Denver City and County Building

Sure, it's the most romantic day of the year. A day for butterfly kisses, red roses, heart-shaped chocolates, blah, blah, blah. But even if you don't go in for all that Hallmark crap, it's worth picking February 14 to tie the knot at City Hall. The folks at the Denver Clerk and Recorder's Office do it up big, with prizes (wine! theater tickets! a trip for two on Southwest Airlines!), a gratis wedding photographer and one of the best officiants in the biz: Herbert "Herbie the Love Judge" Galchinsky. They even provide plastic gold rings if you don't have your own, making it easy for everyone to say "I do."

Denver Design Incubator

The small, independent designer juggles one of the hardest jobs in the marketplace, simply because she has to wear so many hats: artist, bookkeeper, consultant, production line and chief dreamer are just a few of them. But with the Denver Design Incubator there to show them the ropes, more designers can find solid ground as creative entrepreneurs more quickly in this sink-or-swim world. The DDI offers classes and even walk-in free studio time on Wednesdays at its new northwest Denver facility, but its primary vehicle, the Designer-in-Residence program, is a concentrated course of ongoing mentorship combined with studio time in the nonprofit's own industrial sewing shop.

Logan Liquors

Logan Liquors has been in the Farber family for 33 years, selling wine, beer and spirits to the good-time residents of Washington Park from behind the counter and from the drive-thru window around back. In fact, the converted gas station is one of the only liquor stores in town with a drive-thru. Recently, owner Stanley Farber's grandson, Justin, added a healthy selection of craft beers, including rare or difficult-to-find bottles, to the little shop's collection. So if you're in a hurry, Logan Liquors can certainly hook you up with some jug wine or a fifth of hooch at the window, but it can also supply you with the latest small-batch brew from Avery, Odell or New Belgium.

Best E-Mail Newsletter From a Bureaucrat

MyDPS

Much of what crowds people's inboxes nowadays is junk. Especially e-newsletters, which tend to be pleas for money or schemes to rid you of yours. Most you delete without even opening. But if you're interested in the goings-on at Denver Public Schools, there's one you'll want to click: MyDPS, sent weekly to more than 32,000 e-mail addresses by Superintendent Tom Boasberg. Sure, it's full of happy news about the district's accomplishments, but it doesn't shy away from more controversial subjects, either, such as the heat wave that invaded schools and melted children last fall. Happy, honest news? That's hot.

Ironwood Gallery

Alyson Two Eagles and Jeff Childress like to call their shop Ironwood a "things we love store," and that's exactly what it is: a place where you walk in and fall in love. It's perfectly unlike any other place, and resembles nothing so much as a strangely modern museum of Victoriana, with its antique shelves and dark walls artfully cluttered with shadowboxed butterflies, potted succulents, terrariums, raw rocks and crystals, wooden arrows and what seems like a million objects, old and new. A select range of beautiful books, many of them scientific in nature, nest all around them, and art by local artists fills in the walls, shelves and window front: a Ravi Zupa assemblage here, Elena Stonaker's hand-embroidered and beaded creatures there, and a mass of Brittany Gould's cave-like polyhedrons dripping from the ceiling. Though the owners are young, Ironwood has a delicious old soul — one young woman minding the counter told us that it's not unusual for the store's hipster clientele to come back with their parents in tow — and the steampunk vibe of oiled metal and grinding gears amid growing things.

Bullying hurts. And in some cases, it can be deadly. To protect Colorado's gay youth and prevent the growing number of high-profile gay-teen suicides, Denver-based advocacy group One Colorado started the Colorado GSA Network, which helps high schools form their own gay-straight alliances. Research proves that alliances help stand up against harassment and create safer schools for everyone. That's something worth learning about.

Boulder County Farmers' Market
Juliet Wittman

Here's what you get out of shopping at the best and biggest farmers' market in the state: picked-just-that-day produce along with breads, milk, cheeses, pork, beef, lamb, chicken, duck and prepared food from smoked salmon to chocolate; more varieties of eggplant than you'd known existed; sellers passionate about their products, who may offer cooking or planting tips; a way to help local ranchers and farmers survive; the kind of apple you remember eating as a kid; food that really is locally produced (the rules are very strict); a sense of rootedness and community; and — most important — the best-tasting food you'll find anywhere. Spring may have sprung March 20, but it won't feel official till the market opens on April 7.

Readers' Choice: Cherry Creek Fresh Market

Boulder County Farmers' Market
Juliet Wittman

Frank Silva's no hippie, no rancher-come-lately. He was born on a dairy farm and has been in the cattle business all his life. And you can hear the affection in his voice as he describes how smart his cows are and talks about their temperamental quirks. He mixes the feed himself, and also grazes the animals on pasture. At the spotless family-run abbatoir where his Highland cattle are eventually processed, music plays to keep the animals calm. Silva's can provide bone marrow and particular cuts on request, and the meat is so delicious it's on the menu at many of Denver's top restaurants. But you can get it yourself at the Boulder Farmers' Market.

Readers' Choice: Waffle cakes

Winner and still champion: The Horseshoe, already our favorite in 2011, is only getting better as it hits its stride. The brainchild of Amy Yetman, a crafter herself, the market isn't really a pure flea market, per se; rather, its 100 or so booths hawk everything from the antiques you'd expect to adorable handmade children's clothing and accessories, locally designed hipster jewelry, vintage shoes, steampunk earrings and more, and the people-watching is more than awesome. Bottom line, the Horseshoe is also so well run (you can thank Amy and her husband, Doug, for that) that it's a joy to be there; along with wares new and old, this market welcomes food trucks and special attractions (last year, a traveling screen-printing van visited at one market), and Berkeley Park invites across the street, should you need to rest your feet and dogs. This year's spring market is on May 5, with additional dates to follow in July and October. And remember: It's called "Horseshoe" because of the lucky connotations. Come down to Tennyson Street, and see just how lucky you get.

Readers' Choice: Mile High Marketplace

Warm Welcome Childcare Center

Jury duty is a hassle. But there is one perk to spending the day at Denver District or County Court: free child care. Run by Mile High Montessori Early Learning Centers, the Warm Welcome Childcare Center was opened in 1999 after judges noted that courtrooms are no place for children. The center's staff will watch any child ages six weeks to twelve years whose parent has business at the court, whether it be jury duty or a criminal proceeding, with a few exceptions: no sick children, no yelling at the staff and no dropping your kids off and then ditching court to go shopping. While it may be tempting, common sense says it's best not to break the rules while at a courthouse.

Readers' Choice: 16th Street shuttle

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