Steve Crecelius / Courtesy of VISIT DENVER

Museums, food, and shopping in Colorado’s capital.

Denver is the cultural hub of the Rockies. Before striking out into the awe-inspiring mountains all around you, take in the metropolis’ abundant world-class art museums and stroll around LoDo (short for Lower Downtown), a historic quadrant of galleries, chic design stores, and hip cafes. Initially, the Mile High City didn’t do much to earn its nickname, but you’ll find that today it speaks to more than its 5,280 elevation.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Fruition

Chef Alex Seidel, named as one of the Best New Chefs in 2010 by Food & Wine, teams up with maitre d’ Paul Attardi at this upscale restaurant in the Country Club neighborhood. Serving seasonal comfort food with a flair for plating, chef Seidel has produced signature dishes like the Maple Leaf Farms duck breast served with carnaroli risotto as well as grilled arugula that was grown on the chef’s farm. Fruition’s small dining room is decorated in a mixture of woods, light and dark, but the tables are closer than cozy.

The Ritz-Carlton, Denver

Denver Art Museum

Rioja

Denver Center for the Performing Arts

Easily identifiable by the 60-foot fiberglass dancers displayed out front, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA) is located on the edge of the central business district. The venue is part of the four-block Denver Performing Arts Complex, which also includes the Colorado Ballet, Opera Colorado, and Colorado Symphony. The DCPA includes six different theaters and hosts productions by two major companies: Denver Center Attractions, which presents touring Broadway shows, and the Tony Award-winning Denver Center Theatre Company, which performs both classic and contemporary plays. Past shows include A Christmas Carol, The Tempest, and All My Sons.

Zengo

Owned by Mexican-born chef Richard Sandoval, this Riverfront Park restaurant specializes in boldly spiced Latin-Asian small plates. Inside, dark wood tables are brightened by orange and red accents, while the bar’s asymmetrical alcove shelves create an unusual focal point. Additional seating is available outside on the patio, with views of the Rocky Mountains. The menu is divided into several sections, including fresh sushi, dim sum, and antojitos (Mexican street snacks), such as the Thai chicken empanada with red poblano chiles, Oaxaca cheese, and mango-curry salsa. The bar serves Latin wines, 400-plus tequilas, and handcrafted cocktails like the popular cucumber mojito.

Forest Room 5

Located inside a former firehouse, this Highland bar blends the aesthetics of a mountain cabin and a contemporary art gallery. The candlelit interior contains hardwood flooring, wood-paneled walls hung with multimedia art, and behind the bar, a projector screen showing wildlife-themed film clips. Outside, the tree-shaded patio provides additional seating surrounded by fire pits and a small stream. The menu includes snacks, such as truffled French fries; dinner entrées like the filet mignon with melted brie; and specialty cocktails such as the Spiced Pear Tree Martini, made with pear vodka, fresh lime juice, and St. Germain.

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