Since the first wave of gold-hunters washed up on the banks of Cherry Creek, Denver has always attracted pioneers. In fact, Governor John Hickenlooper made this state's entrepreneurial spirit the focus of his State of the State speech this January. And no one better exemplifies that spirit than Hickenlooper, an East Coast-educated geologist who moved out to Colorado in the early '80s, was laid off in the middle of that decade's oil-and-gas bust, and joined with other adventurers to start Denver's first brewpub, the Wynkoop Brewing Company, which opened in 1988. Since then, of course, craft beer has become a major growth industry in Colorado...and Hickenlooper himself wound up using the bar as a launching pad for a political career that took him first to City Hall, then to the State Capitol. Although Hickenlooper is no longer involved with the Wynkoop, it remains a great place to get a taste of Denver's history, whether you're drinking its brews inside the renovated, Victorian-era warehouse or sitting on the Wynkoop-side patio, watching the sun set over the mountains...and the Union Station project, which will transform that piece of history into a futuristic, multi-modal transportation hub by 2014.
Readers' Choice: Red Rocks Amphitheatre