Denver a bastion of activity
Mile High City bustling as World Series comes to town
DENVER -- When a team like the Rockies makes its first trip to the Fall Classic, it's hard not to trip over the history. The Red Sox and Rockies wasted no time rewriting the record books as the Series opened in Boston, but brace yourself for some baseball firsts when the World Series comes to the Mile High City.For many, the concept of Colorado comes with snowy mountain peaks and pristine wilderness. Indeed, many Denver residents were attracted to the city not because of its antiquated reputation as a "cow town," but because of the accessibility to the rugged outdoors a quick skip away, beckoning baseball enthusiasts to combine a rare day of Rocky Mountain adventure with the Rockies World Series. Less than an hour from Coors Field, two ski resorts have already opened their slopes, offering fans a chance at what is likely the first Fall Classic doubleheader, making turns on the early season snow at Loveland and A-Basin ski resorts during the day while taking in the Rockies' first World Series home game that evening. The two have 12 and eight percent of their trails open, respectively, but the conditions are considered excellent for October. Many resorts are offering discounts for later in the season to skiers booking trips during the Series or having a postseason ticket stub. If the snow is too thin for downhill bump runners, it's not too late to challenge gravity with a hike up one of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, hitting the summit before descending for the Series. Most of the state's biggest mountains can be scaled in a matter of hours, leaving plenty of time to get back for batting practice. There are even two peaks -- Pikes Peak, outside of Colorado Springs, and Mount Evans, closer to Denver, with roads to the top and doughnut shops to greet the hearty drivers. Though Evans' paved road closed earlier in October, the dirt road up Pikes Peak remains open and in good condition, affording all a chance to see the "purple mountain majesties" that inspired Katherine Lee Bates to write "America the Beautiful" from its summit. For those with no hankering to get any higher than the mile-high atmosphere where the Rockies play "baseball with altitude," there is no dearth of "to-dos" right in downtown Denver itself, and those inclined to stick within the city limits can easily fill their plate between games. Whether looking to satisfy your palate with eats or ales, get started with Colorado's bevy of microbreweries, which continue to sprout up like a newly-minted state flower. The Wynkoop Brewery was the first, two blocks from Coors Field and across from historic Union Station, the active rail yard that dates back to the 19th century. Get a buffalo burger and a microbrew at "the pub that brewed a neighborhood," founded by current Denver mayor John Hickenlooper 20 years ago when LoDo was Skid Row, and save room for more sampling, with approximately one brewpub per city block in the "Munich of the Rockies." Down the street from the Wynkoop is one of the nation's great independent bookstores, the Tattered Cover, a favorite of best-selling authors, ex-presidents, and Nobel laureates alike. The three-story Mecca for bibliophiles welcomes readers with comfortable chairs and couches between the stacks and as expansive a collection as the most voracious page-turner could imagine.
From the bookstore's door on Wynkoop and 16th, turn up 16th for Denver's own pedestrian mall, a dozen blocks of shops, eateries and pubs giving fresh-air-loving Coloradoans the chance to do their shopping in the great outdoors.Colorado has long been a hotbed of homegrown music and a key stop on any headliner's tour, and even the World Series in town can't stop the beat. The Fillmore Auditorium hosts Devotchka -- known for their soundtrack to "Little Miss Sunshine" -- Saturday night and Maroon 5 Monday and Tuesday. The Bluebird Theater features alt-country "guit-steel" sensation Junior Brown on Sunday night, while local favorites Opie Gone Bad head to the Little Bear. Sorry, tweeners, Hannah Montana hit town on Thursday. Vinyl aficionados will want to visit Twist and Shout, one of the last great independent record stores -- and yes, they have bins and bins of records alongside their CDs, DVDS and rare and exclusive recordings. With a little luck, you could catch an in-store performance -- former Phish frontman Trey Anastasio christened the new digs with an intimate, free concert. Music lovers who haven't been to Denver before should take a 20-minute drive to Morrison for a look at Red Rocks Amphitheater, one of the world's most distinctive venues and a favorite stop for any musician able to land a gig. The natural amphitheater carved into the stone of Colorado's foothills features equally compelling views from the stage and the seats, overlooking the city in one direction and past the foothills to the stars in the other. Red Rocks has hosted everyone from the Beatles to Bob Dylan, from The Grateful Dead to John Denver and from Dave Matthews to U2. When not gearing up for a concert, venue serves as an historic park open to hikers and visitors, as well as diners at its visitors center. Despite being known as a big league sports town with MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL and MSL franchises, Denver actually has more arts than sports patrons each year, and with the new wing of the Denver Art Museum receiving raves for its unique architecture -- even inspiring motion sickness in some as they navigate its angles and oddities -- the city has gotten a leg up in worldwide recognition. Theater thrives at altitude, and although the Tony Award winning Denver Center Theater Company is dark during the World Series, theater offerings are available on other stalwart stages, including Curious Theater Company's preview of Bright Ideas on Saturday afternoon, the hilarious Buntport Theater Company offering nationally acclaimed original productions in an intimate, affordable venue over the weekend, and even a production of "Damn Yankees" 40 miles north at the Longmont Theater Company. If you can't get enough of the sporting life, Joe Sakic and the Colorado Avalanche, winners of two Stanley Cups since arriving in Denver in 1995, host Minnesota on Sunday afternoon, leaving the ice in time to head to the park and root on the Rockies. Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson, and the Denver Nuggets host the Portland Trailblazers in a preseason game Friday night, and the Broncos host the Packers for a Monday night game that, for once, is not the hottest ticket in town. Finally, the perennial powerhouse and two-time national champion University of Denver Pioneers open their hockey season hosting the first-place skaters from Minnesota Duluth Friday and Saturday nights. Diehard park collectors can take the 70-mile trip to see the Rockies' Triple-A affiliate's home park in Colorado Springs, replicating an oft-traveled route from the Sky Sox to the big leagues -- and the longer road back to the bushes.
And speaking of the Springs, Colorado's second city has its own share of attractions, starting with the not-to-be-missed Garden of the Gods, an expansive city park surrounding towering red rock monoliths, spires that defy gravity and baffle the imagination, and towering rock faces that tempt technical climbers to an unparalleled ascent. It's as mind-numbing to walk along the paved trails at the base of these outcroppings as it is to grunt to their tops.Colorado Springs also hosts popular attractions including the Olympic Training Center and the Air Force Academy, as well as the state's ice cream capital, Josh and John's, a home-churned haven that once boasted a Beantown franchise. If north is more in your nature, go from Blake Street to Boulder for a taste of a city consistently deemed among the nation's most livable. Pack a lunch for a picnic at the Flat Irons, or head up the hill to the luxurious Flagstaff house, perched atop a cliff face overlooking the city and its rolling greenbelt. The outdoor mall on Pearl Street is the promised land for pedestrian window shoppers, and historic venues like the Boulder Theater and the Fox Theater host some of the nation's most popular concerts. While Colorado has not been a hot spot for the Hollywood set, there are several well-recognized sights from the film and television archives of everyone from Woody Allen to Robin Williams. In one of his rare ventures outside of New York City, Allen came to Colorado to film some of the futuristic scenes in his '70s classic "Sleeper," and the ultra-modern Sleeper house situated high on a ridge in the foothills outside of Denver is visible from Interstate-70, standing out this October as it has been lit purple in recognition of the Rockies. Back in Boulder, the Mork and Mindy house still attracts fans of the alien from Ork, who rarely raised an eyebrow on the eccentric streets of Boulder. Further on up the road you can visit the Stanley Hotel, where the "The Shining" was set. Plan a meal at the hotel and a leisurely drive through Rocky Mountain National Park, which sits adjacent to the quiet mountain town of Estes Park, little over an hour from Denver. With or without tickets to see the boys of Rocktober battling back against the Red Sox, if you can't find something to do in and around Denver this weekend, you'd be well-advised to make sure you can find your pulse.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.