Denver's all about the outdoors: jaunts to the mountains, Red Rocks shows, brewery patios, urban festivals and gallery walks. Every now and then, especially this time of year, it rains – no, it floods. There is no shame in staying home or cozying up in a coffee shop and surfing online. Even though some people still call it the World Wide Web, you can keep it local: Watch grass grow, study the numbers of Denver's changing demographics, read up on politics and shop for hipster-wear. Here are six of our favorite Denver websites, all honored in the Best of Denver 2017.
Does your life feel about as exciting as watching grass grow? Don’t underestimate that! Alek Komarnitsky, an Air Force vet and former systems administrator, has turned the lawn of his suburban Denver home into an international superstar via watching-grass-grow.com. Komarnitsky first installed his webcam during the very dry summer of 2002 to monitor his grass while he was on vacation; by 2005, it had become a permanent fixture, and he started his blog the next year. Today, people avidly track (and comment on) the action in Komarnitsky’s front yard. Bonus: The theme to Rocky plays throughout (but you can also switch to bluegrass).
Denver Regional Council of Governments
DRCOG’s Denver Regional Visual Resources Project, accessible from its website, is more than just another grab bag of obscure statistics and fun facts. It’s an online repository of interactive data and infographics that locals can use to look at land-use trends and glean the demographic details of their own neighborhoods; you can even see what rush hour will look like in 2040. Denver is changing rapidly, and this is one of the best tools available for trying to keep up with what’s happening down the block or on a regional level.
Coloradans love hitting the road, but there are plenty of factors that can turn a freewheeling adventure into a nightmare, including road construction, changing conditions, storms that overstay their welcome — and did we mention road construction? To help drivers avoid such issues, the Colorado Department of Transportation’s COTrip provides free e-mail and text-message alerts, plus route information and interactive maps complete with access to live cameras located across the system that let folks see in real time the pitfalls they’re about to encounter.
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For a while, Complete Colorado didn’t seem long for this world. When driving force Todd Shepherd stepped down late last year in favor of a position with the Washington Examiner in the nation’s capital, plenty of fans feared the site would go the way of so many other Internet destinations. But, no: Under Justin Longo, Shepherd’s longtime partner, Complete Colorado remains a great one-stop destination for anyone who wants to know what’s happening in this state. The frequently updated assemblage of links, from media sources of every description, includes plenty of politics. And while many of the voices come from a conservative perspective, the results are hardly one-sided: No fake news here.
Hygge fits the crafty hipster crowd like a colorful, hand-knit glove, and that’s what this site is all about: the handmade, the cozy, the palpable evidence of human comfort in a loving household. A Danish import as soft as a sheepskin rug, the homey design philosophy plays up cocoa and candles, fresh flowers and a relaxed lifestyle. Denver-based online emporium Hygge Life has it down, thanks to careful research by founders Alexandra Gove and Koen van Renswoude, who’ve rounded up European handwoven blankets and pillows, fringed kilim-print Turkish towels, adorable baby mocs, candles galore, sheepskins and other Hygge-esque merch, all in one place for your slow, happy approval. Don’t worry: We won’t bother trying to tell you how the name is pronounced. Skaal!
Crafted Life no longer operates a brick-and-mortar in Lafayette, but you can still find it on the Internet, where beginners can purchase DIY kits with all they need to knit an octopus or embroider a mermaid, and more seasoned crafters can find supplies for embroidery, knitting, needle felting, sewing and other crafts of choice. And just to make sure those living the crafted life in real time have an outlet for their handmade goods, Crafted Life hosts a series of craft markets in Old Town Lafayette every last Saturday of the month from May to August; it also has vendor space at Lafayette’s second-Friday Art Night Out events, in Old Town from May through September. Live it, make it, love it.