The Mile High City will host a international art shows, one-of-a-kind exhibits and premiere sporting events in 2014, including the largest exhibit of Maya artifacts in American history, a worldwide exclusive showing of Cartier jewels and the World Lacrosse Championships.
There are even more reasons to visit Denver in 2014.
1. Eat Your Way Through Denver. Denver Restaurant Week, (February 22-28 and August 23-29). This year is its 10th anniversary and it’s sure to delight foodies. Last year, a record 355 participating restaurants served 436,650 meals. Check out the website for a list of restaurants participating and be sure to make your reservations early since spots often book quickly.
2. Walk in Ancient Worlds. Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed, (February 14 – August 24) The largest exhibition about the ancient Maya ever to be displayed in the United States will be staged in the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. The exhibit includes never-before-seen artifacts, hands-on activities, and immersive walk-in environments, including re-creations of an underground cave and a colorful, life-size frieze that once surrounded the top of El Castillo pyramid at Xunantunich in Belize. Visitors will explore the rise and decline of ancient Maya cities, from their 365-day calendar and incredible architecture to experiencing day-to-day life in a Maya neighborhood.
3. Ride ‘em Cowgirl! Rodeo All Star Weekend, April 17-19 – Relive Denver’s Old West heritage when the nation’s top-ranked cowboys and cowgirls ride into town for the Rodeo All-Star Weekend at the National Western Complex. Steer wrestling, calf roping, and bull riding, are just some of the events, which also include live music and a fashion show. Speaking of fashion, don’t forget to visit Rockmount Ranch Wear in downtown Denver to pick up some of their original snap button Western shirts, as recently worn by Sir Paul McCarthy on “Saturday Night Live.”
4. Sip a Beer Exactly One Mile Above Sea Level. Coors Field, home to the Colorado Rockies, is being redeveloped to create the largest rooftop deck, bar and terrace in any sports stadium in America. Set to open in April 2014, the two-story area can hold up to 4,500 fans. Called The Rooftop, the new deck will offer the best views in the stadium, with a long terrace overlooking the ballpark, as well as downtown Denver and the majestic, snowcapped Rocky Mountains. The centerpiece of the Rooftop will be the 5280 Craft Bar. To celebrate the fact that the room is exactly 5,280 feet above sea level (one mile high!) the bar will be exactly 52 feet and 80 inches long and offer 52 craft beers on tap. Rollup glass garage doors can transform the area into open air space, where fans can enjoy all the sights and sounds of the ballpark. The CHUBurger Restaurant will offer a Colorado casual dining with a display kitchen open on all four sides so fans can watch their food being prepared and will feature craft burgers made with beef raised from the Hops & Heifers Farm in nearby Longmont, Colorado.
5. Jump into a Computer Game – Literally. Oh Heck Yeah, June 7-July 26 – Downtown Denver’s Champa Street will be transformed into an immersive two-block long outdoor arcade game during this one-of-a-kind event. The interactive games will be played on huge LED screens, projections on the sides of buildings, and in custom art installations. Visitors can play the games on smart phones or by using their bodies. The games will be simple to learn and play, but might cover the entire side of a building. It will be like walking into Tron. Street art, street performers, music, and food trucks will make this an interactive 21st Century street fair. Be sure to check out the website to learn how characters will be brought to life via Twitter profiles powered by a local comedian.
6. Stroll through an Outdoor Sculpture Garden. Chihuly at the Denver Botanic Gardens, (June 13-November 30) The works of Dale Chihuly, one of the world’s most acclaimed sculptors, will take on new beauty when they are displayed in the lush setting of the Denver Botanic Gardens. Chihuly’s elegant blown-glass sculptures – ranging in size from small water floats to large vertical installations – will add bold colors to the 24-acre gardens. Denver Botanic Gardens is recognized as one of the top botanic gardens in the western United States and is home to more than 30,000 plants displayed in 45 gardens.
7. Cheer on Team USA! World Lacrosse Championship, (July 10-19) US Lacrosse is thrilled to bring the excitement of the Federation of International Lacrosse World Championships to Denver in 2014.This marks the first time the United States has hosted this world championship since 1998, and promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for lacrosse fans around the globe. Led by fourth-quarter dramatics from Ned Crotty, the United States edged Canada to win the 2010 FIL World Championship in Manchester, England, avenging a 2006 loss to Canada in the gold medal game. The 2014 championship is expected to be every bit as competitive, with a record total of more than 40 nations expected to participate. Great family entertainment is planned at an International Village at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
8. Rock at the Red Rocks Summer Concert Series. Last year, Rolling Stone named Red Rocks as “the best outdoor amphitheatre in the U.S.” In 2014, the 9,000-seat concert venue will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles 1964 performance, the first time a rock group had performed at “the Rocks,” and the only concert on the Beatles 1964 tour to not sell out, in part because of local outrage over the high priced, $6.60 tickets. How times have changed! In addition to a stellar lineup (to be announced) of summer concert performers, in 2014 the Colorado Music Hall of Fame is moving into the Red Rocks Trading Post, paying tribute to Centennial State favorites like John Denver (who wrote the official Colorado State Song, “Rocky Mountain High”) and Denver native Judy Collins.
9. Sleep in a Station. Denver’s Union Station is undergoing a massive restoration and redevelopment that will transform it in July 2014 into a transportation, dining, shopping and entertainment hub, all centered around a new 112-room hotel. The Crawford Hotel (named after Larimer Square developer Dana Crawford) will have two bars in the grand old 1914 waiting room, and will incorporate many architectural features of the station in each room, including giant beams, windows overlooking the tracks, and vaulted ceilings.
Four new Colorado restaurants are being added including a seafood restaurant owned by recent James Beard Award winner for the Best Chef Southwest, Jen Jasinski (owner of Rioja, Bistro Vendome and Euclid Hall) and Alex Siedel, Food & Wine’s 2010 selection for Best New Chef and owner of the acclaimed Fruition restaurant.
The restored station will also have two fast service restaurants and ten local one-of-a-kind boutiques. Two new parks will grace the front of the station, which will also serve daily Amtrak trains and Denver’s 124 miles of light and commuter rail, including a new line to Denver International Airport that will open in 2016.
10. Make Diamonds Your New BFF. Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century (opening Nov. 16, 2014) This worldwide-exclusive exhibition at the Denver Art Museum will include an astonishing assortment of jewelry, timepieces and precious objects from the Cartier collection. Many of the pieces in the exhibition were owned by aristocrats, celebrities and royalty, including Princess Grace, Elizabeth Taylor, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, J.P. Morgan and the Aga Khan, among other luminaries.
11. Drive the Highest Continuous Highway in the World. The editors at National Geographic just selected Rocky Mountain National Park as one of the Top 20 Places to visit in the world in 2014. Located just a little over an hour from Denver, this 100-year-old national park contains 400 square miles (1,036 sq km) of unspoiled scenic beauty, including Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous highway in the world crossing the Continental Divide at over two miles above sea level. The park has hundreds of miles of hiking trails, tranquil lakes, waterfalls, wildlife and horseback riding. Stroll the level trail around Bear Lake, climb to scenic Alberta Falls, or for the really adventurous, cross the narrows and scale Longs Peak, one of Colorado’s 54 fourteen thousand foot peaks.
12. Or, Bike Your Way Through Denver. With 850 miles of paved, off-road bike paths, Denver is a cyclist’s paradise.
Who’s ready to book a flight to Denver with me?
Megy Karydes is founder of Wandering Tastes, a lifestyle and travel site that is meant to inspire adventure and exploration through traveling and food. She’s also a regular contributor to 10best.com which is part of the USA Today Travel family and TravelingMom.com as Foodie TravelingMom among other print magazines and online media outlets.