Best New Bike Event 2013 | Pedal the Plains | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Last September's inaugural Pedal the Plains couldn't have gone better. The three-day ride through the close-knit communities of Colorado's eastern plains inspired plenty of people to trade in the painful slow climbs and downhill rocketing of mountain marathons for the flat roads of the prairie and its anachronistic small-town atmosphere. A focus on history and heritage made it fun for all ages, as did the folksy off-road activities dreamed up for the evenings by event maven Dana Cain. Go east: The second annual Pedal the Plains rolls on September 20 through 22; this year's route will be announced in late April.

Why ex-Morehead State standout Kenneth Faried fell to the 22nd pick in the 2011 NBA draft despite an astonishingly electric performance at that year's NCAA men's basketball tournament is beyond us. But we couldn't be happier. Faried is energy personified, consistently outworking and out-hustling everyone on the floor at any given time — and while he's still prone to defensive lapses and focus drifts, rim-rattling dunks and impossible rebounds against much bigger players make up for a multitude of sins. As a bonus, Manimal is a positive presence off the court, too.

Named for astronaut Scott Carpenter, this park features a pool, a skate park and a rocket-ship playground, but that's only a place where kids can blast off. When it snows, locals converge on the long, wide hill with their saucers and sleds to get in on the free fun that comes with living in Colorado.

If you think elections don't matter, then consider the past. In May 1912, Denver citizens went to the polls and voted in favor of a mill levy, backed by Mayor Robert Speer, that provided funding for the acquisition of a park system in the foothills and mountains where people could go to get away from city life. Today that system includes 14,000 acres spread out among 46 properties in four counties, including Genesee Mountain Park, home to a small bison herd, Red Rocks Park, home to Red Rocks Amphitheatre, the Winter Park Ski Resort and Summit Lake, high up on Mount Evans. In 2012, the city celebrated the hundredth anniversary of Denver Mountain Parks. Here's to one hundred more.

Brendan Mundorf is nothing if not consistent. He's either led or tied for the lead in scoring on the Outlaws each season since 2007. And his efforts show no sign of trailing off. His offensive totals from last year (32 goals, 27 assists and 59 points) were considerably higher than those he registered in 2011 (thirty goals, 15 assists and 45 points). This upward trajectory has gotten him noticed throughout the Major League Lacrosse circuit: He was named the 2012 Most Valuable Player, and deservedly so. No one's scored more often in Denver Outlaws history, and with each game, he makes it that much harder for the next guy to exceed his mark.

Confluence Park, on the banks of the South Platte River, may be better known for sunbathing, people watching and kayaking, but this urban park rises above the rest for one important reason when it comes to picnics: the distinct absence of goose poop. While many of Denver's other green spaces are blanketed in the stuff, Confluence doesn't suffer from the same fowl problem.

With its gorgeously neon-lit grounds, Lakeside Amusement Park looks like an idyllic movie set, which makes it the perfect place for a summer date night. Whether you're canoodling on the Ferris wheel, jointly steering the Skoota Boats or peering out over Lake Rhoda from the cockpit of the shaky, hydraulically powered Satellite rocket ship together, the park encapsulates old-fashioned romance. End the night with some soft-serve ice cream and take your honey on a train ride around the lake to catch a panoramic view of the 105-year-old amusement park's blinking lights and stately trees. Without the modern distractions of a high-tech theme park, it's the ideal place to nurture a new love, surrounded by an old one.

Yes, construction and goose poop pose constant challenges, but its 7.5 miles of bike paths make City Park a clear favorite for cyclists of all bents — especially the ones who don't want to brave the hordes of "serious" cyclists at Washington Park. Great views of the skyline, water features, creature features, and quick access to Uptown restaurants, a vibrant slice of East Colfax and the quiet streets of Park Hill (not to mention the zoo and the museum) add to the allure of this heart-of-the-city ride.

Lauren Monitz

Good fishing close to home can be hard to come by in landlocked Colorado. But Bear Creek Lake Park is an exception. For $7 per vehicle, anglers both new and experienced can try their hand at catching rainbow trout, perch, smallmouth bass and saugeye during the summer or winter. And if your family and friends aren't into sitting around and waiting for the fish to bite, Bear Creek Lake Park also has a swim beach, boat rentals, a water-ski school and horseback-riding stables.

Washington Park is like the Studio 54 of running: Anyone who's anyone jogs there. But there's a good reason for its popularity: miles of wide and well-kept trails. The bounty of fellow runners also means it's easy to eavesdrop on personal conversations, which is always entertaining. Plus, running sucks, and it's comforting to be among other people who are suffering as much as you are.

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