In Part 1 of our Denver report, we made it to our 21st Major League Stadium by taking in a Rockies game at Coors Field, tried out Denver’s nice but imperfect light rail system, and had a very..VERY…good dinner at the Wyncoop Brewery.
Today is dedicated to exploring downtown Denver a little more and to start our Denver Pub Crawl (click on link to see the pub crawl portion of this trip on the Cocktail Hour).
Again, it’s the E Line from the Dry Creek light rail station a few miles south of downtown and across the street from our hotel, the Drury Inn and Suites in Englewood, Colorado. All the way to the end of the line at Union Station.
From there, it’s just a few steps to hop on the best accessible transit in Denver, the 16th Street Shuttle Bus. These great hybrid buses run up and down the mile long 16th Street Mall every couple of minutes. A ramp opens on the second door back (manually by the driver) and you can park in one of two dedicated spaces very easily. The driver will tie you down if you’d like but the buses are the only vehicles that travel the mall, and they don’t go too fast, so you might not think it’s necessary.
The 16th Street Mall is closed to vehicle traffic, except the buses, and the result is a very nice, mile long pedestrian mall. The shopping selection is a bit bland, mostly corporate chains like Bed, Bath, and Beyond; Corner Bakery; Starbucks and the like but all the good places in downtown are within three blocks or so of this artery.
Alighting from the east end of the mall, it’s one block to the golden domed state capitol building. Another couple of blocks east is the house that the unsinkable Molly Brown lived in.
Our pub crawl got off to an inauspicious start here as we couldn’t find the first pub we wanted to try (I mixed up the address number, we were only half a block away and would get there later in the week) and the second one turned out to be inaccessible to wheelchairs.
Walking back to downtown, we pass the Denver Art Museum, with its giant broom and dustpan out front, and the U.S. Mint, which was closed to tours on the Sunday we walked by.
Across 16th Street, our next stop is the Brown Palace Hotel. In business since 1892, this was the country’s first atrium style hotel. Its wrought iron balustrade and stained glass ceiling hover over the lobby area where afternoon High Tea is being served as we walk in.
The beauty of the lobby and the hotel take your breath away when you walk in. Nook, crannies, and multiple hallways invite you to explore the building. We go in for a drink in the dark wood paneled Ship Tavern.
Afterward, I make sure to get a drink from the old water fountain near the front door that serves up water from the hotel’s own artesian well located 720 feet below the building.
Back on 16th Street, it’s time for a snack and some coffee to take the edge off our pub crawl at the Corner Bakery. Continuing on, we meet one of Denver’s great characters, Denver Robo Mike, as we have drinks at the Paramount Café, adjacent to the Paramount Theater. Robo Mike and I commiserate about how shabby Shaquille O’Neal was treated by the Lakers and other assorted NBA topics. Yes, he was in full robot regalia, including his huge afro. He’s a very nice guy and I suggest keeping an eye out for him when you’re on 16th Street.
The light rail takes us back up to 20th Street. From here, the map says it’s a little over a mile to walk to the Denver Zoo. We can also take the 32 bus…which we just missed…but since the next one won’t be by for another half hour, we start walking. And walking…and walking.
It’s more like two miles and about half way there, the curb cuts at the corners start disappearing. It has turned into a trudge and a couple of hours later, we’re finally at the zoo’s gate.
We’re worn out and a bit moody. Hundreds of kids…who have helpfully been given noisemakers…are swarming the area on field trips. We take a couple of hours to see about half of the zoo before we throw in the towel.
We did get to see most of the birds, my wife’s favorite part, and a few big animals and monkeys before leaving.
At least this time we’re smart enough to take the bus back. Stay tuned for the final Denver chapter where The World on Wheels crew gets to take center stage.
Copyright 2011 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved