University of Colorado
Sure, most people on the University of Colorado (CU, 303/492-1411, www.colorado.edu) campus are either students or their visiting parents or professors. But this is a place open to the public and worth a stop for anyone.
The university was founded in 1876, the same year that Colorado became a state, and there were a mere 44 students. Now the school is like a small town, with 30,000 students arriving each fall. While the misbehaviors of partying students and a few sports team members have made headlines, it is actually a very well-regarded school academically with four Nobel laureates on staff and seven MacArthur fellows.
To learn more about the history of the campus, start with the Heritage Center (Old Main 3rd Fl., 303/492-6329, www.cualum.org, Mon.–Fri. 10 a.m.–4 p.m.), where you can get an overview of the school’s early history, learn about “CU in Space,” read the roster of distinguished alumni (most of whom have buildings named after them on the campus), and see the trophies in the CU Athletics Gallery.
There is also the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History (303/492-6892, http://cumuseum.colorado.edu), which is very child-friendly with permanent dinosaur collections and changing exhibits that feature everything from meteorites to Inuit culture.
The University Memorial Center is the hub of the campus with the Alferd Packer Grill and other restaurants, a bowling alley, and a bookstore. The halls of the UMC have become like a small fair or mall with tables often set up where you can buy sweaters, T-shirts, or phone cards.
Fiske Planetarium (303/492-5002, www.fiske.colorado.edu, Mon.–Fri. 9 a.m.–4 p.m., admission varies depending on event) has star and laser shows with different themes such as Perseus & Andromeda or Pink Floyd.
You can’t miss the white dome of the Sommers Bausch Observatory (303/492-6732, http://lyra.colorado.edu/sbo/); it’s open to the public with free stargazing through the telescopes on Friday night and during other special events.
© Mindy Sink from Moon Denver, 1st Edition