Denver Metro 164
Denver’s Front Range offers an abundance of outdoor adventure sports, such as rock climbing, but don’t overlook the many indoor climbing opportunities available.
The safety and convenience of having an instructor and being removed from the harsh elements of the outdoors may be the perfect way to perfect your skills.
We’ve scoured the Front Range for you, and have selected our top picks for indoor climbing.
1912 S. Broadway
Denver, Colo. 80210
For both beginners and experts, Thrillseekers in Denver may be the perfect place to start your climbing exploration, with climbing walls of all angles, including 90-degree ceiling climbing.
Introductory lessons are available, (a sliding scale is implemented for groups of two or more) and include rental gear, an introduction to safety skills, and the rules and language of climbing. Lessons last approximately one hour, followed by two hours of practice. Daily admissions and member rates are also available. Family rates make it possible for all to enjoy this activity together.
Check out thrillseekers.cc for more information.
Rock’n & Jam’n 1, Inc.
9499 Washington St. Unit C
Thornton, Colo. 80229
Rock’n & Jam’n 2, Inc.
7390 S. Fraser St., Unit E
Centennial, Colo. 80112
Rock’n & Jam’n has two locations in Thornton and Centennial, and offers a large indoor climbing space. They also host fundraisers (such as The Summit for Someone which benefits at-risk youth), group events, summer camps and competitive meetings.
Rock’n Jam offers individual lessons, which include two-hour instruction, rental gear and practice climbing. For all available pricing and details please visit one of their locations listed above.
Colorado Mountain School
2829 Mapleton Ave. Boulder, Colo. 80301
No one can deny that Boulder – with a name that brings to mind climbing craggy cliffs and scaling giant rocks – is one of the best places in the state to go for indoor climbing, as well.
Colorado Mountain School offers both indoor and outdoor instruction. Memberships include free yoga and fitness classes, massage sessions, skills clinics and buddy passes.
The gym features a newly remodeled 10,000-square-foot building. The club claims to provide a “total climbing experience, one that offers something for everyone…”
Visit coloradomountainschool.com to see more of what they offer and learn more about their location in Estes.
Nearly hidden among these haunts at East Colfax Avenue and Ivanhoe Street, Phoenician Kabob is a cozy Lebanese restaurant that brings a breath of fresh air on this side of town. We don’t know what we love more about this elegant little restaurant, the fresh, innovative cuisine, the awesome selection of Lebanese booze, the owner’s infallible charisma or the fact that this little eatery has its own pastry chef creating some of the most amazing shortbread cookies, baklavas and French confections in town.
Lebanese cuisine includes many of the Middle Eastern mainstays available at the hummus and shawarma joints, but Phoenician Kabob has an edge – maybe more than an edge, as chef/owner Ibrehim Dahleh has pulled out the stops for this delicious restaurant.
What makes this restaurant, with its menu full of familiar standbys like stuffed grape leaves, baba ghanoush and tabbouleh, so much more appealing than the others?
Dahleh’s dream restaurant offers the flavors of his home with fresh ingredients and recipes “stolen” from his mother’s kitchen. Not long after opening his restaurant, Dahleh, a civil engineer by trade, traveled to Jordan, where his family had moved years ago.
Every morning of his eight-day visit, he and his mother would record her recipes. While shopping for cookbooks and spices, he discovered the gadgets and recipes of a food culture that thrives and evolves in the Middle East.
And so, armed with his mother’s heirloom recipes and loads of data on contemporary Middle Eastern cuisine, he returned to his new Denver restaurant on East Colfax.
Dahleh makes innovative dishes from his stash of Lebanese and Jordanian recipes as nightly specials for Phoenician Kabob. He uses vegetables indigenous to the Fertile Crescent, such as molokhia, a leafy green often used in saucy specials at Phoenician Kabob. Since these veggies aren’t available through regular restaurant distributors, he sources them from a small grower just outside Denver.
What’s cooler than unheard of Middle Eastern dishes flanked with exotic veggies? Well not much, but hot deals on trendy wines are definitely fun. And, lucky for Dahleh, Lebanese wines are all the rage in the cork dork community. Lebanese winemakers’ well-crafted bottles of French favorite and ancient Lebanese varietals have been making serious waves in the wine-loving community in recent months. Phoenician Kabob stocks several varieties to try.
Dahleh is particularly proud of his large selection of Lebanese Arak, a syrupy liqueur flavored with anise and served on the rocks. The bar stocks Lebanese beers along with plenty of more familiar labels.
For this foodie, the test of Middle Eastern restaurants is all about the kibbi. These yummy appetizers consist of spiced ground meat (lamb or beef), wrapped in a crispy dough of bulgur wheat and spices and served with minted cucumber yogurt sauce. Dahleh shared details of his recipe, well some of them. His kibbi are flavored with pinenuts, another telltale sign of a reputable kibbi creator, and pomegranate molasses.
We devoured the tender rack of lamb, spiced with nutmeg, cardamom and oregano, refreshed ourselves with the lemony fettoush salad and grazed a huge veggie platter of all the traditional favorites: hummus, baba ghanouj, stuffed grape leaves, falafel and rice. The rice, surprisingly, was among our favorite dishes – long-grain basmati, light, toasty and scented with cardamom, cinnamon and the sumac Dahleh’s family sends him from Jordan.
Jalal Hesan, pastry chef of Phoenician Kebab, has been making pastries full time for 15 years. And since he’s only 30, that says a lot about his commitment to his craft.
He stuffs the restaurant’s pastry case with sugary treats like teeny-tiny shortbread cookies filled with dates and itsy-bitsy cup-shaped baklavas made of fresh phyllo dough, honey and cashews, along with fat lemon cakes with pistachios and gooey chocolate éclairs. Don’t miss the thick rich Turkish coffee finale.
Belly dancers entertain customers on Saturday nights starting at 8 p.m. Arrive early to get a good seat.
If You Go
5709 E. Colfax Ave.
Denver, Colorado 80220
Denver’s East Colfax Avenue is a thoroughfare that never sleeps. During the day, business people, artists, commuters, students, families and wanderers fill Colfax’s buses, sidewalks and streets. When night falls, the neon kicks on and everyone from graveyard-shift workers and concertgoers to ravers and insomniacs come out.
Pete’s Kitchen, East Colfax Avenue and Race Street, sees it all. This Denver diner caters to anyone and everyone looking for a bite to eat. It’s busy from dawn ‘til dusk and through the night.
But what pulls the Colfax crowd in is not a fancy presentation or a five-star menu. Pete’s Kitchen can best be described as a hole in the wall, with only its neon sign to signal its existence. But inside the small diner, with its counter and stools, tiny booths and tables and the overflow area (because the main dining area couldn’t handle all the business), an award-winning atmosphere and menu serve up what people want – and what keeps them coming back.
“We’re known for our breakfast burrito supreme and gyros sandwiches,” Beoearde says. Some of the other items on the Pete’s Kitchen menu have even won recognition – “Best Late Night Eats,” “Best Cheap Eats” and “Best Breakfast” from AOL’s City Guide, and “Best Breakfast Burrito,” “Best Hashbrowns” and “Best Late Night Dining” from 5280 magazine’s Top of the Town.
The articles and awards cover the walls, along with photos of celebrities like Drew Barrymore and John Elway posing with the owner, Pete Contos, who came to Denver from Greece and eventually created seven other restaurants and eateries in the Denver area, something that earned him a spot in the Foodservice Hall of Fame in 2006. Napkins and pieces of paper with notes to Pete or about his kitchen are also framed and on display.
Meanwhile, waitresses zip back and forth through the diner, taking and delivering orders, filling coffees and waters, and adding to the overall hustle and bustle. The cooks fry, slice, dice, cook and assemble food behind the bar counter, grabbing a new order to begin almost before the last one is complete.
While service is good and fast, don’t expect servers to stop for a friendly conversation on a late Saturday night. They have to stay on the move as orders roll onto the counter, coffee cups empty and new customers walk through the door. In fact, it seems as though each table clears of its last patrons just in time to receive the new ones that just walked in. But it makes for a fun and fast-paced atmosphere that contributes to the culture of Denver’s diner scene.
If You Go
1962 E. Colfax Ave.
Denver, Colorado 80206
Think about the laundry savings. Arrive Saturday with only the clothes you’re wearing, relax and play the entire weekend, then depart Sunday with those garments barely wrinkled. It can be done at Mountain Air Ranch, Colorado’s only family nudist resort.
Hanging around in the buff is nothing new. One in three Americans admits to skinny-dipping in mixed company, according to one poll. Another poll suggests that more than 80 million of us would be willing to bare it all on a clothing-optional beach. Nudism has been one of the fastest growing segments of tourism in the world today, and, although it may not suit everyone, Coloradans flock like jaybirds to clothing-free recreation sites.
Finding an appropriate place to peel publicly is a challenge, but Mountain Air Ranch, one of nearly 270 American Association for Nude Recreation-sanctioned clubs and resorts in North America, provides a safe haven.
Tucked in the foothills west of Denver near Indian Hills, its 150 secluded acres contain everything needed for undraped fun. Cabins, tent sites and hookups await campers. Hikers have 10 miles of trails to traipse. A large swimming pool, hot tub and sauna attract water aficionados, and sports buffs engage in volleyball, shuffleboard, horseshoes and bocce, an Italian form of lawn bowling. Children frolic in the grassy playground and dig in a huge sandbox.
A social committee organizes pool-side picnics and dances, chili cook-offs, steak fries and luaus. Kids march in Independence Day parades and compete in field-day tournaments, while adult players vie for sports championships. In winter, the clubhouse bursts with potlucks, casino nights and dances, where the musicians frequently end up as bare as the audience.
Because some people still believe nude is lewd, everyone at Mountain Air is on a first-name-only basis. Anonymity is so well protected that, in one family, the parents and adult children individually belonged, but neither told the other. One weekend, both visited at the same time and … surprise!
Strict membership requirements maintain a family atmosphere. Visitors and potential new members may visit three times before being required to make application for membership, and admission by unaccompanied single males is strictly limited. Any unwanted touching, harassment, sexual contact or other offensive behavior is prohibited, making this one of the safest retreats for single women.
Unlike some public sites, the ranch is well sheltered from gawkers. Its location in a heavily wooded valley prevents outside visibility, and a manager guarding the only entrance keeps out the riffraff.
You might expect everyone at a nudist park to look like Calvin Klein models who just dropped their drawers, but that’s not the case. At Mountain Air, one quickly discovers that most real adults have their share of sags, cellulite, scars, wrinkles, folds, stretch marks, love handles and beer bellies. And, at Mountain Air Ranch, nobody cares.
Most first-time visits to Mountain Air Ranch are suggested by the husband, whose wife sometimes is reluctant to participate. Interestingly, after the first visit, she frequently is the one who longs to return. Could it be the significant decrease in Monday morning laundry?
If You Go
Contact Mountain Air Ranch at 303-697-4083 for more information or to schedule a visit.
Olde Town Arvada, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has become a hip hotspot. Located some 20 minutes from Denver, Olde Town Arvada is the next “really cool place,” says Scott Spears, owner of Scrumptious, Olde Town’s funky micro-creamery and candy shop.
Scrumptious is one of the many shops and restaurants lining Grandview Avenue that makes Olde Town a quirky hangout. With a cool retro vibe backed by deep-rooted history, it’s no wonder Olde Town was nominated as one of the top 10 places for the 2011 People’s Choice Live Work Play award, given by the Denver Regional Council of Governments. Many compare Olde Town Arvada to the trendy and popular Highlands neighborhood in Denver.
Hometown pride and a love for Arvada’s small town center stirred many locals, as well as the Historic Olde Town Arvada Association, to breathe new life into the community over the last decade.
The association, in 2002, was designated to participate in the Main Street Program, which focuses on economic revitalization and historical preservation of older communities like Olde Town.
“All of the efforts to beautify the town have created storefronts with new facades, wide pedestrian sidewalks, streets lined with trees and old-fashioned street lamps,” says association president Karen Miller.
Arvada’s history began in the 1850s when miners were making their way across America seeking their fortunes in gold. They dug canals and panned for ore where Ralston Creek and Clear Creek merged (near the site of Olde Town). Although not enough precious metal was found to make a living, the canals would prove to be critical in establishing the real gold of the area: farming.
With the Colorado Central railroad bringing in potential residents and a request for a U.S. Post Office, leading citizen Benjamin Wadsworth and friend Louis Reno officially established Arvada in 1870.
The town grew as a farming community, especially through WWI. Then farming made way for a more modern town setting, with shops, restaurants, a library, a movie theater and other attractions (which still include the local farmers market).
Today, Olde Town has become a local hangout. Whether for date night, family outings or meeting up with friends, there’s a little something for everyone in an area that is still largely comprised of individually owned shops in historic buildings.
“Customers and visitors feel the welcoming atmosphere of the shops and the friendliness of the owners and employees,” Miller says. “What we hear most from people is that they like to come to Olde Town because everyone is so nice here.”
The friendly atmosphere and a strong community foundation spur many Olde Town locals and visitors to become “regulars” at the local businesses to help support and preserve what Olde Town has become, Miller says.
Another reason for Olde Town’s popularity is signature events, which include anything from festivals and food fairs to art walks and shopping sprees. Most are free, and all of them are put on by the locals and Arvada business owners.
Some of the most popular are the Chocolate Affair and the Festival of Scarecrows, plus Flicks in the Square and the farmers market in the summer, and Lagniappe (when merchants give a little something extra with each purchase) in December.
Olde Town even has gift cards that are good at more than 30 local businesses (including Scrumptious, D Note, Archive Room and the Festival Playhouse), encouraging a town unity with an emphasis on having an overall experience, rather than visiting just one business.
Monica DeGraff, co-owner of the Olde Town restaurant/music venue, the D Note, touches on this idea that businesses in Olde Town aren’t in it just for themselves, but want to bind together. “The D Note most definitely is part of the local community,” she says. “We take every opportunity to support our neighbors.”
If You Go
For more information about Olde Town Arvada, its businesses and upcoming events, visit www.oldetownarvada.org.