Romance is always in the air, but Colorado is especially enchanting in the summer, when you can have a lovely time outside -- or inside, escaping the heat. With so much to do during the warmer months, we've narrowed down the options to this list of ten of the best outdoor (and indoor) places to go with your beau or babe on a dream date -- with plenty of cheap or free options, too!
10) See a Bike-In Movie at Civic Center Park What's better than catching a free film under the stars? Having a dream date there, of course, and the annual Civic Center Bike-In Movies series is an ideal way to enjoy an easy and accessible night under the stars, with films like Despicable Me and The Goonies at dusk -- and the original True Grit, which was filmed in this state, on Colorado Day, August 1. Civic Center is in the heart of the city, easy to bike to, and perfect for a BYO picnic -- or you can take advantage of the many food trucks parked there for a quick, inexpensive meal.
9) Pick out a special dinner together at the Boulder County Farmers' Market A farmers' market might not seem like a typical date spot, but it's a fun activity in its own right that lays the foundation for an even better date: a romantic dinner made with ingredients from local farmers. The Boulder County Farmers' Market is the best in the state, a fresh-food mecca offering picked-that-day fruit and vegetables along with locally raised lamb and beef, homemade cheeses, chocolates, prepared foods and more. Peruse this culinary wonderland every Wednesday night and Saturday morning and afternoon through November. Check the Boulder Farmers' Market website for more details, including info on a sibling market in Longmont.
8) Catch Mixed Taste at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver A summer institution, Mixed Taste runs every Thursday evening from June through August. The series of "tag-team lectures on unrelated topics" is a great date destination (especially for first dates), as guest experts present information on unlikely pairs of topics like Buffalo Bill and Swiss Typography, or Motown and Human Mating. Stick around and get to know your potential mate -- you might be a weird pair that works well, too -- or verbally battle it out with a longtime love through audience discussions. Plus, this year the museum celebrates ten years of the gatherings with "Re-Mixed Taste," a reboot of the best lectures of the past decade, held at the former Super Ordinary Gallery space, at 3126 Larimer Street in the RiNo Arts District. 7) Take a Denver Arts & Venues Public Art Tour in downtown Denver Get to know the city's many amazing displays of public art through these expertly guided tours. With different walking, biking and scooter-oriented journeys, you and your date can learn about the pieces that dot the 16th Street Mall, the towering dancers in Sculpture Park at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, and work you may not have noticed in and around Civic Center Park. And in the process of learning about the art, you'll learn about each other, too.
6) See a show at Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret Nothing says date night in Denver quite like a show at Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret in the heart of downtown. Impress your date with a trip to this adult-oriented showhouse; Lannie's offers up some of the best in burlesque, comedy and musical events virtually every night of the week. Kick back with a cocktail and delicious late-night hors d'oeuvre and enjoy Martini & Spankings Burlesque Booty School Debutante Showcase or Lannie Garrett's own The Chick Sings Frank: A Tribute to Sinatra, all while basking in the rich atmosphere of an old-school cabaret.
5) Visit Civic Center Eats at Civic Center Park Take the pressure off of a first date with a noontime stroll through Civic Center Park, with entertainment, great people-watching and tastes of some of Colorado's best local cuisine. Dozens of food trucks gather at this city center every Tuesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through the summer, offering up everything from tacos to cupcakes while bands play live. Buy your honey a delicious lunch from Manna From Heaven, the Biscuit Bus or Pinche Tacos while enjoying the sounds of Megan Burtt, Spencer Crawford and more.
4) See a silent film at Chautauqua Auditorium This annual series, during which silent films are paired with live accompaniment and set inside the historic Chautauqua Auditorium, is truly a special summer event. The lovely, airy Boulder venue brings the outdoors inside for perfect date-night showings of classic pre-talkie films like Oliver Twist, Go West and Kid Brother, all presented with live music.
3) Visit the Science Lounge at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science This adults-only monthly party invites guests to do what we always wanted to do as kids: hang out at the museum after dark. Each program combines cocktails with interactive guest lectures on everything from the science of sound to aliens and other worlds. Enjoy live music and drinks as you explore the museum late at night and get to know your beau or babe while learning about the world around you.
2) Catch a concert at Denver Botanic Gardens Denver Botanic Gardens hosts a summer concert series in the heart of the city, taking advantage of its grassy amphitheater inside the lush green oasis. The open-seating outdoor venue is the perfect spot in which to snuggle up with your sweetheart on a blanket and enjoy a picnic at twilight while seeing world-renowned acts like St. Vincent, Colbie Caillat, Martin Sexton and more.
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1) A late-night stroll through Lakeside Amusement Park Lakeside Amusement Park, a turn-of-the-last-century landmark that runs along the banks of Lake Rhoda, offers the ideal setting for a mid-summer date night. The park is full of excuses to get close to your darling: Share a seat on the Ferris wheel or Skoota Boats, or get adventurous and take a shaky ride on the infamous Wild Chipmunk or historic Cyclone coasters. Then romance your sweetie with a soft-serve twist cone under Lakeside's art-deco neon strips and incandescent bulbs as they blink against the evening sky. Whatever you do, don't forget to take advantage of the most romantic attraction of all: a trip around the lake together in a petite version of a narrow-gauge rail car.