Cruising Colfax, Casa Bonita and other drops in the 2014 bucket list

Categories: Things to Do

Denver's growth spurts often make it seem unrecognizable as my home town, but I think 2014 has a lot of good in store. In the past couple of years, I saw Smiley's Laundromat and the mid-century-modern diner structure that housed the first Hooter's this side of the Mississippi go the way of development -- but both contemporary incarnations managed to honor the original architecture in a visually appealing way. Broadway is not the secret hideaway for kooky vintage apparel it once was, and Colfax has lost some of its more bizarre tenants, but I have faith that not everything can and will be turned into a bourgeois cheese shop or chain retail store. Ringing in the new year with thoughts of keeping Colorado off-kilter, I've made a list of things I will (or hope to) do in 2014 to remind myself that we may be square, but we're still the best state in the weird and wild West.

1. Go on a romantic date to Lakeside
I'm a sucker for the romance of old-fashioned, after-dark ambience, and Lakeside Amusement Park is packed with it. Neon lights, mature trees, and turn-of-the-century and art-deco architecture personify the park, creating the perfect date spot. Snuggling with my honey on the Ferris wheel or on a train ride around Lake Rhoda is a yearly must - and there's nothing more romantic than catching a glimpse of the thousands of lights twinkling from across the water while sharing a bench seat with my baby.

2. Enjoy a meal at André's in Cherry Creek
André's is a restaurant I've lovingly dubbed the "silver head club," because the average age of the clientele is well over 65. The Swiss confiserie and luncheonette serves two delicious entrees a day, usually consisting of a quiche or pot pie complemented by a green salad and a starch (the spätzel is to die for). The single price includes a drink - I always take an iced coffee with fresh whipped cream -- and a choice of the daily-baked rum balls, tortes and cakes. But my favorite dessert of all time, the Napoleon, is an André's specialty -- a flakey, cream-filled and multi-layered sugary dream topped with a glaze of sugary pink stuff.

Danielle Lirette
3. Go to a Rockies game, princess-style
One sports-oriented activity a year is enough for me, and nothing beats a Rockies game on a warm summer night. I like to go "princess-style": My best friend always scores us great seats behind home plate, so we wander in around the fourth inning, enjoy a good chunk of the game and leave by the eighth. It's long enough to get into the all-American spirit and snag some Cracker Jack while completely avoiding the pre- and post-game traffic nightmare that is LoDo.

4. Book a DIY show in Casa Bonita's Theater Room
I don't care what the haters say -- Casa Bonita is one of Colorado's defining entertainment spots and eateries. I dream of one day utilizing the Mexican-village-in-a-strip-mall's Theater Room to put on an awesome show of both local and national bands. Or better yet, get a band to play on the small rock stage next to the waterfall as cliff divers jump into the turquoise lagoon below. This just might be the year!

5. Rent a hotel room in a ski town and don't go skiing
I'm a native who doesn't ski, but I love a trip to one of our many bourgie ski towns. Throwing down for a nice room at the Little Nell in Aspen is my ideal one-night stand. A fancy dinner with friends, a few joints, a long soak in a hot tub and a Pay-Per-View movie in the comfort of a warm hotel room is my favorite (and only) way to take advantage of our gorgeous Rocky Mountains during the winter months.

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