With the temperatures heating up, finding cool, fun places in Denver to beat the heat is a necessity. From the chilled out vibe and atmosphere of Laserium at Gates Planetarium to the delicious, icy treats and prime people-watching of Sweet Action Ice Cream, there is lots to do inside while taking a break from the outside.
Our Summer Guide, which hit the streets last Thursday inside the regular issue of Westword, has information on hundreds of events, as well as this list of ten places in the city to chill out. Keep reading for our picks.
This summer, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science's Gates Planetarium will transform into Laserium, a precision light show and rock-and-roll experience. Beat the heat and the bright sun by stepping into the cool, dark space, and watch as laser art is created right before your eyes. The multi-sensory experience is set to the sounds of classic bands like U2, Pink Floyd, the Beatles and Led Zeppelin.
This Texas-born movie house offers the best of all cinematic worlds, featuring everything from brand-new blockbusters to cult classics and interactive movie events. Add in a full food menu and selection of icy-cold beverages of both the alcoholic and classic soda-fountain variety, and Alamo Drafthouse could become your warm-weather mainstay.
There are plenty of places to get a scoop in this town, but Sweet Action offers both a wide variety of amazing flavors and perfect people-watching. Try out treats like black licorice Sambuca and vegan mint chip (flavors change daily) while you sit in the spot's diner-like bar and watch the South Broadway regulars wander by.
From old-school electric cars to antique Ski-Doos and vintage tractors, the Forney Museum has been showcasing transportation history in Colorado for more than fifty years. With hundreds of vehicles on wheels (and others for travel by sea and rail) in its collection plus a rotating display of classic autos and other wild contraptions, the Forney is a perfect place for lowering everyone's temperature.
Elitch Lanes -- which used to be located across from the amusement park when it was in northwest Denver -- has become an institution in and of itself, and bowling is a great way to keep yourself moving without sweating too much. Pick up a game during the day, reserve a spot for your next birthday party, or head in late at night for a little bowling after dark. Elitch Lanes is hopping with weeknight drink specials, cheap and delicious snacks, and, of course, ten frames of the game for a nice price.
Earlier this year, Space Gallery officially opened the doors of its brand-new location, a 4,000-square-foot, fully air-conditioned gallery and event space. Just as you could at its previous incarnation down the street, you can host your wedding, dance party or fundraiser here, or enjoy one of the many openings showcasing local artists throughout the year. No matter what the weather's like outside, Space provides a comfortable atmosphere inside.
The Source 3350 Brighton Boulevard Housed inside a gorgeous old warehouse with sixty-foot ceilings, the Source is just what its name implies: a one-stop shop for locally sourced artisan food, drinks and gifts. Cool off in this indoor market while perusing a dozen local vendors, from a butcher to a florist to a brewery to an art gallery. More than just a center for eclectic merchant shopping, the Source also offers refreshing dine-in options, like a meal at rustic eatery Acorn or an out-of-this-world fruit-and-veggie combination at fresh-juice bar the Pressery.
Local artists will provide a peek inside the creative process with this summer exhibition at the McNichols Building in Civic Center Park. Spearheaded by Create Denver's Lisa Gedgaudas, (Residency): Process to Consumption shows how visual art is created, from beginning to end. The showcase also offers a great excuse to step out of the warm weather and into the McNichols, a historic city building that has recently been given new life through the work of Denver Arts & Venues.
Like an oasis in the desert, the Mercury Cafe serves up organic, responsibly sourced entrees, classic cocktails and desserts baked daily in a cool, inviting atmosphere. And on any given day or night of the week, the multi-purpose Merc hosts a variety of chill entertainment options, including spoken-word performances, films, plays, dance lessons, and local and national music acts.
Laser Quest 8988 East Hampden Avenue $7-$12
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Enter the unique alternate universe that Laser Quest has set out for you at its indoor laser-tag arena. Beat the warm outdoor temperatures by strapping on a vest, grabbing your laser gun and enjoying a cutthroat, glow-in-the-dark game for all ages. The multi-level labyrinth is a great place for birthday parties, large groups of adults, or just a handful of friends to get competitive with strangers in a black-lit, air-conditioned war zone. If you're really brave, book Laser Quest overnight for a private, marathon laser-tag game and slumber party.