Hitting all the bases in Denver

The World Series ended badly for the city, but tourists can score a great baseball-themed visit

November 11, 2007|By Gary A. Warner | Gary A. Warner,The Orange County (Calif.) Register

DENVER -- The World Series ended in disappointment for Denver with the defeat of the Colorado Rockies by the Boston Red Sox.

But Denver still has a scorecard full of attractions for travelers who venture to the Mile High City. Here are my baseball-themed picks for the home of the National League champions. You can use them now, or as Rockies fans might say, "Wait till next year."

PITCHER --Get a pitcher of Sandlot Barman's Pils at the Falling Rock Tap House, just a pony keg's throw from Coors Field. There are more sporty sports bars in town, but this is my choice to rendezvous before and after the ballgame or just to pull up a stool to watch the game. (Bar game: Name the three major league baseball fields named after beer companies. Answer: Coors Field in Denver, Miller Park in Milwaukee and Busch Stadium in St. Louis.)

CATCHER --Buy a copy of Catcher in the Rye, Catch-22 or perhaps former Yankees catcher Yogi Berra's biography at the Tattered Cover bookstore in the LoDo (translation: Lower Downtown) section of Denver, within easy walking distance of Coors Field. I can spend hours rambling around inside what used to be the Morey Mercantile Building. This is one of my favorite bookstores in the western United States. There's a sister store out on Colfax Avenue.

FIRST --Breakfast is the first meal of the day, and a long list of options includes all-night fave Pete's Kitchen, upscale Annie's and eggs standard bearer Dozens. But I hit the road south about 12 miles to Littleton for a pilgrimage to the Original Pancake House. Yeah, I know it's part of an old chain based in Oregon and franchised nationally, but this location has been around since 1953. Pigs in a blanket make the drive worthwhile. Yum.

SECOND --That would be lunch. I found Cherokee Dining on 12th Avenue in Roadfood, Jan and Michael Stern's bible of the best home-style eats across the country. This unpretentious cafe is at its best during the cooler months, when rib-sticking eats like chicken-fried steak fuel you up to step out into that Front Range "breeze."

THIRD --It's the third and biggest meal of the day, and for me no stop in Denver would be complete without a visit to the Buckhorn Exchange, the oldest and oddest restaurant in the city. You can get a big ol' slab of steak or get downright Old Western with elk, venison, rattlesnake and other rangy delights. It's a bit out of the way, but the light-rail line runs right up to the doorstep.

SHORTSTOP --My favorite day trip - call it a "short stop" - is the drive out to nearby Boulder, home of the University of Colorado. Denver sometimes feels like a Great Plains town. Boulder has the feel of being up close to the Rockies. Stroll the campus, shop at the outdoor mall, stop in to see the stars at the Fiske Planetarium and have a microbrew at the Rockies Brewery. If you want to stay for more than a day, splurge on the venerable Boulderado Hotel, a historic hostelry that is like a smaller sister of Denver's grand Brown Palace.

LEFT --The Rockies (the mountain range, not the baseball team in this case) can be found just to the left of Denver when you look at a map. It's possible to watch sliders at Coors Field in the evening then slalom on the slopes the following morning. Check out which spots are open at coloradoski.com/SnowReport

CENTER --Civic Center Park is the hub for a trio of tourist stops: the state Capitol (with its dome covered with 200 ounces of gold leaf), the Colorado History Museum (check out Willliam Henry Jackson's 19th-century photographs of the West) and the Denver Art Museum (exhibit of royal artifacts from the Louvre in Paris runs through Jan. 6). It's also not far from the U.S. Mint.

RIGHT --The Democratic National Convention comes to Denver next summer, with delegates searching for Mr. or Ms. Right, though the Republicans, who will meet in Minneapolis, might claim it's Mr. or Ms. Left. The visiting politicos are probably already making reservations at the Palm Restaurant and other Denver power-lunch spots.

CLUBHOUSE --The most famous place to lay your head is the Brown Palace hotel, once owned by the legendary "Unsinkable Molly Brown," the heiress who survived the Titanic disaster. My personal favorite is the Hotel Monaco, an outpost of San Francisco's quirky Kimpton chain, where the rooms come in wild colors and amenities include a goldfish that's yours to baby-sit for the night. For a different blast from the past, try the Capitol Hill Mansion B&B.

IF YOU GO

Dining

Falling Rock Tap House

1919 Blake St., Denver, 303-293-8338, fallingrocktaphouse.com

Original Pancake House

5900 S. University Blvd., Littleton, 303-795-0573

Cherokee Dining on 12th Avenue

1201 Cherokee, Denver, 303-623-0346 or cherokeeon12thave.com

Buckhorn Exchange

1000 Osage St., Denver, 303-534-9505 or buckhorn.com

Activities

Tattered Cover bookstore

1628 16th St., Denver, 303-436-1070 or tatteredcover.com

The Rockies

coloradoski.com/SnowReport

Civic Center Park

Broadway and Colfax Avenue, Denver, 303-964-2522

Colorado State Capitol

200 E. Colfax Ave. colorado.gov. For tours, call 303-866-2604.

Colorado History Museum

1300 Broadway, Denver, 303-866-3682 or coloradohistory.org

Denver Art Museum

100 W. 14th Ave. Parkway, Denver, 720-865-5000 or denverartmuseum

Lodging

Brown Palace

321 17th St., Denver, 800-321-2599 or brownpalace.com. Rooms from $280 per night

Hotel Monaco

1717 Champa St., Denver, 800-397-5380 or monaco-denver.com. Rooms from $290 per night

Capitol Hill Mansion Bed & Breakfast

1207 Pennsylvania St., Denver, 800-839.9329 or capitolhillmansion.com. Rooms from $114 a night

More information

Boulder Convention & Visitors Bureau

2440 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-442-2911 or bouldercoloradousa.com

Denver Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau

1555 California St., 300, Denver. (303) 892-1112 or denver.org

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