Best Bowling Alley 2007 | Elitch Lanes | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Elitch Lanes is where you prove you've got balls. This is where you spend perfecting your spare, strike, hook and backswing -- whiskey shooters or rum and Coke firmly in your other hand. There's no room for sissy drinks and fancy shoes in these lanes that time forgot. The place does get a little funky, though, during the quarterly Beats & Bowling, when a monster DJ lineup complements the spinning pins, and bowlers compete for time on the tables. Plus, every Wednesday is College Night, with $1 drafts, $1 games and $1 shoes. Let 'em fly!
Hidden above 14th Street in an old slaughterhouse, Tarantula Billiards is the perfect downtown pool hall: gritty and urban, with well-poured drinks, rows of tables and a commanding view of the poor workaday shlubs down below. The free pool during the day -- with purchase of lunch, even if it's just the liquid variety -- and DJs spinning funk, soul and electronica every night of the week top off an already ideal hideout. To keep you coming back, the beautiful-people bartenders offer Hangover Weekend, with $2 red beers and $4 bloodys. Fierce.
Let the games begin! Underground Games makes it easy, with stock that includes games both popular and obscure as well as replacement pieces for games you've had around so long that Park Place is looking, well, a little less than posh. There are also rooms available that you can rent by the hour, in case you'd like to hold that Monopoly marathon on neutral ground.
In elementary school, everyone loved Field Day. It was a dream come true: an entire day devoted to playing outside, and then everyone went home with at least one ribbon. Then we got older, and gym class turned from blissful anarchy into one structured game after another. By high school, the only people who actually enjoyed gym were the jocks who were good at playing those structured games. Meanwhile, everyone else longed for a return to the days of guts and glory, battling it out in a three-legged race or talking trash before tug-o-war. But now the Multiple Sclerosis Young Professionals Network has brought back Field Day -- this time for grownups -- and filled the fundraiser with such competitions as dodgeball, Capture the Flag and a rock-paper-scissors showdown, as well as commentary by local comedians. Score!
Fat City is every child's birthday-party paradise, with the bowling, the laser tag, the mini-golf, the rollerskating, the arcade and the foam factory. But the three-and-a-half-acre entertainment center doesn't stop at children's birthday packages, corporate team-building exercises -- including "crazy bowling" and mini-golf battles -- and rentable rooms. Oh, no. You can rent out the whole building -- which holds 3,000 comfortably -- for an all-night adults' party. Because why stop at laser tag when you really can have it all?
Trains and Christmas. They just go together, like hot chocolate and marshmallows, in the magical lore of childhood dreams and Chris Van Allsburg's beloved holiday-season picture book, The Polar Express, which was made into an animated flick co-produced and voiced by true believer Tom Hanks. And now Coloradans can hop on board our own Polar Express, when the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad hosts special November and December holiday rides for kids, complete with a storybook reading and high-country meet-up with Santa and his reindeer. Pajamas are encouraged. All aboard!
I drink I can, I drink I can. The Little Engine That Could doesn't have anything on the Royal Gorge Route Railroad, which has slated a series of very adult train trips this summer with its Winemaker Dinners. The monthly meals by chef Jeff McGlothin pair a five-course menu with wines from Colorado vineyards; the owner of each featured vineyard will be along for the ride to discuss the vintage. Each dinner is $125 per person -- but it comes with all the stunning Royal Gorge scenery you can drink in.
You've made it out of the Eisenhower Tunnel -- which means three more hours of bumper-to-bumper traffic into Denver. Time to head directly to Georgetown. Unlike I-70, on a Sunday night, the old mining town is eerily deserted -- except for the Red Ram. Inside, regulars are lined up at the long bar, sipping the Ram's own craft-brewed beer and talking with the bartender while watching football on vintage TVs. Local families and groups of skiers come in, chatting, then fall silent when their food arrives. After an hour or two at the Ram, you may still encounter traffic jams -- but you won't mind them nearly as much.
The College Inn has great food and drink specials -- Monday is Tank-N-Tacos night, for example, with three tacos and a tank of any Bud or house marg for $4.50. It always has fine chicken wings. Ditto for boisterous crowds of off-duty nurses and working-the-crowd guys. And then it has all those large, flat-screen TVs hanging from the ceiling. So the College Inn looks like a sports bar -- but it doesn't sound like one. You don't hear the play-by-plays, the whistles or the announcers' banter -- though someone concentrating really hard might catch them. But for the rest of us, there's a constant flow of popular music -- just the right distraction for girls who want to feel like one of the guys but don't particularly care to watch the Rockies lose for three hours.

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