available on the website, with walk-ups often available. Colorado Ballet dances a Director’s Choice performance on April 5 at Lone Tree. You’ll need a car or a cab for that one, but it promises to be worth the trouble. If you’re hungry, and we know you will be after all of these activities, have dinner at Denver’s oldest restaurant, the Buckhorn Exchange, or take the kids to Casa Bonita to watch the cliff divers while noshing on Mexican fare.
Get out of town for the Coors Brewery tour and the stunning Red Rocks Amphitheatre out west near Golden. Scratch your gambling itch just half an hour west in the Central City and Blackhawk Casinos, or climb or drive to the top of one of Colorado’s 14er peaks in Rocky Mountain National Park for a breathtaking photo op.
Whether you measure it by distance or sea level, Denver beats the beach by a mile.
Come see for yourself!
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