Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Baseball and beer in Denver

Denver, Colo. is known as The Mile High City due to its elevation and, more recently, its legalization of cannabis.

Union Station
My two days in the state’s largest city, however, largely revolved around baseball and beer. That started as soon as I dropped my luggage off at the well-located 11th St. Hotel and Hostel before noon on the first day of summer. From there it was a five-block walk, a ride up 16th Street on the free shuttle bus, and another short walk past the refurbished Union Station to Coors Field.

SandLot Brewery at Coors Field.
It’s the home of the Colorado Rockies and the SandLot Brewery, the first brew pub ever located in a baseball stadium when it opened in 1995. Its Bellyside Wit became so popular that it was mass-produced by Coors as Blue Moon, which is known as Belgian Moon in Canada. I bought a pint of it, partially using my $15 Rooftop ticket, which gave me access to a standing room area high in left field and nearby seating on a first-come, first-serve basis, as well as a six-dollar credit toward concessions. I split my time between standing, sitting and walking around the stadium, which offers good views of both the Denver skyline and the Rocky Mountains in the distance.

National Ballpark Museum
Following a Rockies victory over the Mets, a Polish sausage and three more beers at Coors Field, I went to the National Ballpark Museum, which focused on classic early 20th century stadiums that are no longer with us. It was interesting but tiny, so I don’t know if it was worth the $10 admission. But it’s run by a non-profit organization and the woman at the door was friendly and knowledgeable and gave me a two-dollar discount coupon for the History Colorado Center, which has a temporary baseball exhibit this summer.

The area around Coors Field is full of bars and brew pubs, and I took advantage by drinking several different beers at Falling Rock Tap House, Tap Fourteen, Blake Street Tavern, Cherry Cricket, Chophouse Brewery, Wynkoop Brewing Co. and Yard House before grabbing a pizza at Dominos on my walk back to the hotel.

Molly Brown House Museum
I transferred to the more suburban Cherry Creek Holiday Inn the next morning, since that was the departure point for a Cosmos bus tour I was starting the following morning. A round-trip city bus trip took me back to the area where I started, which is known as the Golden Triangle Museum District. It was a short walk to the Molly Brown House Museum, where I took an exterior photo but didn’t go into the former residence of the Titanic survivor, activist, philanthropist and actress.

You won't find Pete Rose or Mark McGwire honoured at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, but they were part of the History Colorado Centre exhibit.
Using the discount coupon from the day before, I paid $12 to visit the History Colorado Center. I probably wouldn’t have gone if it wasn’t for the temporary baseball exhibit, but I’m glad I did and took the time to visit all four of its floors during a visit that lasted more than two hours. I learned a lot about the state through a variety of often interactive exhibits. Even without the baseball exhibit, which featured what’s supposed to be the best memorabilia collection from greats of the game outside of Cooperstown, I would have enjoyed it.

State Capitol Building
I took exterior photos around the Denver Art Museum, Denver Public Library, City and County Building and State Capitol before taking a 3 p.m. guided tour of the capitol’s beautiful interior. I learned a lot more about the state, the city and the building, and also got a great look at the city from an outside viewing area.

Daniels and Fisher Tower
More photo opportunities took place at the Colorado Convention Centre, which features a statue of a giant blue bear looking in a window, and the Daniels and Fisher Tower, which was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River when it opened in 1910 and has been a symbol of the city ever since. Skyline Park sits at the base of the tower, and its summer beer garden provided a welcome respite for a couple of pints.

I walked up to Larimer Square, a historic section of Larimer Street between 14th and 15th streets. It’s quaint and full of expensive restaurants, but wasn’t my scene, so I returned to 16th Street, which is pedestrianized except for the free buses that run up and down it. I got a streetfront patio table at Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery to do some prime people-watching and had a very good plate of jambalaya washed down by a $6.50 flight of six different beers.

I’d never been to Coyote Ugly, a bar franchise where the female servers wear skimpy outfits and dance on the bar while encouraging patrons to join them and get rowdy, but a two-for-one beer coupon I’d discovered earlier in the day was enough to make me take the plunge.

Knowing I had to get an early start the next day, I returned to my hotel and had one last pint at its Flagstone’s bar before going to my room to prepare for an adventure that would take me through six more states, a handful of national parks and more over the next two weeks.

Denver may have the best craft beer culture of any city I’ve been to, and I had more than two dozen different ones during my two-day visit. I feel as though I’ve seen all I need to of the city, but I definitely recommend it as a summertime destination for a short getaway — particularly if you’re into baseball and beer.