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mgt
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My wife and I will be spending our first July 4th in the US, in Denver. Is there anything we should particularly look out for or try to experience?
We are arriving by plane on July 1st and have a visit to the Georgetown Loop, last visited in 2001, planned for the 3d. I believe there have been far reaching changes since then?
The Forney museum is a possibility on the 2nd, I think it was closed in 2001. Any suggestions for there?
On the 5th we leave on the Zephyr for Emeryville.
Has Grand Junction station been renovated since 2005? We remember the small attached shop with affection!
We are looking forward to seeing the new developments in Denver Union and, of course, to an extended visit to The Tattered Cover!
Thanks in advance for any advice.
MGT

Posts: 168 | From: uk. northumberland | Registered: Jun 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
palmland
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mgt, since there has been no othr input for you,thought I'd take a stab on your Denver trip.

While Denver is a nice city, the Rocky Mountains are the real attraction for me in that area. It appears you'll have a car so here is another option:

Visit the Georgetown loop as you planned. Then continue west on old highway US 40 over Berthoud Pass (this was the east-west road before I-70). Take it to Grand Lake - a nice mountain town on the west side of the mountains. Very scenic drive. Then for a real thrill head back east over Trail Ridge Road. It takes you over the continental divide and through the heart of the Rockies. This is all National Park territory with a nice visitor center at the summit at about 12,000 ft. Drop down on the road to the great little mountain town of Estes Park and spend the night. The next day head the rest of the way down the mountain to Golden, CO and the Colorado Railroad Museum . A great collection of equipment from the railroads in the area. From there it's an easy drive back to Denver. Allow a couple hours for each of the drives over the mountains. More of course if you pack a picnic lunch. This circle trip itinerary works just as well in reverse.

Sadly, no progress on Grand Junction station. If you stay in Denver near the station, the very nice baseball stadium is a short stroll if you need an evenings entertainment. Also the Brown Palace hotel is quite an historic building and worth stopping in for a drink.

Finally, if you are into model trains, probably the best hobby shop east of California is Caboose Hobbies in the southside of Denver. Be sure your wife has something planned. I am still reminded of a visit long ago where I was just going to 'stop in for a couple minutes'. Three hours later I emerged into a snowstorm with my wife waiting patiently at a quilt store that had long since closed. Fortunately the owner took pity and kept it open so she wouldn't freeze outside.

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DonNadeau
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Totally agree that you should focus on the mountains.

Rocky Mountains National Park, especially its Trail Ridge Road, offers world class scenery. This exceeds the beauty of that on the Amtrak route.

If you don't wish to rent a car or are worried about driving one in the mountains, Gray Line of Denver offers a day tour of all the highlights.

http://www.grayline.com/tours/denver/rocky-mountain-national-park-5908_2/

I also highly recommend a trip to Colorado Springs to experience Pikes Peak and the Garden of the Gods. These can be reached via a day tour too. If you have heart problems, though, note that a trip up the peak takes you over 14,000 feet above sea level.

As of several years ago, the little store at Grand Junction station was still serving passengers.

Enjoy your trip.

--------------------
@DonNadeau

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mgt
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Thanks Palmland and DonNadau. We won't have a car this time and have booked the Georgetown trip with Grayline, for the Thursday. Wednesday we plan to stay in Denver, perhaps the transport museum and I recall pleasant walks by Crystal Creek before its confluence with South Platte. July 4th, we shall take as it comes!
Altitude per se doesn't worry us but my wife was not over-enamoured by our ascent of Independence Pass in 2001, so much so that we returned from Aspen via Glenwood Springs!
Afternoon tea in the Brown Palace Hotel also appeals to us.

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gibg
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You might be interested in Denver's light rail system, now with three (3) fully-operating routes (southeast, southwest and west) with another under construction. All routes end in downtown Denver at the new Union Station complex. All the info you need at rtd-denver.com.
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mgt
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I had been wondering about the light rail system and how flexible it was. Not having a detailed knowledge of Denver and its environs the on-line map does not mean very much. |We would have been more interested in routes going north towards Boulder and Golden.
Are the bus-routes also centred on Union Station now?

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palmland
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mgt, yes all denver transit now uses the new station (buses on the lower level underground). The new light rail west line is in operation to Golden. However if you want to go to the Colorado RR Museum it is another 5 miles on the edge of town. But there may be local bus service. Check this out and give them a call when you get to Denver.

Boulder is a very attractive city with a vibrant downtown, arguably more interesting than Denver. No light rail there yet but bus service from Denver (takes about an hour). But, it really might be easier just to rent a car for a day. Plenty of car rental places in downtown Denver.

It sounds like you will be looking for book stores. Check this one out in downtown Boulder

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gibg
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One more quick thought: "Crystal Creek" is actually "Cherry Creek" which winds its way through some lovely Denver neighborhoods with a bike and pedestrian path for most of its distance. It meets the South Platte at Confluence Park, a lively and popular gsthering spot.
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TwinStarRocket
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When we had a young man from Austria staying with us over July 4th, we took him to a fireworks display that was part of a large festival in St. Paul. He was quite surprised and impressed at how patriotic Americans were, and what a spectacle the fireworks were. I guess we like to blow up things more than Europeans. So, since you are here on the 4th, you could always take in one of these things.
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mgt
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Thanks. I thought I had at last got my 'Crystal' and 'Cherry' sorted out!
Boulder looks like a good option, particularly with its independent bookshop.
From the internet research I have done the Forney museum is definitely closed on the 4th and it looks as if the Denver Art gallery is also closed. I suppose that is par for the course on a major public holiday? But there is certainly enough from your suggestions to keep us going for three days.
Can we assume that restaurants, cafes and bars will be exceptionally busy on the 4th?

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sojourner
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Sorry I haven't been on line to post before. I was recently in Denver and can give some input:

Denver is the capitol of CO and you can visit the Capitol Building on weekdays (I presume will be open July 3, a Thursday, unless there's some extended holiday closure) and take a free tour, including go up to the gold dome for view; or just see it on your own, note on steps where it says the altitude (mile-high city)--makes a good picture. It's not far from the Denver Art Museum, not my favorite (good collection of Native American art, though), but I haven't been to the new wing--what I liked best about it was (a) the exterior (another good picture or two) and (b) the way they abbreviate it, DAM, fun on souvenir items. Nearby there is an old restored home, the Byers-Evans House, 1310 Bannock, but I've never been. There's also the U.S. Mint, but reservations for tours are limited, and I've never figured out how to get a reservation--when I try early, it's too early, when I try closer to travel date, it's always booked!

The walk along Cherry Creek to the Confluence is still very pleasant (by day; I was told not to walk here at night!). Note that roundabout Millennium Bridge (after you get to the Confluence; coming from downtown, if you go right along the S Platte River) there's a lot of construction going on (part of the Union Station work) so some access is blocked (or was in May).

BTW, there is a free shuttle that goes up and down 16th Street through LoDo--you can pick it up near Union Station; even with luggage it worked for me.

One time (not this last trip) I took a walking tour of LoDo or Downtown (I'm not precisely sure where one ends and the other begins); don't know who offered it but it was some folks down in that area.

Larimer Square in LoDo is still nice; restaurants are pricey but often have good lunch specials, for instance, we had a huge bargain pulled pork sandwich with a tasty beet side dish and sweet tea for very cheap lunch one day at Russell's Smokehouse, downstairs at 1422 Larimer (they also have a happy hour with cheap drinks but I think that's on Wednesdays?) and another day had a pretty good inexpensive Indian lunch buffet (dinner probably not too pricey here either) at Little Indian, 1533 Champa between 15th & 16th St (remember in Denver, LoDo has numbered streets but the rest has numbered Avenues!!!). The Market, 1445 Larimer, is a good place for coffee/latte, baked goods, etc., much nicer than a chain (e.g., Starbucks-- has funny sign in that regard near the cash register).

If you're having dinner in LoDo/Downtown, be sure to reserve--and, esp around Larimer Sq, it is likely to be quite noisy as well as pricey. We had dinner at Tamayo, an upscale Mexican/Latin place with good food but way way too-high decibels--delicious soft pork tacos (1 dish was enough to share) and wonderful side dish of plantains, not to mention Dos Equis (one of the world's best beers). For lunch, they offered some of the same for lower $$$. They have rooftop seating (which might be good for fireworks but I imagine crowd is deafening!!!) Speaking of beer, there is also Wynkoop Brewery on Wynkoop across from Union Station in the historic Wynkoop Building (read the plaque)--brewery started by former mayor, now Governoer Hickenlooper--big, touristy, serves its own microbrewery beers that to me always seem too yeasty but appeal to most other beer drinkers.

Outside LoDo/Downtown, walkable by day (at night, cab it) from either the Capitol or downtown--but it's a WALK--is Santa Fe Dr, the so-called "Arts District"--though I think only one main theater is operating there--on which there are several Mexican restaurants. For a great cheap lunch, on Santa Fe at the corner of 7th Av there's the rather authentic no-frills one called El Taco de Mexico with fine tortas (get the Cubano with the queso freso) and Mexican fresca (strawberry) Jarrito soda. For tourists and somewhat tired/bland Tex-Mex food (but nice folks and music on weekends)there is El Noa Noa next door.

Also outside LoDo/Downtown is the somewhat historic, somewhat touristy Buckhorn Exchange, 1000 Osage near 10th Av, phone is 303-534-9505; be careful walking here in the direction from Spears--I recall some very dicey streets--though that was on a trip longer ago, did not go here recently. But I think you can take the LiteRail here with no problem I don't think, as I recall there is a stop right across the street (can also take a taxi). This is a meat eaters' paradise of the old western sort, and there is even rattlesnake on the menu (appetizer, was drowned in cream cheese).

I don't know about tea in the Brown Palace (likely overpriced, and not as good as tea you get in England) but they also offer an afternoon tour of the hotel; however, for non-guests, there is now a charge. You can also just stop in for your own peek (or to have a drink etc.), And stop in just to see the lobby of the Oxford Hotel too, if you can--it's down in LoDo right near Union Station. (It's the owner of the Oxford who is going to open the hotel atop the revamped Union Station, btw.)

I've never been to Colorado Springs, hear the Air Force Academy and other tourist bits are gorgeous, but be very careful of Pike's Peak--I think it's over 13,000 ft, and note that anything over 10,000 feet is dicey for people with any heart or breathing trouble. I found Boulder a bit of a yawn; lots of shops on a no-car street mall (Pearl?)--not sure what Palmland means about it being more vibrant, maybe I missed that? There is one old (but small) hotel off that mall street, nothing as nice as the Brown Palace or Oxford. Boulder also has some pleasant prospects, and the Chattauqua property was nice, but I don't know if you can get to those without a car.

Also, while I agree the mountains are the real attraction hereabouts, you will be going through them on the ever-magnificent Zephyr and have already been to Glenwood Springs, so I won't get into that here. Re Grand Junction Station: sad The shop is still open, and you can circle around and see the entrance to the NEW station (I think there's an Indian statue or something for a photo op) as well as peep through the door of the abandoned old station from that side, because from that side you can see a stained-glass window in the ruins . . . what a sad waste! Shame on Grand Junction (yes, I know the old station is privately owned, but . . . there you go!!! . . . Denver itself has a long history of letting too many old buildings get wrecked and torn down. . . )

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mgt
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I appreciate the time and effort you have given to the above, Sojourner. The updated material about where to walk and where to avoid is particularly useful. Things will have changed since 2001; we only passed through on the Zephyr in 2005. I thought the 16th Street shuttle might have fallen victim to either the depression or the new public transport arrangements.
I must admit I did feel a bit lightheaded in Leadville, but not my wife.
I have been surprised at how easy it can be to stroll around State Capitols, I don't think there was any security in Madison and Boston just a few years ago, and only minimal checks in Atlanta and Colombia last year.
Thanks also for the comments on food and drink, such a major part of any holiday!
I'll let you all know how things turn out.

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sojourner
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Glad you found the info helpful.

Most state capitols do have security--metal detectors and/or searches when you enter the building. Denver does.

Posts: 2630 | From: upstate New York | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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