Looking for something to do over the holidays? Become a visitor in your own town and Groupon, Yelp and Forkly your way through the city. We did it for three days. A liver transplant and $175 in parking tickets later, and we’ve got some new favorite hangouts.
While I generously contribute to the economic stability of the city's coffee shops, I don’t spend as much time as I used to doing other things (read, not working). So, when a friend visited from Europe, I decided to spend three days as a visitor in my own town Forklying, Grouponing and Yelping my way through the city.
Aside from acquiring $175 in parking tickets (I forgot the U.S. parking brass is more conservative than their European counterparts), I had a great time. Here are some highlights of the places that inspired use to make verbs out of Forkly
Sipping 'N Painting in the Highlands packs a full house.Sipping ‘N Painting
A $40 Groupon got us into this painting and wine experiment in the Highlands where a cute instructor with funky hair spent two hours giving loose instruction on how to paint an abstract dandelion.
Not a joiner, Sipping ‘N Painting
was a shockingly good time. Admission includes a free glass of Two-Buck Chuck or a beer, but the lights, the atmosphere and the camaraderie -- we’re all embarrassing ourselves together -- made the two hours pass in record time. I didn’t even mind the guy who kept encouraging us to view our paintings as some kind of "awesome."
While this type of activity tends to attract women, a few men tagged along. One even asked how to turn on the hairdryer needed to dry his background. Bless.
Overall, $40, two people, two hours, two glasses. Good time.
Cellar Wine Bar
We buffered the wine at Sipping ‘N Painting with a preemptive glass at the Cellar Wine Bar
, which is conveniently across the street from Sipping ‘N Painting. Not only is the wine selection superb, the day’s cheeses – French, Spanish and Coloradoan -- got a nod from my prissy European counterpart.
The Cellar Wine Bar is a Denver and Yelper favorite. It was also a do-not-miss for the traveling business man expensing a Garnacha next to us.
The Denver Zoo
Did you know that at the Denver Zoo, you can get an unobstructed view up a gibbon’s bum? Yep, the zoo’s primate exhibit includes an island flanked by a wooden walkway where visitors can meander while two gibbons – one black, one white – swing above their heads. While the animals cannot join the on-land fracas (we hope), it’s somewhat of an experience walking beneath animals wondering if something other than a leaf will fall on your head.
DazzleThe wall of fame at Dazzle.
Hands down the best part of the three-day experiment, Dazzle
is a superb jazz bar in Capitol Hill where we spent an evening drinking martinis and listening to musicians from Colorado, New York, Toronto and Chicago do their thing.
When they finished, we moved to the bar and listed to a young band whose name I can’t remember, sing something not dissimilar in mood and pitch to Joss Stone.
Afterward, while waiting for some Taxi Magic
, we had a conversation with a homeless Native American and a deaf man about the language of music.
now has a competitor for my affections -- Satire on Colfax
. Satire has a somewhat murky reputation. According to Yelp rumors, Bob Dylan may or may not have played in this clean 1960ish dive bar.
We didn’t Yelp Satire as it was down the street from our bed and breakfast – the boutique/bed and breakfast/trunk show known as the Holiday Chalet
– but only through Yelp did I learn that Satire has food. Mexican food that, depending on the review, is either terrible or good.
Too full of olives to try any late night snacks, we decided to save Satire’s good/appalling Mexican food for next time.
As a non-sports fan, I go to sporting events because the people watching is spot on. At this particular event, the geniuses in charge of event planning gave everyone a DYI noise maker. Brilliant asset for those of us uninterested in hearing big boy one and grumpy man two behind us opine every pass, rebound and shot.
The game’s highlights included the Nugget
’s mascot, who worms, and the complimentary popsicle stick supporting a cutout of the Manimal’s giant head. Also, we won by more than 20, great news for a fair weather sports fan.
Denver Museum of Nature and Science
End of the world not getting you down? Head to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science
, slap on a pair of 3D glasses and watch the IMAX presentation of “Space Junk
,” an insight into all the human debris floating around the planet, waiting to crash into the ground.
As with most the IMAX productions, this was worth a watch, but left me hoping some smart people somewhere will start figuring out some complicated stuff pretty quickly.
Shells and Sauce
Shells and Sauce
gets a mention not for the food, which was delicious, or the atmosphere, which was convivial, but for the non-profit spirit prevailing the night we visited.
A young person with a Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
shirt fought her way through tight crowds and awkward conversations, telling diners about the non-profit’s relationship with the restaurant, adding that by eating out that evening, we were helping raise funds for the homeless via the 2012 Home for the Holidays Dine Out.
The Titled Kilt
was the unfortunate result of a Yelp failure that led us to an alleged Wi-Fi hotspot with no Wi-Fi. Thus, the Tilted Kilt and its sister, the bouncing bosom, became a much needed Internet pit stop.
While definitely a low light, the Tilted Kilt gets a mention because it’s proof that while Yelping, Grouponing and Forklying your way through a city might not always get you what you want, it always delivers what you need. This was the first time the European, who has traveled all over the world, ever stepped into a quasi American sports bar. He loved it. For the novelty, obviously.
During this three day chaos, we also went to the Wazee
, the Falling Rock Taphouse
, the Bicycle Café
, the Denver Art Museum
, Hooked on Colfax
and Stella’s Coffeehaus
but to say those were Yelp accidents or Forkly reccs would be a lie. Those are must dos.
If you find yourself wondering what to do with out-of-town guests this holiday season, try our three new favorite verbs and discover something new about your city.
Photos by Ivy Hughes