Ok, I know that Denver is the “mile high city” but could not resist making a semi-obscure reference to a line from the movie “Old School.”
Anyway, I had to go to Denver last week for work. I rarely travel out of state for work. In fact, in fourteen years, this is only the second time I have had to leave the great state of New Jersey for my job.
We arrived Monday night and made the long drive from Denver International Airport to downtown Denver (why did they put the airport so far from the city?). I checked into the Sheraton-Downtown, which was a great choice as far as location, as it was right in the middle of everything. The hotel is huge and it has the biggest fitness center I have ever seen at a hotel, and also has several restaurants. The hotel boasts on its website of an outdoor heated swimming pool, but it was closed for unexplained reasons. The room was very large, but oddly configured. Other than the lobby, much of the hotel would benefit from simple cosmetic upgrades as parts look out dated. I was satisfied with my stay, but then again, I’m not picky when it comes to hotels. I did think charging for Wi-Fi inside your room was a bit stingy for a business hotel, but that was somewhat off-set by two free computers in the lobby.
My favorite way to see a new city is to go out for a run, as you cover a lot more ground that way. Before I left for Denver I did some research to find good places to run near my hotel. There are a number of websites that list good and safe places to run in cities all over the world. After looking at Run the Planet and the world famous message board of running-specialty site Lets Run, I thought that the Creek Trail bike path, which was less than two miles from my hotel, looked like my best option. Before leaving for my first run I quickly consulted the concierge in the lobby of the hotel about the best way to get to Confluence Park, where I could pick up the trail. Following his suggestion I ran down 16th Street to the end, and after a little while I found a different bike path in Centennial Park called the South Platte River Trail. To my surprise, the trail was fully plowed, notwithstanding the fact that Denver got a foot of snow two days before. The bike path runs along the South Platte River and takes you away from downtown and out past Sports Authority Field, home to the Denver Broncos. It was a quiet place to run, completely free of traffic and scenic for an inner-city run. I later noticed several off-shoots from the bike trail I ran on, one being the Cherry Creek Bike Path. That bike path goes through downtown Denver but is free of traffic as streets are avoided by running under the bridges at intersections.
My second run took place in the more residential area of south central Denver known as Washington Park. Denver happens to be the home the legendary Donal O’Sullivan: Irishman, raconteur, flamenco-guitar playing friend and former college teammate of mine, and most recently father and economics & engineering scholar at the Colorado School of Mines. Donal and his lovely wife Ali were kind enough to host me for dinner one night while I was in town. While out on a run Donal showed me around Washington Park. The neighborhood, which is divided into and east and west surrounds a large and very runner-friendly Washington Park. The neighborhood itself was also easy to navigate on foot and contained a mélange of differing architecture as well as cool stores and coffee shops. If I lived in Denver, I could see myself living in Washington Park.
Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead
There are a number of things I would have liked to have done in Denver if I had the time. I did get to explore the 16th Street mall a bit, but I could have spent a lot more time there as it is at least a couple of miles long with a variety of stores and restaurants. There is also a free shuttle that runs continuously up and down 16th Street, which makes it easy to jump on and off to shop and explore. Another cool section of downtown Denver was Larimer Square, which was full of restaurants, coffee shops and entertainment venues and I would have enjoyed spending an afternoon wandering around that area.
The Denver Art Museum is the coolest looking building in Denver and I would check it out just for that reason alone. But I also noticed that there is a Georgia O’Keefe exhibit at the museum at the moment that I would have liked to have seen. Denver is also home to one of the U.S. Mint’s and it too had a museum. Every time I walked past it there was a line to get inside. That piqued my interest as it must be good if it is that well attended.
I ran by Elitch Gardens Amusement Park while running on the South Platte River Trail and thought it would be a fun place to bring the kids. Filled with roller coasters, water rides and a myriad of other fun rides, I know my boys would love to spend a day visiting. Right across the South Platte River was Sports Authority Field. Catching a game there would be fun too.
Through the magic of Facebook, I was also able to meet up with another friend while I was in Denver. Phil Charland, one of Jennifer’s childhood friends, happened to mention on Facebook that he was in Denver. Jennifer saw Phil’s post and sent him a message letting him know that I too was in Denver. When Jennifer mentioned to me that Phil was in Denver, I told her that I was certain he would be at my hotel as the Sheraton was hosting an educational conference and I know Phil works for a company that offers educational services and materials. Within minutes Phil and I met in the lobby and quickly arranged to have coffee in the morning. Sure enough the next morning Phil and I had a chance to catch up. It was nice to see another friend, particularly so unexpectantly!
I hope I get a chance to visit Denver again soon when I have more time to sight see. And if I find myself back there, I really hope it is in the summer time.
Have you been to Denver? Any suggestions for things to do, places to eat, running routes?