Prickly Pete's

Prickly Pete's is the kind of place you can fall in love with after putting just one foot inside the door. It's a rock-solid sports bar with eighteen fifty-inch plasma TVs, substantial platters of wings, nachos and pulled pork, and frequent beer specials. But Pete's separates itself from other joints with its large patio, where, thanks to three fairly sizable TVs dangling above the doors, you don't have to worry about missing any of the action going on inside. And since most folks hanging out at Pete's are from the surrounding neighborhoods and impart the space with a laid-back, welcoming vibe, you won't find the amped-up craziness of downtown spots.

This season's story could have been one of tragedy, but instead, it's that of a near miracle. During an October 30 game, University of Denver Pioneers center Jesse Martin was hit while in the corner and suffered three fractures in the C2 vertebra near his brain stem. He was lucky his spinal cord wasn't severed, and through hard work, he's made great strides in his recovery. Martin is even entertaining thoughts of playing hockey again. Meanwhile, the Pioneers ranked in the top fifteen in the country in both scoring offense and defense, and finished the regular season ranked sixth nationwide.

No mid-season coach firing, no season-consuming trade rumors and no season-deteriorating losing streak. And, oh, yeah, a championship. Possibly a greater accomplishment than winning the MLS title was making Denver care about soccer. After the Rapids beat FC Dallas in overtime to earn their first championship, former governor Bill Ritter declared November 23 "Colorado Rapids Day."

It's an art installation. And it's a game. How the two crash together in the Seattle sensation that came to Denver for a six-weekend run is hard to explain. But this we do know: The mechanized mini-golf with air cannons, saw blades, ball drillers and a well-stocked bar is a blast. And cheating is allowed. We hope it comes back again. In the meantime, go ahead: Imagine yourself as Mad Max at the Putt-Putt.

Keystone Resort
Keystone Facebook page

Keystone's A-51 Terrain Park made top-ten lists in TransWorld Snowboarding, Skiing and Freeskier magazines this season, thanks to visionary park designer Jason George. The park has a dedicated lift — best seats in the house for the thrills and spills unfolding below — and features five different zones for everyone from li'l shredders to resident pros like Jossi Wells and Andreas Wiig. There are three jump lines (Incubator, Park Lane and Main Street) and more than 100 rails, boxes and other features scattered throughout the park. And when the season's over, George and his A-51 park crew are just getting started, catering to film crews and pro riders shooting next season's ski porn.

Big Game Restaurant & Lounge

It's a play on words: Not only does Big Game show almost every sporting event under the sun on its slew of gigantic TVs (the thirty-foot HDTV screen might pop your pupils), but it also serves game (as in the meat). In fact, the LoDo spot's menu has included everything from bison to mussels to sushi — not exactly your average sports bar fare — as well as microbrews that stand above the typical Bud and PBR. And if your team is getting blown out, there's always the ping-pong table in the back of the huge space or the Wii, PlayStation and other video-game systems up front to distract you. We've heard that Big Game may be changing its format, but we hope they stay in the game.

Colorado Ski Country

Skiing is expensive. Really, really, really expensive. But the fifteen-year-old Fifth Grade Passport Program offered by Colorado Ski Country helps take some of the sting out of it for parents — at least for a year. The program gives three free days of skiing or snowboarding to fifth-graders at each of 21 participating resorts (Vail, Keystone, Breckenridge and Beaver Creek don't participate), for a total of 63 days. And for fifth-graders who have never skied before, there's also a program called First Class that offers one free lesson and rental. And to help parents ease back into the cost the following year, Colorado Ski Country also has a Sixth Grade Passport Program that gives four days at each resort for a total of $99. With all the money you save, you'll be able to afford to buy lunch at the mountain house.

Salvagetti Bicycle Workshop

There's nothing worse than feeling flat in the morning, and Salvagetti, the LoHi bike shop, has the perfect way to pump you up: coffee and parts from a bike-thru window. Bike shop owner Scott Taylor decided to open Happy Coffee last spring as a way for early-morning cyclists to get a shot of caffeine, a tube, a tire, a patch kit or other parts and pieces they need — a valuable service considering that most bike stores, including Salvagetti itself, don't open until late morning. What's next? Taylor wants to open Happy Coffee kiosks around the city. That would be off the chain.

Best Way to Track Your Mountain Exploits

EpicMix

You'd think a day up on the slopes would be all about getting away from technology, but Vail Resorts has developed a program that perfectly marries the fun of epic pow-pow with fiddling with your techno-doohickeys. This season they introduced their EpicMix social-media app, which tracks guests' achievements thanks to RFID chips in all their season passes and lift tickets that are tracked by lift scanners at Vail's five resorts (Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Lake Tahoe's Heavenly Mountain). Then the program compiles and awards virtual "pins" based on peaks visited, lift rides per day, vertical feet skied and other stats that folks can digitally boast to all their pals. Goofy? A little. But also addictively fun.

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