The anchor of Denver's performing arts scene, an important part of this increasingly sophisticated city, is the 4-square-block Denver Performing Arts Complex, located downtown just a few blocks from major hotels. The complex houses nine theaters, a concert hall, and what may be the nation's first symphony hall in the round. It is home to the Colorado Symphony, Colorado Ballet, Opera Colorado, and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (an umbrella organization for resident and touring theater companies).
Denver has some 30 theaters, more than 100 cinemas, and dozens of concert halls, nightclubs, discos, and bars. Clubs offer country-and-western music, jazz, rock, and comedy.
Current entertainment listings appear in special Friday-morning sections of the two daily newspapers, the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News. Westword, a weekly newspaper distributed free throughout the city every Wednesday, has perhaps the best listings: It focuses on the arts, entertainment, and local politics.
You can get tickets for nearly all major entertainment and sporting events from Ticketville USA, 101 W. 84th Ave., Denver, CO 80260 (tel. 303/430-1100; www.ticketvilleusa.com), which offers delivery to hotels. Also try Ticketmaster (tel. 303/830-TIXS), which has several outlets in the Denver area.
The Bar Scene--The first permanent structure on the site of modern Denver was supposedly a saloon, and the city has built on that tradition ever since. Today, there are sports bars, dance bars, lots of brewpubs, outdoor cafe bars, English pubs, Old West saloons, city-overlook bars, Art Deco bars, gay bars, and a few bars we don't want to discuss here.
Appropriately, the newest Denver "in" spot for barhopping is also the oldest part of the city -- LoDo -- which has been renovated and upgraded, and now attracts all the smart Generation-Xers and other young professionals. Its trendy nightspots are often noisy and crowded, but if you're looking for action, this is where you'll find it.
Glendale, an enclave surrounded by southeastern Denver where Colorado Boulevard crosses Cherry Creek, is another well-established hangout for Denver's party set. In recent years, however, as Glendale has become the Denver area's nexus for topless bars, the other bars have suffered.
Other popular "strips" are along North and South Broadway, and along East and West Colfax Avenue. For those who prefer caffeine to alcohol, there are also a number of good coffee bars throughout downtown Denver, as well as the Capitol Hill and uptown neighborhoods.
Whether or not you drink beer, it can be fun to look behind the scenes and see how beer is made. Denver's first modern microbrewery, the Wynkoop Brewing Co., 1634 18th St., at Wynkoop Street (tel. 303/297-2700), offers tours every Saturday between 1 and 5pm. Housed in the renovated 1898 J. S. Brown Mercantile Building across from Union Station, the Wynkoop is also a popular restaurant. At least 10 beers are always on tap, including a few exotic recipes -- the spicy chile beer is our favorite. If you can't decide which one to try, the "taster set" provides a nice sampling: nine 4-ounce glasses of different brews. For non-beer drinkers, the Wynkoop offers some of the best root beer in town. On the second floor is a top-notch pool hall with billiards, snooker, and darts.
Since it opened in 1991, Rock Bottom Brewery, 1001 16th St. (tel. 303/534-7616), has been one of the leading brewpubs in the area. Tours, which are given upon request, offer great views of the brewing process, plus a sampling of the product. The Rock Bottom also has eight billiard tables and a good menu, starting at $8.
Breckenridge Brewery, 471 Kalamath St. (tel. 303/623-BREW), a mile south of downtown, also lets you see the brewing process. Free brewery tours are given by appointment. In addition to its award-winning ales, the brewery serves traditional pub fare. Breckenridge also has a downtown tasting room at 2220 Blake St., across from Coors Field (tel. 303/297-3644).
In Cherry Creek, Bull & Bush Pub & Brewery, 4700 Cherry Creek Dr. S. (tel. 303/759-0333), produces about ten handcrafted ales and will give tours of its facilities upon request. Northwest of Denver, the Cheshire Cat, 7803 Ralston Rd., Arvada (tel. 303/431-9000), is an authentic English pub in a historic building (1891) that offers tours on request.
Those who are really serious about visiting Colorado's microbreweries should consider an organized tour with Actually Quite Nice Brew Tours (tel. 303/431-1440). Participants sample the beers at Denver- and Boulder-area microbreweries on lunch and dinner tours that last 4 to 5 hours. Full-day excursions visit breweries in Breckenridge and other mountain towns, or the Front Range cities of Colorado Springs and Fort Collins. Prices range from $50 to $75, and include beer samples and lunch or dinner. Custom tours are also available.
For a look at the other side of the coin, take a trip to nearby Golden for a look at Coors, the world's largest single-site brewery.
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