Arts and Leisure
If you fly into Denver International Airport, you’ll immediately catch a glimpse of the Denver arts scene—many permanent exhibits by local artists are on view in the main terminal. Once downtown you will begin to notice even more public art on display in the most unexpected spaces.
As Denver has been forming an identity beyond its cowtown image, the two qualities that civic leaders have truly invested in are culture and recreation. Beyond the established Denver Art Museum and Museum of Contemporary Art|Denver, Denver museums are diverse, boasting eclectic art collections, such as the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art and the Forney Museum of Transportation, which holds the world’s largest steam locomotive.
Though not yet open, the art coup of the decade may be the Clyfford Still Museum. Clyfford Still was a reclusive abstract expressionist painter whose work is now highly valued, and the only place to see his great body of work will be in Denver. In 2010, Denver will also host its first international contemporary art biennial.
The arts are routinely celebrated throughout Denver. There are monthly First Friday events when galleries around the city open their doors for a casual evening of browsing and cocktails, the city boasts a full Arts Week in the fall, and the Cherry Creek Arts Festival is one of the city’s biggest annual events.
Whether you’re gallery hopping or touring public art, you’ll see many reminders that recreation is part of everything Denverites do. Rather than inhibit activity, the thinner air at 5,280 feet above sea level encourages it, since the body is working that much harder and burning calories much more efficiently. Denver ranks as one of the country’s “fittest” cities, according to a 2008 Men’s Fitness magazine survey that found 83 percent of Denver adults are physically active. It’s easy to be motivated to get fit when there are more sunny days here than in Miami, Florida, and the area holds more than 4,000 acres of traditional parks and parkways.
This isn’t just playtime though: Denverites run, bike, or walk to work on over 200 miles of jogging and cycling paths. Nearby parks in the foothills of the Front Range mean that city dwellers and visitors can get their mountain fix by driving 30 minutes or less to a trailhead for a day hike amid forests and wildflowers. Spectator sports are also a popular pastime in Denver, and there is a professional team or two for every season of the year. The fans in Denver are as legendary as the teams they love, so taking in a Colorado Rockies baseball game or a Denver Broncos football game can get your pulse racing.
- Best Art Collection: The Dikeou Collection
- Best Art Studio Turned Museum: The Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art
- Best Art Gallery: The Camera Obscura Gallery
- Best Theater: The Ellie Caulkins Opera House
- Best Outdoor Concert Venue: Red Rocks Amphitheatre
- Best Powwow: The Tesoro Foundation’s Indian Market and Powwow
- Best Arts Festival: The Cherry Creek Arts Festival
- Best Cowboy Parade: The National Western Stock Show and Rodeo
- Most Spectacular Scenery: Roxborough State Park
- Best Sledding: Commons Park
© Mindy Sink from Moon Denver, 1st Edition